Just like the personnel in any other sport, wrestlers need to know when to call it a day and hang up the boots. Many of them have entertaining and productive careers during their prime, and then as the years go on, they find themselves stuck in a rut, with retirement becoming a more appealing and sensible option. The same is true in today's wrestling landscape, with may veteran stars who can no longer contribute in ways that they once did, and therefore should walk away with their heads held high. The final two years of WCW proved that this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
On the other hand, as always, there's an influx of newer talent that we hope doesn't fizzle out or leave anytime soon. Their output is so strong because they are in their peak years that retirement seems like a foreign concept, and probably is. All of the wrestlers that fit this bill right now are putting on stellar matches and cutting captivating promos, and there's certainly nobody calling for them to leave the squared circle. The disparity between these two groups showcases two drastically different stages in a wrestler's career, and the expectations that come with them.
Ranked below are 8 wrestlers who need to leave the ring, and 7 who we hope never retire.
15 Go Away: Dudley Boyz
While the Dudleys had a great career, and can safely be marked down as one of the greatest tag teams of all-time, there just isn't much place for them in today's mainstream wrestling landscape. This is mainly due to the fact that we've seen every possible angle and relevant match that the Dudley's could have participated in over the years. Giving them a significant hold of the tag division in WWE would do so at the expense of younger tag teams that need a leg up. There's really nothing more for them to prove anymore, and other than appearances at Indy shows, there's not much reason for them to continue on at this point. They're one of the best of all-time, but also would be wise to hang it up.
14 Never Retire: T.J. Perkins
Highlighting the Cruiserweight Classic Tournament in 2016, and winning the revamped Cruiserweight Title in the process, Perkins has established himself on the WWE radar, and is sure to be one of the stars to watch in the coming years. After spending years in notable Indy promotions such as PWG, his ascent to the top culminated with his recent performance in the tournament, and undoubtedly captured many new fans in the process. Frankly, he's at the top of his game right now, and there's few better light-heavyweights in the world today. There's plenty left for him to accomplish, and many new feuds to be had, so it's safe to say that he should be sticking around the WWE scene for quite some time.
13 Go Away: Dean Ambrose
Ambrose never should have been booked to win the WWE Title. Everything from his character to in-ring work just seems second rate, and not worthy of the main event scene for a major promotion. He isn't a complete disaster, but his ascent to the top of the WWE food chain, even for a limited amount of time, makes the booking look extremely questionable. He should have been a serviceable mid-carder at best, but instead was and is a major player in the title scene for the company. At this point, it would be best if he just disappeared all together, instead of inexplicably just appearing lower on the card. One of WWEs biggest booking gaffes of the last ten years. Thankfully, the future for the main event scene looks brighter than it has in a long time, so Ambrose should be fizzled out relatively soon.
12 Never Retire: A.J. Styles
While he's been around seemingly forever (since 2000), Styles still has a lot left in the tank, as one would expect from one of the greatest in-ring talents of his generation. A latecomer to WWE, there's still plenty of feuds for him to undertake, and plenty of great angles to be involved in. Most wrestlers his age would be thinking about a reduced schedule, or retirement all together, but Styles has the in-ring savvy and name recognition to make it worth continuing for the forseeable future. His skill level hasn't deteriorated at all, and still puts on stellar matches every time he sets foot in the ring. Most fans are in agreement that the "Phenomenal One" will continue to have a presence in WWE for a long time to come.
11 Go Away: Goldust
Dustin Runnels' portrayal of Goldust was extremely unique in it's heyday, and was one of the more recognizable WWE gimmicks of the era, but it's honestly time to hang it up. There's only so many times a gimmick can be reinvented, and that's besides the fact that Runnels is way out of his prime as an in-ring competitor. Sure, the character doesn't have as much of a role as it once did, but it's always seemingly around the company's roster. Frankly, it's become stale in recent years, and there's really no reason to have it around anymore, other than an homage to the past. It's almost impressive how many variations on the same idea have been used over the years, but it's time to give the character the boot for good.
10 Never Retire: The Miz
For as much grief as he took in the early stages of his career, The Miz has developed into a quality wrestler, with great mic skills, and a natural flair for entertainment. He's held plenty of gold in WWE, and has looked the part of a champion for most of them. Currently in his mid-30s and the reigning Intercontinental Champion, he still has fuel left in the tank, and figures to be a part of the company for the forseeable future. It's an against all odds story, but the roster would simply be worse off if The Miz left, and that's a statement nobody thought would be made when he debuted. It's quite the success story, and he remains one of the upper-tier WWE stars of his era.
9 Go Away: Brock Lesnar
Lesnar is one of the most enigmatic wrestlers, and athletes in general, of his generation. Never sticking around one project for too long, he's jumped from football, wrestling and MMA almost interchangeably over the years. One thing's for sure; everyone knows the name, but that doesn't mean that he should continue to be a focal point in WWE. Lesnar is essentially a sideshow attraction, and has often taken up space on the card where better and younger wrestlers could be, all for a recognizable face. The shtick has gotten old, and he should never be booked on another WWE pay-per-view again. It holds down the younger talent, and makes the company look like an entity of cheap thrills, rather than one substantial wrestling, and innovative entertainment. Lesnar was cool for a few years, but he's run the course at this point.
