The WWE has put on thousands of matches over the years. Some are remembered as all-time greats, some are thought of as some of the worst of all time, and some are just never remembered. Everyone has their favorite wrestler though. Sometimes those stars leave with little to no notice, shocking their fans.
If you could go back and re-watch their last match for the first time ever with the awareness that it was their last match, how would you feel about it? If you knew that Edge would retire after his WrestleMania match with Alberto Del Rio would you have enjoyed it more? So many careers were ended prematurely due to injuries or in some cases, death. I know it upset me that the last image of Eddie Guerrero was him getting hit by a steel chair.
Very rarely do wrestlers get their storybook ending. For every Shawn Michaels, there is a Ric Flair that desperately tries to hold on to his career, although his last WWE match was a classic. This list is filled with sad endings to truly great WWE careers.
None of these matches would fall into that all-time great category, but many of the wrestlers on this list would. So let's not wait any longer and dive into the 15 Times You Didn't Realize It Was A Wrestler's Last WWE Match.
15 Beth Phoenix - RAW vs. AJ Lee
Beth Phoenix was one of the strongest divas to ever wrestle in the WWE. She played a great heel in her time in the WWE. During her WWE run Beth would win the Women's title once, and the Divas title on three separate occasions. She is most known by new fans as the woman who is shown eliminating the 7-foot-4 Great Khali in every Royal Rumble advertisement.
On the October 29th, 2012 edition of RAW, Beth Phoenix competed in her last televised WWE Match. She faced and defeated fellow list mate AJ Lee in a good match. After the match, RAW GM Vickie Guerrero came out and fired Beth on air. In reality, she had given her notice to the company and needed t be written off tv. Beth is now married to Edge and they have had two children since her retirement.
14 Umaga - Extreme Rules 2009 vs. CM Punk
Umaga had an interesting run during his WWE career. He debuted as a member of 3-Minute Warning with his cousin Rosey. They would attack people at the request of Eric Bischoff. After that gimmick died Eddie Fatu would re-debut as Umaga. Umaga would go on a lengthy undefeated streak and would beat many top names in the company.
Umaga would have his last WWE match at Extreme Rules 2009 in a loss to CM Punk. He would be released the next day after two Wellness Policy violations and a refusal to enter rehab. Umaga would wrestle a handful of indie matches before his tragic death on December 4th, 2009. He had suffered multiple heart attacks brought on by drug use. A tragic end to a talented individual, Eddie Fatu passed away at the age of 36.
13 Rey Mysterio - RAW vs. Bad News Barrett
Rey Mysterio is one of the greatest high-fliers in pro wrestling history. Rey would dominate the cruiserweight division in WCW and WWE. Rey would give hope to the smaller wrestlers everywhere by winning the World Heavyweight Title and the WWE title during his time in the company. Rey would unfortunately struggle with knee injuries throughout his WWE career. Due to all this missed time, the WWE was able to add time to his contract without his approval. Mysterio wanted a much easier schedule as his body was wearing down.
He wrestled his last WWE match on April 7th, 2014 in a loss to Bad News Barrett, but the WWE wouldn't release him until February 26th, 2015. Rey has been starring in AAA and Lucha Underground since his release.
12 Davey Boy Smith - Sunday Night Heat vs. Eddie Guerrero
Davey Boy Smith is another sad cautionary tale for wrestlers everywhere. He had a long career in wrestling. Sadly drugs, alcohol, and steroids cut his career far shorter than it should have been. Davey Boy would be in and out of the WWE throughout the 1990s. He suffered a horrific back injury while working for WCW in 1998. When he returned to the WWE he was not the same.
His last match took place on an episode of Sunday Night Heat on May 23rd, 2000. He took on Eddie Guerrero for the European Title. The match would end in a double disqualification. He would be released shortly after and enter a rehab facility. Davey Boy Smith would tragically pass away on May 18th, 2002 from a heart attack. He had competed in tag team matches with his son just the weekend before.
