Wrestling is all about winning a crowd over with your in-ring performances, as well as your charisma, promos and storytelling, and while it may take years of hard work, the performers who wrestle in the WWE are at the highest level possible. Still, wrestling also takes a toll on your body, and that means some performers have to retire early due to injury, while others can last longer and still have a broken-down body at the end of their career. But wrestling is also an entertainment business, and like any form of entertainment or sport in the world, retirements can be undone, with performers changing sentiment, not enjoying post-retirement life or successfully recovering from injury.
Today we are going to look at 15 people who have retired from the WWE. On one side, we will look at 8 performers who have all retired for different reasons whom we’d love to see come out for just one night, one more match, and on the other side, 7 people that just need to stay away from the ring, for their own physical good and for the good of the performers that would be stuck carrying them through a match.
15 Want To See – Batista
Whether or not you like The Animal, he had a great run with the WWE, having some great matches with the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Triple H, Booker T and The Undertaker. While he has been replaced with some very talented wrestlers at the top of the card, there is definitely a place for another return for Drax the Destroyer. Sure, his last return wasn’t exactly the success that the WWE was looking for, but Dave recently spoke on the Talk is Jericho podcast of his desires to do one last run and a WrestleMania match with Triple H, and that’s something that would be very fun to see, especially on that stage. With his current ventures in Hollywood, and the perceived lack of interest from WWE, this one might not happen anytime soon, but Batista deserves one last run and subsequent retirement match, and it’s something that most fans would definitely enjoy.
14 Stay Away – Mark Henry
Mark Henry should be remembered as one of the greatest performers of this era, but thanks to the ridiculous booking and storylines the WWE has put him through, he was seen similar to Big Show, just a big guy who used to be an attraction, but is now more of a detriment to the roster. While it's not official, it looks like the World’s Strongest Man has wrestled his final match in the WWE, or at least we hope so anyway. His Hall of Pain gimmick was one of the best WWE had produced in years, and his fake retirement on John Cena is one of the best worked segments in recent RAW history. Outside of that, the WWE just didn’t know how to book him, and that’s sad as he should have been so much more. No matter how you feel about him, Henry just isn’t missed, and while one more match probably wouldn’t hurt him or anyone else in the company, it just isn’t needed, and he should stay away from being an active in-ring performer.
13 Want To See – Christian
Initially, I put Edge in this spot, but since he is physically unable to compete in any form of in-ring activity, I replaced him with longtime best friend Christian, who wasn’t quite the success Edge was in the WWE, but nonetheless an incredibly entertaining and talented performer for quite some time. He is living a great life at the moment away from wrestling, as well as hosting a show with Edge on the WWE Network, but the temptation of one last match in the WWE is something that not many can resist, and we will likely see Christian in a final match. It would also be a great chance to honor a truly fantastic career. He may not be as exciting as Edge, but his in-ring talent was up there with the best, so one final match on a big time card would not only help a younger talent to work with Captain Charisma, but would help the star power of the card itself.
12 Stay Away – Mick Foley
Mick Foley is absolutely beloved by all wrestling fans around the world, as he gave his body and soul to the wrestling industry over a long, illustrious career, and after taking all this punishment, it just wouldn’t be right for him or for the fans to see him step inside the wrestling ring again. We almost got to see Dean Ambrose vs. Foley at SummerSlam several years ago, but the Hardcore Legend’s health ruled him out of that story (which looked to be fantastic if it could have happened), and with his show on the Network, Holy Foley, and other things to keep him occupied, he doesn’t need to wrestle again. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Mick take some bumps again, but I can always watch the Network to see that kind of thing, and him wrestling again could only end badly.
11 Want To See – AJ Lee
The current women in WWE, while not booked exactly to the level of the men, are treated much better than they have been in the past, and with the caliber of women we see on the main roster, there are plenty of former female superstars (see; James, Mickie) who could return and thrive under these new philosophies. One that fans can’t wait to see is AJ Lee, who thrived under the old Divas era, and now has plenty of mouth-watering matchups awaiting her. Seeing AJ Lee vs. the likes of Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte and even Alexa Bliss (with whom she shares a plethora of similarities) would be incredible, and while her partner, CM Punk is still at odds with the WWE, that doesn’t mean that Lee couldn’t return. If she did, could solidify herself as one of the best women to ever step foot in a WWE ring.
10 Stay Away – Ric Flair
Depending on what generation you are from, you may see The Nature Boy, Ric Flair as the greatest of all time, or you may not. In any case, there is no arguing his greatness. But after being retired by Shawn Michaels (the person that the majority of people will point to as being the greatest wrestler of all time) at WrestleMania XXIV, he shouldn’t step foot in a ring again. He has since wrestled though, as he competed in several matches in TNA against the likes of Hulk Hogan and Jay Lethal, but on the grand stage of WWE, Flair shouldn’t wrestle again, as it wouldn’t be good for anyone involved. It’s safe to say that he won’t wrestle for WWE again now that he's almost 70, but weirder things have happened. If Flair really wants to help the WWE, he should stay out of the ring and work in a backstage capacity.
9 Want To See – Goldberg
After a 12-year hiatus, WCW legend Goldberg returned to the WWE in 2016, and despite having just a few matches, he was one of the most popular stars on the roster, and his presence was always a huge draw. But due to the predictable booking of his run, some fans turned on him towards the end of the run, cheering Brock Lesnar when he won at WrestleMania 33 (despite Lesnar being a part-timer too). Despite that, Goldberg was an absolute hit upon his return, and while I hope the WWE doesn’t bring him back for another extended run, especially with a World title on the line, one more match would be a fantastic showcase for WrestleMania. Kurt Angle, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and even someone like John Cena would all be great opponents for Goldberg, and I’m sure fans would greet him with enthusiasm upon return.
