A wrestler’s journey can be a topsy-turvy one, and nobody really knows how it’s going to go. Many hope to make it in WWE, but others are forced to wrestle in the independents for as long as they can before they can make an impact on the big stage. Being as big as it is, WWE offers wrestlers a variety of options, as they have more than a few brands under the banner, from developmental to cruiserweight to main roster.
Many wrestlers simply do not know what to do when they must hang up the boots, and it must have been way harder a few decades ago when there was only two big promotions to speak of. Nowadays, former wrestlers have coaching gigs, productions gigs and so on and so forth when it comes to jobs in the industry. With that said, other wrestlers are still content with making money while wrestling in front of a fraction of the audiences that they’re used to, performing in church basements across the globe so that the fans do not forget their names.
The WWE, though, remains the mecca of sports entertainment, and if one plays their cards correctly, they can muster up quite the career in the New York quarters – and they can even find a job working backstage when their time is up. For every wrestler who dons the suit and tie, there is still a legend running the ropes. Let us count down some wrestlers who are still working today and a few you may not know work behind the scenes:
20 Active: Jazz
Before wrestlers with brute force such as Asuka and Nia Jax, Jazz was honing her craft in WWE as one of the most powerful female wrestlers fans had ever seen. While she didn’t have a lengthy career under the WWE banner, she still did enough to capture the Women’s Championship and go down as a titleholder. Fans might have thought Jazz disappeared completely from wrestling, yet she’s still doing the rounds on the independent circuit. Better yet, she’s the current NWA Women’s Champion, and she just defended that title at the 70th Anniversary show against Penelope Ford (also known as the Bad Girl, Joey Janela’s partner and valet).
19 Backstage: Dean Malenko
Sometimes, in a big bust up on screen, we see many familiar faces in the fray trying to break up a couple of superstars that are having a brawl. One man you may see more often than not is former WCW Cruiserweight champion Dean Malenko. While Malenko didn’t have the greatest WWE career, he was still a revered and feared cruiserweight, and one of the best technical wrestlers to ever lace up the boots.
These days, Malenko works as a road agent, catering to the superstars needs and laying down the law when the wrestlers are travelling. One might think that he’s a lot more easy-going than someone like Michael Hayes, who has the same job.
18 Active: Raven
When it comes to storied careers, you have to mention Raven’s name in the mix. The former ECW World Champion has wrestled for WWE, WCW, ECW, TNA, and ROH, not to mention a handful of other promotions. He also held titles in most of those promotions, and some smaller companies have handed over Raven the gold as his career progressed as well.
At 54 years old, Raven is still lacing up the boots, having wrestled for smaller promotions north of the border and a few US companies throughout the better part of the past three years. During that time, he’s shared rings with PCO, Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman, among others. He’s also made an impact, to say the least, returning to Impact Wrestling this past month.
17 Backstage: Tyson Kidd
It’s been a long while since Tyson Kidd sustained a career-ending injury when he broke his neck in a dark match against Samoa Joe. While Kidd could be seen in a few episodes of Total Divas while his wife Natalya takes center stage as one of the show’s main characters. While Kidd always hoped to return to the ring, he was forced to retire in the summer of 2017. WWE, though, has helped Kidd transition into a backstage role, as he is now currently a producer for WWE on a full-time basis. While it's unfortunate that Kidd won’t be able to perform in the ring, at least he can still be around wrestling for as long as he wishes.
16 Active: 2 Cold Scorpio
While many know 2 Cold Scorpio for his time under the WWE gimmick Flash Funk, the high flyer was an innovator for his time, and paved the way for many wrestlers who use aerial maneuvers to this day. He’s never truly gotten enough credit for being as original as he was, but most ECW fans would argue that in Philadelphia, Scorpio’s name is synonymous with that of a legend.
To this day, Scorpio still competes, and he’s wrestled as late as last September in both Germany and Virginia. He’s been featured in promotions such as Battlewar and CWE, and even got himself involved in a few title matches at the tender age of 53.
15 Backstage: Billy Kidman
Another former WCW Cruiserweight champion who works backstage is Billy Kidman, and unlike Malenko, fans would probably say that Kidman’s WWE career may have been as successful as his time in WWE. Now polished up and sporting a clean-cut look, Kidman works as a producer for the main roster in WWE, and he’s at the core when it comes to who is booking the shows and working with talent.
Kidman does shy away from coming out on television to break up a brawl, yet he’s been with WWE for a while now, and it’s possible he’s in production trucks and away from the center of the action.
