Wrestling isn’t a career that many superstars are able to do for very long, the shelf life of every professional wrestler is limited and sometimes illness and injury can cause many stars to retire from the business at a young age and then have to pursue a career elsewhere. Of course, this isn’t the case for many stars who refuse to retire just because they’re sick or even injured. Many wrestlers who work on the Independent Circuit are not forced to undergo the vigorous medical testing that WWE uses which means that they are able to work even when they are ill.
Over the years there have been many wrestlers who have refused to walk away from the only business they have ever known despite the fact that they are obviously struggling with a number of problems of their own. Wrestling is a hard career to give up regardless of how ill these stars are and the fact that they definitely need help from a third party.
The following list looks at 15 wrestlers who are too sick or injured to be working anymore, but they are not going to let something as insignificant as their health stand in the way of their career.
Big Van Vader was a huge star in WWE in the 1990s and he hasn’t stepped out of the ring since. The wrestling legend has revealed his extensive health problems over the past few years as well as stating that the doctors have only given him a few years to live given his storied heart problems.
Evidentally, this isn’t enough for Vader to stop wrestling and instead the big man still does it on a regular basis and even collapsed in the middle of the ring at a show that he was part of in Japan last year after it was revealed that he was dropped on his head in the match and this caused him to briefly pass out. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it doesn’t seem as though Vader is healthy enough to compete at that level anymore.
Sheamus is a former World Champion and most recently was one half of the Raw Tag Team Champions along with Cesaro. Back in December Sheamus revealed that he had been struggling for more than six months with stenosis which has seen him forced to use a neck hammock as part of his rehab.
Sheamus’ condition could worsen and force him to step away from the ring like a number of other wrestlers, but the Irish superstar is hoping that the rehab will allow him to continue to wrestle for the next few years even if it means that one bad bump could essentially leave him paralysed. Incredibly, ever since Sheamus confessed about his condition more than a month ago, he has still remained at the main event level of the company, which has meant that he has continued to compete.
13. Daniel Bryan
It could be argued that Daniel Bryan isn’t actually wrestling right now, but he is appearing on WWE TV. Bryan has been rumoured to be making a return to the ring at WrestleMania 34 later this year, but the wrestler himself has already stated that if he isn’t allowed to wrestle in a WWE ring then he will return to the Independent Circuit.
Bryan’s history of concussions is the reason that WWE doesn’t want to clear him to return, it could cause him major problems in the future and the fact that he is a father and husband should allow him to see that he has a lot to lose if he steps back into the ring. WWE have protocols to follow, which is why he’s been left on the sidelines now for more than a year.
12. Bill Eadie (Ax)
Bill Eadie will be remembered as one half of Demolition, who up until 2016 were the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in WWE history. Eadie was named as part of a lawsuit against WWE back in 2016 which alleged that wrestlers incurred traumatic brain injuries during their tenure and that the company concealed the risks of injury.
This was the main thing that led to WWE wiping their names out of the history books, but despite the head injuries that Eadie suffered while wrestling for WWE and the problems that this has caused in his life, he has still been able to continue wrestling. At 70 years old, Eadie competed at Brawl under the Bridge in what was supposed to be his final match back in July, but it is likely that he will be back, he can never stay away from the ring for long.
11. The Undertaker
It could easily be argued that The Undertaker’s best days inside a wrestling ring are behind him. The Deadman appeared to retire following WrestleMania 33 when he was defeated by Roman Reigns, but recent rumours now suggest that Undertaker actually could be returning to face John Cena at WrestleMania 34.
Undertaker has recently undergone hip surgery and was known to have collapsed after a number of his most recent matches, there is no way that WWE can claim that the former World Champion is in the condition that he needs to be in to hold his own in a match against John Cena on The Grandest Stage Of Them All. Undertaker has passed the 50 mark now and it seems that his return in a week’s time at Raw 25 could begin his final run in a WWE ring.
10. Terry Funk
At 73-years-old it seems that Terry Funk is a wrestler who will never be able to step away from the ring. The ECW legend has had quite the run in when it comes to his health over the past few years and was even hospitalised back in 2016 when it was revealed that he had an inguinal hernia.
Unsurprisingly, Funk was told to rest following surgery but he decided to attend Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore shows instead. It was at one of these shows back in September 2016 where Funk officially retired from the wrestling business. Needless to say, Funk was back in the ring less than a year later once again risking his health so that he could team with The Rock and Roll Express in a match that also included WWE legend, Jerry Lawler.
9. Ric Flair
Ric Flair is a 16-time World Champion and someone who has returned to the ring a number of times despite the fact that he is well advanced in age right now. It is only his recent struggles with his health that have put his life into perspective.
