The shelf life of a wrestler is completely unpredictable. Various things such as health, financial situations and fan interest will decide how long a wrestler can continue performing. Chris Jericho recently proved that age can just be a number. At 47 years old, Jericho co-main evented Wrestle Kingdom 12 by having a classic match with Kenny Omega. The work of Jericho showed he could hang with the best wrestler in the world for nearly 40 minutes. On the other side, there are wrestlers like Bret Hart and Steve Austin who had to retire earlier than expected due to health issues.
The story doesn’t always end in grand fashion unfortunately with many wrestlers quietly retiring. Not everyone gets to have the storybook ending like Shawn Michaels losing his final match in the main event of WrestleMania. Quite a few wrestlers have retired recently with little fanfare or attention due to it being out of the WWE bubble. We’ll look at the names to hang up their boots and start the next chapter of their lives. The wrestlers that will likely retire soon will be examined again. These are eight former WWE stars that you weren’t aware recently retired along with seven that will be next.
15. Retired: Candice Michelle
Many fans would have assumed Candice Michelle retired many years, but she didn’t make it official until a few months ago. The former WWE Women’s Champion wrestled her final match at Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore event back in December. Michelle wanted to retire on her own terms and had the last match of her career in her home of Wisconsin against close friend Lisa Marie Varon aka Victoria.
The match saw her win in the semi-main event of the show to have one more moment in the ring. Michelle claimed she never truly retired and wanted that closure to end her wrestling career. Despite not being in ring shape compared to her WWE career, Candice delivered most of her trademark moves and enjoyed the last match of her wrestling career.
14. Next: X-Pac
X-Pac is still wrestling on the independent circuit at shows all over the world. The veteran has a strong passion for wrestling as seen with his weekly activities. X-Pac hosts a podcast every week breaking down the stories in the world of wrestling. The social media pages of X-Pac also feature him interacting with fans discussing wrestling from WWE to New Japan to the independent circuit.
It is obvious that X-Pac still loves the wrestling industry. This is one reason why he continues wrestling at an older age despite the injuries. X-Pac travels to shows all over the country and does international tours in the United Kingdom giving fans a glimpse of his greatest hits in the ring. The other projects of X-Pac and the older age will make him one of the next few wrestlers to retire.
13. Retired: Adam Rose
Life after WWE has been difficult for Adam Rose when it comes to continuing his wrestling career. The release of Rose saw him motivated to prove his talent outside of the WWE restrictions like other wrestlers to thrive. Unfortunately, the fan interest in Rose was weaker than the other wrestlers. None of the hot independent promotions booked him and he has been struggling to get bookings.
Rose announced he was retiring at the end of 2017 due to wrestling no longer being the best option to make a living. Outside projects like running his own “Exotic Express” limousine service and opening his own tattoo parlor are his goals going forward. Rose’s career has been so quiet that he didn’t get to have an advertised final match.
12. Next: Carlito
Carlito is one of the wrestlers with the most wasted potential looking back at the hype he had entering WWE. The company had him defeat John Cena on his first night on television to win the United States Championship. Carlito had entertaining matches, a decent amount of charisma and the support of management yet it went nowhere.
A reputation developed for Carlito, being lazy and lacking the motivation needed to thrive in WWE were major factors to his demise. Following a few years of falling lower and lower down the card, Carlito was released when he refused to go to rehab after failing a drug test. The wrestling career of Carlito has been disappointing since leaving WWE. He only wrestles in lower tier promotions and has no interest in being a valuable commodity again. We’ll most likely see Carlito officially retire from the business sooner than later.
11. Retired: Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow received a lot of love from the fan base during his WWE career. From the elitist intellectual heel character to the stunt double of The Miz, Sandow made the most of his minimal opportunities to stand out. Fans were vocally supporting him, but WWE didn’t have faith in him being a major player and he eventually lost his role on television after splitting from Miz.
WWE ultimately released Sandow and he moved directly to Impact Wrestling looking to find the magic there. It appeared that Sandow no longer had the wrestling bug and was a huge disappointment. A combination of lackluster in-ring work and being out of shape just made his Impact run embarrassing. Sandow has left the wrestling business while hoping to find a new career path.
10. Next: Hardcore Holly
Hardcore Holly is remembered for being one of the toughest and cruelest wrestlers in WWE. Young wrestlers often felt the wrath of Holly with stiff hits in the ring and verbal beat downs backstage when he believed they were stepping out of line. Holly spent fifteen years with WWE working in the mid-card picture for most of his run.
