AEW has several wrestling legends who are at the tail end of their careers. All Elite President Tony Khan has done a brilliant job of managing the veterans in the company, treating them with respect while utilizing their star power to highlight the younger wrestlers in the locker room.
With MJF on top as the AEW World Champion, it's clear that the promotion is in the midst of a youth movement right now. Perhaps it's time for these five wrestlers to call time on their careers in 2023.
#5. Paul Wight has barely wrestled in AEW
Paul Wight spent over 20 years in WWE as The Big Show. He was so ingrained in the company that many thought he would spend the rest of his career there. However, the former World Heavyweight Champion shocked the wrestling world by signing with All Elite Wrestling in February 2021.
He was brought in as a commentator for AEW Dark: Elevation while occasionally wrestling in the ring. However, he also suffered several injuries that severely limited his time in the squared circle.
In a previous interview with "My Mom's Basement" with Robbie Fox, AEW president Tony Khan gave an update on his plans for the world's largest athlete:
"Paul [Wight], seeing him up and around has been great. Paul Wight is such an awesome presence in pro wrestling and when he’s healthy, and can be on the shows again, I want to feature Paul. Unfortunately, a lot of his time in AEW has been hurt. He’s great on commentary when he’s been able to travel. I think that’s something, he has a great future quite frankly. I think he’s worked really, really hard at it and deserves opportunities there. So I have a lot of great things to say about Paul Wight."
At 50 years old and given his size, it's better for Wight to call time on his in-ring career in 2023. He can then focus on the commentary booth, where his future seemingly lies.
#4. Matt Hardy could bring back his 'Broken' persona for one last run
Matt Hardy's time in All Elite Wrestling has been a rather mixed bag. The former WWE Superstar debuted for the company during their first pandemic show on March 18, 2020. He briefly portrayed his 'Broken' character before switching to Big Money Matt and starting up the Hardy Family Office.
He was more of a mentor and manager in this role, spending less time in the ring. When his brother Jeff Hardy finally linked up with him when he debuted for the promotion in 2022, there were hopes that the Hardy Boys could embark on one last farewell run. Alas, it was not meant to be, thanks to the Charismatic Enigma's legal troubles.
The Sensei of Mattitude is currently treading water in a storyline with The Firm that is frankly an undercard feud at best. The 48-year-old has slowed down tremendously in the ring and should consider wrapping up his career soon. Even teasing a return to the 'Broken' persona might not be enough to entice fans to see him go on another run.
#3. Christian Cage might consider retirement after Jungle Boy rivalry
Christian Cage has previously stated that he will end his career in AEW. After seven years away from the ring due to concussion issues, Captain Charisma was a surprise entrant in the 2021 Royal Rumble match. Many thought that would point towards one last WrestleMania match with his long-time friend Edge.
Instead, Cage decided to sign with All Elite Wrestling. He would go on to have an excellent first year, main eventing All Out for the AEW World Championship and even becoming the IMPACT World Champion.
2022 saw the former World Heavyweight Champion mentoring Jurassic Express before transitioning into a personal rivalry with Jungle Boy, proving once again to be an outstanding heel. He has since taken time off to undergo injury for a torn triceps and is expected to be away for another few months.
When Christian eventually returns, there's nothing much for the veteran to do in the company other than put over younger talent. Perhaps he is much better suited to a backstage role at this point in his career. 2023 could be the year the 49-year-old finally decides to call it a day as a full-time performer.
#2. Dustin Rhodes has announced that he will end his in-ring career in 2023
Dustin Rhodes has had a wonderful career renaissance in AEW, the highlight being his amazing one-off match with brother and former EVP, Cody Rhodes. But the veteran has finally announced that he will be hanging up his boots in 2023.
In an interview with the Busted Open Radio podcast, Dustin explained the reasoning behind his decision:
"I made the decision that 'Hey man, at the end of July, my contract is up.' I don't know if that's going to be it, because when we say we're retiring, we always come back. And we never say never. But that's what I'm looking for, an end date for my in-ring wrestling career," Rhodes said. [H/T -WrestlingInc]
He has hinted at a career as a coach so that he can spend more time at home:
"I want to get out while I can still walk, but still teach the kids, still coach hopefully, if I'm allowed to do that, and occasionally make an onscreen appearance, I just don't want to embarrass myself is the main thing." [H/T - WrestlingInc]
The former WWE Superstar might even accept a Hall of Fame induction in the future, given his contributions to the business over 30 years. The 53-year-old absolutely deserves recognition for his longevity and passion for the industry.
#1. Sting might finally retire for good this year
Sting is one of the oldest featured performers in AEW at 63 years old. Despite being a senior citizen, he has defied expectations by wrestling regularly for the company, mainly in tag matches with his protege Darby Allin.
However, the WWE Hall of Famer revealed in an interview with D Magazine that his contract with AEW will expire sometime in 2023. Although he did not specify an exact date, The Icon made it clear that he plans to retire from professional wrestling once it ends.
He could embark on a farewell tour just like his former rival, the Great Muta, wrestling his former opponents before finally giving the rub to Darby, passing the proverbial torch to the TNT Champion.
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