"One more match! One more match!"
In a profession as brutal on one's body as pro wrestling, you'd expect retiring early would be the norm, but mostly we see the legends hold on too long.
When a wrestler does decide to walk away before his broken body forces him to, it's shocking. For our own selfish reasons we want more of him—more blood, more battles, more entertainment.
I'm not including guys who've stopped wrestling due to injury, so no Edge, no Stone Cold. I'm also not listing the many wrestlers who died too young.
The following list consists of superstars who retired early out of frustration or to seek greener pastures.
Few wrestlers are better at drawing genuine heat from a crowd. JBL was so easy to hate with that smug smile, and he played such a fantastic heel.
He left abruptly in what looked like an angle and doesn’t appear to be coming back.
The self-proclaimed “wrestling god” could help put a younger face over, like CM Punk pushes John Cena to his best in the ring. Raw or Smackdown could use someone so adept at using the mic.
As a bonus, having him wrestling again assures he won’t be commentating, which was equal parts grating and repetitive.
I’m basing this mostly on potential as we never got a chance to see Lashley grow and evolve as a performer.
His mic skills weren’t much, let’s be honest, but someone that athletic and powerful was bound to at least stumble into a few good matches. A lot of wrestlers take a several years to reach their full potential, though some never do.
Relegated now to just being a blip in wrestling history, no one knows how good he might have been.
Even before Goldberg kicked Bret Hart’s brain around in his skull, he was never one of my favorites. I wouldn’t say it to his face, but he was a one-trick pony. Admittedly, though, he was a part of some exciting matches and has one of the best all-time ring entrances.
Goldberg stopped wrestling in his late 30s. Rumors of a possible comeback swirl around the Internet from time to time. So maybe he’s not done, who knows?
With the right booking, some interesting angles, his battering ram power and high energy could have been put to good use for a good number of years.
Batista had an outstanding run, including great matches with Edge, Undertaker and Rey Mysterio. Not the most versatile or technical wrestler, Batista made use of what he had: power in abundance.
The Animal left the WWE last year. At only 42, I assume he has plenty left in the tank. Wrestling retirements are often short-lived, so we may see him climb in a ring yet.
My sister, who thinks he is “sexy” of all things, would be happy.
Here’s hoping he puts aside his differences with WWE higher ups and gives us a few more Batista bombs.
An amazing combination of submission-style wrestling with high impact, Lesnar was fast becoming the face of the WWE. He instead decided to try his hand in the NFL in ’04 before moving onto MMA.
His shooting star press was one of the most impressive moves I’ve ever seen. It would have been fun to see him start to add to his repertoire over time, to develop his persona, to strive to be one of the greats.
We missed out on countless would-be moments from this monster of a man.
Had he stuck around longer, he may very well have become the greatest wrestler of all time.
His mic work and charisma are near-perfect, absolutely captivating. And he wasn’t a stiff in the ring either. During his short career the Rock made such an unforgettable impact on the WWE—think of what he could have done with more time.
He stopped wrestling full-time when he was only 31. Yes, he is now making sporadic appearances, including a match with John Cena next WrestleMania, but I’d much rather see him in there every Raw, every PPV, tearing it up.
Not that I blame him for doing movies instead of getting superkicked for a living, but as a fan it hurts to think of all the great matches we could have been witness to while he made movies like Race to Witch Mountain and The Tooth Fairy.