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Yes, Professional Wrestling
is predetermined. There is no denying that, but it comes with quite a few advantages. For example, pretty long careers
. (In some cases
). The planned structure of matches allows wrestlers to still keep going in their 40s, 50s or even longernote
, making wrestlers living Long-Runners
. Overlong careers are mostly a result of wrestling being the only income for most wrestlers, either because they don't have anything waiting for them after wrestling or for other reasons, such as the love they have for the profession.
Fans are fighting over this theme constantly
. Some people think that the old guard only take up space and TV time that could be used for younger wrestlers, while other fans enjoy the nostalgia and think that the oldies still have their place on the show and are not really to blame for younger wrestlers not being used. Fan reactions will also depend on how much talent and effort said wrestler will still put in the ring (i.e. Ric Flair
still pulled a lot of respect for his ring-work late into his career while others are often lambasted for still maintaining main event space despite a now deeply limited ring effort, such as Batista
during his 2014 return.)
Due to the increasing awareness of the various long term physical and mental effects of wrestling on the body, more and more wrestlers are retiring from wrestling at younger ages (sometimes against their will), so it's possible that this may end up being a Discredited Trope
in the future. However, there are still enough examples remaining that it probably won't happen for another decade or two.
In order for a wrestler to qualify as a Ring Oldie, they must have been an active competitor until they were at least 45 years old.
Notable Ring oldies (listed alphabetically):
- Abdullah the Butcher (71 years old)
- Kurt Angle (48 years old)
- Las Monjas Asesinas: Lola González and Vicky Carranza, acting as a pareja on the Mexican independent circuit at 55 apiece.
- Atlantis, wrestling in CMLL's main event at fifty three, in response to fan request.
- "Bullet" Bob Armstrong (70 years old)
- The Barbarian is 59 and still competes.
- Batista was 45 during his 2014 run.
- The Big Show (45 years old)
- Booker T and brother Stevie Ray wrestled one last match as Harlem Heat in February 2015. Both men were 49 and 56 respectively. It is unknown if it was both mens' final matches though.
- El Canek, IWL Independent Heavyweight Champion at 62.
- Dos Caras wrestled alongside his sons in the World Wrestling League at 63.
- The Crusher (retired in 1989, age 63)
- Christopher Daniels (47 years old) and is still doing THE BEST MOONSAULT EVER
- "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (58 years old)
- El Dinámico, wrestling in the main event of Italian Wrestling Superstar at 50.
- El Santo (was 64 at his last match (47 year run), dying 2 years later)
- Finlay (56 years old)
- Ric Flair (was 59 at his last match in WWE, though he had a short run in TNA and various indie leagues until the age of 63). Officially announced his retirement in December 2012, citing Jerry Lawler (who's roughly the same age as him) having heart attack a few months earlier as a galvanizing event driving home the dangers of even a physically fit man wrestling at his age.
- Mick Foley made his final appearance in the 2012 Royal Rumble at 46. Although he never officially retired, his doctors informed him that he can never wrestle again, so a return to the ring is improbable.
- Yoshiaki Fujiwara is 66 and still wrestles.
- Dory Funk Jr. (76 years old)
- Terry Funk (73 years old)
- Verne Gagne (officially retired at 58, but worked special matches until he was 62)
- Glacier. 52 years old as of 2016, and still works indy shows.
- Goldberg was thought to have wrestled his final match in 2004 at the age of 37, but announced in 2016 that he'd be coming out of retirement to have a rematch with Brock Lesnar, at the age of 49. After parlaying this "final match" into a "final title run", it has now extended past his 50th birthday.
- Goldust (47 years old) is still going strong, winning the tag title in 2013 (and again in 2014) with younger brother Cody.
- Chavo Guerrero, Sr. (66 years old)
- Billy Gunn is still working the occasional match at 53. His tag partner, Road Dogg, barely qualifies at 47.
- Scott Hall: Retired in 2010 at the age of 51.
- Although Bret Hart retired in 2000, he made a brief return to the ring ten years later after reconciling with WWE, wrestling his final match at 53 years old (though the term "wrestling" is used loosely, since all he was able to do was throw weak punches and weapon shots).
- Mark Henry (45 years old)
- Hulk Hogan (57 years old during his final match at TNA and is still governing for one last match.)
- Malia Hosaka (67 years old, semi-retired as of 2012)
- Ivory (Retired at 45).
- New Jack ("retired" at 50, but has worked a few special matches since.)
- Jacqueline (53 years old; semi-retired)
- Marty Jannetty is 56 and still does matches on the indie circuit, as well as managing in Chikara.
- Jeff Jarrett (49 years old and still smashing guitars over people's heads)
- Chris Jericho (46 years old)
- Gypsy Joe took part in the World Legend Revival series of SMASH at 76.
- Jushin Thunder Liger (52 years old)
- Leilani Kai, challenging for title belts in Florida at 57.