8 Never Retire: Kofi Kingston
He's been one of the most utilized WWE stars over the past decade or so, and for good reason. Kingston has been able to adapt into any role he's been put in, and proved himself a valuable member of the roster as a whole. As current tag team champion with The New Day, he doesn't seem to be going anywhere, nor should he. He still has a number of prime years left, and figures to remain relevant in any role that he might be placed in after The New Day ends. Kingston has proven his versatility through wrestling in singles and tag divisions, while portraying a variety of characters. He's definitely one of the most important WWE stars of his era, and one that we hope doesn't go away anytime soon.
7 Go Away: John Cena
I know the Cena hate is overplayed and cliche, but there's really very little else for him to do in wrestling. He's been in every possible angle and situation since his debut over a decade ago, and doesn't have the wrestling skills to warrant any particular "dream match" of taking place in the future. He's also not someone who's going to tour the Indys, making appearances at other promotions. Cena just seems to be played out. While he isn't the dagger to quality wrestling that he is sometimes portrayed to be, there's also little sense in him prolonging his career any further. At this point, Cena is a product of another era, and shouldn't have a significant role as WWE moves forward into a new one.
6 Never Retire: Tony Nese
Nese was signed just after the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic Tournament, and for good reason. He's an up-and-coming star, who's been in plenty of Indy action, garnering lots of attention and a sizeable fanbase. Wildly athletic with a unique in-ring style, Nese may just be the budding star to watch in the company right now. He's just entering his prime, and has the potential to be main event star in WWE, if he's booked correctly and put in the right situations. After a year or so, he should climb the card and be one of the top names in the company, so keep an eye out for him. He has a chance to be with WWE for a long time, and establish himself as one of the foremost stars of the New Era.
5 Go Away: Brian Kendrick
Considering that Kendrick wasn't one of the better crusierweights in WWE when he was in his prime, the fact that he remains on the roster today is a head-scratcher. He doesn't play a prominent role anymore, but there's really nothing left for him to do, and his matches weren't that good to begin with. Kendrick's retirement couldn't come any sooner honestly, and it would free up a spot in the cruiserweight division to a young talent that needs a leg up. Kendrick is dead weight at this point, management needs to give someone else a shot to prove themselves. Keeping around wrestlers who no longer contribute anything significant is the death knell for any promotion.
4 Never Retire: Finn Balor
He toured the Indys for years under his birth name of Fergal Devitt, but recently found main event-level success as Finn Balor. Beginning in NXT and establishing his new character there before making his way to the main roster, Devitt has since taken the wrestling world by storm with his unique, enigmatic character. It's a gimmick with enough nuances to make it entertaining for a long time. It doesn't hurt that he's great in the ring, which only increases his shelf life on the roster. Without question, this is going to remain one of WWEs biggest stars for the next few years. It's exactly what the New Era needs, and puts a spin on gimmicks of the past, and only improves upon them. Watch for major things from Devitt as Finn Balor in the coming years.
3 Go Away: Mark Henry
Since the mid-90s, Henry has been a staple member of the WWE roster, and actually has found a considerable amount of success within the company. He's seemingly never left, ad contributed what he could, as a part of stable, a mid-carder, or as enhancement talent. There have been times when he's been involved in big storylines, and even then, he's performed very well. Still, there's a time when even the most tenured stars have to leave, and this would be Henry's ideal time to do that for good. That's not a knock on him, and 20 years on any roster is impressive in and of itself, but he's earned the right to walk away gracefully, and should consider doing that ASAP. There's nothing left for him to do, and he won't be a part of another significant angle, so it makes sense all things considered.
2 Never Retire: Seth Rollins
He's probably the foremost star in the company right now, and the biggest main event player. Rollins has the wrestling skills and promo ability combination to be successful within WWE for a long time. He's already proven himself, and now it's about taking that next step into "legend" status. He'll have plenty of opportunities to do that in the near future, as he'll remain at the top of the card for years to come. He's probably the best young star in WWE right now, and without a doubt, fans hope he can maintain his main event pace for a long time. Rollins is the cream of the crop right now, and the future only looks bright for him. He's the next name-brand star for WWE if he isn't already, and will be featured on highlight reels as the New Era's greatest star.
1 Go Away: Roman Reigns
Reigns just hasn't lived up to expectations in recent years, and several others have surpassed him as better main event entities. He's not awful, but at the same time, all things considered, the combination of his character and his in-ring style really haven't come together for him in the best possible way. Without question, he's in need of a gimmick change, or a hiatus from WWE all together, because it just isn't working out right now. Despite holding the U.S Title at the moment, it's still not enough to save what should have been, and still should be, a top of the card kind of character. Reigns should search for better options in other promotions, and look for a fresh start. He doesn't fit the current mold for WWE, and it will only hold back his career the longer he continues to do so.