WWE released him in 2009 and he has continued wrestling since the firing. Holly works all over the world with a lot of his work taking place in United Kingdom promotions. Despite having the reputation of being a jerk in WWE, Holly has been a treat to deal with on the independent circuit often having great exchanges with fans and promoters. The age of Holly is however getting up there and he should be retiring soon as he approaches 55 years old.
9. Retired: Alex Riley
The WWE career of Alex Riley was a massive disappointment. Riley fit the old cookie cutter mold that WWE wanted when looking to hire new talent. The look and athletic background of Riley landed him a job with WWE. Aside from being The Miz’s lackey, Riley didn’t do anything of note. A big push saw him split from Miz to turn face and it culminated with him botching his way off television.
Riley was transitioned into a broadcasting role due to the lack of wrestling talent. He wanted another chance in the ring and failed once again to get released. Riley was relatively quiet after leaving WWE. Many fans assume he is much like Ryback, Bull Dempsey and other wrestlers still appearing at shows with no fanfare. However, Riley has moved on in hopes of getting an acting career going and has no plans to wrestle again.
8. Next: Billy Gunn
D-Generation X legend Billy Gunn created a few memorable moments in WWE throughout his long career. Gunn struggled to find success in his opportunities getting pushed as a singles upper level act. However, the success of Gunn came in tag team action as one half of the New Age Outlaws. The combination of Billy and tag partner Road Dogg allowed them to shine in the Attitude Era.
Gunn had a sweet WWE gig as a trainer at the Performance Center but got fired for violating the Wellness Policy. The wrestling career of Billy has continued going on the independent circuit working all over the world. Gunn even had a big match against Hiroshi Tanahashi at the NJPW shows in the United States last year. However, the performance was rather sad, and he can no longer keep up with the younger talents. Gunn will have to retire quite soon given his age along with the wear and tear on his body.
7. Retired: Matt Morgan
#flexfriday taken Election Day Nov 7 when I became Longwood City Commissioner. About to start work on a new video series I'm going to be featured in on The 5% Nutrition YouTube channel on bulking during my off-season (Grow season!) from NPC competing. When we are ready to launch I will let you know here. #5percenters #5percentnutrition #5percentsponsoredathlete #5percentermentality #welcometomyworld #longwoodlove #longwood #MattMorgan #sayfie
WWE once valued Matt Morgan enough to consider him a major player in their future. Jim Cornette raved about him in the OVW development system. At one point, Morgan was viewed as the best big man prospect since The Undertaker. A horrible WWE run saw him turn into a joke with a stuttering gimmick done in poor taste.
Morgan was fired and spent most of his career in Impact Wrestling. Despite receiving multiple upper level pushes, Morgan never could get the momentum to run as a main eventer. Morgan wrestled for Impact last year after some time away, but it was done as an official retirement match. He wanted his family to see him perform one more time. Morgan has retired and is now a local politician in Florida.
6. Next: Melina
I'm dying of laughter. Been walking all over the place listening to Galway Girl (❤️) with a huge smile on my face. I swear, people are looking at me and smiling back at me as if they want to high five me! I think they think I just had sex. 😂#GoodGame #iJustHadSex #SmilesForMiles #ThisIsJustMe #ToHellWithMakeUp #ImAGalwayGirl #LiveLifeToTheFullest #iSmileBecauseImAlive Now I'm waiting for a text from my mum. #iSwearIveBeenGoodMum #AtBeingBad #JK #LoveYouMummy!
The women’s wrestling division in the 2000s saw Melina become one of the top heels. Melina brought an athletic style of entertainment in her matches along with highly impressive character work as a manager for the MNM tag team. The peak of her run saw her became arguably the top female performer in the company.
Melina left the business for a few years after getting released from WWE. The goal was to go back to school and get a college degree for her future. Melina has since returned to wrestling on the independent circuit wrestling internationally. WWE was rumored to have her on their radar, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. Melina’s career is towards the end and the lack of an option to come back to WWE may lead to her retirement very soon.
5. Retired: Mark Henry
A quiet retirement to go down in 2017 saw Mark Henry step away from the ring. Henry revealed in an interview that he has given up the wrestling boots in exchange for a producer role backstage. The schedule of Henry has him appearing at Raw and SmackDown every week helping put together matches. Henry also has proven to be a great talent scout recommending Braun Strowman, Apollo Crews and a few current NXT talents.
