They say there is no such thing as retiring from the professional wrestling business, and for the most part that is true. Just take a look at the legendary career of Ric Flair. "The Nature Boy" made his wrestling debut in 1972 and didn't wrestle his final match until 2011. He's just one of the many wrestlers to continue their in-ring career into their 50s and beyond. These wrestlers don't retire because professional wrestling is all they know how to do.
It takes a lot of courage to retire. You are potentially leaving a ton of money on the table. You also have to find a new way to put food on your family's table. While a couple of these people were forced to leave the ring due to injury, most left on their own accord. There are various reasons why they retired. For some, it was about spending more time with their family, while others just lost the passion for the business.
These wrestlers on this list may not be household names for the most part, but if you heard their name today, you would probably be thinking they must be wrestling somewhere. But the fact is they are retired, and in some cases, they've been retired for years and you never even knew it.
Here 15 wrestlers you might not have realized are retired.
15 Santino Marella
Santino made his WWE debut in 2007 and he did it in style by winning the Intercontinental Championship in his very first match. However, within a year of his run in the company, his character was almost strictly used for comic relief. Although he was never in the main event picture, Marella had some memorable moments in his near decade WWE run. His most memorable moment might just be when he set the record for the shortest Royal Rumble appearance when Kane eliminated him in just 1.9 seconds. Despite being a comedic character, Santino was still a decorated champion having won the Inconterntial Championship twice, the U.S. Championship once, and was a one-time Tag Team Champion while teaming up with Vladimir Kozlov.
In 2014, Marella suffered the third major neck injury of his career. Although he was able to recover from his previous neck injuries, the third one was the nail in the coffin for his wrestling career. He officially announced his retirement at a WWE house show in July of 2014. Marella would stay with the company for anther two years making sporadic television appearances before finally being released in 2016. Marella now owns and runs his own gym/training school called ‘Battle Arts Academy‘ in his hometown of Mississauga, Ontario.
14 Kid Kash
Kid Kash was a well-travelled wrestler having competed is most major companies throughout his lengthy career. He started his career wrestling doing many house shows with the WWE in the mid-1990s before making a name himself when he joined ECW in 1996. Kash competed in many championship matches in ECW, but his only title win was a victory over Rhino for the Television Championship in 2000.
After ECW closed down Cash joined the then upstart company TNA. He wrestled there for a few years winning multiple championships including the X-Division title. Kash then joined the WWE in 2005 for a brief run that lasted barely a year but he did manage to win the Cruiserweight Championship.
After wrestling on the independents for a few years, he rejoined TNA in 2010. He wrestled there until 2013 where he was a constant contender for the X- Division title. Kash wrestled his final match in December 2015, leaving the business as very accomplished but underappreciated wrestler.
13 Vladimir Kozlov
Prior to joining the WWE in 2006, Vladamir Kozlov was muti-talented athlete having been a kickboxing and grappling champion. To say he was a promising prospect would be an understatement. Upon making his main roster debut in 2008, he was given a big push, squashing every opponent he faced. It wouldn't be too long before he was in a match against Edge and Triple H for the WWE Championship in which he would ultimately lose.
Kozlov would continue to be one of the top heels in the company until the WWE decided to change him into a babyface in 2010. This would ultimately be the downfall of his WWE career. He began teaming with Santino Marella, and although they won the tag team titles, the team was used in a comedic role. This new gimmick change did not suit the imposing Kozlov at all. Kozlov would be released by the WWE in 2011, and less than a year later he would retire from the business. Kozlov now works in Hollywood as a stuntman and has had roles in movies like Fast & Furious 6 and John Wick.
12 Jerry Lynn
If it seemed like Jerry Lynn wrestled forever, you wouldn't be all that wrong. Lynn began his career in the late 1980s and began to receive more mainstream exposure when he signed with the AWA in 1989. Lynn was actually the last ever challenger for the AWA Heavyweight Championship before the company went out of business.
After the AWA, Lynn took his talent to Japan where he competed under a mask as the character Golgotha Cross. After Japan, Lynn joined WCW where he would be a staple in their Cruiserweight division for almost two full years. In 1997 Lynn joined ECW, this is where his career would really start to take off. In ECW Lynn became one of the tops guys in the company. His feud with Rod Van Dam was one of the best in the history of ECW.
After ECW shut down Lynn would join the WWE, where he would win the Lightheavyweight Championship in his very first match. Unfortunately for Lynn, things didn't work out with the WWE and he released less than a year into his run. After the WWE Lynn would continue wrestling for over a decade with notable stops in TNA and ROH. He finally retired on March 23, 2013, which just so happened to be the 25th anniversary of his wrestling debut.
11 Chuck Palumbo
It is safe to say there wasn't a whole lot of bright spots for WCW in 2000. The company was losing badly to the WWE in the ratings and it was only a matter time before the company ceased to exist. However, WCW did have some promising young talent, and one of those guys was Chuck Palumbo. At 6'5 280 lbs, Palumbo stood out among all the wrestlers to come out of the WCW Power Plant. He was only able to wrestle in WCW for barely a year before the company was bought out, but in that time he managed to win the WCW Tag Team Championship on four different occasions.
