Over the past few decades, wrestling fans tuning in to weekly shows like WWE Monday Night Raw or TNA Impact Wrestling familiarize themselves with leading men and women from those promotions, who could end of being the faces of the company.
But as we’ve learned, the wrestling business is a tough one, and it’s not easy to stay on top, or better yet, solidify a place on the main roster. At times, main eventers from WWE jump ship to TNA, while some test the waters on the independent scene or even in Asia or South America.
It would be foolish to assume one’s career is over after a departing with a mainstream wrestling company, however, for some practitioners of the squared circle, they find themselves in an endless circle of working dates from small church basements or dingy warehouses in front of 150 people. On the other hand, some propel to new heights, getting themselves over and rejuvenating their careers after such lengthy stays in top promotions (AJ Styles’ recent form in NJPW should come to mind.)
There are an abundance of talents still working all over the globe, so we’ve tracked down some of the biggest names of the past to see where they’re at in the wrestling world. Omitted from this list of wrestlers still blazing out the curtain are the more popular and obvious names, like Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz, Rey Mysterio, Gail Kim, Mickie James and Alberto Del Rio, to name a few, who still have enough mainstream appeal to pull in the casual viewer wherever they’re at. We’ve also left out Terry Funk, who decides to retire and continue wrestling a few times per year. Also, guys who just got the cut from WWE and TNA may not have made it, unless they’re hoisting gold elsewhere.
Without further ado, here are 25 performers you might not have known are still wrestling:
“The Caribbean Cool” hasn’t been taking too much time off these days, travelling all over the globe to places like Australia and Qatar as a representative of the Colon wrestling family. Carlito wasn’t been picked up by a major wrestling promotion after his WWE tenure, yet he’s still putting in long hours against familiar names like Tommy Dreamer, Chris Masters, Jinder Mahal and Matt Hardy elsewhere.
24 Rob Conway
It’s fair to say Rob Conway was never a main event player during his time with WWE, yet over a decade after being in La Resistance, the same can’t be said in reference to his time in NWA. Conway was the NWA World Heavyweight Champion before losing the title to Tenzan in NJPW, where he also makes appearances here and there.
23 Paul London
Paul London’s WWE career is best known for his success in the tag team division with Brian Kendrick, as he won two tag titles alongside Spanky. The latter has featured on NXT as of late, but London still tied to a full-time wrestling schedule outside of WWE, spending time in ROH, FWE and PWG, among other small promotions. London won FWE’s Tri-Borough Championship beating PWG star Joey Ryan in a tag team match with two titles on the line.
22 Doc Gallows
Doc Galllows has surpassed his runs in both WWE and TNA as a member of Japan’s popular Bullet Club stable. His partnership with Karl Anderson has been more than prosperous, being two-time IWGP Tag Team Champions and taking NJPW’s World Tag League honors in 2013. Gallows is an example of how a wrestler who started out with an unfortunate gimmick (Festus) can rebound when given the liberty to be himself.
After successful stints in WWE and WCW, Psicosis returned to Mexico’s AAA promotion, now known as Nicho. He doesn’t travel to American too often, busy with his current home, as well as appearing in smaller promotions across the country. He’s been featured mostly in tag matches as of late, whether they are six-man tag or four-way tag matches.
20 Juventud Guerrera
An incredibly popular cruiserweight during the division’s heyday in WCW, Juventud Guerrera still travels far and wide apart from wrestling all over Mexico, too. He is still as diverse when being booked, participating in singles competition and tag matches, and recently performed for such promotions as PCW and 4FW this year in England. While with AAA after WCW, he won their Cruiserweight Championship.
19 Chavo Guerrero Jr.
Appearing for several smaller promotions across the United States, Europe and Mexico over the past couple of years, Chavo Guerrero Jr. continues the family legacy as a member of the Lucha Underground roster, where familiar names like Konnan, Vampiro and Matt Striker also serve as managers and broadcasters.
18 Davey Boy Smith Jr.
A member of the storied Hart Family, Davey Boy Smith Jr. is continuing his father’s legacy as a naturally gifted hoss over in Japan, alongside Lance Archer (formerly known as Lance Hoyt, Vance Archer and Dallas to WWE and TNA fans). The gruesome twosome makes up the Killer Elite Squad, performing in both ROH and Pro Wrestling Noah as of late. Smith Jr. also had some great singles performances at last year’s G1 Climax 24 for NJPW.
17 Steve Corino
“The King of Old School” isn’t doing too shabby as a broadcaster in ROH alongside Kevin Kelly, going by King Corino. However, the former ECW World Heavyweight Champion is still wrestling all over the United States, too. ROH fans are familiar with Corino’s involvement in SCUM, and he even wrestled Kevin Owens in the latter’s last ROH match before signing with WWE in 2014.
16 Drew McIntyre
Working under the name Drew Galloway, the Scotsman has already found success in major independent promotions across America following his WWE release. Galloway currently holds the Evolve World Championship and the Dragon Gate USA Open the Freedom Gate Championship as a premiere main eventer in both promotions. He is also working for TNA, who hosted his last couple of matches. (For those wondering, his former 3MB partner Jinder Mahal is also still competing, but Galloway has been a little more successful on the main event scene).
15 Tommy Dreamer
“The Innovator of Violence” still stays true to his hardcore roots as the force behind House of Hardcore, which features many Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) veterans such as Rhino and The Dudley Boyz, as well as TNA mainstays like Bobby Roode and Austin Aries. Besides his work as a promoter and wrestler in HOH, Dreamer has been featured in TNA, FWE and currently holds the IWC Heavyweight Championship for the Pennsylvania-based company.