- Kane (50 years old)
- Jerry "The King" Lawler (67 years old). Was thought to have wrestled his final match in September 2012, after which he suffered a near-fatal heart attack at the announcer table and spent over two months in recovery... but was later medically cleared to return to wrestling, and still works occasional indy shows.note
- Mil Máscaras taking bookings at 73.
- Dump Matsumoto, making rounds on the Japanese independent circuit at 55.
- Chief Wahoo McDaniel had his first matches in 1961 and his last in 1996.
- The Fabulous Moolah had her last match in WWE at 81. Her last singles match was at 80.
- The Great Muta, part of Wrestle-1's Tag Team division at 52.
- Kevin Nash (57 years old, though he is semi-retired as of 2011)
- Negro Navarro, defending the trios titles of IWRG alongside his sons at 58.
- "Cowboy" Bob Orton (54 years old when he teamed with his son Randy)
- Diamond Dallas Page started wrestling at 35, so he was pretty old when he started. He officially retired in 2006 at 50, but has come out of retirement a few times, most notably in the 2015 Royal Rumble match at nearly 59 years old and the Andre the Giant memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32, at 60 years old.
- Roddy Piper (was 57 during his last match, dying 4 years later).
- Psicosis (45 years old and still wrestling)
- Johnny Saint (only semi-retired as of 2011, aged 73), in CHIKARA managed multiple 'this is awesome' and 'we love wrestling' chants. Fellow Brit Johnny Kidd was only 55 in the same weekend.
- Bruno Sammartino (52 years old upon his last match in 1987).
- Randy Savage wrestled his final match in TNA at the age of 52. His brother, Lanny Poffo, is still occasionally wrestling in his sixties. Their father, Angelo, wrestled his final match at 66.
- Dan Severn retired from MMA at the age of 54 but still competes in pro wrestling despite saying once that pro wrestling has given him more injuries that MMA.
- The Sheepherders/Bushwhackers. Born in 1944, Butch retired in 2001 following a neck injury. Luke, born in 1947, wrestling on the independent circuit as late as a 2015 Ring of Honor show at 68.
- El Sicodélico doing tercias matches at 71.
- Al Snow (51 years old) works matches in TNA now and then, though he abused steroids heavily in 2014 and thus physically doesn't look his age anymore.
- Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka (Wrestled his last match at 72 years old)
- Ricky Steamboat looked like he was going to miss out, first retiring in 1994 at the age of 41, but he made an impressive return run in WWE 15 years later in 2009, feuding with Chris Jericho.
- George "The Animal" Steele was 61 when he had his last match in WWE in 1999.
- Scott Steiner (53 and still wrestling at indy shows)
- Sting (56 years old during his final match in 2015)
- Pantera Sureña seemed to have wound down her career as a luchadora at 52.
- Genichiro Tenryu, at 65 lost his retirement match to 28 Kazuchika Okada.
- Lou Thesz (officially retired at 63, worked occasional special events until age 74, when he had a retirement match against student Masahiro Chono)
- Fray Tormenta (66 when he wrestled his last match, but had been semi-retired since 56. Still serves as a Roman Catholic priest.)
- Triple H (47 years old, though he has semi-retired due to his duties as head of Talent Relations and eventual successor to the WWE empire.)
- Ultimate Warrior (49 years old as of his last match, with independent federation Nu-Wrestling Evolution (NWE))
- Ultimo Dragon, teaming with El Dinámico, among others also at 50.
- The Undertaker (52 years old during his last match in 2017)
- "Butcher" Vachon (77 years old)
- Big Van Vader, still wrestling occasional matches at 61.
- Victoria/Tara (46 years old)
- Jaguar Yokota, touring as a singles wrestler and one half of Diana's tag team champions at 54.
- Mae Young (claimed to have wrestled across nine decades, although this is dubious — evidence suggests she first wrestled pro in 1941, not 1939 as she claimed, and as we'll see below, it's also doubtful whether her sole match in the 2010s counts. She said she wanted to wrestle against Stephanie McMahon on her 100th birthday - unfortunately, she died in January 2014 at 90.)
- Her last "match" deserves a disclaimer. It took place during the old school retro edition of Raw and was a falls count anywhere, no-DQ match against LayCool. She was flanked by a pair of other divas who helped her walk up and down the aisle, she never had to climb the stairs to get to the ring (thus, "falls count anywhere"), and all the quote-unquote ring work was done by pretty much the entire women's roster on her behalf. And at the end, she count not even get to her knees to make the pin, instead making the pin while standing with a foot on her opponent's chest. Still, give credit where credit is due.
- It should also be noted that she was still taking bumps and being put through tables well into her 70s.
- Lord Zoltan (57 years old) is in semi-retirement, but still wrestles on approximately a monthly basis with the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance, including the annual DeafFest match that he originated.