11 Brian Pillman - Shotgun Saturday Night vs. The Patriot
Brian Pillman could play an unstable loose cannon like no one else. Dean Ambrose is the closest comparison to anyone in the WWE today but his character doesn't come close to the type of stuff The Loose Cannon would do. Pillman was a member of the Hart Foundation at the time of his tragic and untimely death. He was scheduled to face Dude Love at Badd Blood: In Your House, but the morning of the PPV. Pillman was found dead in his hotel room at the age of 35.
Pillman had an undiagnosed heart problem that tragically took him at such a young age. His last official WWE match took place at a Shotgun Saturday Night taping where Brian Pillman faced The Patriot. Goldust would interfere leading to Pillman winning by DQ.
10 Christian - RAW vs. Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus & Dolph Ziggler
Christian was one of my favorite wrestlers in the WWE. He was so underrated. He was thought of as a low-level wrestler in his first run in the company. After winning the world title in TNA, Christian came back in a much bigger role in the WWE. After some years of toiling away in the upper midcard, he would win the World Heavyweight Championship twice (winning the first one with a little help from his recently retired friend Edge).
Unfortunately, Christian's last few years were marred by injuries. His final match took place on the March 24, 2014 edition of RAW. Christian defeated Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler, earning the no.1 contender spot for the Intercontinental title. Unfortunately, Christian suffered a concussion in the match and his title opportunity never came. Christian never had the big public retirement announcement like Edge. With his history of concussions, he has decided to call it quits on his in-ring career. Christian has been working on the WWE Network hosting a show with Edge.
9 AJ Lee - RAW with Paige & Naomi vs. The Bella Twins & Natalya
AJ Lee was one of the most beloved, and most hated divas during her time in the company. She sparked the Divas Revolution that has now seen women main event multiple shows and PPVs. Women in the company today owe a lot to the outspoken former diva. It is said AJ Lee was miserable during her last year in the WWE. She became more outspoken against management and fought for better pay and exposure for the women in the company.
Her last match came on the Raw following WrestleMania 31. AJ Lee teamed with Paige and Naomi and they defeated the Bellas and Natalya. AJ shocked everyone by announcing her retirement shortly afterward. AJ Lee is now married to CM Punk and has an autobiography coming out soon.
8 Owen Hart - RAW with Jeff Jarrett vs. Godfather & Val Venis
Owen Hart was not only a great technical wrestler but also a hell of a high flier. A member of the iconic Hart family, Owen was always somewhat in the shadow of his more successful brother Bret. At Over The Edge 1999, Owen would tragically pass away. The harness that was holding him for his descent to the ring released and Owen fell to the ring. Owen was one of the most beloved wrestlers in the entire company. The WWE had a tribute episode of Raw to him after Over The Edge.
Thus, Owen's last official WWE match took place at a Raw taping before the PPV. Owen Hart (as The Blue Blazer) and Jeff Jarrett lost to the team of The Godfather and Val Venis.
7 Hulk Hogan - SummerSlam 2006 vs. Randy Orton
Hulk Hogan was with the WWE for the majority of the 1980s. He took part in all the biggest matches and was the world champion for much of this time. His initial run in the WWE ended in controversy due to steroid allegations. Hulk would reinvent himself as a heel in WCW, which likely extended his career. He would return to the WWE numerous times over the years. He would also have a huge failed run in TNA, which would all take place after his last official WWE Match.
At SummerSlam 2006, The Legend Hulk Hogan defeated The Legend Killer Randy Orton. Many thought Hulk should have put the young star over but it didn't happen. Hulk would bounce in and out of the company, finally having all ties cut in 2016 due to some racist comments he made on an old recording.
6 Kurt Angle - ECW vs. Sabu
It was just recently announced that Kurt Angle was returning to the WWE to join the WWE Hall Of Fame. An in-ring return is never out of the question but with his health and the cautious nature of WWE doctors, I doubt it. Kurt Angle would have his last match on an ECW taping in early August 2006. Kurt would face Sabu and the match would end in a No Contest due to interference from RVD.
