It doesn’t matter if it’s wrestling or any other sport. There comes a time in every professional athlete’s life that they must call it quits. Fortunately, many are able to plan ahead and prepare themselves for life after sports. There have been countless professional athletes like soccer star Vinnie Jones, ex-NFL great Roger Staubach, and ex-NBAer Hakeem Olajuwon that have become very successful in other areas after their playing days were over. Of course, not all professional athletes are quite as lucky. Just ask Curt Schilling, Terrell Owens, or even Mike Tyson.
One sport that seems to be a springboard to success after retirement is professional wrestling. Jesse Ventura, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and WWE owner Vice McMahon himself are just a few examples of wrestlers who became wildly successful after their days in the ring were past them. A lot of wrestlers like John Cena, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Nick Foley have been able to work their way into movies and television. There is a long list of ex-wrestlers that have done the same. How many WWE divas have made the same transition? Lots. Maria Kanellis, Eve Torres, Maryse, and Kelly Kelly are just a few examples of women who used their status as WWE divas as a bridge to stardom.
There were quite a few notable retirements in the world of professional wrestling in the past year. Some packed it in due to age while others were forced to retire due to injuries. One such WWE personality to walk away from the world of wrestling is the beautiful Eva Marie who appears to be destined for stardom. While she wasn’t around for very long, Eva Marie sure made her mark. Here is an update on Eva Marie and 14 other wrestlers who retired in the past year.
15 Eva Marie
Multi-talented Natalie Marie Coyle is an actress, model, and fashion designer. She is better known as professional wrestler Eva Marie. You may have seen the gorgeous 33-year-old stunner on SmackDown or on the reality television series Total Divas. You also might have seen her in the movie Inconceivable in which she recently made her film debut. Eva Marie became a fixture on WWE’s main roster in 2013 and she immediately made her mark as a heel who feuded with several other divas. She had a lot of success in tag team matches but she was sidelined after one of her breast implants ruptured in 2015. She returned to the main roster in 2016 and was as unlikable as ever but it seems that the sweet-looking starlet would prefer to act in movies instead of in the ring because she completely severed ties with the WWE in August 2017.
14 Rosa Mendes
Milena Leticia Rouka was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. The 38-year-old was never one to back down from anyone as she demonstrated in her early years when she was suspended from school for fighting. While she used her stunning looks to forge a successful modeling career when she was in her early 20s, she would ultimately find fame and fortune in the wrestling ring. Roucka competed in WWE Diva Search in 2006 and, although she didn’t win, she was impressive enough for the WWE to sign her. Under the name Rosa Mendes, she would become a central figure in the WWE for nearly a decade. In August of 2015, Mendes announced that she was pregnant and she gave birth on February 13, 2016. She announced her retirement on February 13, 2017 leaving the wrestling world with one less attractive diva.
13 Bubba Ray Dudley
Mark LoMonaco made his professional wrestling debut in 1991 under the name Mongo Vyle. He battled in the ring for over 25 years using names such as Brother Ray, Bully Ray, The Terminator, and Bubba Ray Dudley. He gained a lot of notoriety as Buh Buh Ray of the infamous Dudley Boyz tag team. During his career, he won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, WWF/E Hardcore Championship, and the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship. In all, LoMonaco won 34 championships. After suffering what appeared to be a severe concussion during Death Before Dishonor XV in September 2017, LoMonaco weighed his options and decided that it was time for the 46-year-old to retire. He announced his retirement after he entered the ring one last time to compete in Global Wars in October 2017.
12 Candice Michelle
Candice Michelle is one of the many divas that found fame in the WWE after participating in WWE Diva Search. Prior to making a name for herself in the ring, Candice was enjoying a flourishing modeling career and was an aspiring actress. She ended up being featured in magazines such as FLEX, Lowrider, and various other bodybuilding and car magazines. She was even named Cyber Girl of the Week in the June issue of Playboy in 2002 and she also landed a few appearances on television. After signing with WWE in 2004, Candice became a main character but a series of injuries including a broken collarbone led to her release from WWE in 2009. She officially retired after she defeated Lisa Marie Varon at the Blizzard Brawl Show on December 2nd, 2017.
