When a wrestler retires, there is a reason why many fans stick with the “never say never” phrase in terms of seeing someone emerge from retirement for one more match (or many more in some cases) as so many wrestlers come back to the ring over and over. At times, seeing an older wrestler can be a tough watch, as they run the risk of being a parody of themselves, not being the performer they once were.
On numerous occasions over the years, even some of the all-time greats of the industry have been criticized by fans for continuing to wrestle on for too long, when all anyone wants to see them do is hang up their boots and protect their legacy. These WWE and WCW stars kept going for a little too long.
10 Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash’s in-ring ability had depleted a fair bit by the time he returned to WWE for the second stint alongside the nWo, but he had a little bit left in the tank. Being injury-prone though, he couldn’t ever find momentum. He spent several years in TNA where many other legends muddied the product and had slow, underwhelming matches.
His WWE return in 2011 saw fans completely against seeing him wrestle due to how slow he was moving and how clearly he was past his prime. Despite that, he still kept on going for several years on the independent scene when he should have arguably retired nearly a whole decade prior.
9 Jake Roberts
Jake Roberts was a major star for WWE in the 1980s and early 1990s, with several great matches and feuds under his belt. However, substance abuse issues and battling his own demons led to him getting in pretty bad shape and his performance ability was poor.
This didn’t stop him from wrestling though, and for years fans wanted to see him hang up the boots and get help instead of struggling his way through matches. No matter how poor Roberts looked, he just kept on going with companies being willing to book him on name value alone. He wrestled up until 2018.
8 Roddy Piper
Despite once being a terrific wrestler and great heel, Roddy Piper started becoming a parody of himself in the later stages of his professional wrestling career. Whilst he still had that infectious charisma, fans didn’t want to see him wrestle late on in his life and career, but he continued doing so anyway.
It is a shock WWE kept booking him, as he looked completely out of sorts throughout the mid-2000s, and especially immobile during his WrestleMania 25 match across the ring from Chris Jericho.
For a long time, Kane managed to adapt his style and change up his character to remain somewhat fresh, but after a certain point age started catching up with him. He no longer looked scary, he was slow and putting on some weight, and his matches were just bad.
Calls for his retirement came even before the debacle at Crown Jewel 2018 when the Brothers of Destruction took on D-Generation X, with his nightmare of a match being proof that fans were perhaps correct that some old-timers should have retired way sooner.
6 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan had passed his best before he even stepped foot into WCW. His star power, charisma, and heel turn helped to carry him for some time though, but his dominance atop the card helped to tear the company down.
His WWE return really exposed just how old and rickety he was, and even though he did have one classic with The Rock, everything else about his WWE run (and the follow-up run a couple of years later) felt tiresome. Where it got silly was in TNA, where he was simply abhorrent to watch and fans really wished he’d just retired back in the 90s.
5 The Undertaker
Up until a certain point, Undertaker just got better with age, reaching his peak two decades into his wrestling career. However, he kept missing the perfect opportunity to retire. After a good match, he felt ready to carry on, but after a bad match, he sought redemption.
Matches against DX and Goldberg were scary to watch due to how old and immobile he was, and after a while, even his aura couldn’t carry him. Fans just wanted him to retire.
Goldberg’s WWE return saw him look good in small doses, and if his run came to an end at WrestleMania 33, it would have been perfect. And then he kept coming back, stealing the spotlight, having terrible matches, and even at times beating full-time stars.
Sure, some matches here and there were palatable, but there were too many stinkers to make up for. Many fans wished he’d just left while he was still beloved rather than gaining the reputation of being a part-time name of the past who affected the quality of the product.
3 Jerry Lawler
Jerry Lawler still looked half decent in the ring as he was getting older, but after serious health scares (such as suffering a heart attack live on air after a match), fans wanted him to retire.
He continued wrestling for over a decade longer, getting worse and worse in matches wrestled on the independent scene. His movements are slow, his opponents have to bump around, and whilst it is somewhat a novelty, it still isn’t necessarily good to see him compete.
2 Ric Flair
Although he was arguably a little too old by the time WrestleMania 24 rolled around, his retirement match with Shawn Michaels was absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, money issues led to Flair returning to the ring in TNA.
He was hard to watch in the few years he spent in the promotion, and finally, fans were put out of their misery when he supposedly retired. And then when fans thought they were safe, he returned to the ring in 2022 in an abomination of a return/retirement match.
1 Mick Foley
Mick Foley’s first retirement came in the early 2000s due to his body being beat up (unsurprisingly) he would sporadically make a comeback for a big match, which wasn’t too bad of a schedule. However, his run in TNA was where it went too far, which seems to be a recurring theme here.
He was not in good shape at all and fans just wanted to see Foley rest after such a brutal career in the business.