The sport of professional wrestling has a short shelf life. From the hustle and bustle of being on the road over half the year, to putting your body on the line, these sports entertainers are lucky to make it out of their 20s and more so into their 40s with their bodies and minds intact.
With that, there’s a number of wrestlers who have had the ability, as well as flat out luck to be able to stick it out well into their late 40s, with some still having mat wars even into their 60s.
Not that watching a pair of guys who combine to be over 100 years is a lot of fun, which is why when it’s announced that two older veteran wrestlers are going to be in a high profile match, fans usually cringe.
Nowadays, it seems like companies are quick to dispatch the older talents once they reach that magical age of 40 and go with a youth movement, like what the WWE did back in 1995 when they parted ways with wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and others and went with the ‘New Generation’ of younger wrestlers like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.
Many wrestlers simply hang on too long if the money is good and there are plenty of wrestlers out there that should think about their next career. It seems like there’s certain wrestlers that just keep coming back for more, which is why today we give you “Top 15 Wrestlers Who Need to Retire.”
15 David Otunga
Otunga was the last original member of the Nexus and the New Nexus, but at this point in his career his best work is behind the scenes and on the mic, instead of in the ring. He has not been in the ring much as of late, spending more time on the panel of WWE Network doing the RAW pre-show and also being a ‘legal advisor’ on RAW every so often. The last time he had a big match was in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal back at WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans. He should retire from in-ring competition completely, but he's still worth keeping around for his mic work and work on the WWE Network.
The elder statesmen of the WWE Divas division, it’s time to change the division with some call-ups from NXT, and there's no better lady to teach them than Natalya. She’s 33 years old and has been an in-ring competitor with the company since 2008, and seems to always be better when showing new ladies of the company the way around the ring, rather than doing her thing in it herself. She can still be a huge part of the growth of the women’s division, but can do most of it outside the ring in a teaching capacity.
He's still on the roster according to the WWE website and, now at the age of 41, he's clearly on the tail end of his career. He’s been beat up by injuries since 2012 and hasn’t been able to stay healthy long enough to have a serious run with a title of any sort. He’s had some of the most legendary matches in the history of the company, when it comes to those magical ‘TLC’ matches with the Hardys and Dudley Boyz back in the early 2000s. He’s a likely future WWE Hall of Famer and should be incredibly proud of his career.
Ron Killings has had a solid run in wrestling, but he's now 43 years old and it’s time for him to walk away while he’s still wrestling at a somewhat high level. He’s been mostly a mid-carder since he had a short time at the main event level, when he wrestled John Cena at ‘Capital Punishment’ in June of 2011. He has been a comedy act for a lot of his WWE run, and even when he worked his way into the Intercontinental title ladder match at WrestleMania 31, it was on the premise of him ‘stealing’ the WWE IC belt each week from Wade Barrett. It's time for Ron to transition into a trainer or something behind the scenes.
11 The Miz
This former reality star has reached the top of the WWE ladder, even being in the main event at a WrestleMania when he fought and actually beat John Cena at WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta. He's a much better talker than a wrestler at this point and can even be a top notch manager for a younger heel on the WWE roster. Jim Ross, among others, has stated that his mic skills as a heel are very good and that at some point he should seriously be considering the next phase of his career, like being a manager or maybe a ‘GM’ on RAW instead of being an in-ring competitor.
Otherwise known as Dustin Runnels, the son of Dusty Rhodes is now 46 years old, and he’s been used less and less on WWE television as of late, partially due to injury. He had a great late run and was able to live out a dream, by winning the WWE Tag Team titles with his brother, Cody, in 2014 until his brother turned on him, leading to a couple of matches that Goldust actually won. Goldust has had a very good in-ring career, winning 19 titles, but it's definitely time for him to step away from the ring.
9 Jerry Lawler
The King will go down as one of the most legendary characters in the ring and at the announce table, but at 65 years old, he needs to out his health first and hang up the boots once and for all. He had a major health scare in September 2012 when he had a heart attack on-air, and he was lucky to make it out of that without any major damage. Since then, he has made a few in-ring appearances in Memphis and while he’s not wrestling 40-60 minute matches, it’s scary to think what could happen after his health scare a few years ago.
