10 WWE legends who have not had a retirement match yet

Not all are afforded this honour

Professional wrestling is mainly about storytelling. Whether those stories are told through great in-ring action like in the case of Omega Vs. Okada I and II, or if it comes through backstage interactions, video packages and great promo delivery, we as fans like to be taken on a journey that centres around two individuals with a common goal to defeat the other.

Because storytelling is so central to wrestling, we all like to see an official ending take place, whether to a rivalry or a career. Our relationship with a professional wrestler is never quite over, but seeing them compete in their last official match allows us to emotionally withdraw from them and to look to the future and find other stars we can get behind.

But for every Shawn Michaels, Undertaker or Ric Flair, who were afforded the honour of ending their in-ring careers on the grandest stage, there will always be those superstars stuck in perpetual limbo, never really sure if they’ve wrestled their final match.

Here is a look at 10 WWE legends who have not yet had an official retirement match but definitely deserve one:

#1 Kane

The big red politician

Being an integral part of WWF/E programming for over 20 years normally warrants you a bit more respect and adulation than Glen Jacobs usually gets from the fans. Perhaps its because his wrestling career in recent times has left a lot to be desired, or maybe it’s because people tend to associate him with a legend such as his onscreen brother, The Undertaker. But when the time comes for Kane to finally hang up the mask forever, it should hopefully feel like a big deal.

Making his debut during the first ever Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Micheals and The Undertaker, Kane has been able to make his presence known pretty much consistently. His initial rivalry with his brother probably did him more harm than good, as Undertaker managed to defeat him at the first time of asking, and then again at the following PPV.

But whether it was his monster heel run during the late 90s or his involvement with DX in the heart of the Attitude Era, fans have always had a soft spot for the Big Red Machine, and storylines are normally made better by his involvement.

Jacobs is currently off pursuing a political career but has not ruled out a return to the ring yet. A lot may depend on how successful he is at getting voters on his side, but for argument’s sake, if Kane were to return in the next few years, we cannot be very far away from his last match. The question then is, who would it be against?

There are two obvious choices, in theory, but unfortunately, both seem pretty unlikely at this point. One option would be for Undertaker and Kane to wrestle in a double retirement match at a Wrestlemania.

The two have faced each other twice at the Show of Shows but should still be able to put on a decent programme together, bringing an end to their long history which began with the death of their parents in a fire at the funeral home. This might not work, sadly, as it looks like Taker has already completed his time inside the ropes.

Another option would be Daniel Bryan. Bryan has said numerous times that the two of them get on very well in real life. Kane was partly responsible for Bryan’s monster babyface push in 2013/14 after teaming with him as part of Team Hell No. The pair worked off each other beautifully and always have solid matches against each other. For this to happen, however, The American Dragon would need to make a comeback himself, which still seems fairly unlikely.

#2 Mick Foley

Can he help jump start one more career?

At the time of writing, a return to the ring from Mick Foley seems pretty far-fetched. You don’t get the reputation as a hardcore legend without putting your body through hell, and while it is a mini miracle to see Foley walking around relatively easily, he most likely does not have the constitution to go through a 10-15 minute retirement match.

That being said, professional wrestling is such an industry where the phrase ‘never say never’ actually means something. We’ve seen Hulk Hogan return to the WWE numerous times after everyone just assumed the relationship was doomed forever. We’ve also seen Macho Man Randy Savage inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, despite the countless rumours and accusations brought against him over the years. So to say that Mick Foley’s return to in-ring action is 100% impossible is being fairly naive.

After all, the man has made a concerted effort to get back into shape over the past few years. His last few appearances on RAW earlier this year had him looking much healthier, thinner and generally lighter on his feet.

And fans would love to see another Foley match happen. Just listen to the reaction he got when he attacked Triple H with Mr. Socko after a dressing down from Triple H’s wife, Stephanie on a recent episode of RAW. Fans are clearly hungry for more of Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy and it would be a joy to see him go one last time.

The closest we got to a Foley return was a few years back when he and Dolph Ziggler were involved in a few confrontations. Everyone just assumed that Foley would do for Ziggler what he has done for so many superstars over the years like Edge, Triple H, Undertaker and Kane. Being put over in a match against Mick Foley does wonders for your career. Sadly, that never came to fruition.

If this were to happen, you’d want to put him up against a rising star who needs something to break into the main event scene. Perhaps somebody like Big Cass or Baron Corbin would suit a hardcore match up with Foley. Whoever it is, they would need to have enough about them in the ring to ensure he doesn’t suffer any more permanent injuries. We can only hope!

#3 Kevin Nash

Will we see his career officially end?

