There is an unwritten rule in wrestling that a wrestler has to lose his/her final match. WWE, seemingly, is following the same rule from a long time.
Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and Mick Foley are some Superstars who had a traditional retirement match in the WWE. With the latest reports suggesting that Kurt Angle could retire this year at WrestleMania, I thought it would be great to talk about this topic.
Current rumours point the finger at Drew McIntyre or Baron Corbin, who could possibly retire the Olympic Gold Medallist from in-ring competition. A retirement match, most of the time, ends the same way. The veteran loses and ties his/her boots.
However, the game of wrestling isn’t so simple. Some wrestlers in the WWE retired without losing their final match. The names I am going to list below also involve wrestlers who retired without any farewell match.
His final opponent(s): Alberto Del Rio, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Ezekiel Jackson and Wade Barrett (10-Man Tag Team match)
Date: 5 April 2011
Retirement date: 11 April 2011
Edge is one of my all-time favourites in the WWE. He began his wrestling journey at a young age of 19.
After 3 years wrestling, he joined Vince McMahon’s WWE (WWF back then) and this is where everything changed for him. Even though his initial days weren’t so bright in this company, he eventually found success, both as a single and tag team wrestler.
The Rated-R Superstar, unfortunately, suffered a serious injury that ended his in-ring career. He defended his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio in 2011, at WrestleMania 27. After that, he participated in a 10-person tag team match, which happened as a dark match on Smackdown.
The match was against Del Rio, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Ezekiel Jackson and Wade Barrett where the World Champion teamed up with Christian, Rey Mysterio, Big Show, and Triple H. Edge, along with other Superstars, won the match that proved to be his final match in the WWE. He announced his retirement on 11 April 2011 and became a Hall Of Fame inductee in 2012.
#4 AJ Lee
Her final opponent(s): Natalya, Brie Bella, and Nikki Bella
Date: 30 March 2015
Retirement date: 3 April 2015
WWE fans consider AJ Lee as one of the greatest Divas of all time. She debuted in 2007 and in just 2 years, the WWE signed her.
She was a part of various interesting storylines during her spell in the WWE. Lee also played a huge role in transforming the women’s division and should receive proper credit. Last year, WWE opened a poll on their website during the Evolution PPV. They asked which WWE Superstar, we would love to see return in the ring at the event.
Lee, unsurprisingly, dominated in that poll but we didn’t saw her return. She departed from the WWE in 2015 and retired the same year. Multiple injuries and her husband, CM Punk’s controversial firing made her take this decision.
She then started writing books and made a name in that field as well. However, before leaving the WWE Lee faced Brie Bella, Natalya and Nikki Bella in a match where she teamed up with Naomi and Paige. The match that she fought on 30 March became her final match in the WWE.
Her final opponent(s): Bayley, Mickie James, and Sasha Banks
Date: 26 December 2017
Retirement date: 9 April 2018
(Note: Technically, Paige’s last match happened on 27 December, but that bout ended in no contest. This means that it was neither a win nor a loss for her. So, I will count her second last match as her final match)
Paige is the first ever WWE NXT Women’s Champion and, like AJ Lee, has played a huge role in starting the women’s revolution. She became one of the most prominent Divas in the company but in 2016, WWE suspended her for taking an illegal substance. Then, she took a neck surgery and returned to the ring in late 2017, with a new faction called Absolution.
However, just a month later in December, she again got injured which forced her to retire. Her last match was against Bayley, Mickie James, and Sasha Banks where she teamed up with other two members of the Absolution. She continued to show up on Raw with Absolution but after WrestleMania 34, announced her retirement.
She then became Smackdown Live General Manager but last year, the McMahon family removed her from this role. Paige recently talked about her future in-ring return and it seems like she can’t return anytime soon.
#2 Chris Benoit
His final opponent: Elijah Burke
Date: 19 June 2007 (ECW)
Retirement date: 24 June 2007 (technically, as Benoit passed on this day)
Till this day, WWE fans argue whether or not Chris Benoit should be inducted in the Hall Of Fame. However, I’m not going to talk about this matter in today’s article.
It is true that Chris Benoit’s controversy is hazardous for the WWE and it is why they don’t even take his name on their platform. However, we can’t deny the fact that he was indeed one of the best wrestlers in the history of pro wrestling.
Benoit is a 1-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and even though he is not between us today, fans still consider him as a true legend. His accomplishments in the WWE were satisfying as compared to other wrestlers but unfortunately, the end days of this life completely removed him from the WWE.
Benoit fought his final match in 2007, on an ECW taping where he defeated Elijah Burke by submission. Suddenly, after 5 days, news came that Benoit killed his wife and kids and then suicided. The issue was so sensitive that Vince McMahon had to return despite being dead in kayfabe. Since then, the WWE didn’t mention Benoit’s name and a Hall Of Fame induction is still in doubt.
#1 Eddie Guerrero
His final opponent: Mr Kennedy
Date: 8 November 2005 (Smackdown)
Retirement date: 13 November 2005 (technically, as Guerrero passed away on this day)
Eddie Guerrero is possibly the best Superstar of his era. Many fans may not consider him as the greatest but he is indeed one of them.
Guerrero worked for WWE, WCW, and ECW, the three biggest wrestling promotion of his time. However, it was Vince McMahon’s billion-dollar company where he found true success. Here, he was considered as a main event level Superstar and it is why he won the WWE Championship by defeating Brock Lesnar in 2004.
Nobody saw his death coming but on 13 November 2005, he passed away. The cause of his death was Heath Failure that, as some reports claimed, happened due to drug abuse. His last match was against Mr. Kennedy where the Mexican Superstar came out on top.