The wrestling industry is unlike any other athletic field when it comes to longevity. Most sports will see athletes have to retire in their 30s or early 40s. NBA stars like Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade are already inching towards retirement despite being relatively young in life. NFL players have it even worse with an average age of 30 being when they retire from the sport. Professional wrestling sees it go the exact opposite direction. WWE mostly pushes stars in their 30s. Guys like Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Braun Strowman are viewed as the future of WWE despite being in their mid-30s already. The experience usually makes them better overall performers. WWE typically sees wrestlers peak in their mid-30s to early 40s. Life after WWE will see many wrestlers continue to work on the independent circuit in older age.
We will look at some of the old school wrestlers to continue wrestling later in their careers. Most of these performers don’t see the glitz or glamour that came with prior success in WWE or WCW. Instead, they often perform in front of smaller crowds for less pay. The love of the sport and the lack of other options out there to make a living will see these performers quietly have matches at small local shows. Some of them can still go when it comes to having good matches or drawing big crowds. Others have little to no value but continue to perform. These are twenty-five old school wrestlers that only diehard fans know are still wrestling today.
Longtime WWE fans will have positive memories of the comedic work from Duane Gill. WWE used him as a parody version of WCW’s Goldberg in the late 90s. Under the name of Gillberg, he would have an entrance mocking Goldberg’s and walk to the ring to the laughter of the crowd.
The losing streak of Gillberg was his calling card until winning the Light Heavyweight Championship. Gillberg still occasionally wrestlers on the independent circuit. Two of his most noteworthy matches of 2018 have seen him face off against James Ellsworth in a battle of the iconic jobbers.
24 Marty Jannetty
Marty Jannetty is often referenced today in insulting fashion. Many fans compare the lesser talented person in a tag team to Jannetty with the implication of failure coming their way if they split up. Jannetty’s career fell apart while Shawn Michaels thrived following the breakup of The Rockers.
The in-ring career of Jannetty is still going today despite approaching 60 years old. Jannetty struggles to move around the ring, but fans often cheer him at local independent shows. One of the most enjoyable moments of Jannetty’s career came a few years ago when teaming with Sean Waltman in Chikara to a very appreciative crowd.
23 Billy Gunn
An argument can be made that Billy Gunn was the most underrated wrestler of the Attitude Era. Gunn played a great role in D-Generation X during its most popular time. WWE employed him at the Performance Center as a coach a few years ago. Unfortunately, Gunn was fired for violating the wellness policy.
The post-WWE life for Gunn sees him wrestling on the independent circuit. Gunn has been involved in some big shows like New Japan’s 2017 event in the United States and the recent All In show ran by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks.
22 The Sandman
ECW still holds a place in the hearts of many wrestling fans. WWE shows occasionally will have fans chanting ECW whenever a hardcore weapon is brought into play. Many of the extreme icons are still trying to compete on the independent circuit in their older ages.
The Sandman is one wrestler that has never even flirted with retirement. His former ECW gimmick was essentially just hitting people with the kendo stick and not doing much other work in the ring. This has allowed Sandman to continue working on the indie scene without taking bumps or risking his health.
Many fans forget that Gangrel once had a great role in WWE during the Attitude Era. Edge, Christian and Gangrel were the three wrestlers in the entertaining Brood faction. The trio had a chance to become a great faction, but Gangrel unfortunately didn’t have the same talent as the two future legends.
Once Edge and Christian were on their own, Gangrel faded away and was released from WWE. The career of Gangrel has been going since then with many appearances in various independent promotions. Gangrel even helps train wrestlers today as Rusev is his biggest success story.
20 Shane Helms
Shane Helms had a memorable WWE career thanks to the entertainment provided as The Hurricane. WWE even brought him back in the 2018 Royal Rumble to many cheers from the live crowd and appreciation on social media.
Helms still actively wrestles on the independent circuit today. Ring of Honor has started booking him over the past few months. Helms even appeared as The Hurricane in the Zero Hour battle royal for the All In event. Fans clearly enjoy Helms enough for him to continue working.
19 Justin Credible
Former ECW World Champion Justin Credible never could continue the success once ECW fell apart. Stints in WWE and TNA always ended in disappointment as a lower card enhancement talent. Personal demons have also hurt him outside of the ring as his struggles have been documented.