The legendary career of Henry will see him enter the Hall of Fame sooner than later. Henry has been highly respected by both management and the locker room. The fact that his retirement went under the radar is quite shocking. WWE will definitely make up for it in future appearances and the Hall of Fame induction.
4. Next: Kane
Another star of the past two decades that is nearing retirement would be Kane. The recent return of Kane has seen him enter the main event picture again. Kane is shockingly getting a Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble in a triple threat bout with Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar. This appears to be the final run of Kane and that is why he’s being booked so strongly.
Kane is hoping to become of his local county this year meaning he will obviously have to step away from the ring soon. WrestleMania 34 could be a safe bet as his final match. Kane is having one more credible run before moving on to the next chapter of his life. The biggest question is how Kane will end his career?
3. Retired: Gail Kim
A huge retirement that is going down focuses on women’s wrestling legend Gail Kim. The talent of Kim has always put her among the top of the list when it comes to best women’s wrestlers. WWE never appreciated her talent and consistently underutilized her during her two stints in the company. Kim has made a legacy in Impact Wrestling to become a legend for women’s wrestling.
The decision to retire was made in 2017 by Gail as she wanted to put wrestling behind her and focus on the rest of her life. Kim has saved a lot of money and is married to celebrity chef Robert Irvine. She had her final match for Impact Wrestling back at Bound for Glory 2017. A retirement tour is still going for her on the independent circuit and her career officially ends in February.
2. Next: Alberto Del Rio
#sisisi time to go home amigos but before I do it,I want to say thanks to everyone involved to make this trip amazing… starting with my beautiful family,all my friends from the media, the amazing fans at my friend’s Chabelo restaurant for giving me so much love and support with my charity event, to my team Alex,Ana, Richie @danleor for busting your trasero for me everyday,even when I’m gone… to the fans in #tijuana and my amigo @goyito_perez for coming and having so much fun and taking 2 or 3 chairshots for me 😂😂😂 @combateamericas for the support that night to show the world how the combate familia its always together,to @azteca and @televisa_deportes for having me at the boxing fights to see my friend #laguerrerita become champion @wbaboxingofficial and also was amazing to see the GOAT @jcchavez115 To my good friend @gaby.fdl for all the fun… and that’s actually gonna be a great, amazing surprise for the kids in #xmass in my #mexico Simplemente agradecer a la gente que lo merece antes de que regrese a casa en 3 horas más. Empiezo con mi hermosa familia, después la fanaticada de Tijuana y a mi amigo #goyitopower por rifársela en el ring conmigo, a mi gran equipo de trabajo que se rompen el alma conmigo para hacer todo esto posible a todos mis amigos de la prensa, mi amigo Raúl y Juli por siempre poner el mejor gym de mexico a mi disposición @gbg_gym ,a mis amigos de Azteca por dejarme compartir con el #campeonmexicano #juliocesarchavez a mi amiga #silviatorres por esa gran pelea para coronarse campeona minimosca, a mi amiga Gaby Fdz. Por la diversión en el zócalo y que de hecho va a ser una gran sorpresa para los niños de mi mexico esta navidad. Dios los bendiga todos los días de su vida #sisisi
Alberto Del Rio has become one of the biggest train wrecks in wrestling today. The talent of Del Rio allowed him to become a top player in WWE for a few years. Things eventually trended downwards and he has failed to adapt. Del Rio was released for a second time in 2016 when requesting to get out of his contract.
Since leaving WWE, Alberto has been involved in negative story after negative story. The bad attitude makes him a difficult name for promotions to book frequently. Impact Wrestling is the only promotion investing in him right now. Once that ends, he will have no place in wrestling to make a viable living. Del Rio is already branching out in other areas such as MMA broadcasting and running his own restaurant. The retirement is coming sooner than later given all the variables in play.
1. Retired: Bully Ray
Ring of Honor signing Bully Ray at the beginning of 2017 was a huge surprise. The veteran joined the promotion and worked with the younger wrestler for most of the year. Bully however signed with the intention for it to be his final year as a wrestler. The in-ring career of Bully recent ended when he teamed with Tommy Dreamer to face Jay and Mark Briscoe at Final Battle.
Bully was treated to cheers from the New York crowd. His comments following the event have stated that he felt he ended his career on the right terms. Bully hosts a wrestling radio show on Sirius XM Radio and is running his wrestling school. The wrestling career of Bully ending in 2017 seems to be the best decision for all.
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