Palumbo's contract carried over to the WWE when WCW was bought in 2001 and he became a member of The Alliance. After the failed Invasion angle was over, Palumbo teamed up with Billy Gunn. The team of Billy and Chuck didn't last too long, but it was by far the most success Palumbo had in the WWE. The team won the tag team titles on two occasions, with the highlight being them successfully defending the titles at WrestleMania X8.
After his partnership ended with Billy Gunn, Palumbo was relegated to mostly wrestling on shows like Sunday Night Heat and Velocity before being released in 2004. He would rejoin the WWE in 2006, but he wouldn't be involved in any high profile feuds before he was once again released in 2008. Palumbo would wrestle on the independent scene until he hung up his boots for good in 2012. Palumbo currently runs his own business where he builds custom motorcycles. He also hosted a show on the Discovery Channel called Lords of the Car Hoards, which last aired in 2015.
At 6'8, the former professional football player Jon Heidenreich had the look of a big time professional wrestler. The WWE liked his look as well and signed him to a contract in 2003. Heidenreich first made his debut as a character with a split personality. That character was short lived as he would be sent down to OVW for more developing.
Heidenreich returned in 2004 as heel alongside manager Paul Heyman. His character was that of a psychopath that would read poetry. His most notable feud as a heel was against The Undertaker. Heidenreich would cost " The Deadman" the WWE Championship on a couple of occasions but was never able to defeat 'Taker in any of their one-on-one encounters.
Heidenreich would turn face and would eventually join Road Warrior Animal to become a new version of the Legion of Doom. The team would go on to win the Tag Team Championship, the first and only WWE title of his career. Heidenreich would be gone from the WWE in early 2006. He would wrestle on the independent circuit for a couple years before calling it a career in 2009.
9 Terry Funk
You are probably thinking to yourself that Terry Funk must have retired a long time ago. You would be right and wrong at the same time. The hardcore icon actually first retired back in 1983 at the age of 39. He would come back just a few months later and has since retired so many times that it's impossible to keep count. You can see why people might be skeptical everytime Funk announces his retirement, but it looks like his latest retirement is for real. Funk is an ancient man at seventy-two years old, and with all the beatings his body has taken over the years he probably feels even older than he already is.
Funk announced his last retirement at a House of Hardcore show back in September. He was actually supposed to be in Tommy Dreamers corner but was not able to go into the ring due to ongoing health problems. It is safe to say that Funk's remarkable half-century career is finally over.
8 Muhammad Hassan
Marc Copani made his WWE debut as Muhammad Hassan in December of 2004. Even though Copani was a “full blooded Italian,” the gimmick of Hassan was that of an Arab American who was tired of the prejudice views and stereotypes that Americans had about his people after the 9/11 attacks. He immediately became one of the most hated heels in the company. The WWE gave him a big push from the get-go, and he was even placed in a feud with Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan.
Hassan was eventually moved to the SmackDown! brand where he began a feud with The Undertaker. It was at this point where his career took a turn for the worst. Hassan interfered during a match between his partner Daivari and The Undertaker. Hassan began to pray on his knees until masked men dressed in all black came out and attacked The Undertaker. The London Bombings happened just three days later, and the airing of this angle would draw criticism from major media outlets. The WWE decided it was best for them to end the Hassan character, and that is exactly what they did. Shortly after, Hassan would be released by the WWE and would retire from the business at just the age of twenty-three.
7 Paul Burchill
Paul Birchill spent years developing in native home of the United Kindom before making the trip over to North America to join the WWE in 2005. Upon entering the WWE Burchill was teamed up with fellow countryman William Regal. Although the team didn't win any titles, they did pickup victories over teams like London and Kendrick and the Mexicools.
Burchill and Regal would eventually part ways, which led to Birchill become his infamous pirate character. Although the fans reacted well to his new pirate gimmick, especially his awe-inspiring entrance, the character was quickly dropped. Birchill would head back to OVW and wouldn't be back on the main roster for over a year. When he came back, Birchill was given an on-screen sister, where unfortunately their most notable feud came against The Hurricane. Birchill was released by the WWE in 2010 and would wrestle on the independent scene until retiring in 2014.
6 Monty Brown
It looked like Monty Brown had all the makings of someone who would have a long career in the wrestling business. The former NFL linebacker had the size, physique, and natural athletic ability, which is almost everything you could want in a main event talent. Brown began training in 2000, but wouldn’t get his big break until he joined TNA permanently in 2004. “The Alpha Male” would become one of the top guys in the company. He competed in many high profile matches, and although he did not win any titles, he defeated legends like Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash.
Brown’s talent eventually caught the eye of the WWE, and he would sign a contract with the company in 2006. Brown made his WWE debut under the gimmick "The Alpha Male" Marquis Cor Von. He was assigned to the ECW brand where he became part of the “New Breed” faction. The highlight of Brown’s time in WWE was when the “New Breed” faced off against the ECW Originals at WrestleMania 23. In June of 2007 Brown took time off for family issues. Before he was even able to reappear on television, he was released by the WWE. He would quietly retire from wrestling shortly after. Brown is currently a personal trainer in Saginaw, Michigan.