Credible still wrestles on the independent scene occasionally. Retirement was announced multiple times, but he ended it due to missing the ring. A couple of recent issues have fans worried about his well being. Hopefully Justin can turn things around and end his career on a high note.
18 Brian Knobbs
One of the most surprising names to continue wrestling at an older age is Brian Knobbs. The former member of the Nast Boys tag team received many opportunities in the industry thanks to being one of Hulk Hogan’s closest friends.
Knobbs still is trying to make a living on the wrestling circuit on smaller independent shows. Time has not been kind to Knobbs, who should probably stop performing in the ring. He was never an athletic person, and now the aging process has made it even more difficult for him.
The career of Glacier is still going today despite being two decades since he was last relevant on WCW television. Glacier is someone most likely assumed was out of the business since he didn’t make any WWE appearances following the end of WCW.
The close relationship with Diamond Dallas Page has Glacier working with DDP Yoga. It likely helps him in the ring during his independent matches. Promotions like Chikara, AIW and even Ring of Honor have booked him over the past year. Glacier even appeared at All In as part of Cody Rhodes’ fight team walking him to the ring.
16 2 Cold Scorpio
2 Cold Scorpio was one of the most underrated wrestlers of his time. ECW fans will vouch for his greatness thanks to the dazzling moves he pulled off in the ring ahead of his time. Matches with Rob Van Dam, Sabu and many others showed just how great he could be.
WWE and WCW unfortunately never used Scorpio to his full potential. This is one reason he is still trying to make some money wrestling on the independent circuit. Scorpio can still pull off some of the memorable athletic moves to showcase his talent at an older age these days.
15 The Rock 'N’ Roll Express
WWE Hall of Famers Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson made up the Rock 'N’ Roll Express tag team. Both wrestlers worked perfectly together to form one of the greatest duos in wrestling history. Many expected them to retire following the HOF induction, but the Rock 'N’ Roll Express are still going.
Gibson and Morton are each in their 60s today. That would prevent most people from wanting to do anything close to wrestling. However, the Rock 'N’ Roll Express still loves performing and keeps up an active schedule on the independent circuit.
14 Hardcore Holly
Hardcore Holly had a long run in WWE for almost fifteen years. The career of Holly saw him go from a racecar driver to a hardcore wrestler to an aging veteran putting over new talent. Most people remember Holly’s WWE time for being one of the most intense guys on the roster.
Holly has continued his wrestling career following his WWE departure. Various independent promotions have booked Holly to wrestle for them. Holly especially works independent promotions and seems to have a great time. The former reputation of being a jerk has changed with Holly warming up to fans that meet him.
13 Disco Inferno
Former WCW enhancement talent Disco Inferno is likely someone you haven’t heard about in many years. The peak of his career came as the comedic jobber in WCW to get booed for his dancing moves and arrogant persona.
Disco has been trying to find relevancy in wrestling over the past few years. He hosts a podcast with Konnan featuring many quotes where he tries to get attention for ripping the current generation. Disco still wrestles on independent shows in the Las Vegas area for the few fans that want to see him perform.
12 La Parka
The wrestling career of La Parka is still going after decades in the industry. Most readers will remember him for his time in WCW as a valued member the cruiserweight division. La Parka continued wrestling in Mexico following the end of WCW.
Things have picked up recently for La Parka despite being older in age compared to other luchadors. Many of his matches have led to fans talking about him all these years later. MLW even announced they were bringing La Parka to New York for their next television taping.
11 Joey Mercury
Joey Mercury was a fixture on WWE television as recently as 2015 when part of Seth Rollins’ security team. The best of his in-ring career came as half of the MNM tag team with John Morrison along with Melina as their manager.
Mercury was fired from a WWE role as a producer and found his way on the independent circuit in 2017. He started wrestling right away with bookings in places like House of Hardcore and MCW. Ring of Honor hired Mercury to be an agent for them. Life after WWE has Mercury finding work in multiple roles.
One of the biggest pleasant surprises in recent years on the independent circuit features Meng wrestling occasionally. WCW fans remember him for his role as Meng in the 90s, and WWE fans think of him as Haku for his 80s success.
Meng’s sons Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa are currently wrestling in New Japan as members of the Firing Squad chapter of the Bullet Club. It has led to Meng wrestling a few matches teaming with them. He also takes singles bookings on the rare independent show.