Kevin Nash’s career saw its brightest days over on WCW, but technically the man is a WWF legend. He was brought in by Shawn Michaels to play HBK’s bodyguard under the ring name, Diesel. During what was a very slow period for the company during the early 90s, Diesel was one of the WWF’s main stars, once holding the WWF Championship and taking on The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. When he left, along with long-term friend and fellow Clique member, Scott Hall, his absence was most certainly felt.

Nash is one of those stars that is known more for his impact on the wrestling business, as opposed to being universally liked by the fans. He spent the majority of his career as a heel, only really enjoying babyface success as Diesel after breaking away from Michaels in 94. Fans do not tend to look back on his second WWE run with very fond memories, which says more about the Invasion Angle as a whole, rather than Nash’s particular contribution.

He did see a brief return to the ring in 2011 during the Summer of Punk story. He would make a rather unexpected appearance at Summerslam 2011, costing CM Punk the WWE Championship and then going on to feud with Triple H. The whole affair felt very poorly planned and took a lot of the momentum away from a very promising programme.

Perhaps for this reason, a Kevin Nash retirement match isn’t much desired amongst the WWE Universe, but there is enough about him as a person, and his involvement with wrestling over the years to put something relatively good together.

The obvious choice for an opponent would be Triple H. You’d want him to face a fellow Clique member, and with Shawn Michaels now retired and Scott Hall well past his best, it would be the King of Kings that could best enable the former Champ to leave himself between the ropes one last time.

#4 Big Show

Deserves more than he’s getting

Unfortunately, The Big Show has had to put up with a lot from the WWE over the years. After his initial run with WCW, Vince McMahon was understandably keen to bring the Giant over to his company and allowed him to enjoy a good amount of success early on. It’s difficult to have a 7 foot, 500-pound monster like Show in your company and not give him the world title at least once.

But in the later stages of his career, the aura that was once attached to the former NWO competitor has all but evaporated. Show has lost clean on two separate occasions to non-professional wrestling opponents at Wrestlemania. He has also been on the receiving end of many jokes and has generally been used very inconsistently.

One minute we are expecting him to defeat John Cena for the WWE Championship, and the next we see him as the subject of mockery from Triple H and the rest of the Authority. People want to cheer for the Big Show, but WWE creative just give us too many reasons not to.

The saddest phase in his recent career came when a WWE crowd in the UK started chanting ‘please retire’ at him. This momentarily caught on, and several other arenas around the US continued the chant. Even though Show was a heel at the time, he must have seen this reaction for what it was, a sign that fans had become genuinely tired of seeing him wrestle.

It didn’t help matters that he became a bodyguard for the much hated Stephanie McMahon during the Authority’s height in 2014. As Stephanie once said, it feels like Show needs the WWE more than they need him, because when he does finally retire, there won’t be much left for him to do.

Big Show deserves to have a proper send-off, and while he is still competing on Monday Night RAW, that time probably isn’t too far away. If they were to have a retirement match sooner rather than later, then he would be very useful in helping to put over somebody like Big Cass.

Show is currently involved in the Enzo and Cass storyline, and with Cass’s heel turn recently, this could be a great way to show just how dominant the Seven Foot Tall New York native is.

#5 CM Punk

Will it ever happen?

There probably isn’t a more controversial topic in today’s wrestling scene than a potential WWE return for CM Punk. Whenever you hear somebody talking about it online, the comment section is normally full of internet fans showing their approval or anger at the mere suggestion. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest Punk will be returning to the WWE anytime soon, so when we talk about his return, it’s usually more in hope than expectation.

But as previously stated, ‘never say never’ does actually mean something in terms of WWE returns. As long as a former star is still breathing, there is a door left open for them to come back and wrestle for Vince McMahon yet again. After all, Vince is a business man, and I don’t think there is a bigger potential money maker for the WWE than to have Punk come back.

A Punk return doesn’t even have to be a long-term arrangement. The hardest part about his departure from the company was how unceremonious it was. Punk was literally there one minute and gone the next. If you look back at the 2014 Royal Rumble, the sight of Kane eliminating Punk and throwing him into the steel steps carries with it quite a profound feeling. That signalled the very last time the Straight Edge Superstar would appear in front of WWE cameras. For a legend like Punk, he deserved a much more meaningful exit.

Who could Punk come back to face? Well, the match originally scheduled for Wrestlemania 30 was between Punk and Triple H, and there is certainly enough of a story between those two to warrant seeing them go toe to toe in the ring. But if this is going to be a retirement match, you’d probably want Punk to come back and help a younger talent cement their future.

