The WWE Hall of Fame is filled with some of the greatest personalities in the history of wrestling. Superstars like Bret “The Hitman” Hart, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and Andre the Giant are all member of this incredible fraternity of professional wrestlers.
Most wrestlers are given this honor after they have retired from the sport that made them famous. Others have used the induction as a sign that they have achieved everything they can and it’s time to bow out graciously. They are able to give incredible and moving speeches where they can thank the fans, their opponents, loved ones, and everyone who helped them get there.
Some wrestlers don’t get the hint. They have continued to wrestler well-past their expiration date. The independent scene is filled with folks in the Hall of Fame who are still lacing up their boots to this very day. Some do it because they love wrestling and don’t want to do anything else, others are hard out for cash and have no other skills that they could use to make a living, others have no idea that being a 70-year-old means you should probably stop jumping off the top rope and taking chair shots to the head.
Here are 15 WWE Hall of Famers who you wouldn’t believe are still wrestling.
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15 Jerry “The King” Lawler
Even after he suffered a legitimate heart attack on national television, Jerry Lawler was undeterred to give up a life as a wrestler. Even with pretty cushy gig within the WWE, making appearances for them and acting as an analyst for pay-per-view pre-shows, Lawler has been unable to leave his life as an in-ring performer behind. When he commentated on the 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble match, I was worried the entire time that he was going to step foot between the ropes once again. For those of you who aren’t terrified that you’ll see a man in his late-60s suffer another cardiac arrest, you can still catch the King piledriving the competition, usually against other aging southern grapplers like George South and Doug Gilbert.
14 Rock 'n' Roll Express
It’s pretty interesting that the Rock ’n’ Roll Express has managed to outlast a bunch of wrestlers that they inspired. The Midnight Express is no longer around, the Rockers haven’t teamed together in years, but Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson are still hitting double dropkicks for any wrestling promotion that will have them. It was rumored that the Rock ’n’ Roll Express were going to make their long-awaited return to the WWE in 2017 and wrestler Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson as part of the Starrcade revival. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition. But hey, they did recently manage to win the Viral Pro Wrestling Tag Team Championship in September of that year. It’s all about the silver lining, folks.
13 “Bullet” Bob Armstrong
Granted, he’s probably most famous nowadays for being the father of the Road Dogg, but Bob Armstrong had a pretty amazing career during the territory days of professional wrestling. Debuting all the way back in 1960, Armstrong became a staple of Georgia wrestling. Although he never won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, he held over 21 different mid-card and tag titles under the NWA banner. The Bullet’s most recent match was in July of 2017 where he teamed up with Tommy Rich to wrestle for Sunbelt Wrestling Entertainment in Lakeland Georgie. This bout was heralded as his “Retirement” match, but if his retirement matches in the ‘90s and 2009 are any indication as to how this will play out, there’s still some gunpowder left in the Bullet.
12 Tito Santana
Tito Santana has been wrestling since 1976, that’s 42 years. More impressively, throughout that entire time, he has never once wrestled as a heel. He made a career out of being one of the greatest fiery babyfaced of all time, and there’s no sign of stopping. Santana doesn't continue to wrestle simply for a payday. The former Matador really appears to have a love and passion for helping out these smaller companies. The adoration from the fans doesn’t seem to hurt either. When asked about retiring in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Tito Said, “I'm going to continue to do it because I really enjoy it. It doesn't get old when you step into the ring and you hear the fans let you know how much they appreciate you.”
11 Bushwacker Luke
Before signing to the WWE in 1988, the Bushwackers had an impressive career that spanned all the way back to the 1960s. The New Zealand duo went on to be one of the most beloved tandems in wrestling history despite never picking up the WWE Tag Team Championship. After Butch retired in 2001, Luke has continued to don the camouflage day in and day out. It’s always strange to me when I see Bushwacker Luke pop up on the independent scene without his storyline cousin. It’s like Abbott without Costello, Itchy without Scratchy, or how our kids will feel when they see music’s hottest new duo, Shaggy and Sting (the musician, not the Vigilante) apart. In 2017, the WWE’s former resident head-licker wrestled all over the globe, picking up victories in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.
10 Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
When you’ve won over 40 championships throughout your career, there really isn’t any reason to keep wrestling. Especially when you’re 66-years-old. Apparently, nobody has given that memo to Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. From Wisconsin, to New York, to West Virginia, the former Intercontinental Champion can still be seen all over the American independent scene, sometimes even reuniting with his former Rhythm and Blues teammate, The Honky Tonk Man. The Hammer doesn’t seem to be taking it too easy on his body either. It was only a little over two years ago that he wrestled in a Dog Collar match for Championship International Wrestling in Jackson, Michigan. His body might not be what it once was, but boy does he still have some of the most luxurious hair in the business.
9 Koko B. Ware
Ware’s name always comes up when people talk about some of the most underserved wrestlers in the WWE Hall of Fame. Chyna’s not in the Hall of Fame? The British Bulldog’s not in the Hall of Fame? Ware’s former High Energy partner Owen Hart isn’t in the Hall of Fame? But Koko B. Ware has been in for almost a decade?! Doesn’t quite make sense. But, hey, good for the Bird Man. I’m sure the Hal of Fame ring has been able to up his appearance fee and put some extra bird food in Frankie’s mouth. Not only does he still dust off the checkered parachute pants a few times a year, but he has become a staple of the convention circuit, seemingly appearing at every single one across the country in recent memory.