9 Kevin Sullivan
Kevin Sullivan is one of the oldest wrestlers to still make occasional appearances in the ring. Most fans remember him for his time in WCW as the leader of the Dungeon of Doom. Sullivan has been wrestling since the 70s and clearly still has a passion for it.
MLW recently spotlighted Sullivan as one of the wrestlers in a battle royal. It was a surprising announcement that showed he still wanted to be part of the show in some fashion. Sullivan still takes bookings, but it would have to be a unique situation to get him on a show.
8 Tommy Dreamer
The career of Tommy Dreamer has been going without any stopping in sight since he found success with ECW in the mid-90s. Dreamer won the respect of the fan base and it has continued all these years. Following his WWE release almost a decade ago, Dreamer has wrestled for almost every promotion.
Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor and his own House of Hardcore promotion are some of the places he’s worked in over the past year. Dreamer loves working with the young talent and offering them insight. It doesn’t appear likely he will retire from the industry any time soon.
Rikishi is already a WWE Hall of Famer following many years of success in the industry. The peak of his career came as part of the Too Cool faction when fans cheered him as much as any other wrestler for his sick dance moves. He is still a part of the WWE family with his sons The Usos representing him.
The passion for wrestling sees Rikishi still wrestling on the independent circuit. Zelo Pro, Pro Wrestling Revolution and International Wrestling Cartel are some of the promotions that book him. Fans leave happy as long as they get to see Rikishi dance for a bit to bring back the nostalgia.
Tatanka was one of the more underrated wrestlers of the early 90s for WWE. The fan base certainly loved him, and he had a long winning streak. WWE never could find a way to get Tatanka to the next level leading to his career ending there faster than expected.
In between his short returns to WWE, Tatanka has continued to wrestle on the independent circuit. Fans enjoy seeing a childhood favorite perform and give them a photo-op at the show. It has allowed Tatanka to continue getting bookings decades after the peak of his career.
Sean Waltman is remembered fondly for his time in WWE. The era of the 123 Kid featured him being the ultimate underdog and hero to many young fans of the time. An edgier character as X-Pac is ultimately what people most remember him for.
The personal demons of Waltman haunted him for quite some time, but he is finally in a healthier place today. X-Pac hosts a weekly podcast and wrestles an active schedule on the independent scene. Fans have the option to get to meet him and appreciate his work before he hangs it up.
4 Hacksaw Jim Duggan
The career of Jim Duggan will always be remembered for the patriotic gimmick that found him success in the late 80s and early 90s. Both WWE and WCW would see Duggan play a solid role on their programs during the time frame.
Duggan even got a chance to be a full-time member of the WWE roster in the 2000s as a veteran presence mostly used on live events. Following his WWE release, he refused to retire due to having a strong passion for the business. Hacksaw is still working regularly on the independent circuit at the age of 65.
Sabu is often a name that comes up when wrestlers discuss the most underrated stars of the 90s. The high-risk moves by Sabu saw him do things most fans weren’t aware could be done in a wrestling ring. Sabu destroyed his body with the dangerous matches and moves throughout his career.
This makes it more surprising that Sabu is still performing full-time on the independent circuit today. Sabu recently news by making a surprise appearance to face Nick Gage at Joey Janela’s Lost in New York. It showed how banged up his body was, but fans gave him a standing ovation for all he has given to the sport.
One of the most stunning wrestling stories over the past year is the resurgence of PCO. Longtime wrestling fans remember him for his time in WWE and WCW Pierre Carl Ouellet. He was half of The Quebecers tag team to get over as heels.
PCO started having wild matches over the past year that put him back on the radar of wrestling fans. Many independent promotions are fighting to book him thanks to his value rising. Chris Jericho even referenced being shocked at the success of PCO. His story proves age is just a number in the wrestling business.
1 Jerry Lawler
Most WWE fans have no idea that Jerry Lawler still wrestles on the independent circuit today. WWE and Lawler always had a deal in place that allowed him to wrestle on the smaller shows while working as a broadcaster for them.
Following his heart attack on Raw, most expected him to retire. Lawler however still has a passion for the business and performs a few matches per year. A clip of Lawler throwing a fireball at Terry Funk on a small show went viral. Lawler even wrestles current stars as he faced Cody Rhodes last year.