It's impossible not to think that wrestling, like all sports, is the domain of the young man or woman. In a place where thirty-foot falls, being tossed through tables, and chair shots are commonplace, most careers don't last very long. When careers do last longer than average, the injuries stack up, and athletes no longer have the choice to retire on their own terms because their bodies make the decision for them via a broken neck, shoulder, or knee injury, which are all very common and very difficult to recover from.
That is why it's insane to think that not only are some performers able to last for decades in the business, but they're able to do so while performing at a high level. A wrestler sticking around into his thirties is impressive, but a wrestler sticking around until his forties and even fifties is incredibly rare and incredibly impressive, even if they might have slowed down a step or two.
On the other hand, there are some who have competed late in life but probably shouldn't have, for a number of reasons, including injury or their inability to get the pops that they did in their younger days.
Here are 7 wrestlers over the age of 40 who should retire and 8 who can still go.
18 Can Still Go, But Could Retire - Goldust, 44, & R-Truth, 47
This is technically two, but they're a tag team now, so we're counting them as one here.
Goldust is The Bizarre One, a legend of the Attitude Era, and arguably one of the most entertaining performers the WWE has ever had. R-Truth hasn't enjoyed quite the same level of success, but he has been around for nearly 20 years, and he's still basically the same entertaining wrestler he's always been, just with a partner these days.
The WWE spent months putting this tag team together, with Goldust courting R-Truth over Twitter, even using celebrity Amber Rose to help further his agenda of teaming up with the fellow "OG" R-Truth. Eventually, Truth was convinced and the veterans came together to form Golden Truth.
The gimmick has not gone over well with a lot of fans, but Goldust and R-Truth are enjoying it and doing it for for others as much as they're doing it for themselves. Goldust himself responded to fans calling the gimmick a disgrace to his legacy by basically stating that the point of the tag team was to get over newer talent while also getting Golden Truth over in the process. While the intentions are noble, and the tag team is pretty entertaining, there's only so many times you can job before nobody takes you seriously anymore, and, when you're not just a tag team but a tag team made up of legends, it's probably time to give it up before you tarnish your legacy even further.
17 Should Retire - Kane, 49
While he is still in amazing shape, especially considering he's 49 years old now, Kane, real name Glen Jacobs, has achieved everything he ever will by this point in his long, 24-year career.
Like his 'brother', Kane is a legendary monster heel and he managed to take some of the worst storylines, like the one with the dead body, and still keep us invested. While he never said much on the mic, Kane was an incredibly imposing figure that usually got his point across with a look or a gesture, something very few wrestlers are capable of accomplishing. On top of his legendary career as The Big Red Machine, Kane has been a great worker and has put the company before his own interest many times, helping get over young talent like Daniel Bryan.
While his later work has been slow and mechanical, he was exciting to watch in his prime, and he was one of the more agile and talented big men, while also being incredibly menacing.
Kane is still wrestling here and there, but he's mostly doing work behind the scenes as Corporate Kane. According to him, it's basically because the large paychecks are hard to resist. As soon as he can say no, however, he's putting an end to his long storied career to go off into the fiery sunset, and run an insurance business with his wife.
15 Can Still Go - Rey Mysterio, 41
After an unfortunate in-ring accident, in 2015, which cost wrestler Hijo del Perro Aguayo his life, many fans, fellow wrestlers, and media personalities were certain that Rey Mysterio would be retiring. While Rey Mysterio was reasonably upset and shaken up by the unfortunate accident, he denied the rumors that he was done wrestling, as he had commitments to keep with sponsors, the organization he was under contract with (Triple A Wrestling, at the time), and to Perro Aguayo Jr., who he would honor by continuing on.
Mysterio used that difficult time to confirm that he is far from finished with wrestling, and will remain in Mexico's Lucha Libre for a few more years, at least. That's good news for his fans, because the man who introduced Lucha to many wrestling fans can still fly as high as ever, and he seems right at home in Lucha Underground showcasing the skills he still has at the age of 41.
14 Should Retire - Shane McMahon, 46
Sure, Shane-O-Mac isn't so much a wrestler as he is an occasional stunt man, but that doesn't exclude him from the list.
Firstly, most fans would agree Shane has never been a great wrestler, and, to be fair, that was never his thing to begin with. Shane has always been one for the death-defying spot to distract from the rest of the match, and that was okay in his younger days when you could imagine him surviving those drops, but the 46 year old's lack of technical ability isn't going to do much but make things riskier for him in the long run.
