It’s the end of another year, which means it’s time to look back at all the things that have happened over the past 12 months. In the world of professional wrestling, there have been a number of wrestlers who have left us in 2017. There are many who have sadly passed away as well as a number who have retired from the business. It’s not an easy decision to make when you know that you’re walking away from a career that you’ve spent your entire life working for but it seems that it’s one that many stars have decided to make over the past year. It seems that 2017 was another year that was full of heartbreak and tears as many stars left the business in one way or another over the past 12 months.
There were many other legends who sadly passed away this year as well, the stars that many fans have grown up with and saw as some of the greatest superstars in the history of WWE. It seems that the older we become the more of our heroes we lose and 2017 was another year that made this statement as true as ever, it shows that time really is limited for many of us and we should take advantage of the time we all have. The following list looks at the wrestling superstars who have left the business over the past 12 months, whether that’s through retirement, being fired, or sadly passing away. Here are the superstars who we will remember heading into 2018.
15. “Outlaw” Ron Bass
“Outlaw” Ron Bass made his debut in the wrestling business back in 1971 in NWA which was where he first paired up with Barry Windham and Black Bart. Ron made his way over to WWE in 1987 in a time where the company was taken over by the likes of Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake.
One of his most memorable matches would have come back in 1988 when he qualified for the King of the Ring tournament when he was able to defeat a young Shawn Michaels. He was released from WWE back in 1989 after falling down the ranks when newer and fresher faces started joining the company but it was another two years before Ron officially hung up his wrestling boots. It was revealed that Bass was rushed to the hospital back in March 2017 after his appendix burst but he passed away shortly afterwards after a number of complications with his surgery. He was just 68 years old.
Given the fact that Goldberg was able to return to the ring after more than 12 years back in 2016, it would be hard to officially state that Goldberg has actually retired. The former WCW legend returned to WWE as a way to promote WWE2K17 ahead of its release in November 2016.
This then led to a spot in the 2017 Royal Rumble, a Universal Championship win at Fastlane and a huge rematch against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 33. It seems that following his defeat to Brock Lesnar, Goldberg has officially hung up his wrestling boots once again but it is unknown how long this will be for this time. The former Champion has already begun hinting that he would be open to another return to WWE in the future, but it is unlikely that WWE would be able to put together a similar storyline for the former WCW star anytime in the near future.
13. Jimmy Snuka
Jimmy “The Superfly” Snuka was a WWE Hall of Famer and is the father of current SmackDown star Tamina Snuka. Snuka was a legend to many wrestling fans but had made headlines all over the world ahead of his passing after it was decided that he was unfit to stand trial for the homic*de of his ex-girlfriend Nancy Argentino.
Snuka was struggling with cancer and lost his battle back in January while WWE was still recording the United Kingdom Tournament and announced his passing as part of the show. WWE also paid tribute to the former superstar despite it seemingly being in bad taste since Snuka was wrapped up in a trial and the only suspect in the investigation merely weeks before his passing. His daughter Tamina has since returned to WWE since her father’s passing but has dropped the “Snuka” name and instead is now known as just Tamina.
12. Bubba Ray Dudley
Bubba Ray Dudley is a tag team legend in WWE after winning nine Tag Team Championships in his career alongside D-Von Dudley as well as successfully being seen as a singles competitor in Impact Wrestling. He has also been known for his work in ECW and most recently for Ring of Honor.
Bubba Ray officially announced earlier this month at an Independent Event that he was retiring from wrestling full-time after a number of injuries he had sustained over the past few years had finally begun to affect his career and catch up with him. Bubba Ray himself has stated that he doesn’t really care that much about being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but as a Tag Team legend and one half of The Dudley Boyz, he should definitely be seen as someone who should have a place in amongst the elite of wrestling in the future.
11. George “The Animal” Steele
George “The Animal” Steele was a superstar that was obviously built for this business. He had a presence in the ring that towered above all others and allowed him to be accepted into the hearts of wrestling fans around the world.
The most memorable feud of Steele’s career came back in 1985 when he was put up against “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the two battled over Miss Elizabeth. Steele left the business the following year and his health took a nosedive when it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Steele had been ill for a number of months prior to his passing back in February 2017 but it was revealed that the cause was kidney failure. He will always be remembered as the big man who had a heart of gold. Despite his tough exterior, George was known as the friendliest and most approachable superstar of his generation.
10. Eva Marie
Technically in order to retire from the wrestling business, you have to be considered a legitimate wrestler, something that Eva Marie was never actually seen as. The winner of the 2013 Diva Search was thrown in at the deep end in WWE and after becoming a main star of Total Divas she decided to try her hand at wrestling, something that didn’t exactly come naturally to her.
Eva drew heat like no other superstar had ever done before her but it wasn’t enough for her to want to continue pursuing a career in the squared circle and after she was suspended from WWE back in August 2016 for violating the Wellness Policy, she never returned. Eva was officially released from the company in the summer of 2017 when it was made clear that Eva was happy moving on to an acting career that her stint in WWE had allowed her to enjoy.
9. Nicole Bass
Nicole Bass was a woman that was ahead of her time when it came to the wrestling business. She was a well-known bodybuilder for a number of years before she first came to WWE and her physique turned a few heads, much like Chyna‘s had before her.
Bass was used in the same way as Chyna and debuted as a bodyguard to Sable back at WrestleMania XV. While Chyna broke down doors and won a number of Championships during her time in WWE, Bass was unable to reach the same level with her in-ring ability not up to par with the other women on the roster at that time. Bass walked away from the company back in 2000 amidst reports that she was assaulted backstage by Steve Lombardi. She later dropped her lawsuit against him in 2003. Bass was hospitalized following a stroke and she passed away the following day at the age of 52.
8. Rosa Mendes
Rosa Mendes is a female wrestler who was part of the company for more than a decade after coming in through the annual Diva Search but was never really given a chance to make an impact. Rosa became more well-known to the WWE Universe as part of Total Divas than she ever did when she was wrestling.
Rosa announced her pregnancy back in 2015 and gave birth to her daughter Jordan back in February 2016. Despite not being on WWE TV for more than two years and not being seen on Total Divas since the birth of her daughter, Rosa felt the need to officially announce her retirement from WWE back in February 2017 on her daughter’s first birthday. Rosa’s retirement is one that has been completely overlooked by many wrestling fans, but for someone who was part of the Women’s Division for more than ten years, her official departure deserves to be recognized.
7. Chavo Guerrero Sr.
The Guerrero family has definitely left their mark on WWE over the past few decades, but while the current generation will remember Eddie and Chavo Guerrero from their stints in WWE, Eddie’s brother Chavo Guerrero Sr. made a name for himself in AWA before making his way to WCW as Chavo Classic.
Chavo will also be remembered as the oldest Cruiserweight Champion in history after he was able to defeat his son and Spike Dudley back in 2004. Chavo was still in the spotlight back in 2016 when he made an appearance in Lucha Underground alongside Rey Mysterio and his son but it was revealed in early 2017 that he was battling liver cancer. Chavo was moved to a hospice as his health began to deteriorate before he sadly passed away on the 11th of February at just 68 years old. Wrestling was Chavo’s life and if he could, he would have wrestled right up to the end.
6. Mark Henry
Many of the WWE Universe are still completely unaware that “The Worlds Strongest Man” Mark Henry walked away from WWE back in 2017 since the company didn’t decide to give the former World Champion the send-off he deserved.
Instead, Henry quietly left the company following WrestleMania 33 and now works for WWE behind the scenes as a producer. Henry was part of some memorable storylines and feats of strength throughout his time in WWE and definitely deserved a much better send-off than he was given. It is unknown if the fact that WWE already played on the retirement angle with Henry following his “fake” speech to John Cena a few years ago was the reason why Henry was able to sneak away from the company back in April but either way, Henry’s final wrestling match is now behind him and rather than going out with a bang he went out with a whisper.
5. Smith Hart
Smith Hart was the eldest son of legendary wrestling promoter Stu Hart Hart and the brother of stand-out WWE stars Owen and Bret. Smith wasn’t known to be on the same level as his brothers, but much like many members of the Hart Family, Smith was also a wrestler and made occasional appearances on WWE TV where he was always seen as the protector of his family members who worked for the company at that time.
Smith’s biggest moment on WWE TV perhaps came back at WrestleMania XXVI when he saved his younger brother Bret during his feud with Vince McMahon. Smith was always outspoken when it came to the wrestling world and would often share his thoughts regarding WWE programming on his Twitter page. Smith was diagnosed with brain and bone cancer back in 2016 but the disease later became terminal and Smith was taken into a hospice where he passed away in July 2017 at the age of 68.
4. Candice Michelle
Candice Michelle is a former Women’s Champion in WWE and someone who was released from the company back in 2009. Over the past eight years, Candice has become a wife and a mother to three daughters and looked after her new family full-time, while never actually announcing her retirement from professional wrestling.
Back in October 2017, Candice announced that her final match would take place on December 2nd at House of Hardcore’s Blizzard Brawl event. At the show, she took on one of her best friends and biggest rivals, former Women’s Champion Victoria in her hometown. Candice won the match before the two women embraced in the ring afterwards. This was Candice’s first match in almost eight years and her final one that she will ever be part of. This was Candice’s way of finally hanging up her wrestling boots for good and now focusing on her life as a mother.
3. Matt “Rosey” Anoa’i
Matt Anoa’i was known as superhero Rosey throughout his time in WWE, but he was perhaps best known as Roman Reigns‘ older brother. Coming from the famous Anoa’i wrestling family meant that there was only ever one career path for the Samoan star who is best remembered for being part of three-minute warning alongside Eddie Fatu (who was later known as Umaga).
Rosey later went on to become Hurricane Helms sidekick before he was released from WWE back in 2006 around the time that his former three-minute warning teammate returned to WWE as Umaga. The wrestling world was saddened by the passing of Matt back in April 2017, something that was highlighted by his brother Roman who wrote an emotional message following Rosey’s passing. It was revealed that the official cause was congestive heart failure and he passed away just 10 days after he celebrated his 47th birthday.
2. Gail Kim
Gail Kim is considered to be one of the best female wrestlers in the history of Impact Wrestling. She is the only female to ever be inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame and is a former Knockout’s Champion as well as a former WWE Women’s Champion.
Kim left WWE after it was revealed that the company would never push her towards the main event picture because of her looks rather than her ability and then instead decided to make a name for herself in Impact Wrestling the company, where she recently announced her retirement. Somehow the former Champion was able to have a successful stint following surgery but at 40 years old, Kim has decided that the time is now right for her to finally hang up those wrestling boots for good. Much like Trish Stratus back in WWE in 2006, Kim relinquished the Knockout’s Championship earlier this year and announced that she was retiring from the company.
1. Bobby Heenan
There was a reason why Bobby Heenan was known as The Brain. He was widely considered to be one of the greatest wrestling managers of all time, as well as a fantastic commentator.
Heenan always knew how to talk and he knew what it took to be a great manager after being paired with the likes of Jesse Ventura and Andre The Giant in his early years. It was only after a neck injury that Heenan decided to take the move over to the announce table before he left the wrestling business back in 2000 before being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 before surgery on his jaw left him without one of his best assets, as he was left struggling to speak. Heenan passed away back in September 2017 as a result of organ failure that was brought on after he had struggled with a number of illnesses dating back to his diagnosis with cancer back in 2002.
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