Retirement is a pendulum that can swing either way. For most day-to-day jobs, it’s a decision to take after winding down your career and taking the time to smell the roses. For wrestlers, however, it can be a heartbreaking decision. Not one that they generally make themselves, but rather what their body is telling them, or the frustrations of backstage environments. Some lead glittering careers, and make the choice themselves to hang up the boots. The likes of The Undertaker, Ric Flair and even Shawn Micheals after a few injury setbacks, with decades of success under their belt, have all come back for one last hurrah and end on their own terms for their last ever match. Many superstars are not so lucky, and find that their last fight on a non-televised live show will unfortunately have to be the one that they look back on after a premature career. However careers end in the unforgiving business that is professional wrestling, nine times out of ten, it’s never the way the wrestlers plan it to be. Dreams of main eventing Wrestlemania, or just having their dream match, left on the creative room floor and making the heart breaking announcement live on air. Whether it’s life threatening or just creative differences, with all the acrobatic moves on display every night, bowing out of the WWE is one of the hardest moves to do. With the recent news of Paige possibly retiring from in-ring action, this post will take a look at some stars who, whether they wanted to or not, retired way too young, and for some of the WWE Universe, way too soon.
Breaking from the shackles of the tag team division, The Rated R Superstar went on to become one of the most successful performers in WWE history. Not only did he win the Tag Team titles a record fourteen times, he also claimed the Intercontinental belt five times, the united states championship, and the Heavyweight champion eleven times. They didn’t call him the Ultimate Opportunist for nothing. To say he did it all in the WWE would most certainly be an understatement. Though the announcement of his retirement at age 38 was a bitter pill to take, Adam Copeland can look back on his decorated career inside the squared circle and can say that he did it all. There was really nothing left for the Hall of Famer to accomplish, but his neck injury forced him to relinquish his Championship and say farewell to the fans. On reflection, it’s no surprise really, considering how much suffering Edge was putting his body through, from Tables, Ladders and Chairs (oh my!) matches, to barbaric encounters with Mick Foley. With that being said, nobody could perform the spear as viciously as Edge, slicing his opponents in half, and raising a belt in the air for the millionth time. Who also doesn’t love the five second poses and the kazoo? Huh? Huh?…
Stone Cold Steve Austin
When you think of the Attitude Era (WHAT?!) you think of one man (WHAT?!) The Texas Rattlesnake (WHAT?!). The focus point of every show, the top guy in the business, Stone Cold became a legend overnight with the infamous Austin 3:16 speech. To this day, it’s still one of the best-selling shirts, and you can still see them in the crowd every Raw and Smackdown. Being an anti-hero, he was a baby face that really, technically, shouldn’t have been. Not giving a damn what he said or done, and even giving the middle finger or a stunner to his boss, sending out a message to everyone that wanted to do the same at work. Austin was indeed the key to the success of the WWE in the late 90’s and the catalyst for gradually beating WCW in the television ratings. Hard to believe then that his unstoppable reign at the top of the WWE lasted a mere 6 years. Stemming from an unfortunate positioning from Owen Hart with a piledriver resulted with Austin landing on his head, he never truly recovered. Added to multiple knee injuries, it was sadly time for the three-time Royal Rumble winner to ride off into the sunset. Sorely missed from the company, wrestling has never been the same since his retirement. The feeling fans got when the sound of broken glass echoed throughout arenas, they knew it was time to for some hell to be raised. And that’s the bottom line.
The term “Women’s Revolution” has been around for some time. It would be extremely difficult to talk about the Women that paved the way for this culture shift, without mentioning The Quintessential WWE Diva, Trish Stratus. During her time in the WWE, the Diva’s division was considered a bathroom break segment. The women were just seen as sex objects and were being written that way. While the seven-time world champion was unfortunately a part of that early on, her wrestling abilities were slowly coming through the cracks. Eventually, the glass ceiling was smashed, and popularity quickly followed. Now the Women’s Division is a time to hold your bladders and watch something historic. Her abilities were beyond compare at that time, and with a deadly rivalry with fellow Hall of Famer Lita, they main evented a Raw show, something that the women were nowhere near accomplishing until the duo arrived. Gone are the days of bikinis and strip matches, now we’re in the era of Women’s Hell In A Cell Matches and a first ever Royal Rumble Women’s match this Sunday. With Trish Stratus even became a Hardcore Champion, she’s clearly a gal you do not want to mess with. She retired as champion after seven glorious years, claiming she had done everything there needed to be done, and handed the baton to the wrestlers that were to follow i her huge footsteps. But in all honesty, nobody could hold a candle to the Queen Of Queens. A fantasy of many would be to have the Stratus-faction movement re-kindle one last time at the Royal Rumble this Sunday. Let’s see that cowboy hat and leather jacket one more time.
Nobody loves the WWE more than Daniel Bryan. With every fibre of his being, he lives and breathes it. Utterly heartbreaking to see him announce his retirement and a lifelong dream being ripped away from him so early in his career. It’s plain to see that in his own mind, without wrestling, Daniel Bryan is nothing. Starting the Yes Movement wasn’t just a storyline, it was a storyline for anyone in real life that was considered not worthy enough to accomplish their dreams, and that hard work and dedication truly pays off (Plus a message to Vince to listen to what the crowd wants, but I like the first reasoning too)… Bryan got his fairytale ending by kicking the Authority’s ass on the biggest stage of them all and win Championship gold at Wrestlemania XXX. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. From losing strength in his arm, and multiple surgeries later, it was decided it was too great a risk to clear Daniel Bryan for in-ring competition. While he’s dropped the Yes! kicks, he’s recently picked up the microphone and doing a stellar job as General Manager on Smackdown Live. Whether he competes in the ring again or not, his story will be remembered as the greatest David and Goliath segment in WWE history. Although a match between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon? Never mind Team Hell No… YES!! YES!! YES!!!
Any mention or memories of AJ Lee being in the WWE, and plotting the blueprint for this new revolution are slowly being forgotten. Most likely due to her husband being CM Punk and the way he’s left things with the WWE. Not to be overlooked, AJ Lee was a talented performer, winning Diva’s title three times and becoming the longest reigning champion at that time. Even acting as General Manager for Raw for a few months!! Largely involved in relationship type storylines, the WWE Universe was at her feet. Damage to her cervical spine may have been the reason for her early retirement, but Lee has also claimed that she felt caught in the middle between WWE and CM Punk and therefore decided it was time to call it quits. At just a very young age of 28 when she retired, she has left a career that many young talent would be envious to have for themselves. WWE may not be missing you, but the fans certainly are.
What WWE Superstars do you wish never retired?
Do you think any will return from retirement?
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Next Week: Royal Rumble 2017 Review
by George Millard