14 John Morrison
Performing under Johnny Mundo and John Hennigan, the three-time WWE Intercontinental Champion hasn’t taken a breath of air these past couple of years. He’s a major player in Lucha Underground and FWE, and he’s had stellar matches against Alberto El Patron, AJ Styles and Prince Puma (Ricochet), to name a few. He also competed for NWA a few times.
13 Ultimo Dragon
One of WCW’s best cruiserweights ever and a human magnet for championships, Ultimo Dragon is still kicking at 48 years old, wrestling for AJPW and currently holds the All Asia Tag Team Championship alongside Yoshinobu Kanemaru. The last time Dragon was seen in an American wrestling ring, he defeated Juventud Guerrera at the King of Indies in California this past March.
12 Jushin Liger
The decorated and influential Japanese icon has fought battles all over the world (Jushin Liger participated in the very first match of WCW Nitro’s debut episode), yet his home has been NJPW for the past few years, where he participates in lower to mid-card matches at almost every event. He’s been lending his services to ROH as well, and recently came up short in an ROH Television Championship match against Jay Lethal at Supercard of Honor 9.
With ties to the adult entertainment industry, Gangrel hasn’t fully walked away from the squared circle. The former Brood leader had a number of dates in 2015, including a six-man tag match last month where part-time performer Kevin Nash was also involved. The bloodthirsty wrestler has worked dozens of dates these past few years alone.
10 Bob Holly
Known for being one of the toughest guys in the business, Bob Holly is still active at 52 years old, and even appears in hardcore matches from time to time. While TNA One Night Only: Hardcore Justice 2 was his last mainstream television appearance, Holly contests for titles all over the Indy map, and even shared rings with Brodus Clay and Sonjay Dutt in 2015.
9 Too Cool
Both Scotty 2 Hotty (Scott Garland) and Grandmaster Sexay (Brian Lawler) still compete to this day, sometimes even performing as the former WWE tag team, Too Cool, though they aren't allowed to use the name. While the dancing duo are often partners in the ring, Scotty 2 Hotty works mostly as a singles wrestler, being a tad more active on the Indy scene than his associate.
8 Shelton Benjamin
A staple in Money In The Bank matches and a three-time Intercontinental Champion with WWE, Shelton Benjamin was active in Ring of Honor with his World’s Greatest Tag Team partner Charlie Haas (who also still wrestles) before making a name for himself in NJPW with the Suzuki-gun stable. The group is currently invading Pro Wrestling Noah in an angle similar to the nWo’s takeover of WCW.
7 Jeff Jarrett
“The King of The Mountain” has done it all in the wrestling world, and with Global Force Wrestling on the cusp of its launch in a few weeks, Jeff Jarrett doesn’t look like he’s stopping any time soon. It remains to be seen if the Tennessee titan will lace up the boots regularly while holding down a promotion, considering he was travelling from North America to England in 2015. Nevertheless, Jarrett still remains a part-time member of the Bullet Club and featured in January’s famed Wrestle Kingdom show at the Tokyo Dome with his brethren.
6 Taka Michinoku
One of WWE’s most popular light heavyweights in history, Taka Michinoku, makes most of his coin wrestling in his home country of Japan. Following a stint in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) after his WWE departure, Michinoku is one of the veteran members of heel stable Suzuki-gun in NJPW, which means he’s also been involved in matches over at Pro Wrestling Noah.
5 Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas is still at it and even though the ECW legend doesn’t take too many dates per year, he still battles familiar foes of the past and the future breed of talent from all over the map. He’s been more active these past three years than those that followed his TNA departure in 2004, competing against the likes of Rhino and Ethan Page in 2015 when he’s not putting on wrestling shows himself.
It should come as no surprise that Sabu is still working, serving as a prime example of the type of life a hardcore wrestler truly lives. He hasn’t skipped a beat since his WWE departure in 2007, working for Mexico’s AAA, TNA and he also lent his services to IWA-Mid South and Dragon Gate USA, to name a few. At this year’s WrestleCon SuperShow this past March, Sabu appeared in a star-studded No Disqualification Match alongside longtime friend Rob Van Dam against The Hardy Boyz.
3 The Rock n’ Roll Express
Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson are seen as tag team pioneers in the wrestling business, courtesy of their work in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) as The Rock n’ Roll Express. Believe it or not, Morton and Gibson are still teaming up as a duo in the squared circle, boasting an impressive 5-1 winning record in 2015. Their last contest, which took place this past March, saw the team participate in match across from another storied veteran, The Barbarian.
2 The Great Muta
The founding father of the “Muta Scale,” The Great Muta (Keiji Mutoh) is still going strong, even as an owner of Wrestle-1. Since 2013, Muta has competed regularly in his own promotion, TNA, AJPW and even does the odd show over at NJPW and Pro Wrestling Noah. He just lost the Wrestle-1 Championship to KAI two months ago at the prestigious Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
1 Scott Steiner
“Big Poppa Pump” still feels like it’s his duty to please the freaks, competing regularly for numerous promotions across North America. He recently fought in CWI, as he's their current Heavyweight champion, but it wasn’t too long ago that Steiner teamed up with his brother Rick as The Steiner Brothers for bigger wrestling shows in 2014 (Rick Steiner doesn’t compete as often as his brother, busy with school board member duties in Georgia). He's also signed on to be part of the roster at Global Force Wrestling.