A wrestler's career depends on his ability to survive his environment. A wrestler who can get through the wear and tear of the industry can survive for decades, while those who can't cut it are forced to take an early retirement.
The retirement of a famous wrestler is a significant event. Not only is it meant to celebrate the person's life and career, but it is also an opportunity to give the wrestler one last big show, and, therefore, it is treated with the utmost respect by the company.
While we have seen the likes of Edge and, most recently, Daniel Bryan, being forced to retire because of career-threatening injuries, others have had the good fortune of being able to retire on their own terms. Retirement matches usually result in the defeat of the retiring wrestler, but this isn't always the case. The odd time, a wrestler is afforded the opportunity to go out on a winning note. Of course, even those who lost their final match had one last victory before they hung up their boots for good.
Let's take a look at 15 retired wrestlers and see who they won their last match against.
27 Scott Hall (Jesse Neal and Shannon Moore)
Scott Hall has had quite the career in the wrestling circuit, as he debuted as the cool "Bad Guy" in Razor Ramon who was one of the more charismatic characters in the WWE during his time before going to WCW, where he was one of the founding members of the nWo. Hall's drinking problems led to his fall from grace after the turn of the century, but he still managed to get a solid wrestling spot in TNA where he wrestled sporadically in the last decade. Hall couldn't really wrestle that many matches because of his deteriorating health but did put up some compelling matches in his final wrestling year in 2010, as his final match and win came in a tag team match where he teamed up with his old friend Kevin Nash to defeat Jesse Neal and Shannon Moore at the TNA Sacrifice PPV in 2010. Hall would eventually become an ambassador for WWE later on, as he seems to be in much better health right now and is looking to enjoy the rest of his life to the fullest.
26 Lita (Heath Slater)
Lita might have debuted in the WWE as as punk rocker Diva who was part of "Team Extreme", but she soon became an amazing wrestler when she focused on her singles career in the WWE and along with Trish Stratus, created the Golden Era of Women's Wrestling. Lita was also one who didn't shy away from putting her body on the line, as injuries made her retire in the WWE in 2006. But much to the fans' delight, she returned from retirement in 2012 for one night when she came back to defeat Heath Slater in what was a nostalgic experience for the fans. She might now be working in the WWE in a backstage role, but she is one of the ladies who paved the way for the Women's Revolution and is one of the core reasons why women's wrestling is at an all-time high right now.
25 Shawn Michaels (Kane)
Shawn Michaels was arguably the greatest entertainer in wrestling history, as he stood out at a time where competition at the top of the WWE was at a high. Michaels was one of the top stars in the 90s but had to take some years off due to injury, but his performance level stayed the same when he returned in 2002 as he went onto win the World Heavyweight Championship after returning. He'd give us some amazing matches, also reuniting with Triple H as part of D-Generation X. He had done it all in the WWE, but one thing which was out of his grasp was ending The Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak. He lost in his first attempt and got obsessed with it in the next year, as he cost The Phenom his World Heavyweight Championship at Elimination Chamber, which propelled The Undertaker to challenge him to another match. But this time, if HBK lost, he'd have to retire. Michaels accepted and they had a hell of a match, which ended in a Michaels' loss and eventual retirement. But before he would retire, his last win would come against Taker's "brother" Kane a week before WrestleMania. He defeated Kane in a no DQ match to make a statement. Even though he couldn't keep his career in the match, his farewell was quite the emotional one and showcased why HBK is considered as one of the best of all time.
23 Christian (Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus)
"Captain Charisma" was a pretty underrated wrestler during his wrestling career; he deserved so much more in the WWE as he was only kept as a mid-carder when he had all the traits to be a main-eventer. Christian did have some very short World Heavyweight Championship reigns in his final years, as his constant injuries and bad bumps took a toll on him in the end as he had to retire in 2014. He won his final match, which was a fatal four-way against Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus on the March 24th edition of Raw to challenge for Big E's Intercontinental Championship, but that never came to fruition because of him suffering a concussion during the match. He'd never wrestle again and now works for WWE in various roles. The end of his wrestling career was pretty sad, as he deserved so much more because of his immense talent.