A matchup with Seth Rollins would fit the bill perfectly, for example, or perhaps a current NXT guy like Hideo Itami or Cassius Ono – the wrestler Punk originally wanted as part of The Shield instead of Roman Reigns.

There will always remain numerous possibilities if Punk was ever convinced to return, and given the fact that the guy is still clearly in training, maybe it isn’t that unrealistic to hope.

#6 Goldust

Don’t let it end without a good send off

Younger WWE fans may not fully appreciate the legendary career that Dustin Runnels has enjoyed. Today, Goldust is very much seen as a lower-mid card talent whose presence wouldn’t be too sorely missed if he was to leave the company in the near future. This is a genuine shame given how important the son of Dusty Rhodes has been for the company over the years.

Goldust made his debut in 1996, in a time when Vince McMahon was starting to wake up to the changes happening in society at large. Wrestling was never going to survive as the child-friendly cartoonish spectacle it had been in the 1970s and 80s, and it needed to embrace edgier content that pushed the limits of US social conservatism.

Goldust, in this sense, was everything the business could have hoped for and more. He was presented as a homo-erotic, sexually ambivalent individual, obsessed with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. His persona was so controversial that certain wrestlers actually refused to work with him at first. If you go back and watch his early matches with Razor Ramon, you can actually see the unease playing out on Scott Hall’s face.

Goldust would take his character to even more extreme levels during the Attitude Era, especially when he was teamed up with Luna Vachon. The fact that he was able to thrive in the days of Stone Cold and The Rock is a testament to his abilities to keep his in-ring gimmick fresh and interesting.

Dustin was also able to enjoy huge success in the WWF without ever explicitly making reference to his relationship with his father Dusty. He clearly wanted to make a name for himself away from the Rhodes Dynasty, and it’s safe to say he accomplished just that.

Goldust had a brief spell back at the top of WWE when he teamed up with brother Cody against Triple H and the Authority. But since then, he has been nothing more than a bit-player on Monday Night RAW, and it’s a shame if his long career were to end under such circumstances. He is currently going through a feud with R-Truth, which is giving him much more TV time, but that’s hardly the kind of rivalry which is going to give the legend the send off he deserves.

He would be much more suited to a Wrestlemania retirement match against a top WWE star. There are no obvious choices at this point, considering Goldust has been largely irrelevant for so long, but if WWE were to one day convince Cody to come back, maybe this would be the dream match that could end the career of Goldust in style.

#7 Hulk Hogan

We need closure

The Hulk Hogan/Vince McMahon relationship is such a convoluted tale that it could easily be made into an epic movie or book series. The careers of both men have essentially relied upon each other. Hogan may never have been the megastar that he is today if it hadn’t have been for the foresight and imagination of McMahon, and McMahon’s business success following Wrestlemania I might not have worked out quite as well without Hulkamania.

Hogan has left the WWE on numerous occasions, only to make a hero’s return eventually. Given the PR mistakes committed by the former champion in recent years, the relationship is currently going through quite a rough patch, but there have already been rumours that the Hulkster will return in time. Given the nature of this on-again, off-again relationship, most of us as fans feel the need for some kind of closure before it really is too late.

When we think back to the Macho Man Randy Savage, and the unfortunate reality that his life came to an end without ever having a proper reconciliation with the company he helped make famous, we dread the same thing happening with Hogan. Perhaps one way to cement this closure is for the legend to have one last match in the ring to officially signal his retirement.

Hogan’s health concerns are of course a massive obstacle to this. He suffers from a fairly chronic bad back, and any unnecessary stress could seriously damage his body further. But this is Hulk Hogan we are talking about; even at the peak of physical fitness, Hogan was not known for his acrobatic in-ring style. Just picking somebody up and slamming them to the ground was enough to send the Hulkamaniacs into a frenzy.

Given the right type of opponent, Hogan’s limited move set could be made to look as impressive as it once was. You would need a true ring general for him to compete against, and somebody who understands the art of selling. For storyline purposes, you’d like the opponent to be somebody closely associated with the McMahon family, perhaps Triple H or Shane McMahon. Again, given the history that accompanies Hogan, the match wouldn’t need to be particularly long or athletic, provided the build up was made to feel special.

Out of all of the entries on this list, Hogan is perhaps the least likely to receive another match, but it would perhaps be the most historic if it did ever happen.

#8 The Rock

Sooner rather than later?

There is probably a good reason why Dwayne Johnson has never officially announced his retirement from in-ring competition. The prospect of another match involving him at a Wrestlemania or Summerslam is still a very real possibility, and it would be foolhardy from a business point of view to close off that possibility for good.

The Rock can clearly still go in the ring. His matches with John Cena at Wrestlemania 28 and 29 might not have showed him at his best, but they were still believable matches that didn’t embarrass either competitor. And given Rock’s in-ring style and move set, it doesn’t take much for the crowd to break out in approval.

Who else can get unanimous cheers from the fans just by raising an eyebrow?

There have been many rumours of a Rock return in recent years, most notably a potential match-up between him and Triple H. This was first earmarked for Mania 32, and then again at 33, but on both occasions, the People’s Champ was a no-show. However, you have to feel that a return to the ring is only a matter of time, and perhaps it will finally come when the man is ready to announce his official retirement.

While a retirement match with Triple H would make a lot of sense, I would personally like to see The Rock take on his cousin, Roman Reigns. Reigns has had quite the Wrestlemania career so far, taking on guys like Brock Lesnar, Triple H and The Undertaker. Adding Rock to that list would further cement his position as the Big Dog of WWE’s new era.

The only problem there might be the reaction of the fans. If you thought seeing Reigns retire the Phenom was controversial, wait until you see Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s career come to and end at the hands of the least popular babyface in WWE history.

#9 Daniel Bryan

He’s ready, are you?

Daniel Bryan nearly broke the IWC recently by tweeting out a hint that he could soon be making a return to the ring. He was actually addressing the new ROH World Champion Cody, suggesting that when his contract with WWE has come to an end, the former ROH legend might have to make his own challenge for the belt. His tweet was followed up later with another one which seemed to play things down a little. But that hasn’t stopped many a wrestling fan from dreaming.

Despite Bryan’s close association with the independent scene, it would be a shame if the hero of Wrestlemania 30 never got an official retirement match in a WWE ring. Bryan was responsible for ushering in a new post-John Cena era in WWE and brought many eyeballs back to the product while making the company culturally relevant again.

The YES movement caught the attention of various non-wrestling sports teams across the world, including the San Fransisco Giants in their quest to achieve World Series success. It was, therefore, a real shame to see his career end with a whimper when he was forced to announce his retirement due to injury.

The situation is far from clear, but many believe the only thing stopping his return is the advice of the WWE doctors. Bryan himself has said in interviews that he is ready to come back as soon as he is given the green light. This is another factor that has been fuelling the ROH rumours of late, as it appears as though another wrestling company might allow the American Dragon to compete again, despite the recommendations from WWE.

So there is a possibility that this medical advice could change and we could be seeing Bryan wrestle for the WWE again. If nothing else, he should really be looking to have a retirement match just to round off what has been a truly inspirational journey. From a business standpoint, would WWE really want to miss out on this opportunity if he were to go and have his retirement match with another company?

#10 Stone Cold Steve Austin

The end of an era

If there was ever an example of a career ending without a proper, respectful conclusion, it has to be that of Stone Cold. While some might argue that Hulkamania was responsible for WWE’s greatest period of success, others will choose to challenge this, claiming that it was actually the era of Stone Cold that gave wrestling it’s true golden era.

The rivalry between McMahon and Stone Cold is still the greatest wrestling feud ever done. It spoke to people on so many different levels and permeated fan’s imaginations in a way that the old cartoonish ‘good vs. evil’ narrative never did back in Hogan’s time. While the debate will forever remain, one thing is for sure, Stone Cold’s career warranted a much better conclusion to the one we ended up with.

In contrast to Hogan, Austin’s relationship with the company is still strong. His podcast appears on the WWE Network and he is continuously asked to make appearances on episodes of RAW and editions of Wrestlemania. Therefore, the only thing preventing a return to the ring seems to be Austin’s health.

It is unclear whether his body could withstand another 10-15 minutes against a younger, more athletic star, and you do always run the risk of ending such a legendary career with a rather half-baked wrestling match, a la Bret Hart.

But like many people on this list, the fan reaction will be enough to cancel out any disappointment in terms of in-ring action. Even in this day and age, when in-ring work counts for so much, fans can still appreciate a good story told with limited actual wrestling.

There was some indication after Stone Cold’s podcast with Paul Heyman that the Rattlesnake might be eying up a match with Brock Lesnar. That would be quite a fitting send off in itself, but in terms of storyline, it might not make too much sense. The two men don’t have much of an in-ring history with each other, and it would be very difficult to book the ending of the match itself.

If Stone Cold were to pull off a shock victory, it would feel too much like the Goldberg match at Survivor Series. If Brock won, fans might be too angry at seeing Stone Cold bow out with a loss.

Whatever the future holds for Stone Cold and the WWE, an official retirement match will be a licence to print money, whoever the opponent turns out to be.