Saturday, April 13

5 Wrestlers Who Put Over Younger Stars On Their Way Out (& 5 That Didn’t)

There are a lot of different rules and traditions that go on backstage behind the scenes. Even though it has accurately been described as two people fake fighting in their underwear for the world to see, the notions of respect and honor are incredibly important behind the scenes. One of the time-honored traditions of professional wrestling is the concept of going out on your back while looking up at the lights.



RELATED: 5 WWE “Pass The Torch Moments That Were Legitimate (& 5 That Meant Nothing)

This roughly translates to the idea that a wrestler should always lose their last match, especially if they were a top star. This gesture is two-fold, allowing you to put a wrestler over as older wrestlers did for you, and making sure that the rub that you had during your career doesn’t die with you but instead gets passed on to the next generation of superstars.


10 Didn’t Put Over: Mae Young Won A Handicap Match In Her Farewell

Final Match: WWE Raw 2010

Unlike the Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young’s legacy as a pioneer of women’s wrestling is largely intact and WWE has even named a tournament after her pitting several talented female wrestlers against each other. Young began her wrestling career in the late 1930s and wrestled in various promotions across the United States.

RELATED: 10 Times WWE Went Too Far In The 1990s

Young and Moolah rose to prominence again in the late 90s during WWE’s Attitude Era where they were used as comedic acts against female wrestlers who were predominantly hired for their looks, rather than their wrestling abilities. Mae’s final match saw her face off against LayCool in a two-on-one handicap match, which she won the match after LayCool was ambushed by the Diva division.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1941-1960, 1967-1967, 1999-2000, 2004, 2008, 2010

Mae Young def LayCool

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2008

9 Put Over: Superstar Billy Graham Lost To Butch Reed In His Final Televised And House Show Matches

Final Match: WWE Television 1987

While Superstar Billy Graham served as an inspiration for many wrestlers who came after him, including Hulk Hogan and Triple H, Graham is now best remembered for his controversial comments regarding modern-day wrestlers and steroids. However, Graham was only the sixth wrestler to hold the WWE Championship after ending Bruno Sammartino’s second reign. Graham’s final televised WWE appearance came in 1987 when the former World Champion lost to Butch Reed. A day after their televised match, Graham closed out his career with another loss to Reed, this time on a house show in Missouri.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1969-1987

Butch Reed def Superstar Billy Graham

1 x WWE Champion

8 Didn’t Put Over: Bret Hart Teamed With John Cena In His Last Match

Final Match: WWE Raw 2011

Bret Hart is the most famous son of Stu and Martha Hart and probably the finest graduate of the Hart Dungeon wrestling academy, having held World Championships in both WWE and WCW. Hart dramatically returned to WWE in 2010, 13 years after leaving the company and 10 years after retiring from wrestling due to concussion-related injuries. Unfortunately, Hart’s final run in the WWE was poorly received due to Hart’s ill health.

RELATED: Bret Hart’s Complete Timeline In WWE, Told In PhotosHart’s final wrestling match was a tag team match, saw him team with John Cena to take on Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. Hart won the match after locking Rodriguez in the Sharpshooter, forcing him to tap.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1978-2000 and 2010-2011

Bret Hart & John Cena def Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez

5 x WWE Champion

7 Put Over: Dusty Rhodes Faced Randy Orton In A Texas Bullrope Match

Final Match: Great American Bash 2007

While Dusty Rhodes didn’t have a legendary career in WWE, it’s hard to deny that the father of Dustin and Cody Rhodes wasn’t a legend in his own right, especially in NWA-affiliated promotions and ECW. Rhodes was not only an excellent in-ring talent but also worked as a booker and promoter for several promotions, including his work in NXT as the head booker and on-screen commissioner. Rhodes’ final in-ring match came against Randy Orton in 2007 while Orton was in the middle of a feud with Dusty’s son Cody. Rhodes lost the Texas Bullrope match at The Great American Bash pay-per-view to Orton after Orton hit Rhodes with the rope.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1968-1992, 1994, 1998, 2000-2007

Randy Orton def Dusty Rhodes

3 x NWA World Heavyweight Champion

6 Didn’t Put Over: Antonio Inoki Wins At His Final Tournament

Final Match: NJPW Final Inoki Tournament 1998

Few wrestlers did more and achieved more in Japanese Professional wrestling than Antonio Inoki. Inoki was not only a successful wrestler, but also a promoter, and participated in a mixed martial arts exhibition with boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Towards the end of his career, Inoki trained a handful of wrestlers including the Great Muta, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Tatsumi Fujinami. Inoki’s final wrestling match as a singles competitor came in 1998 in the main event of a Tournament named in his honor. Inoki would defeat Don Frye in the main event.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1960-1998, 2000-2001