8 Stay Away – Sting
Sting will go down as one of the greatest and most accomplished wrestlers of all-time, as he was one of the best in WCW and TNA, and had a short run in the WWE, but after injuring himself in a match against Seth Rollins, it looks like The Stinger will be done wrestling, although there have been some quiet whispers that he may look for one final match. While I’d love to see Sting wrestle, as I highly enjoyed his decade long run with TNA, it just isn’t a good idea, as he could seriously injure himself, but Sting as a manager or non-wrestling personality is something I think we would all enjoy watching. Like others on this list, and everyone eventually, age just caught up to him, but thankfully he got to wrestle at least one match before his amazing wrestling career was done.
7 Want To See – Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels has often stated that he isn’t going to return to the WWE ring, respecting the fact that he was retired by The Undertaker, saying when he is done, he is completely done. But after rumors swirled that the company reached out to him in regards to an AJ Styles match at the Royal Rumble, fans were incredibly overjoyed when they thought this could become a possibility. Unfortunately, Michaels had no interest in returning to the ring, but the thought of the Heartbreak Kid in just one bout is something that should get everyone in the world excited. This is the least likely to happen out of everyone on this side of the list, but due to his sheer popularity and talent inside a wrestling ring, this is something that fans will be clamoring for in the near future.
6 Stay Away – The Great Khali
The Great Khali was nothing more than a novelty in the WWE, and while giants certainly have their place (see: Big Show, Andre the Giant), Khali definitely overstayed his welcome, with the end of his run becoming an embarrassment, as he could barely walk to the ring, meaning his matches were absolutely horrendous. WWE themselves recently posted a YouTube video regarding legends that people would like to see return for one match, and somehow Khali made that list, even if it’s safe to say that no one would ever want to see The Great Khali wrestle a match ever again. He is doing good work as a trainer in India at the moment, and while he may return in a non-wrestling capacity, he just isn’t good enough to warrant another match.
5 Want To See – Kurt Angle
This one is rumored to be happening quite soon, and it’s something that WWE fans have been wanting to see for the last decade – the Olympic Gold Medalist doing what he does best in the WWE once again. Sure, he’s been great as GM (probably because there’s been no Stephanie McMahon to castrate him at every turn), but Kurt’s biggest strength is his incredible in-ring ability, and if you believe online rumors, he could be inside the squared circle against Triple H sooner rather than later. Whether he gets an extended run as a full-time wrestler, or he remains an authority figure who competes every so often, the WWE Universe will be ecstatic just to see Angle in the ring, and that can’t happen soon enough.
4 Stay Away – Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is a legend in WWE history, and there’s no denying that whether you like him and his actions behind the scenes or not. But thanks to a recording of a racist rant which went public, the WWE decided to blackball him from the company and their history. While that stance looks to have softened in recent times, he still has not reappeared in any capacity since. While he looks to be returning sometime soon, with rumors running rampant for the majority of 2017 that he will, he shouldn’t ever step foot in the ring as an active competitor again, for his sake and the fans, as it couldn’t do anything but damage his legacy and put other people in the ring in danger. I do hope that Hogan returns to the WWE, as he is partially responsible for Vince McMahon’s company becoming as big as it has, but he should never wrestle again.
3 Want To See – Daniel Bryan
While Daniel Bryan’s WWE run wasn’t exactly lengthy, he left his mark and became one of the most popular stars in the company's history, but due to constant head/neck injuries, the WWE has forbidden him to compete again. However, his contract comes up in 2018. Bryan could either stay in his spot as SmackDown GM, go back to the independent scene to fulfill his dream of once again wrestling, or try get back inside a WWE ring, but the safe bet is we see him wrestling again before 2019. No matter what happens, I think it’s safe to say that the WWE will come calling for one final match from the leader of the "Yes" movement, and it’s one that fans around the world universally want to see, especially if it’s against the likes of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura or Kurt Angle.
2 Stay Away – The Undertaker
The Undertaker is one of the biggest legends in the history of the WWE, and this year at WrestleMania 33, it looked like he took his final stride from the ring. Although his match against Roman Reigns was a solid one, he has definitely slowed down in recent times, which is one good reason that the Deadman should never wrestle another match in WWE. While some fans are still clamoring to see him wrestle, he has had a career longer than many in wrestling history, and the send off at WrestleMania was so perfectly executed that it just wouldn’t do his career justice to step back in the ring. With his dedication to kayfabe, it’s unlikely we will see him much in a non-wrestling capacity, so your only chance to see more of ‘Taker may be through classic archives on the Network, or for his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Either way, ‘Taker should never wrestle in WWE again.
1 Want To See – CM Punk
In his day, CM Punk was the complete package; he had a unique look, he was a great in-ring worker and the best with promos in his time, but for some reason, the WWE didn’t want to push him and kept undermining his popularity at every turn. As such, he left the company without warning the night after the 2014 Royal Rumble. His name is still chanted at every arena around the world, and while that may be more of an indication of the terrible product WWE is producing, it means the fans still care about him, and one more run would be absolutely fantastic. He may not be returning anytime soon, but when the WWE comes knocking, few can turn it down. Expect Punk to return for one more match in the next decade (or at the very least return to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame).