“One more match! One more match!” It is the chant that is heard in arenas whenever a wrestler announces that he has retired from in-ring duty. This is not only a sign of respect from wrestling fans who are watching as a performer tells the world that he or she is hanging up the boots for good. It is an expression of an actual desire to see those wrestlers have one final match before they walk away from an active roster to either pursue careers outside of the industry or to accept jobs in the business behind the scenes or at an announce desk.
A common perception held by those who work in wrestling is that retirements are rarely permanent. Think of the multiple wrestlers who have had supposed “retirement” ceremonies on World Wrestling Entertainment shows such as Raw only to then make comebacks and have matches either in the WWE or in promotions such as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. A great thing about the wrestling industry is that performers who had to retire because of real-life injuries can theoretically be protected if they want to enter the ring for one more match. Thus, basically any walking and breathing wrestler who has retired can make a final memorable return.
15. Daniel Bryan
We know that Daniel Bryan had to retire in February 2016 because of issues caused by the amount of concussions he had suffered throughout his storied wrestling career. Bryan delivered a retirement speech for the ages during an episode of Raw, and it was an incredible sendoff that had some fans in the arena literally in tears. The former best wrestler in the world would not have to take a single bump for one final match, and he could have his hand raised at an event such as WrestleMania and then go out as a winner. Bryan deserves that honor, and we hope that we get to see such a moment sooner rather than later.
14. A.J. Lee
For this to be a possibility, A.J. Lee’s husband CM Punk and the WWE would probably have to be on at least speaking terms and not fighting out a legal battle. A.J. left the company in 2015 just days after WrestleMania 31 without having an announced last match and without giving fans any public farewell. Those of us who do not know her personally cannot say if A.J. misses working for the WWE or in the industry. What we do know is that the current women’s division that has not yet been bolstered by a supposed “revolution” could use a talented worker such as A.J.
13. Jake Roberts
We cannot begin this section of the piece without first saying that we sincerely hope that Jake “The Snake” Roberts is doing well and continuing to defeat his personal demons. As long as things are going well for Roberts, we would love to see him inside of a WWE ring for any kind of farewell match. The WWE once teased that Roberts could have a short feud with Dean Ambrose. Watching those two cut promos on each other would be worth seeing whatever type of match they could produce. Roberts wouldn’t even need to perform one last “DDT” if he doesn’t feel he has one in the tank at this point.
The John Bradshaw Layfield character was truly one of the under-appreciated gimmicks for its time. Layfield was so great because he was able to portray different versions of the same character. JBL was a legitimate tough fighter for one feud, and he was a cowardly heel for the next. That versatility is why JBL could have one more match before riding off into the sunset a last time. It wouldn’t be a five-star classic, but JBL wrestling against the right opponent could give audiences a chuckle. Entertaining the masses is what it is all about, after all, and JBL is great at doing just that.
11. Bret Hart
Let’s be honest and just say that Bret Hart‘s last run in the WWE was not all that great, and it did not feature a final match fitting of “the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.” Hart has dealt with plenty of issues over the past decade and a half, and he announced in February 2016 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Assuming that Hart will beat that latest opponent, the “Hitman” deserves to have one final match that ends with him submitting an opponent as an audience rises to its feet in appreciation of one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the business.
10. Booker T
This return to the ring could be written one of several ways depending on the wishes of the performer. Booker T, who has never technically had a retirement match since returning to the WWE, could just have a final match with a wrestler who he considers to be a friend. The five-time WCW World Champion could also be involved in a comedy angle. Booker has proven time and time again that he is capable of pulling off such a storyline. Either way, we would like to see the master of the “Spinaroonie” head back into the ring for one more match.
9. Lance Storm
If we can be serious for a moment, we would like to add Lance Storm to the list of wrestlers we would like to see have one more match in the WWE. Storm is not technically retired, as the current head of his own wrestling school does take the occasional booking here and there. The gifted in-ring worker has kept himself in tremendous physical shape since parting ways with the WWE, and there is no doubt that Storm could teach a thing or two to many of the individuals who are currently on the WWE roster. Storm working one more match with somebody such as Chad Gable could be entertaining.
8. Diamond Dallas Page
In working to save the lives of former pro wrestlers such as Scott Hall and Jake Roberts, Diamond Dallas Page has become more important to the industry than he ever was as a worker. With that said, fans never got a real chance to say goodbye to the DDP character. We know, from seeing Page make appearances while selling his DDP Yoga brand, that he is in good enough shape to work a basic match. Even that could produce a nostalgia pop among fans who watched Page become a world champion and a beloved babyface. Besides, it’s about time that Page hit Randy Orton with a “Diamond Cutter.”
7. Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus is one of the true success stories of the WWE. Stratus was introduced to WWE audiences as a valet who was not, at the time, a wrestler, and she was not all that great in the ring during the early portions of her wrestling career. Stratus put in the time to improve, though, and she became one of the top women’s performers in the history of the WWE. Since retiring, Stratus has become a successful businesswoman who has her own yoga studio. We know that Stratus can still physically go in the ring. Fans would pop if Stratus was to announce that she was returning for one more match.
6. Hulk Hogan
Yes, we are all aware of the controversy that got Hulk Hogan banished from the WWE in 2015. People have short memories, and there will eventually come a time when we all forget why Hogan and the WWE parted ways in the first place. Hogan is physically a shell of the performer that he was even a decade ago. That’s not a problem, as Hogan could work a basic match in the WWE, maybe as part of a team, for a final sendoff that he has earned for all of his service to the wrestling industry. The Hulkster will eventually come back. Why not include one more match in that last return?
5. Vince McMahon
Admit it. When you saw Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon cutting promos on each other inside of a WWE ring in February 2016, you remembered the feud that they had back in 2001 that included an entertaining WrestleMania match. Both Vince and Shane are 15 years older, and both would be better off never again having a match. Vince is probably never walking away from the WWE and from the wrestling industry, though, so he should just get back in the ring for a final match. Vince and Triple H could, as an example, team up to face a babyface team that wants to topple “The Authority.” It’s a thought.
4. Ric Flair
Diamonds are forever, and so is the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Flair has been all over WWE television in 2016 serving as somewhat of a manager for his daughter Charlotte. Just seeing Flair style and profile during segments that air on Raw and SmackDown could understandably have a fan longing for the days of Flair putting opponents in the figure-four leg lock and then cutting promos on his victims. Who cares if Flair turned 67 years old this past February? It could still be fun to see him work a short match. Besides, it is not as if his “retirement match” against Shawn Michaels was his final ever showdown in the ring. Let’s put those awful TNA Wrestling moments out of our memories by seeing Flair work a final time in the WWE.
3. CM Punk
CM Punk comes up in discussions about retired wrestlers having one more match because some just don’t want to believe that Punk is actually retired. Punk walked away from the WWE and from pro wrestling in 2014 for various reasons, and he has since embraced a mixed martial arts career as a member of the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster. A healthy Punk would, if signed today, be one of the best performers in the WWE. The “Straightedge Superstar” could have more than just one match if he was up for a return to the WWE. Here’s hoping we see Punk back in the WWE at some point.
2. Steve Austin
The biggest reason that we want to see “Stone Cold” Steve Austin have one more match is because he never actually had a retirement match. Austin wrestled The Rock at WrestleMania 19, and then that was it. It is hardly a secret that Austin’s body is not in the best shape these days. He has talked about it on podcasts that have aired on the WWE Network. Austin would not have to be the all-time great wrestler of old in order to step inside a ring, hit a stunner, earn a pinfall and then drink a few “Steve-weisers” to the delight of an in-arena audience.
1. Shawn Michaels
He is the icon, the showstopper, the main event and the “Heartbreak Kid.” Shawn Michaels called time on his wrestling career following an incredible match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. Michaels, at the time, could still produce entertaining encounters, and there is no reason to believe that he could not get into wrestling shape in time for one more match, possibly either against or alongside friend Triple H. HBK is arguably the greatest overall wrestler in WWE history. It is no wonder that so many fans around the world want to see him wrestle one more match.