Flair had a brush with death back in 2017 when he went for a routine check-up that showed that his bowel had exploded and he was forced to undergo surgery. He was then put into an induced coma for a few days while his body attempted to recover. Flair admitted that he was drinking the day before and this contributed to the medical emergency, and this has finally woke him up and made him realize that he can’t wrestle anymore but with his return as part of Raw’s 25th Anniversary show already announced, Flair could be set to elbow drop a few more jackets in the future.
8. Justin Credible
It was only a few weeks ago that Justin Credible made news all over the world when he turned up to a wrestling show obviously under the influence and then went on to hijack the mic and take over the event even though he had already been sent home by the promoter of the show.
Credible is a former eight-time Hardcore Champion in WWE and has found it hard over the past few years since he’s battled an addiction that many thought he had finally overcome last year. Credible has relapsed a number of times and recently decided to accept help from Diamond Dallas Page to help him get back on track since the WWE Hall of Famer has helped a number of other wrestlers in similar situations.
7. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts will never fully be out of the spotlight, the former star has battled addiction throughout his career and has recently overcome a battle with cancer.
The wrestling legend was in a place where he was awaiting death a few years ago when his life descended into a constant fight against his addiction. Diamond Dallas Page later stepped in to help Roberts overcome many of his demons and the star has since been able to return to the business where he is touring Canada with CWE and explaining to wrestling fans the dangers of addiction and how much his battle cost him throughout his career. Roberts is also set to return to WWE as part of their 25th Anniversary celebration in just over a week’s time.
6. Kyle O’Reilly
Kyle O’Reilly is currently one half of the NXT Tag Team Champions alongside Bobby Fish where they are joined by Adam Cole as The Undisputed Era. One thing that isn’t very well-known about Kyle O’Reilly is the fact that he has type 1 diabetes.
It is something that O’Reilly has lived with throughout his career and he has probably found a way to control the illness at this point. There are a number of issues that can stem from diabetes that include poor healing ability, feeling faint and often not being able to compete if his blood sugar level drops. While the star has been able to control his illness so far in his NXT career, it is unknown what this could lead to in the future when his touring schedule is much more exhausting.
X-Pac got his big break in WWE when he was 21-years-old. It could have been too much too soon for the star who was later known to have been addicted to meth and then tried to hang himself in 2008 when his life went on a downward spiral.
X-Pac has had a number of problems throughout his life that led to his addiction, but it seemed as though he had sobered up and got himself into great shape a few years ago. Reports recently suggested that X-Pac could have drifted back into addiction after he was arrested at an airport last year for possession of controlled substances. The charges were later dropped, but X-Pac’s health both physically and mentally has been a topic of conversation recently.
4. Jerry Lawler
Jerry Lawler has had a lengthy wrestling career that began in the 1970s and then led him all the way to the commentary desk in WWE. The Memphis wrestling legend has had his own fair share of road bumps throughout his career too.
Lawler suffered a heart attack during a live episode of Monday Night Raw back in 2012 as the medical crew were forced to perform CPR on The King at ringside to save his life. Incredibly, he managed to survive and was back in the ring less than a year later and is still wrestling on a regular basis right now. At 68-years-old even a brush with death isn’t enough to slow Jerry Lawler down or force him onto the sidelines in the world of wrestling.
3. Dory Funk Jr.
Many of the younger members of the WWE Universe will perhaps not be able to remember a time when Dory Funk Jr wasn’t wrestling. At 76-years-old, he has had quite the career over the past few decades which has led him to reach his current point on the Independent Circuit where he is currently performing in tag team matches and limited to small roles in shows.
The Funk family are not people who are able to walk away from the business, but at almost 80-years-old Dory’s health is deteriorating and now he has started a career as a trainer, he should be able to finally step away from an active career and marvel at the achievements he has been part of over the past few decades.
Sabu is a superstar who has been wrestling all over the world for a number of decades but has become a wrestler who is unable to let go of the business. Sabu has had his own fair share of illnesses and injuries over the past few years which left him begging the wrestling world for help a few years ago when he needed hip surgery but had no money to pay for it.
He is 53-years-old and has been heavily influenced by substance abuse throughout his career. This is finally catching up to the hardcore wrestling star who should definitely be thinking about retirement in the coming years. The former ECW Legend isn’t as healthy as he once was and is in a position where he should be thinking about walking away.
It’s been a heartbreaking few years for former Divas Champion Paige, just when she thought that she was getting her life back on track after the worst year of her career, she managed to injure her neck at a WWE live event in a match with Sasha Banks which has left her in a position where she has been told that she should retire.
Paige is too seriously injured to be able to wrestle full-time now and after undergoing neck surgery back in 2016 Paige has already maxed out all of her options. At 25-years-old it must be heartbreaking for the British star, but it is likely that she will carry on wrestling in the future on the Independent Circuit where she won’t have to go through the same kind of medical assessments.
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