It makes sense that a wrestler who spent the bulk (pun intended) of his time rubbing his butt in other dudes’ faces is able to continue wrestling to this day. When Rikishi changed up his wrestling style and went from being hard-hitting Samoan brawler to a comedy act, he definitely added a few years to his career. The 2015 Hall of Fame inductee can usually be seen as part of the Samoan Dynasty with VIP, his cousin Black Pearl, his son Sefa Fatu where they are mainstays of the California-based Knokx Pro Entertainment promotion, where Rikishi is also a trainer. The company boasts having the “first ever live interactive wrestling show,” allowing fans to choose what moves are performed.
7 “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
Hoooooo! It makes sense that one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time would still be putting on matches. Like just about every entry on this list, Hacksaw is resigned to working the independent circuit. After a few latter-day runs in 2005 and 2011, his last WWE match came in 2013 when he defeated fellow patriot Jack Swagger on an edition of Old School Raw. Out of all of the entries on this last, Duggan has the most recent matches under his belt, already competing in two bouts in January of 2018. The first ever Royal Rumble winner is also on a bit of a hot streak as it doesn’t look like he’s lost a match since October of 2016. Somebody book this guy against Asuka ASAP.
6 Mil Mascaras
The last surviving member of Mexico’s “Big Three” of lucha libre, the other two being the legendary El Santo and Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras has carved out one of the most incredible careers in wrestling history. Not only is the man of a thousand masks one of Mexico’s most popular luchadors, but he also starred in 20 feature films. In fact, the character of Mil Mascaras was initially created to be an action movie star. His in-ring career was just as successful, as he went on to win gold all over the world. In recent years, Mascaras has been splitting his time between his home country of Mexico and Japan. In Japan, he can be usually seen teaming up with other wrestlers who refuse to retire like Riki Choshu, Keji Mutoh, and Tatsumi Fujinami (more on him later).
5 Nikolai Volkoff
Nikolai Volkoff is the definition of heel wrestlers in the 1980s. The Cold War was in full effect, and a Russian brawler looking to steal our freedom was the perfect man to go one on one with Hulk Hogan. Once the Cold War died down, so did Volkoff’s career. He puttering around in the WWE during the early ‘90s, but has since gone on to have a career on the independents, where he has been making appearances for over 20 years. Most surprising, Nikolai’s most recent match was against legendary east coast hardcore icon and former owner of Combat Zone Wrestling, DJ Hyde. I’ve covered one of these legendary independent matches before in my list of 15 Sad Photos of Wrestlers After They Fell From Grace. That particular bout saw Volkoff take on Bobby Fulton in a match for Classic Championship Wrestling that was so poorly produced, they couldn’t even secure a ring.
4 Tatsumi Fujinami
One of the most surprising inductees of the WWE Hall of Fame would have to be Tatsumi Fujinami. Not because he is undeserving of the spot, just because he’s not a guy WWE ever really mentioned despite technically winning gold for the promotion, as a multiple-time WWF Junior Heavyweight and International Heavyweight Champion. Tatsumi is one of the most respected wrestlers of all time, not only does he have Ric Flair’s stamp of approval, but Bret Hart once said, “I always wanted to be the great wrestler that Tatsumi Fujinami was.” That’s high praise. He still wrestles for a ton of promotions in Japan. Recently he has spent time wrestling for ZERO1, NOAH, W-1, and a bunch of other companies dying to have the Dragon on their roster.
3 Tony Atlas
It is well documented that during the early ‘90s, Tony Atlas was in a world of trouble. Drug addiction lead to him being released from the WWE, the very same company where he became one of the first African American Tag Team Champions, and soon, he was homeless and living on the street. He as given a second shot (unfortunately, it was the racist Saba Simba gimmick), but it was able to get him back on his feet and inside a wrestling ring. That was almost 30 years ago, and he hasn’t looked back. He tends to keep his wrestling schedule near his home on the east coast, and can be seen teaming up with a veritable who’s who of former WWE superstars like Tito Santana, Henry O. Godwinn, and The Patriot.
2 Terry & Dory Funk
According to Terry Funk, he has formally retired from the ring 22 times. Of course none of them have ever stuck. The first one was announced in 1983, he returned to the ring a little over a year later. The most recent retirement claim was in September of 2016, he was still in the ring a year later in a match that featured other members of this list, the Rock ’N' Roll Express and Jerry Lawler. Unlike his 73-year-old baby brother, Dory has seemingly only broken one retirement claim. Back in 2008, a 66-year-old Dory planned on gracefully exiting the world of wrestling. That would only last three months. Terry’s schedule is a lot lighter than his older brothers, sporadically wrestling within the states. Dory, however, was a staple of All Japan Pro Wrestling Television throughout 2017.
1 Kurt Angle
The most recent induction to the Hall of Fame is also the only wrestler on this list who’s most recent matches have taken place within a WWE ring. The Olympic Gold Medalist had left TNA in hope of another shot inside the ring that made him popular. However, his past history with drugs abuse and injuries had the higher-ups worries about giving him another match. Instead of a match, Kurt was given an on-screen role as Raw’s General Manager. Then, the legendary mumps outbreak of 2017 happened and, with Roman Reigns on the shelf, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins needed a replacement. Angle stepped up and put on a hell of a showing. He went on to wrestle in that year’s Raw vs Smackdown Survivor Series match, where he once again looked great. Could we see Angle once again get a WrestleMania moment? It could be true. It could be damn true.
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