There is no age limit in wrestling. The fact that it's an entertainment business makes it feasible that someone can do it as long as they physically can. Many wrestlers will continue to work into their 50s and some even wrestle in their 60s. WrestleMania season in the WWE is here and we are starting to see the older legends return to the company. The Undertaker, Goldberg and potentially other wrestlers will make fans wonder if they should still be wrestling at their older ages. However, there are many wrestlers outside of the WWE that still push the line.
The independent wrestling scene is home to quite a few veterans that no longer belong in a wrestling ring. Hell, there are even some wrestlers that have regressed or are flat out terrible meaning they should not enter a ring. We'll take a look at some of the sadder stories in all of wrestling today. These are the tragic tales of wrestlers hanging on too long or having no purpose continuing their career. WWE wrestlers will be exempt since they tend to get publicly scrutinized on the regular. The other side of wrestling will be examined with fifteen non-WWE wrestlers that need to retire.
15 Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas will always be remembered for his impressive work as a top heel for ECW. Douglas was a noteworthy champion and is definitely considered a legend when looking at ECW history. However, ECW has been out of business for sixteen years now and Douglas is still wrestling on the independent wrestling scene.
At the age of 52 years old, Douglas struggles to move around the ring with the stars of today. Various podcast interviews have seen Douglas claim the younger wrestlers move around too fast and don’t know how to tell a story. That is often code for a veteran being upset that he's no longer capable of keeping up with the current stars. Douglas embarrasses himself every time he steps in a wrestling ring these days and we can only hope he retires before tainting his legacy.
14 Damien Sandow
Most wrestling fans had high hopes for Damien Sandow in the WWE. His talent was on display at different points, giving enough of a sample size to believe he could be something special. WWE kept him off television for a long time before finally letting him go in 2016. We all hoped he would have a successful run, similar to the likes of Drew Galloway and Cody Rhodes, but that hasn't been the case as the fire looks to be extinguished.
Instead, Sandow went the other direction becoming one of the least relevant wrestlers on national television. TNA signed him, under the new name of Aron Rex, in hopes of having another top star to build around. His momentum ended instantly when he showed up out of shape, while delivering very disappointing matches. Sandow proved the WWE may have been right in just giving up on him.
13 Jim Duggan
Old school wrestling fans have a great affection towards Hacksaw Jim Duggan. The most successful years of Duggan's career came in the 80s and 90s. Duggan decided to keep his career going despite criticism following him all the way back to the Monday Night Wars, when fans used to question if he should retire. Almost two decades later and Duggan is still wrestling as much as he can.
No one ever accused Hacksaw of being the most athletic or graceful performer in the ring and Duggan’s in-ring style has allowed him to continue working today at the age of 62. The legend definitely shows his age now, but he's hell bent on keeping it going. Duggan appears at small independent shows. Hopefully he hangs it up soon as his older age makes it difficult to watch him without fearing an injury.
12 Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett was blacklisted from the WWE following an ugly falling out during the Monday Night Wars. Vince McMahon held on to a hatred twards Jarrett due to the fact that he held up the WWE for money before leaving to WCW. WWE purchasing WCW forced Jarrett to think outside the box and start his own promotions. Jarrett ran TNA before getting exiled for backstage drama.
His latest project was launching Global Force Wrestling in hopes of creating a new competitor on the wrestling marketplace. GFW flopped horribly and Jarrett proved both his vision and business acumen are no longer as sharp as we remember. Jarrett is returning to TNA to help run the promotion and that likely isn’t a good move. Wrestling would be better off if Jarrett stopped both the in-ring aspect of it and trying to promote.
11 The Nasty Boys
The Nasty Boys are known for having hardcore matches before it became a popular concept on national television. Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags were never the most athletic performers, but they got by based on their loud personalities and violent matches. It also helped that Knobbs was one of the best friends of Hulk Hogan, so he followed him from promotion to promotion.
Knobbs and Sags most recently appeared on TNA television during the Hogan regime and showed how badly they needed to retire. Various independent wrestling promotions still book The Nasty Boys as a nostalgia act and it's embarrassing to watch. Both Knobbs and Sags lose their breath quickly and appear way too out of shape and old to truly put on a compelling match under any circumstances.
10 Tommy Dreamer
One wrestler way past his prime that still keeps an active schedule is Tommy Dreamer. The ECW legend became a hardcore wrestling legend in the 90s. Dreamer truly did everything in his power to entertain the fans and left it all in the ring. Following stints in just about every wrestling promotion over the years, Dreamer still works regularly on the independent wrestling scene.
Dreamer does his best work as a promoter, running occasional shows for his House of Hardcore company. The problem is his wrestling tends to be impossible to truly enjoy unless you hold onto nostalgia. Dreamer struggles to keep up with the young stars and often makes them look silly when he gets the win. We can only hope Tommy hangs up the boots and focuses on the business side.
9 Scott Steiner
The unpredictable Scott Steiner has kept his name in wrestling for many years due to his persona in and out of the ring. Steiner is impossible to control and lives his life without a filter. It has led to Steiner making enemies out of huge names like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and many others. Steiner wrestles occasionally when an independent promotion is willing to pay him the big bucks.