Antonio Inoki def Don Frye

2 x IWGP Heavyweight Champion

5 Put Over: Japanese Legend Keiji Muto Passed The Torch To Naito

Last Match: Keiji Muto Grand Final 2023

Keiji Muto was one of the many legendary wrestlers trained by Antonio Inoki. While Muto predominantly wrestled in Japan, he also wrestled for WCW as a part of the talent exchange between the two companies. In his final match, Muto faced off against Tetsuya Naito in his final match in February 2023 at the last of a series of farewell events for Muta including the final event Last Love Hold Out. Naito defeated Muta in just under 29 minutes after hitting Muto with his finisher, the Destino.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1984-2023

Tetsuya Naito def Keiji Muto

4 x IWGP Heavyweight Champion

4 Didn’t Put Over: Hulk Hogan Defeated Randy Orton In His Last WWE Match

Last Match: SummerSlam 2006

In the 1980s, Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania undoubtedly helped raise the profile of the WWE from a regional promotion to a national and global phenomenon. Hogan helped usher in the Golden Age of wrestling as wrestling promotions expanded into other territories or went bankrupt trying to fight off invading promotions. After becoming a mainstream icon, Hogan tried his hand at acting before signing for WCW.

RELATED: Hulk Hogan Vs. Randy Orton The Final WWE Feud Of The Hulkster’s Career, Explained

Hogan eventually returned to WWE alongside fellow NWO members Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Hogan’s final run in WWE lasted until SummerSlam 2006 where Hogan defeated Randy Orton. Hogan did have a brief stint in Impact wrestling, reigniting feuds with Sting and Ric Flair, but Hogan’s last match in WWE was his victory over Orton.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1977-2006, 2009-2012

Hulk Hogan def Randy Orton

6 x WWE Chanouib

3 Put Over: Trish Stratus Returned To WWE To Put Over Becky Lynch and Zoey Stark

Last Match: Payback 2023

Despite originally being hired as a manager, Trish Stratus broke out in a women’s division that was largely moving away from featuring women in serious segments and quickly moving towards the Divas division, where female wrestlers were seemingly only hired for their looks and rarely used in full storylines. Stratus then stepped away from WWE in 2006 after defeating Lita to win her seventh women’s championship, seemingly ending her career.

RELATED: 10 Harsh Realities Of Re-Watching Trish Stratus’ WWE Career

In 2023, Stratus returned to WWE in a full-time role initially coming to the aid of Lita and Becky Lynch before turning on Lita and then Lynch to turn heel. Stratus then feuded with Lynch, introducing former NXT talent Zoey Stark as her enforcer. Stratus’ final match of her run came in a cage match against Becky Lynch at the Payback, where she lost despite interference.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

2000-2009, 2011, 2018-2019, 2023

Becky Lynch def Trish Stratus

7 x Women’s Champion

2 Didn’t Put Over: The Undertaker Defeated AJ Styles In A Cinematic Match In His Farewell

Last Match: WrestleMania 36

At WrestleMania 20, the Undertaker’s career finally came to an end against AJ Styles in a cinematic Boneyard match due to the COVID-19 Pandemic which meant that there would be no live audience at a WrestleMania for the first time in the event’s history. The fact that the match was able to be pre-recorded undoubtedly helped the Undertaker, who had featured in several terrible matches including a poor match against Bill Goldberg.

Despite the match being pre-recorded and the interference from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, it was the Undertaker who defeated AJ Styles in his final match ever. Undertaker confirmed his retirement and even had an in-ring retirement party at Survivor Series later the same year.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1987-2020

The Undertaker def AJ Styles

4 x WWE Champion

1 Put Over: Kurt Angle Lost To Baron Corbin, Despite Wishing Otherwise

Last Match: WrestleMania 35

Kurt Angle came to WWE after a successful Olympic campaign which ended in him winning a gold medal with a broken neck. Angle rose to prominence in a short time due to his ability to adapt to professional wrestling quickly. Angle would rise through the ranks in WWE, eventually winning the WWE Championship.

Angle would leave WWE in 2006 after experiencing a myriad of issues backstage. However, in 2017, Angle found himself back in WWE and inducted into the Hall of Fame. During his second run with the company, Angle would have a series of in-ring matches leading to a final feud with Baron Corbin. Angle put over Corbin, despite initially wanting to face John Cena at WrestleMania 35.

Career Duration

Final Match

Career Highlight

1998-2019

Baron Corbin def Kurt Angle

4 x WWE Champion

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