Professional wrestling is a business that lends itself to longevity, surprisingly. For the wrestlers who were the cream of the crop in the prime of their career, many are able to continue performing well into middle and old-age. Of course, they're unlikely to still be on the biggest stages of WWE and the like, but Indie promotions are notorious for booking veteran talent. Often times, they'll be part of an autograph signing before the show, and can be the primary draw for the entire event. If Indie promoters can't snag current stars, they'll usually settle for stars of years past, even if they've become a parody of themselves.
So this gives a lot of tenured wrestlers a chance to remain in the ring. While it can work well up to a point, most people agree that there are some who should just call it quits. As much as they are beloved by wrestling fans all over the world for the vast majority of their work, many of them are simply over-the-hill at the moment. Let's take a look at who this applies to.
Ranked below are 15 older wrestlers who should just retire.
15 Goldust - 48
As the son of one of the most legendary wrestlers of all time, it's impressive that Dustin Rhodes has been able to carve out a unique identity for himself, with numerous different characters during his career. Most notably, he's still performing as Goldust in WWE, but it's time that he retire the gimmick for good. At this point, he's taking up roster space that could be better used by somebody else.
This is one of the few of his ilk who still maintains a job with WWE, but it's really more about the gimmick than anything else. Granted, Rhodes may not be an integral member of the company anymore, but it doesn't change the fact that his character has been stale when they've put him on TV in the past few years. He's better suited in a backstage role if he wants to stay employed with WWE.
14 Jeff Jarrett - 50
Granted, Jarrett doesn't have the main event power that he once did, but even without the GFW and TNA banner, you can bet that he'll continue to be around the ring for at least a few more years. And who still wants to see it? He wasn't a particularly innovative wrestler even in his prime, and he's booked himself in more title matches in TNA than was ever warranted.
Frankly, pretty much the entire wrestling universe is sick of Jarrett's presence at this point. Even though his booking is probably worse than his wrestling, he should definitely be taking some kind of a full-time backstage role, instead of continuing to break guitars over the head of his opponents. His time in the ring has simply run its course, and at the age of 50, Jarrett's appeal is at an all-time low, which is saying something.
13 Brooklyn Brawler - 56
By far the most popular "jobber" in WWE history, the Brawler, real name Steve Lombardi, was easily the most tenured member of the company for a good portion of his career. His character recurred throughout nearly every era in WWE from the mid-'80s onward, and in a way, he's been one of the most popular wrestlers in the world for decades.
Now, he makes appearances on the indie circuit with semi-regularity, but without the WWE banner hanging over him, the same effect just isn't there. At 56-years-old, the entire gimmick is pretty much played out. Though Lombardi was one of the better enhancement talents on WWE's roster for years, that doesn't mean that he's much of a draw on the indie circuit. Thankfully, most of his matches are kept short, but he should really just hang it up.
12 Jushin "Thunder" Liger - 52
Liger is synonymous with Juniors in Japanese wrestling, and the high points of his career rival anybody else's in the business. So his talent level isn't in question, but at the same time it's fair to wonder if he'll ever have another marquee match at this point. True, Liger isn't ancient at the age of 52, but he's old enough that he's clearly out of his prime. Understandably, a portion of his skill set has eroded over time.
In a way, he's already a nostalgia act, and even though he's recently wrestled for some prominent promotions, such as ROH, the quality of his work is generally several notches below what he used to produce. Retirement should come sooner rather than later for Liger, as legendary as his career has been.
11 Dory Funk Jr. - 76
Incredibly, Dory has been wrestling in tag matches over the past few years, well into his 70s. It shouldn't come as a surprise, considering how much the Funk family is embedded into wrestling history. While he's also been a trainer in recent years at his own wrestling conservatory in Texas, Dory also can't seem to get away from his in-ring career entirely.
Of course, these aren't high-profile or regular matches he's having. He's had enough of those, as a former NWA Heavyweight Champion; the second-longest reigning one in history, next to Lou Thesz. Still, it's quite a feat for anyone his age to still be active in the ring. For his own health he should probably call it quits immediately, but neither of the Funks are going to go out of the business quietly.
10 Tommy Dreamer - 46
There's a reason why Dreamer is one of the biggest fan-favorites in the business. He was a staple of the original ECW, and has strived his entire career to bring the best of Indie wrestling to fans all over. His current promotion, House of Hardcore, tours regularly on an international level, and it's quietly been one of the more successful indie promotions over the past several years.
It would just be better if Dreamer didn't insist on putting himself in the main event on a regular basis. It's a huge nostalgia draw, and everyone remembers the feuds he was able to have in his prime, but his matches have taken a massive hit in quality over the years. Dreamer would be better off just running and booking the promotion, instead of being an integral wrestler on its roster right now.
9 Marty Jannetty - 57
Most recently notable for a Facebook post involving sexual attraction to a woman he thought was his own daughter (though he has denied it, and blamed it on hackers), Jannetty is still actually working on the indie circuit with semi-regularity. But in contrast to others on this ranking, who are still nostalgia draws even with their eroded in-ring skills, nobody was ever really clamoring to see Jannetty wrestle, unless he was in The Rockers. And even then, everyone knew it was Shawn Michaels who was the one carrying the team.
He's been so far removed from the gimmick over the years, that he just doesn't draw much interest from fans anymore. As he is approaching the age of 60, he should have retired a long time ago, and had the self-awareness to realize that he was never over as a singles wrestler to begin with.
8 R-Truth - 45
Still signed to WWE at the moment, Ron "R-Truth" Killings has run his course as a viable mainstream wrestling talent. He was one of the better stars in the early part of TNA, and in his prime was a great worker, but now is more or less washed up. He's suffered numerous injuries over the past few years, and hasn't been able to maintain a presence on WWE TV during that time, being nothing more than a peripheral character.
It would be a good time to hang it up. At the age of 45, Killings has also dabbled in the music business, releasing an album last year, entitled Killing It. It would probably be a better use of his time than continuing to wrestle, as either a low-level WWE character, or anonymously on the indie scene.
7 Rhyno - 42
Rhyno is one of the younger wrestlers on this ranking at the age of 42, but it feels like he's been in the business for decades longer than he actually has. With some all-time great work in ECW, and to a lesser extent WWE, to his name, there's certainly not much more for him to achieve in his career. He's still on the WWE main roster, but hasn't done much of anything to note recently.
Additionally, he's been present for various indie promotions, but nothing that would make anybody want to go and seek out his work. It's a notable step down for someone who was one of the primary figures in multiple major companies. Rhyno should consider a backstage role with WWE, or maybe focus on another political run, like his candidacy for the Michigan House Of Representatives, which he ended up losing by a small margin in 2016.
6 Yuji Nagata - 49
A certified legend in NJPW, and an overseas star that many American fans became accustomed to through his stint in WCW, Nagata is still going. He'll be 50 next year, but it's fair to wonder just how much more he'll have to offer in New Japan, with the influx of new and younger stars to their name over the past couple of years. Though it's been a storied career for him, he'd probably be better served getting his retirement match out of the way soon.
Nagata would easily have a job waiting for him within the company if he wanted it. With such a vast resume to his credit, there's not much more he's capable of accomplishing within the New Japan ranks, and probably wouldn't catch on anywhere else at this point. Retirement is the best conclusion to come to, but he'd still be able to work in the business full-time, lending his expertise out of the ring.
5 The Big Show - 45
Paul Wright set the standard for super-heavyweight wrestlers in the mid-'90s, and has turned his career into one of the all-time greats for WWE since the turn of the century. But with a multitude of injuries suffered over the past few years, it's about time that he hangs it up. He's working mostly off of name and nostalgia at this point, and he just doesn't have the clout as a viable singles wrestler that he once did.
So while using Big Show to put over younger, up-and-coming stars is a worthwhile idea, he just hasn't been active enough in the past few years to be considered a legitimate threat. For most injuries that he sustains, he has to be written off TV, and it affects every return he has to make following it. At 45-years-old, his time is coming to an end, and it wouldn't be surprising to see it happen at the next WrestleMania.
4 Goldberg - 50
We all know another Goldberg return is coming sometimes within the next three years. WWE has fallen in love with the one-off comeback run in the past few years, with Goldberg and Brock Lesnar being the two main practitioners. It's an ill-advised move, and especially so since Goldberg has now surpassed the age of 50, and is definitively washed up as a professional wrestler.
To his credit, he's not trying to make it his full-time job like others have done in the past who didn't belong in the ring. Goldberg has enough crossover appeal to succeed in different areas of entertainment. But the fact is that if and when WWE is willing to shell out for another comeback, he'll likely answer the phone. He was always a product of his time, and should resist the temptation to come back to ring yet again, for the sake of everyone involved.
3 Jerry Lawler - 67
Lawler has been one of the most identifiable figures in wrestling for decades now, both as a wrestler and broadcaster. His reputation in the Memphis territory is second to none, and he'll probably never retire fully from the ring. He has an open pass to work any indie show in the Southern portion of the country for as long as he's able to stand upright. Believe it or not, there are plenty of people willing to pay to watch him wrestle, even as a senior citizen.
But really, as great of a talent as Lawler has proven to be throughout the years, there's no reason for him to still be in the ring. It's a prime example of staying too late at the party, and even though it's purely a nostalgia trip whenever he wrestles a match now, it's also a bit depressing. At this point, he's just adding to the lows of his career, and should just make the same indie show and WWE appearances, sans the in-ring work.
2 Mil Mascaras - 75
Mascaras is one of the most enigmatic and influential wrestlers of all-time, and is miraculously still occasionally wrestling matches in the present day. In his mid-70s, this is more than a little ridiculous, but his name alone with create intrigue for any wrestling fan with a knowledge of the history of the business.
Of course, none of these matches in recent memory have been particularly high-profile, and the in-ring activity is little more than a formality. Still, anyone at Mascaras' age who is willing to get in a ring is really walking a thin line. It's best that he just stick to the autograph signings at this point, and forego the potential for additional injuries.
1 Terry Funk - 73
Nobody takes a Terry Funk retirement announcement seriously anymore. He's called it quits on so many occasions, that it's clearly just a stopgap until he's able to return to the ring for yet another return match. It's a commonly accepted certainty at this point; Funk is going to die in a wrestling ring. He's perhaps the one wrestler that diehard fans will put neck and neck with Ric Flair for the greatest to ever do it. Whether it be as NWA Heavyweight Champion in the 70s, or hardcore wrestling icon in the 90s, Funk has done it all in the business.
Much like his brother Dory, it's not surprising that he's reluctant to walk away from in-ring activity. Unlike other aging wrestlers, he doesn't have the demeanor of a broadcaster, and is too spontaneous to work consistently in a backstage role. Funk will always be the player and never the coach. Wrestling is in his DNA to the core, and there's little chance he won't wrestle at least one match a year for the rest of his life.
Whether it's on the biggest stage in WWE, or at an Indie show in front of 30 people, it's enough for him to just get in the ring.
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