14 Active: Shane Douglas
This list isn’t short of ECW legends, and here we have another with the man that put the small Philadelphia promotion on the map when he threw down the NWA title over two decades ago. Shane Douglas never had an impressive WWE run, but his time in both ECW and WCW made fans recognize what a good worker he was in the ring. He has a good mind for the wrestling business, and that hasn’t stopped him from putting on the boots for more of a backstage role.
He’s still quite active in wrestling, having over a dozen matches in 2018 alone. Douglas is still capable of generating that good ol’ heel heat, which made him one of the most dislikable characters who always had valets (see: Francine, Torrie Wilson). Just this past September, Douglas defeated the legendary Masato Tanaka at a show in Australia.
13 Backstage: Jason Jordan
Fans may not believe this one, but it’s actually true. Jason Jordan has been away from television for quite some time, and his timetable for a return keeps on changing. While there are a lot of reports circulating, Jordan does appear to be looking at a return sooner rather than later, but some feel like his time as a wrestler may be done. One thing is for sure, and that’s Jordan’s presence backstage at Raw on Monday nights, as he is working closely with producers and learning the tricks of the trade. If there’s one thing WWE should be applauded for, it’s finding jobs for those on the shelf and giving them opportunities outside of the ring.
12 Active: Elijah Burke
Despite not truly living up to his potential in WWE, Elijah Burke has made quite the name for himself since his departure. Known as Pope to many TNA onlookers, Burke has reinvented his character and dons the play-by-play role alongside Josh Matthews, another familiar WWE name you may have heard of.
Though he doesn’t wrestle for IMPACT under the name Pope, he has adopted that name on the independent scene and still competes to this day, mostly as part of a tag team called Cool Pimpin’ alongside JB Cool. They even had a tag team contest this past February against a very popular team from the Attitude Era that we will be mentioning later on in this article. Pope is also the current FEW International Champion, having won that title in July.
11 Backstage: IRS
Since kayfabe is more or less dead, we can confirm that IRS isn’t really a corrupt wallstreet banker. He probably doesn’t care if you pay your taxes or not in 2018, because he’s busy working for WWE as a road agent. You may still see him on television for a few legends appearances here and there, but he’s mostly helping out in other ways. He surely offers good advice given the lengthy career he’s had in the WWE, WCW, and NWA. It’s not clear if he works full-time as a road agent, yet he’s spent quite a good amount on television these past few years popping up here and there – so it’s possible he’s backstage more often than not.
10 Active: Al Snow
Another wrestler who has made the rounds in the biggest wrestling promotions out west, Al Snow’s last big television appearances happened in IMPACT, where he served as an authority figure and trainer to the upcoming stars of that promotion. Snow, who is in his mid-fifties, is still putting on the tights in 2018, wrestling for Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion quite consistently. He has appeared in four consecutive shows in 2018 alone, and his opponents have been the likes of Joey Mercury, Mike Burr and Mohammed Ali Vaez.
Snow is the current owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling, which used to be the original NXT developmental territory for WWE, for anyone keeping tabs.
9 Backstage: Steve Corino
He wasn’t a prominent figure on WWE television, minus a few appearances, yet Steve Corino is one of the most under-appreciated wrestlers of the hardcore era in ECW. He was even extremely influential for Kevin Owens in ROH, as they were part of a stable called S.C.U.M. alongside former WWE writer and wrestler Jimmy Jacobs. Corino recently received a job with WWE as one of the head coaches at the development center.
While he’s not training the future stars of NXT, Corino can be seen on NXT television almost every time there is a backstage scuffle or attack, as we’ve already seen him on our screens a few time this past year. Corino has one of the greatest minds in the business, as he was influenced heavily by the late Dusty Rhodes, who was huge in the success of NXT and its earlier days.
8 Active: Billy Gunn
It wasn’t long ago that Billy Gunn was still involved with WWE. Gunn was released in 2015 from a WWE contract that saw him and New Age Outlaw partner Road Dogg return for another stint with the company. Gunn was let go due to a drug test failure, but that hasn’t stopped Gunn from wrestling to this day.
He recently took on Hiroshi Tanahashi at the G1 Special last year for NJPW in a lackluster match, and still competes for Snow’s OVW where he recently had two matches in October as part of a Heavyweight title tournament. Gunn also wrestles for smaller companies such as PCW, FTW and had an appearance at All In, the show promoted by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, this past summer.