5 Petey Williams
When you think of Petey Williams, the first thing that comes to mind is his finishing move "The Candian Destroyer". While the move is downright awesome looking (even with how impractical it truly is), Williams career was more than just a finishing move. Williams will go down as one best wrestlers to ever compete in TNA's X-Divison. Williams may have only won the X-Division title on two different occasions, but he was always a constant threat to win it.
Williams spent practically his entire career with TNA. He made his debut with the company in 2004 and wrestled with them on and off until 2014. Williams was the captain of Team Canada, a team which included stars such as Bobby Roode and Eric Young. While those men went on to achieve big time success, the talented Williams never achieved the same level of success. Williams announced he was retiring in 2014 at just the age of 33.
4 New Jack
There might not be a more feared man in the history of professional wrestling than New Jack. His matches in ECW were so violent that not only did the fans fear him, but his opponents did too. New Jack was a bounty hunter before getting into wrestling, and it seemed he used those same skills he used to capture criminals on his opponents in the ring. He was famous for bringing a garbage can filled with weapons into the ring. These weapons would include anything from staple guns to cheese graters. Almost notorious as his weapon use was New Jack's insane balcony dives. On many nights New Jack would climb twenty feet in the air and would come crashing down on his opponent through a table.
Of course, not all of these stunts went according to plan. There was one time in particular where New Jack almost killed himself and his opponent. New Jack was in a match against Vic Grimes where they were fighting on a scaffold. The plan was for both of them to come flying off through a table, but Grimes got cold feet. New Jack didn't care that Grimes was scared so he yanked Grimes off the scaffold with him. Both men missed the table and instead landed on the concrete floor. The massive Grimes actually landed on New Jack's head. New Jack stated that he had brain fluid coming out of his nose and he has been blind in one eye ever since.
It's moments like that which shortened New Jack's career. It's actually remarkable that his career didn't end until 2013 considering his insane style.
3 Justin Credible
If you didn't know that Justin Credible spent almost four years wrestling for the WWE early on during career, it wouldn't be all that surprising. This is because Credible wrestled as Aldo Montoya, a jobber gimmick who wore a mask, which was perhaps the worst looking mask in wrestling history. Besides befriending The Kliq, Credible didn't do anything noteworthy during his first WWE run.
Credible signed with ECW in 1997 and became the grungy looking, cocky character we all remember him as. He would go one to become one of the most successful wrestlers in the history of the company. He teamed up with Lance Storm to form the Impact Players, winning the tag team titles on two occasions. He also defeated ECW legend Tommy Dreamer to win the ECW Heavyweight title in 2000.
With ECW in financial trouble Credible returned to the WWE in 2001. He was apart the Invasion Angle, but after that angle ended he mostly wrestled on B-shows like Heat and Velocity. Credible spent the rest of his career on the independent circuit. He had his retirement match against Tommy Dreamer in 2015. Credible was a very talented wrestler, it's just too bad his drug problems limited what could have been an even more successful career.
2 Matt Morgan
At seven feet tall and over three hundred pounds, Matt Morgan should been destined to do big things, but he never ended living up to his true potential. His career got off to great start as he was teamed up with another beast in Brock Lesnar. However, it wasn't too long before Morgan became a comedic character with a stupid stuttering gimmick. Although the gimmick pretty much ended his WWE career, Morgan managed to carve out himself a solid five-year run with TNA. He would win the TNA Tag Team Championship on two different occasions. Morgan left TNA 2013 and would wrestle on the independent scene. After wrestling full-time for over a decade, Morgan announced his retirement in January of 2014 in order to spend more time with his newborn son. He currently works as a regional manager for medical device company. Morgan hasn't completely ruled out a return to wrestling but it would take a huge offer from the WWE of TNA in order for him to consider a return.
Morgan left TNA 2013 and would wrestle on the independent scene. After wrestling full-time for over a decade, Morgan announced his retirement in January of 2014 in order to spend more time with his newborn son. He currently works as a regional manager for medical device company. Morgan hasn't completely ruled out a return to wrestling but it would take a huge offer from the WWE of TNA in order for him to consider a return.
1 Ted DiBiase Jr.
The son of the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Ted Jr. was born to be a professional wrestler. DiBiase signed a development contract with the WWE in July of 2007 and less than a year later he was already on the main roster. He immediately teamed up with Cody Rhodes where they would go on to win the World Tag Team Championships on two different occasions. Dibiase really started to make a name for himself when he and Cody joined Randy Orton to form the Legacy faction. The group had a decent amount of success, but the group disbanded after an almost a two-year run. The three of them would compete in a triple threat match at WrestleMania XXVI, in which Orton would come out victorious.
After the disbandment of Legacy, DiBiase would take on a gimmick similar to his father’s where he became the Million Dollar Champion. For the next couple of years DiBiase did not do anything of significance and was out of the WWE by 2013. DiBiase was actually offered a five-year contract by the WWE, but he politely declined. He decided he was going to retire from wrestling in order to spend more time with his family.