Kurt Angle would leave the WWE shortly after. He has said he wasn't allowed to take time off and was working seriously injured at the time. Kurt would join TNA in September of 2006, getting to work a greatly reduced schedule and got to take time off for health purposes whenever he needed to. Kurt would become TNA's biggest star during his tenure with the company.
5 Eddie Guerrero - SmackDown vs. Mr. Kennedy
Eddie Guerrero had a long and winding road in the WWE. He struggled with drug and alcohol abuse that cost him his job and his family. Eddie's story of redemption is inspiring to those who are going through similar problems. Eddie would reach the top of the mountain in the WWE at No Way Out 2004 winning the WWE Title. Eddie would establish himself as a top superstar in the WWE right up until his death. He was rumored to be winning the world title again which would have happened a few weeks later in a match against Batista. Eddie unfortunately would pass away before that happened. He passed away on November 13th, 2005 due to heart failure.
Eddie's last match would take place on SmackDown, airing two days before his death. Eddie would defeat Mr.Kennedy by DQ after framing Kennedy in classic Eddie fashion by tossing him a steel chair for the ref to see.
4 Andre the Giant - WrestleMania VI with Haku vs. Demolition
Andre The Giant was one of the biggest stars in wrestling history. He was undefeated for over a decade. His match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III is one of the most talked about matches in WWE history. His last match in the company came at WrestleMania VI. Andre was already clearly slowing down at this point. The man lived in constant pain. Andre's last match in the WWE had him and Haku taking on the team of Demolition. Andre would lose his last match, but he left in a memorable fashion, turning face after being scolded by Bobby Heenan. While Andre would wrestle a couple more times for WWE on tours, this was his final televised WWE match.
Andre returned to wrestling for one final match in Japan in 1992. It is sad he didn't finish his career in the WWE. Andre would pass away in January of 1993 from a heart attack.
3 CM Punk - Royal Rumble 2014
CM Punk scratched and clawed his way to the top of the WWE. His pipebomb promo would go down as one of the most talked about moments in wrestling history. Much like his wife, Punk fought for the smaller wrestlers in the company to get more opportunities. Punk showed the bosses that the small "vanilla midgets" could draw big money for the company. CM Punk would have his last match at the Royal Rumble in 2014. After he was eliminated from the match, Punk would take a leave of absence.
Punk clearly was not happy with the company. The WWE sent him his release papers on his wedding day. Since then, he has ripped the WWE apart in multiple interviews and on Twitter. Punk has also made his UFC debut (where he was destroyed in the first round). Recently The Rock called Punk live in the ring after an episode of Raw, which wasn't received well backstage.
2 Edge - WrestleMania XXVII vs. Alberto Del Rio
This is one of the saddest ones for me on the list. As a lifelong Edge fan, it was a damn shame to see his career end prematurely. Edge had a hell of a WWE career, winning the WWE title four times and the World Heavyweight Championship seven times. All this after a lengthy career as a tag team wrestler with fellow list mate Christian.
At least Edge's last match took place on the grandest stage of them all. At WrestleMania XXVII, Edge defeated Alberto Del Rio to successfully defend his World Heavyweight Championship. Edge has said he was already feeling the effects of his injury during this match. Edge would come out live on Raw eight days after this match and announce his retirement due to spinal stenosis, which he had contracted over his career. Edge is now married to Beth Phoenix and has become an actor.
1 Daniel Bryan - SmackDown with John Cena vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
The leader of the YES movement had a hell of a rocky career in the WWE. Every time he would break through to the top of the company, he would suffer an injury and be forced to miss significant time. He was so loved by the fans that people booed long time fan favorite Rey Mysterio during his entry at #30 in the '14 Rumble because they wanted Bryan. Bryan would win multiple titles during his time in the WWE, unfortunately having to vacate some of them due to injury. Like Christian, Bryan struggled with concussions.
His last match took place on an episode of SmackDown on April 16th, 2016. Bryan teamed up with John Cena to defeat Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. Since retiring Bryan has become the GM of SmackDown and one of the stars of Total Bellas.