The ‘Big Red Machine’ has been carving out a larger role out of the ring over the last year, by playing the role of Director of Operations for ‘The Authority.’ He has a few more matches left in him, but at 48 years old, he’s playing the role of a jobber when he does wrestler, as he's just putting other stars over. He’s been a great solider for the company since he became the Kane character in 1997 and he'll definitely find his way into the WWE Hall of Fame when he finally does hang up his boots.
7 Chris Jericho
One of the great in-ring performers for WWE since he came over in 1999, Jericho has had some of the best matches in the company over the last 16 years. Since he left for the first time in 2005 and returned two years later, he hasn't been on screen consistently, choosing to focus on other endeavors. However, he always seems to be on good terms, to the point of being able to come back, have a good program, and then leave again. Jericho is now 44 and the part-time program concept is getting a little stale, though fans would clearly love to have him back every so often, as he's one of the great talkers in wrestling history.
Steve Borden will go down as one the all-time greats, and while he had his one shining WWE moment at WrestleMania 31, it’s time for him to go out on top. Sting is a legendary character and wrestler, and despite being 56 and looking in good shape at WrestleMania 31, he should walk away now with his Mania match with Triple H under his belt. It does look like a match with Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 is in the works, but it’s a match that is at least five years too late and it is going to be tough for that match to live up to the hype it’s going to draw.
5 Mark Henry
The ‘World’s Strongest Man’ just returned to WWE television during the Elimination Chamber PPV and then took on Roman Reigns the following night. He teased retirement two years ago, but used it to turn heel and get into a program with John Cena. The powerlifter came into WWE at the age of 24 in 1996 and while he’s never been the dominant wrestler many hoped he would become, he’s been a great mid-level guy who has been able to reach main event level on occassion. Now, at 43 and with a number of injuries under his belt, it’s time for Henry to walk away.
4 Triple H
Last year at WrestleMania, Triple H went over on Sting, a match that could be considered a fitting tribute to the long and successful career of ‘The Game.’ While it’s not likely to happen with a rumored match at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas against The Rock, the current WWE Executive Vice President would be well served to hang his boots up for good and start to focus on the task at hand, which is adding younger and better talent to the current WWE roster. He’s 45 years old and has won a total of 23 titles during his long and successful career, but it's time to focus on the business side.
3 Big Show
It's hard to believe that the massive Paul Wight has been with the company since February 1999 and has had a long career for someone close to 500 pounds. Show is 43 years old and he easily could be transitioned into being a ‘special attraction’ on the WWE roster, much like what Andre the Giant did towards the end of his career. Show goes back and forth from heel to face about as much as anyone in the company ever has and he’s probably got one more run left in him as a face before he hangs it up, something he should do by the end of the year, if not sooner.
2 The Undertaker
The Undertaker had a triumphant return to the ring at WrestleMania 31, after losing the year before in a stunner to Brock Lesnar which ended his 21-match win streak at Mania. Taker looked awfully slow two years ago at Mania and suffered a concussion during the match. He did look much better and in shape this past year, but now is 50 years old and has been competing in the WWE since 1990, making him WWE's longest-tenured performer. He’ll probably go out on top at next year's WrestleMania, if he truly does get his match with Sting, and he should, as it would be the perfect end to a historic career.
1 Daniel Bryan
This one is a heartbreaker, as Daniel Bryan is one of the top stars in the company, but, with his health issues over the last two years, it appears he’s simply going to have to walk away. His neck issues a year ago forced him to undergo surgery and also forced him to give up the WWE Championship, a belt he won at WrestleMania XXX. He returned to win the Intercontinental belt at WrestleMania 31, but again due to injury had to give that belt up. He has vowed to return to action, but it looks like he will never be close to the same and it seems like he'd be risking his long-term health by staying in the ring. We absolutely hate to say it, but Bryan really needs to think about his life after WWE.