Sadly, the older age of Steiner has limited athleticism today. Big Poppa Pump was once one of the most athletic men in the industry, doing frankensteiners off the top rope with ease. Unless you are hoping he cuts a promo that flies off the fails, Steiner really doesn’t contribute much to a wrestling show these days.
8 Al Snow
A shocking happening in TNA last year saw Al Snow make his in-ring return. Snow was unofficially retired for many years, working primarily as a trainer and a backstage match producer. At 53 years old, Snow found a way to get into the best shape of his life. Snow is one of the most jacked members of the TNA roster and is a regular on television these days.
As great as Snow looks for his age, he doesn’t belong in the ring anymore. Snow struggles to keep up with the talented wrestlers of today and TNA usually puts him in silly storylines with weaker members of the roster. The Attitude Era name doesn’t contribute strongly in the ring and he should remain in his backstage capacities instead.
7 Jake Roberts
The long road to recovery for Jake Roberts has seen wrestling remain the one constant in his life. Roberts has a bad reputation among fans and promoters in the independent circuit for treating others poorly. Despite the bad attitude, Roberts still found solace in the wrestling ring as he battled with his addiction issues against drug and alcohol.
DDP Yoga helped clean up his life and he found his way back to a happy life. Roberts still wrestles at independent shows but his health issues make it a tough sell to truly invest in. There reaches a point when you worry about a wrestler’s health more than you want to see them entertain. Roberts has nothing left to prove and should hang the boots up to enjoy the rest of his life away from the ring.
6 Greg Valentine
Greg Valentine is 65 years old, but still attempts to keep his wrestling career going. The former wrestling Superstar had a strong career that lasted many years. Unfortunately, Valentine didn’t save enough money to live on for the older years of his life and still has to try to put on the wrestling boots. The Hammer appears at smaller independent wrestling shows.
One of the bigger shows Valentine performed on in recent memory saw him wrestle at Citi Field for a Legends of Wrestling event. The older Valentine struggled to move around and it was a rather depressing moment. Hopefully there are other options for Valentine because the wrestling ring is no longer the place for him at his age and in his current state.
5 Kurt Angle
The possibility of Kurt Angle returning to the WWE is a dream scenario given all he has contributed to the business. Angle is a true legend that will go down among the all-time great performers. Injuries have unfortunately followed him as he risked his body to put out the best matches. The main reason the WWE has yet to bring him back is due to fear of a serious injury taking place on their watch.
Angle continuing to wrestle on the independent wrestling circuit gives fans the opportunity to see a living legend, but it's still scary to think about all the surgeries he has undergone. While it would be a little disappointing to see his career end on the smaller stage, Angle may be best suited to retire before something goes wrong and leaves him hurt in a major way.
4 Mahabali Shera
Unlike many of the major stars continuing their careers in older age, Mahabali Shera will likely never reach the top of his field. Shera first worked in wrestling through TNA’s India project Ring Ka King. It eventually landed him a contact for TNA that was impressive enough to make him move to the United States. Shera is trying to progress as a wrestler, but is floundering with every opportunity.
His in-ring work is among the worst on the entire wrestling scene today. Factor in fans not caring about his character and there’s nothing of note to Shera's work. TNA even tried to get a viral dance going called The Shera Shake that embarrassed everyone involved, including the viewers. Shera just wasn’t meant to be a professional wrestler and would be better off retiring and finding another line of work.
Sean Waltman's wrestling career is hugely underrated when looking at his overall body of work. X-Pac delivered athletic matches that broke new ground for the WWE at a time when everyone wrestled slower and less exciting styles. WWE made a star out of him as the 1-2-3 Kid and later the X-Pac rebirth in D-Generation X.
Fans can still watch X-Pac perform at their local independent wrestling shows as he takes frequent bookings. The veteran tries his best to give the customer their money’s worth. In fact, he had a classic match against Sami Zayn with the Chikara indie promotion in 2011. That was his last great match though. We should appreciate him for still trying his best, but the legend should transition out of the ring for a role backstage in a major promotion to utilize his knowledge.
2 The Honky Tonk Man
The Honky Tonk Man had one of the more entertaining comedic gimmicks during his WWE career. The annoying heel act got over enough to make the company put the Intercontinental Championship on him for a record breaking 454 days. WWE got over him and made it clear they had no interest in HTM as a wrestler during the mid-90s.
Decades later and The Honky Tonk Man is still wrestling at independent shows. The matches are very short and he doesn’t take any bumps to remove the risks of a serious injury. However, the 63 year old should not be in the ring at all. It feels like he's just there to collect a paycheck given the lack of effort that goes into his performances. The Honky Tonk Man has reached the point where he needs to finally call it quits and stop trying to squeeze in more shows.
Very few wrestlers have sacrificed as much for the wrestling business as Sabu. The ECW icon revolutionized wrestling with new high risk moves that no one could have dreamed of. These moves and that style has become a common theme in the industry today, but Sabu is the one who helped bring it to the United States. His dangerous style mixed with the hardcore matches saw his body suffer a high level of damage through the years.
Sabu is in need of a hip surgery and has gone to crowd-sourcing projects to get the funds for it. Between walking with a limp and dealing with pain, Sabu clearly should be out of the ring. Sadly, he still works as often as possible on the independent scene to get paid. The best thing for Sabu would be to retire and stop putting his body through such pain, as he inches closer towards getting surgery.