7 Backstage: Paul Heyman
We see more of Paul Heyman than the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, because quite frankly, Heyman has a job and Brock works part-time. Heyman, who scripts promos for Ronda Rousey, has also joined the Raw writing team. While many fans have voiced their displeasure when watching WWE’s flagship program, Heyman’s presence and influence will surely bring some fresh ideas to the table, but it really all depends on if Vince McMahon wants to go forth with what the former ECW owner has in mind.
Heyman, though, will still be writing promos for Rousey moving forward, as she remains one of the few wrestlers who has the liberty of saying what she wants when talking to the crowd.
6 Active: The Head Bangers
Known for their wacky ways of dressing and their Marilyn Manson and White Zombie shirts, the Head Bangers achieved great success in the WWE, as the Attitude Era had many great tag teams to speak of. These former tag team champions were seen on WWE television just a few years ago taking on the team of Heath Slater and Rhyno, and they’ve been wrestling ever since.
Just this past October, they took part in a tag tourney for UPWA, and they even wrestled former WWE teams such as The Spirit Squad and Cryme Tyme in 2017. It’s highly unlikely that these two bruisers will return to the WWE anytime soon, yet they’ve been going strong since a big comeback to the squared circle in 2011.
5 Backstage: The Brian Kendrick
The case of Brian Kendrick is an interesting one, because he’ still active on the WWE roster, and more specifically, has a role on the cruiserweight show 205 Live. However, before plans for a cruiserweight division came to fruition, Kendrick was working at the performance center as a trainer. While he still juggles both but spends more time wrestling, Kendrick was pivotal in training Raw’s current women’s champion Ronda Rousey, and worked closely with her at the very beginning of her career to this very day. Since all of her matches are set up move for move, Kendrick is to credit for how she goes from point A to point B in every single outing of hers.
4 Active: Eugene
Hated by few and beloved by many, Nick Dinsmore’s Eugene gimmick didn’t quite do wonders for his career - even if it was over with the fans in the mid-2000s. Touted as the nephew of Eric Bischoff, Eugene’s act certainly wouldn’t go down well in 2018, as many would find the gimmick to be incredibly offensive. However, Eugene is actually still wrestling under that gimmick in 2018.
Billed as Eugene, U-Gene, and Nick Dinsmore himself, the Indiana native competes about three times per year, and he’s been in the ring with a handful of talents, from ex-WWE wrestlers to young, up and coming independent stars clawing their way to WWE. His last match took place in July, and Lanny Poffo, Macho Man’s brother, was even a part of it. In June, he formed a tag team with another fellow WWE castoff, who remains the only person left on our list of ex-WWE standouts.
3 Backstage: Shawn Michaels
HBK defied the odds by appearing at Crown Jewel late in 2018, coming out of retirement and even pulled a few tricks out of the bag against The Undertaker and Kane. Michaels has been helping out with production in WWE as of late, working a part-time schedule, but mostly, he can be found lending a helping hand to those aspiring to be WWE superstars at the development center. Primarily, he’s teaching the young, up and coming stars of NXT and working as a coach. While he isn’t there on a daily basis, Michaels is still a voice to be heard when teaching others some valuable lessons.
2 Active: X-Pac
X-Pac holds the impressive feat of being the only member who was part of D-Generation X and the nWo, if you don’t count Shawn Michaels who was a member of WWE’s really bad New World Order reincarnation that also had the Big Show and Booker T in it, too. X-Pac can still show up for WWE once in a while due to his allegiances to Triple H and the Outsiders, and you’d think after wrestling for nearly 30 years, he’d have enough of the squared circle.
X-Pac still uses the X-Pac name, along with Kid (from his 1-2-3 Kid days) and Sean Waltman when he’s wrestling across the country. Just last October, he teamed up with former nWo mates Scott Norton and Buff Bagwell in a six-man tag match for Glory Pro.
1 Backstage: Matt Hardy
He may have abruptly called it a day because of near career-threatening injuries which accumulated over time, but that doesn’t mean Matt Hardy has walked away completely from WWE. The “broken” character reignited his WWE tenure in 2017 and onwards, and he even produced an interesting partnership with Bray Wyatt. Having worked a show producing backstage while he was hurt, Hardy fell in love with the behind-the-scenes work of the WWE, and helped run the show at Raw on the Monday nights that followed. Hardy has now turned to the production team, as he will partake in a full-time role as a producer for the remainder of his wrestling days.