One thing that many fans like to complain about is the fact that many professional wrestlers never know when to hang it up. In the past, it was no surprise to see guys in their 40s getting into a wrestling ring and remaining at the top of the game. Ric Flair was over 40 when he made his WWE debut many years ago. However, Flair was still trying to wrestle in his 60s, and his time had clearly passed him by.
While there are those superstars who stepped away while they were still young, with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, John Cena and Shawn Michaels at the top of the list, the number of wrestlers who didn't know when it was time to stop taking bumps in the wrestling ring is much larger. Here is a look at 10 WWE wrestlers who stuck around too long.
10 BILL GOLDBERG
Bill Goldberg stepped away at just the right time. He was a massive star in WCW, and when he came to WWE, he got to work with some guys who helped keep him looking like a monster. By the time he and Brock Lesnar battled at WrestleMania, fans were ready for both men to go.
When Goldberg returned and beat Brock Lesnar over a decade later, it was a nice moment. However, he rarely got into the ring outside of winning the Universal title and then lost it, leaving again. That should have been his swan song as Goldberg was nearing 50. Then he returned for a Saudi Arabia match with Undertaker, one of the worst in recent memory, and it was clear Goldberg should have remained home.
At one time, Kane was one of the best big men in WWE. He was a monster, he could fly around the ring better than most big men, and his matches both with and against Undertaker were the thing of legends. Then, he unmasked and started to lose what made him special.
When Kane was wearing a suit and working for the Authority, it was tough to watch for his fans. When he showed he wasn't moving around the ring anything like he used to, it was even worse. By the time Kane won a Mayor position and left, it was time to go, and he should have left a few years sooner.
Undertaker at least cares about his character when he returns to WWE rings. There is also a chance, now that he is over 50, that he knows his limitations. However, that was not on display when he battled Brock Lesnar in Saudi Arabia. He and Kane even struggled to put on an entertaining match with DX.
Now, Undertaker did return and put on a great match in a tag team with Roman Reigns recently, but this is not the same Undertaker. There is an argument that he should have put over Bray Wyatt a few years back and passed the torch, retiring. As long as WWE shells out money, Undertaker will continue to stick around way too long.
7 JERRY LAWLER
When it comes to Jerry "The King" Lawler, there is no reason in the world he should ever be stepping into a wrestling ring. However, at the age of 69, he is still getting into the ring at indie shows and wrestling at a time where he should be sitting at home or working in another area of wrestling.
The fact is that Jerry Lawler teamed with Randy Orton to wrestle Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk in 2012. After the match, he returned to the commentary table and suffered a heart attack. Lawler actually died but was resuscitated, and paramedics saved his life. Lawler did not take the hint, and while WWE won't allow it, he continues to wrestle to this day.
If Jerry Lawler wants to see a perfect example of why he should quit wrestling, look at Vader. The man was one of the beasts of professional wrestling for years. However, in WWE he ballooned up in weight to over 450 pounds. It was not healthy, and eventually, WWE released him.
In 2017, Vader told fans that a doctor told him that he was going to die. He had heart surgery and asked Diamond Dallas Page for help, believing that maybe DDP Yoga could help him lose weight and prolong his life. DDP said he had to quit wrestling to do it and he refused. Vader died in 2018 at the age of 63.
5 MAE YOUNG
Mae Young and the Fabulous Moolah revitalized their careers in the Attitude Era. However, the problem here is that, like Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, WWE treated them like goofs. While together, they were still feisty ladies who put anyone in their place that they felt was out of line.
However, Mae Young did more than that. She allowed Bubba Ray Dudley to powerbomb her through a table. Forget the man on woman violence. The fact is that Mae Young was 77 years old and Bubba Ray Dudley put her through a table. In 2010, she became the first person ever to wrestle a sanctioned match while over the age of 80.
4 HACKSAW JIM DUGGAN
Hacksaw Jim Duggan has not had the best life. A former football player and a traditional old-school wrestler from the territory days, Duggan became a caricature in WWE with the American flag and his 2X4. However, he was a fan favorite, so he was trotted out when needed to get a pop.
In 1998, Duggan was diagnosed with kidney cancer. In 2013, Duggan suffered a torn rotator cuff at the age of 59 and needed crowd funding help to have surgery. In 2018, Duggan was hospitalized for heart problems. He was still wrestling that year, at the age of 64.
3 JAKE "THE SNAKE" ROBERTS
Jake "The Snake" Roberts is a special case on this list. It isn't that he kept wrestling at an old age. It is that he kept wrestling while he was on a losing battle against his demons -- alcohol and drug abuse. Jake was not old, but many fans last memories of seeing him live involved him being drunk and belligerent, barely able to get around the ring.
Thankfully, Roberts cleaned up his life thanks to the help of Diamond Dallas Page before it was too late for him. However, things might not have gotten as bad as they did if he had gotten off the road and stopped wrestling before he embarrassed himself and his profession.
2 NATURE BOY RIC FLAIR
Nature Boy Ric Flair had one of the best retirement matches of all time at WrestleMania XXIV when Shawn Michaels beat him, and Flair left the sport following one of the best matches of his career, as far as an emotional standpoint. Sadly, Flair was not ready to retire.
He went to TNA Impact Wrestling and started wrestling again. In his 60s, he was spilling blood and taking major bumps and doing things that he had no business doing at his age. Flair has had severe health problems in his later years, and he should have stepped away as a full-time star after that match with HBK instead of sticking around too long.
1 BRET "THE HITMAN" HART
Bret "The Hitman" Hart should not have had to retire when he did. Hart was still at the top of his game when he went to WCW but a concussion thanks to Bill Goldberg ended Hart's career. A stroke after his retirement almost killed him.
Thankfully, Hart survived and continued to live his post-wrestling career life. Then, in 2009, WWE decided to bring Hart out of retirement for, of all things, a WrestleMania match with Mr. McMahon. Hart still knew how to work a good match, but he was nowhere near the Excellence of Execution anymore, and it was a mistake to come back.