After the brutal spear he took from Roman Reigns at 2016's Survivor Series, it's hard not to want the guy to stick to being chairman of Smackdown, for his own sake.
13 Can Still Go - Goldberg, 49
Bill Goldberg recently returned to the ring, after a 12 year hiatus, in a highly anticipated match against Brock Lesnar, and, despite the fact that it was shorter than anyone could have anticipated, it was exciting and it showed us that Goldberg still has another run in him, which is shaping up to be very exciting.
Goldberg was never the best worker, and his moveset is limited, but what used to be his biggest fault might actually work out for the 49 year old, since he's as capable today as he was during his run in WCW of performing the spear and Jackhammer, two moves he's most known for. He's also as imposing of a figure as ever, and no matter your opinion on his ring work, his gimmick of simply being a superhuman wrestler is impressive in how long it has lasted and how well it is still doing.
It's not hard to think Goldberg has a few more years left in him, but, for the sake of other wrestler's health, maybe he should keep the run to a minimum.
11 Should Retire - Sting, 57
Sting is living proof that the right fitness routine will keep you young forever. Somehow, at the age of 57, Sting is only recently finding himself a part of the WWE, after one of the greatest, and longest careers in wrestling.
It's not entirely clear if Sting is still in active competition, but it isn't clear that he has retired either, so he makes the "should retire" list thanks to his age, and thanks to a nasty neck injury he sustained against Seth Rollins at Night of Champions 2015. Sting, and the WWE, have not made it clear whether the legend is out of commission for good, but rumors have him possibly making a return at WrestleMania, or sometime in the near future.
We all wish we could have seen him in the WWE during his glory days, but those days are far behind him, so maybe it's time to hang up the boots.
10 Can Still Go - Matt Hardy, 42
It's hard to believe the high-flying Matt Hardy of one of the greatest tag teams in wrestling history, The Hardy Boys, is over 40, but he is. Matt actually reached that milestone two years ago and he's somehow still at it at the age of 42. The most impressive thing about Matt's age is the fact that he's arguably the most popular he's ever been.
As half of The Hardys, Matt was never the most celebrated brother, and his younger brother Jeff was generally considered the more exciting character overall. While he had some success with different characters in single competition, it wasn't until he took those years of experience (and "animosity" towards Jeff) and created the Broken Matt gimmick that has taken his popularity to another level.
Barring any serious injury, it doesn't seem like Matt Hardy is stopping anytime soon, so maybe he'll be making the "Top Wrestlers Over 50" list in a couple of years, too.
9 Should Retire - Triple H, 47
This is about as likely as Mr. McMahon or Triple H's wife Stephanie retiring, but The Game should be over.
While Triple H has always been exciting in feuds and has had some legendary matches, like those against The Undertaker at WrestleMania, he was always just a good all-rounder and, while he is a legend, it's pretty obvious that his position in the company is less because of his in-ring ability and more because of his expertise at politicking behind the scene.
I won't say his marriage to Stephanie McMahon is part of that politicking, but it definitely doesn't hurt Triple H. Unfortunately, his power within the company means he should retire for the sake of other wrestlers, rather than his own, since he usually only comes out to bury other wrestlers. As long as he's still wrestling in the occasional match, his opponent's are pretty much at the mercy of whether or not the boss feels like they deserve to be put over, so he should either go back to wrestling full time or stick to the creative side of things and call it quits in the ring.
Besides, we've got him to thank for NXT, so he's got a great career ahead of him once he's done with competing.
8 Can Still Go - Negro Casas, 56
Negro Casas is one of the greatest wrestlers to compete, and has been doing so for 37 years at this point, which is insane in itself. He has competed all over, including in the WWF and in New Japan Pro Wrestling, for over a decade. In Mexico, Casas has wrestled for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre since 1990, and he is still competing at the highest level, having recently won the Leyenda de Plata (the silver legend) lucha libre tournament in 2014 and 2015, on top of numerous championships and titles.
While most competitors slow down or change their style to remain relevant, Negro Casas is still leaping from the top rope and performing spots wrestlers half his age wouldn't risk, and there are no signs of him stopping anytime soon.
7 Should Retire - Big Show, 44
I'm definitely not alone in thinking the Big Show should be retiring, since he's been used to hearing chants of "Please retire!" for some time now.
After ballooning up to 460 pounds, Big Show took some time off and lost 70 pounds to get down to 396 -- the first time he's been under 400 pounds since 1995 (at his heaviest he was over 530 pounds), and, while he's probably in the best shape of his life, the years have taken a toll on the big man, and he was never exactly agile to begin with. Even he knows he's only got a year or two left in him.
