Despite the fact that professional wrestlers have one of the most exhilarating sports-related jobs imaginable, every one who pursues a wrestling career has a beginning, a middle, and an end. No one stays on top forever, and legends such as Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock have all come and gone, leaving the business to fresh faces such as Finn Balor, Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens. Pro-wrestling is definitely tough on one’s body, hence why most performers retire in their early-mid 40’s to avoid extra wear and tear.
The WWE has plenty of new faces who are constantly evolving the business, but the fact remains that there are lots of old faces whose careers are slowly but surely catching up to them. Some of these names are quite obvious including the likes of The Bigshow, Kane, Mark Henry, and Vader. However, age and deteriorating health aren’t the only factors in a career catching up to oneself in pro-wrestling, as poor booking can surely fade away a performer into obscurity – look at Dolph Ziggler for example who has been booked horrendously and has thus become “washed up” in many fan’s eyes.
Stay tuned, as this list divulges 15 wrestlers whose career is catching up to them.
15. Mick Foley
Mick Foley is undoubtedly one of the greatest hardcore daredevil wrestlers of all time. Between his debut in WCW in 1991 all the way up until his unfortunate retirement, Mick gave the fans everything his body could possibly handle, and though Foley has created some long-lasting memories for Sports Entertainment fans, his health has suffered immensely.
As most of you are aware, Mick returned to the WWE last year to become Raw’s new GM, though it was revealed later that Foley’s health forced him to vacate the spot, letting Kurt Angle take over the position. Even though Foley’s latest role was non-wrestling, Mick still felt extreme pain and thus needed hip surgery. Despite the fact that Mick was never really in “great shape” even during his prime, his health has deteriorated rapidly since hanging up the boots, making normal living somewhat difficult.
14. Shane McMahon
If there’s one thing most fans can agree upon when it comes to Shane McMahon, it’s the fact that he’s absolutely crazy. Despite being 47 years old and well past his peak, Shane has put himself in harm’s way to entertain the WWE Universe. McMahon’s willingness to risk his own health in order to better the shows truly speaks volumes in regards to Shane’s love for the business – however, his overall health and well being has definitely been strained.
McMahon’s main attraction as a talent is to perform extremely risky daredevil moves such as jumping off the Hell In A Cell cage which will damage any person no matter how fit or strong they may be. Perhaps Shane-O-Mac wasn’t as hurt as we had originally thought following that death-defying HIAC bump, but these risky moves will definitely start to catch up to McMahon if this style continues, and he will be forced to retire altogether.
13. Mark Henry
If his career hasn’t already come to an end, Mark Henry’s time in pro-wrestling will end in the very near future. Some rumours suggest that Henry has already retired as of WrestleMania 33 to become a producer for the WWE (Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal being his last match), but it surely wouldn’t surprise me if Henry competes in a few more matches. Mark Henry had an extraordinarily long WWE career for his size (21 years), and even though he’s been booked pretty horrendously for a large portion of his run, he can still boast that he’s a former World Heavyweight Champion. It looks like Mark Henry’s retiring for real this time (remember his infamous 2013 angle with John Cena?), and I wish nothing but the best for the underrated and talented big man.
12. The Bigshow
If there’s any performer on the current roster who deserves to finally retire, look no further than The Big Show. The man has lasted far longer in the wrestling business than anyone could have ever imagined, thanks to his loyalty to the WWE and Vince McMahon. It’s obvious that Big Show’s been booked like a yo-yo the past few years, but the fact remains that “The World’s Largest Athlete” gives his all whenever he steps foot inside the ring – even at 45 years old. However, all good things do in fact come to an end at some point, and in Bigshow’s case, his career is quickly catching up to him as an in-ring competitor. Bigshow’s currently out of action to undergo hip surgery, and after next years WrestleMania, I would be very surprised if he’s still listed as an active competitor.
11. Daniel Bryan
It’s truly unfortunate how Daniel Bryan’s WWE career turned out. Being forced to retire from in-ring competition during his peak of popularity, Daniel Bryan now serves as SmackDown’s GM in a non-wrestling role – something that clearly hurts Bryan. Daniel has suffered from many injuries throughout his pro-wrestling career, as his high-flying “daredevil” style certainly takes its toll on ones body. Despite the fact that Daniel has a solid position within the WWE, Bryan still has hopes that he’ll return to an in-ring wrestling role in the near future – though this probably won’t happen considering the company doesn’t want to risk Bryan’s health unnecessarily. As I mentioned, a truly unfortunate situation for both Daniel and the WWE, because Bryan loves to wrestle, and the WWE would benefit greatly from such an extremely popular Superstar.
Rhyno and Heath Slater were an unexpected hit as a tag team over on SmackDown Live last year, and their partnership culminated when they captured the SD Tag Team Championships at the Backlash pay-per-view to become the inaugural champions after defeating The Usos. Heath and Rhyno were over with the fans, but that seemed to mean little to the WWE considering they completely fell from grace following their loss at the hands of Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt for the tag titles earlier this year.
Rhyno and Slater now reside on Monday Night Raw, and they’ve both been used extremely sparingly which is truly unfortunate. Though they may get another shot somewhere down the line, all signs point to Rhyno retiring in the near future or leaving the promotion due to a lack of opportunities. Rhyno’s WWE career is certainly catching up to him, as he couldn’t be any less irrelevant – again, the WWE’s fault.
9. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler definitely ranks as being among the most mistreated WWE Superstars in recent memory. Dolph’s career in WWE isn’t catching up to him due to his age or a lack of talent, it’s entirely due to the company’s lack of faith in Ziggler as a performer. Dolph is a great wrestler, a great speaker and most of all, was over with the fans when he was portrayed as being a legitimate championship contender. It’s crazy to think that a former World Heavyweight Champion could be in such an irrelevant spot, and Ziggler’s only purpose as of the last 3 years has been to job out to the top stars and the up and coming talents. Ziggler could leave tomorrow and no one would really care – and yes, this is a bad thing for someone as capable of being a star as Ziggler is.