22 AJ Lee (The Bellas & Natalya)
AJ was one of the more eccentric (and beautiful!) divas during her time in the WWE; she was mostly a manager at first as she had some romantic angles with the likes of Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler before becoming popular for her in-ring skills. But when she got seriously into the wrestling and won the Divas Championship, her dominance would be difficult for anyone to surpass as she held the Divas Title for 295 days (a record at the time). But as things between her husband, CM Punk, and WWE got more difficult, she wasn't as passionate about the product as she was before but still managed to see out her contract as she wrestled her final match on the Raw after WrestleMania 31 and won the match, teaming with Paige and Naomi to defeat The Bella Twins and Natalya. She would leave the WWE and retire from wrestling five days later, as she's now helping Punk with his MMA training and living a happy marriage.
21 Mick Foley (Mickey Gambino)
It's rather surprising to realize that Mick Foley had a 25+ year long wrestling career, knowing all the hardcore stuff he did during his time, as the Hardcore Legend had many broken bones and bruises to his body, somehow managing to continue for that long. Though Foley found most of his popularity in the 90s which saw him take part in some hellacious matches, he kept on wrestling and doing dangerous spots as the years rolled on and wasn't afraid of putting his body on the line, even as he was growing older. Foley even wrestled last year for OMEGA Wrestling where he defeated Mickey Gambino in what is most likely his final match and win of his career, as the Hardcore Legend now has to let go as he has done everything one can to entertain fans and should look to get into more of a management role like he has right now as the GM of Raw.
20 Daniel Bryan (Cesaro and Tyson Kidd)
Daniel Bryan pulled off the ultimate underdog story of the modern era when he defied the authority to defeat Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista on the same night to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31, establishing him as the most over guy in the WWE and its top face. But constant injuries were a thorn in his side ever since then, as he was often injured and all the injuries finally made him succumb to his fears and take an early retirement, which shocked many. Bryan's last match and victory would be on an episode of Smackdown last year when he teamed up with John Cena to defeat Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, as no-one could probably believe at the time that it could have been the last time we'd see Bryan competing inside the ring, as his sorrowful tale was somewhat redeemed when he was made Smackdown GM by Shane McMahon and is doing a great job as the GM right now and is still the most over guy in the company despite not being a wrestler, which goes onto show how big he had an impact on the fans.
19 JBL (CM Punk)
John Bradshaw Layfield had quite the wrestling career in WWE, as he grew from Bradshaw the badass to a conniving, greasy heel in JBL as he would have a lengthy reign as WWE Champion on Smackdown, labelling himself as a "Wrestling God". Though not many liked JBL because of his gimmick, he did all he could for the company and was a loyal employee during his wrestling days. He saw his career come to an end in 2009, but not before winning the Intercontinental Championship on the March 9th episode of Raw, making himself the eleventh Grand Slam Champion in history. He'd go on to lose it at WrestleMania to Rey Mysterio in 21 seconds in his final wrestling match, but at least his last win was quite the memorable win for himself as it etched him into history.
12 Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat (Caylen Croft and Trent Baretta)
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat was also one of the prominent wrestlers of the 80s who unfortunately couldn't ever win the top belt in the WWE, but the former Intercontinental Champion was arguably their best mid-carder at the time. Steamboat would keep an unbelievable thirst for wrestling as he grew older, as he kept on wrestling as he grew older and making appearances for the WWE. Steamboat finally retired in 2009 after a 30+ years career as he wrestled his final match in a win, teaming up with his son Richie to defeat Caylen Croft and Trent Baretta at FCW's Father's Day Salute event as he went out on a high, standing tall with his son at his side. Steamboat might not have been a main eventer in the WWE, but he was definitely as good, if not better, than the main eventers during his time at the top.
11 Trish Stratus (Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero)
Trish Stratus' journey to becoming the top woman star of the WWE and her quest at elevating the level of women's wrestling in the company is amazing, as she started off as a manager but then asserted herself as a superb wrestler in the company. The Multi-time Woman's Champion retired from wrestling in 2006 when she defeated Lita for the Women's Championship at Unforgiven 2006, retiring as the title holder. But she'd make some sporadic returns to the WWE, as she came back at an episode of Raw in 2011 to take part in an inter-gender tag team match as she teamed with John Morrison to defeat Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero as she went out on a high and showed why she's regarded as one of the best women wrestlers of all time with an amazing performance on the night to go out on a high.
10 Bret Hart (Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez)
Bret "The Hitman" Hart claimed to be "The Best There Is, The Best There Was and the Best There Ever Will Be," and going by his amazing ability in the ring and sensational career, that might well be true. Hart gained his popularity in WWE where he was the face of the company in the 90s before he left the company after the Montreal Screwjob, which is infamous for Vince McMahon screwing him over as he left the WWE on a very sour note. He'd go on to join WCW where he would also be a big star, but the place would also make for the end of his wrestling career as he called it quits after matches with Bill Goldberg. But despite his problems with WWE, he'd make his return in 2010 to reconcile with Shawn Michaels and have a feud with Mr. McMahon as well. He'd also have his final wrestling win in the WWE, as he wrestled his final match on an episode of Monday Night Raw when he teamed up with John Cena to defeat Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez, which he won by making Rodriguez tap to his iconic sharpshooter, as he went out on a high and proved that he may well be the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.
7 Ric Flair (Doug Williams)
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair's legendary career has been filled with iconic moments which created the living legend which he is now, as his 40-year long wrestling career is an example of why he's considered as the greatest wrestler of all time. The 16-time World Champion (in WWE's books) had his "retirement" match at WrestleMania XXIV when he lost to Shawn Michaels which apparently put an end to his wrestling career. But he'd soon join TNA and continue wrestling for them, as he competed for TNA for a couple of years and wrestled his final matches in the company as well. Flair got his final wrestling win in TNA's Maximum IMPACT tour in 2011 when he defeated Doug Williams as the Nature Boy rolled back the years to triumph over a wrestler almost 20 years younger than him to showcase why he's often referred to as probably the greatest of all time.
5 CM Punk (Billy Gunn)
Before he took his ball and retired from wrestling on his own terms, CM Punk was actually one of the top attractions of WWE as he attained quite the popular after his infamous "Pipebomb" in 2011 after which he became their top star. He soon won the WWE Championship which he would hold for an amazing 434 days, as he was still pretty well-booked after dropping the belt. Punk would become a face in the end of his career, as he feuded with the Shield towards the end of his WWE career. His final win came during an episode of Raw before the Royal Rumble, as he defeated Billy Gunn. This would also be his final singles match. Punk would then compete in the 2014 Royal Rumble but be eliminated by Kane from it, as that would be his final WWE match as he left the company afterwards and reported himself to be "retired" from wrestling, focusing on his MMA career after signing on with UFC soon after. Punk might not be having the best of MMA careers in UFC, but his WWE run will be always remembered for how amazing it was as Punk was definitely one of the best wrestlers of the modern era and could've had so much more if he decided to wrestle more.
3 Edge (Alberto Del Rio)
One of the most charismatic, coolest wrestlers of his time, Edge was definitely one of the best things of the WWE during its Ruthless Aggression era and beyond as the "Rated R Superstar" was not only amazing in the ring, but a great entertaining outside it as well. So when it was discovered that he would be retiring from wrestling after WrestleMania XXVII, the wrestling community was in a state of shock as everyone was appalled at the fact that he would have to retire because of persisting neck injuries. But Edge went out a winner, as he retained his World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio in his final match at WrestleMania XXVII and went out as world champion which is befitting for an amazing athlete like him who went out too soon sadly, but left behind an amazing career which will be difficult to replicate by anyone.
1 "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (Eric Bischoff)
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin was WWE's main weapon for defeating WCW during the Monday Night Wars, as Austin's rebellious attitude and feuding with the villainous Mr. McMahon was what elevated WWE to the top of the food chain in wrestling and Austin became an icon with this character. He'd remain as their undisputed top star during his time in the company despite having some stiff competition during the time, but as injuries began to restrict him in the ring, he decided to out after wrestling at the grandest stage of them all. He lost his final match to the Rock at WrestleMania XIX but before that, he'd get his final win on an episode of Raw where he defeated the villainous Eric Bischoff before going onto wrestle the Great One himself. Though Austin's final win might barely be remembered as compared to his final iconic match against The Rock, it was a win where he defied the authority like always as his rebellious character stood atop till the very end of his career as he went out on his own terms and an icon who will never be replicated ever again.
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