There isn't much left for the Big Show to accomplish, other than possibly taking down Shaquille O'Neal at WrestleMania 33, which should be a slow but very fun match to watch.
6 Can Still Go - Jushin Thunder Liger, 51
This one is a bit of a toss up, because Liger can still hang with the best of them, but even he knows his wrestling days are almost behind him.
Now in his 50s, Liger has been wrestling since 1984 and has found success in practically every known organization in that time, and he is still finding himself at the top having even competed in NXT: Takeover against Tyler Breeze as recent as 2015.
Jushin Liger says he probably has another five years left, which is insane to think since he's already a 51 year-old athlete, but who are we to argue with one of the most accomplished wrestlers of all time?
5 Should Retire - Kurt Angle, 47
Kurt Angle is perhaps the most intense, and most complete, wrestler to ever compete in the WWE, TNA, or pretty much any other organization, and there aren't many things to do in wrestling that he hasn't accomplished, including Olympic gold and a WWE World Championship under his belt, and there aren't many injuries he hasn't sustained in search of that glory, including a broken neck he suffered long before he joined the WWE. After 47 years you would think he'd be happy with all he has accomplished, but there's a reason one of his "I's" was intensity.
Angle has somewhat retired already, taking a self-imposed year-long break from wrestling, but he's officially decided to retire from TNA wrestling, and he'll take the time to spend with family before deciding if wrestling is still in his heart. If he returns, it seems he only wants to wrestle for the WWE, and I absolutely think that would be the right call... but only for a few matches. That way, one of the greatest wrestlers (and absolutely one of the greatest heels) in wrestling history can be sent off the way he deserves, in the biggest organization in wrestling, and maybe one more legendary match against Brock at a WrestleMania. A guy can dream.
4 Can Still Go - Christopher Daniels, 46
Christopher Daniels is considered an underrated talent by a lot of fans, and for some solid reasons. For just over two decades, Daniels has played funny, serious, or just all around entertaining characters while also displaying mastery of in-ring skills, and, somehow, at the age of 46, he's still doing it as well as he did in his twenties.
While he did suffer a neck injury in 2001 that didn't make him consider retiring, it did make him reconsider his approach to wrestling. Christopher Daniels has been able to continue wrestling thanks to a smarter style he's employed ever since, and he has focused on undertaking only what he's certain he is able to handle.
The vet is also a great leader backstage, making it a point to pull guys aside to let them know when they're pushing the envelope, and when they're just being reckless. With his sound guidance behind them, there are bound to be plenty more wrestlers joining this list.
3 Should Retire - Undertaker, 51
In the 90s, it's rumored that a doctor told Calaway he had a few years in him, tops, before he would have to hang up his hat for good.
Somehow, a guy who wasn't supposed to wrestle for more than a few years turned that into a 25 year career, and The Undertaker is still around for those of us who watched him as children to share with our kids. He accomplished everything the WWE had for him to accomplish, and his legacy became the greatest thing in wrestling, up until these recent years.
Now at the age of 51, Mark Calaway has nothing left to achieve, and everything to lose, including his own health, and there's no reason to continue punishing his body. He's done all he has had to do for the company, and it's time they make the call for him. We've all grown up loving (or, somehow, hating) The Deadman, but there comes a point where enough is enough, and, for the safety of the athletes, you want them to stop. In other fighting sports (which don't have planned outcomes but share aspects of wrestling) the referee uses their better judgment and determines if a competitor is no longer able to continue before putting a stop to the fight. Many fighters will contest the stoppage, because they're warriors through and through, and it's getting to the point where Taker seems more like the guy trying to go one more round than the one doling out the punishment.
For his own sake, and the sake of his family, The Undertaker should retire and be happy with the legendary career he has had.
1 Can Still Go - Chris Jericho, 46
Jericho easily earns the top spot. At 46 years of age, Chris Jericho isn't just competing here and there like many older performers such as The Rock or The Undertaker, instead Jericho is one of the biggest stars for the WWE's RAW alongside his best friend, and fellow Canadian, Kevin Owens. Jericho is as relevant as he has ever been, recently being selected as one of five men to compete representing RAW against a team from Smackdown at Survivor Series.
Jericho has slowed down a step or two, as all wrestlers eventually do, but his ability to compete at the highest level while still being one of the most popular wrestlers in any promotion is very impressive when you consider he's been doing this since 1990 and was already a veteran of 10 years before he joined the WWE and shot to super stardom, where he's been practically ever since.