8. James Ellsworth
I think it’s clear that most fans knew right from the start that James Ellsworth had a very limited lifespan in the WWE, and that lifespan will be coming to an end sooner rather than later (let’s hope). James’ WWE career is catching up to him simply because his shtick has run its course, and fans are no longer interested in seeing the chinless underdog front and centre.
Ellsworth has been playing his part as Carmella’s sidekick pretty well for the last few months, though Carmella will undoubtedly go her separate way in the near future to reach her full potential. Even though many fans despise James, I’m happy that he has been able to live out his dream of becoming a WWE Superstar – it’s one of those feel-good stories.
Now it may sound crazy, but 2017 Kane just pinned Finn Balor clean the other night on Monday Night Raw to secure a rather shocking victory. Though Kane’s arguably one of the all-time WWE greats, the fact that the 50 year-old defeated a red hot Finn Balor. However, upon closer inspection, it’s easy to realize that the WWE are attempting to build up Kane for one last storyline – a feud with “The Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman. Kane’s career has taken it’s toll on him physically, and it can almost be guaranteed that “The Big Red Machine” will retire early next year (WrestleMania 34 at the very latest). Kane’s had a great career with the WWE, and he will certainly be inducted into the Hall Of Fame someday.
6. Titus O’Neil
Despite the fact that Titus O’Neil is far from being a great talent in-ring, he’s definitely been misused during his tenure with the WWE. Possessing the size and look Vince tends to favour in his top stars, it was quite baffling to me that Titus was never a bigger player – clumsy wrestler or not. Perhaps if Titus had started his pro-wrestling career a bit younger he would’ve had a better chance to succeed, because at 40 years old, his prime is well past him. It’s safe to say that Titus’s career as an in-ring competitor is catching up to him, and it looks like a manager type role is what’s in store for O’Neil for the imminent future. Taking into account the fact that Titus is a rather awful wrestler, I think the manager role may be a perfect fit for him.
5. Chris Jericho
No other man in Sports Entertainment can adapt to the times as well as Chris Jericho, and that fact is undeniable. Capable of finding a way to stay relevant whenever he’s around, Chris Jericho is undoubtedly one of the greatest of all time. Jericho’s just coming off a phenomenal run with the WWE, and it’s likely that he’ll return to the squared circle in the near future for another fun-filled run. However, as much as I love Chris Jericho, his wrestling career is slowly but surely catching up to him both physically and in terms of his age, and after one or two more short runs with the WWE, I see Jericho retiring from the ring permanently to pursue his music career full-time with his band Fozzy.
4. Randy Orton
If there’s one thing that’s becoming apparent regarding Randy Orton, it’s the fact that his career is quickly catching up to him – and this is mainly the WWE’s fault. Despite the fact that Randy Orton boasts a WWE Championship run earlier this year as well as being the 2017 Royal Rumble winner, Randy has never seemed more irrelevant.
Randy’s made it clear that he wishes to be on the flagship show Monday Night Raw where Vince McMahon is more involved, as he’s unhappy with SmackDown Live and those in charge of running the show. Fans have grown tired of seeing Orton hogging up the main event WWE Championship scene, and this reflects why he’s less over than he ever has been right now – that on top of being involved in tedious feuds with poor booking.
3. Ric Flair
One of the saddest things a pro-wrestling columnist could report is the fact that Ric Flair’s health is slowly but surely catching up to him due to years of alcohol abuse and the overall wear and tear his body has suffered from countless years of entertaining the fans (he only retired in 2011 from in-ring competition). Ric Flair certainly lived a lavish lifestyle stylin’ and profilin’ during the height of his pro-wrestling career, but like anything, one’s choices have consequences.
In Ric’s case, his constant wrestling schedule mixed in with substance abuse caused his health to deteriorate much quicker than it would for another man his age working in an entirely different field. Ric Flair had a medical scare earlier this year, and though he’s supposedly doing better now, it seems like his dependence on hospital care is growing with each passing day due to his health related issues. Ric’s career has unfortunately caught up to him, and I’d be surprised if we see Ric anytime soon on WWE television as a result.
2. The Undertaker
Even though The Undertaker went through the motions of retiring this past WrestleMania, all signs point towards a return sometime in the new year to participate in yet another WrestleMania. The WWE’s continuing reliance on legends such as The Undertaker to draw in fans to the big pay-per-views is proof enough that the company’s struggling to create new Superstars. The point is that not only has The Undertaker’s career caught up to him, it has already passed him a couple years ago. The Undertaker isn’t the performer he once was, and many fans are quite anxious whenever he’s wrestling due to his deteriorating health. Perhaps it is best if he does not return to the ring to protect his personal health.
One of the most talented and diverse big men in professional wrestling history, Vader is truly a memorable performer who will go down in the history books as a legend. However, as some of you may or may not be aware, Vader’s health has suffered immensely over the last few years due to his unwillingness to retire, along with his overall size and the wear and tear his body has endured throughout his career.
Pro-wrestling is undoubtedly tough health-wise on an average sized man, but when you’re a 450 0dd pound man who performs high-risk moves on a regular basis like a Cruiserweight, tough doesn’t seem like a word that could accurately describe the wear and tear. Vader’s career is without a doubt catching up to him, and despite being told by multiple doctors that he only has a couple more years to live, he has continued to do what he loves, and that’s wrestling. That said, it was reported earlier this year (April) that Vader had passed out following a match in Japan, so to me, this is signalling the beginning of the end to Vader’s in-ring career unfortunately, no matter how much he loves performing.
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