11 Gail Kim
On July 6th, 2017, veteran wrestler Gail Kim announced her retirement. In doing so, the 40-year-old fox from Toronto, Canada marked the end of a very successful wrestling career in which she was a seven-time Knockouts Champion with Impact Wrestling, WWE Women’s Champion, and TNA Knockouts Champion. Pro Wrestling Magazine named her the number one female wrestler in the world in 2012 and she became the first-ever female wrestler to be inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame in 2016. Regarded by many as being the best female wrestler ever, Kim began her pro career in 2000 on the Canadian independent circuit before entering the WWF in 2002. Also referred to as The Empress of Knockouts, Kim is known for her deadly dragon sleeper, front missile drop kick, and her lethal roundhouse.
10 Mark Henry
Having been on the WWE roster since 1996, the 6 foot 4 inch Mark Henry was one of the longest-tenured veterans in the WWE. The 360-pound 46-year-old native of Texas has been a wrestling fan since childhood and he has been able to live his dream for the past 22 years. He debuted with the WWF when he was 24 after he competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics as a weightlifter. Over the next two decades, Henry tangled with the biggest names in the business including Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Booker T, and The Undertaker. Henry’s appearances in the ring became a little sporadic in recent years and there was a lot of speculation surrounding his future leading up to WrestleMania 33 in April 2017. Retirement rumors were recently confirmed.
9 Bill Goldberg
We’ve seen professional athletes like Brett Favre, Mario Lemieux, and Michael Jordan retire only to see them come back for another run. We can now add the legendary Bill Goldberg to that list. After a largely unsuccessful professional football career ended due to injury, Bill Goldberg took his 6 foot 4 inch and 255-pound frame into the wrestling ring where he became one of the biggest names in the history of the sport. Although the number is generally believed to be greatly exaggerated, legend has it that he won 173 straight matches during his undefeated streak between 1997 and 1998. Regardless of the real number, Goldberg was a force to be reckoned with. He retired in 2004 but like many great athletes before him, he came out of retirement after a 12-year hiatus. He bid his fans a final fond farewell on April 3, 2017.
8 Dolph Ziggler
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s probably a duck. Well, except if we’re talking about professional wrestling. Dolph Ziggler looked like he was retiring and he definitely sounded and acted like he was retiring when he left the ring during a December 2017 episode of SmackDown Live. The truth is that there has been no official confirmation and it could be just another plot twist in the ongoing saga that is the WWE. Nevertheless, according to the duck test and rumors that he has been looking to leave the WWE to pursue an acting career, it appears that his days of performing dropkicks, heart stoppers, and sitout facebusters are over. Ziggler is highly educated and shouldn’t have trouble finding work if his acting career doesn’t pan out.
7 Big Show
He’s definitely big and he always puts on a great show which makes Big Show’s name quite fitting. Listed as 7 feet tall and weighing 383 pounds, the veteran wrestling superstar has been one of the most recognizable faces in the sport since he went pro in the mid-1990s. Over the course of his career, he has been the WCW World Heavyweight Champion, WWF/WWE Champion, ECW World Heavyweight Champion, and he’s held several tag-team championship titles. Those titles are just the tip of the iceberg. His massive frame helped him achieve wrestling stardom but being such a large guy has also taken a toll. He has suffered through several injuries and surgeries with the latest being a hip surgery that appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Earlier in 2017, Big Show announced that his last match will happen in February of 2018.
6 Nikki Bella
Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace is better known in the wrestling world as Nikki Bella who, along with her twin sister Brie, make up the Bella Twins. Before becoming a famous diva, Nikki was making a name for herself as a model and actor. Things changed when Nikki and Brie competed on WWE Diva Search in 2006. Like many divas, Nikki and Brie did not win but they were offered contracts by the WWE in 2007 anyway. The Bella Twins debuted on SmackDown in 2008 and they quickly became main attractions and the focus of several storylines. The twins were fired in 2012 but after a brief stint on the independent circuit they were brought back. After getting engaged to John Cena during WrestleMania 33, Nikki decided to retire although the 34-year-old hasn’t completely ruled out a return.
The beautiful Paige has been wrestling since she was a child, although that’s not such a long time when you consider that the WWE sensation is only 25. After wrestling on the independent circuit in Europe, Paige signed with the WWE in 2011 and she made the main roster in 2014. She quickly became the youngest Divas Champion and one of the biggest names in the WWE. She alternated roles as a villain and fan favorite but she ran into some injury troubles and other issues which resulted in her being suspended in 2016. After undergoing neck surgery in 2016, Paige returned to the ring but her comeback was short-lived. On December 28, 2017, Paige was involved in a six-woman tag team match when she suffered another injury after being viciously licked. The young sensation recently announced her retirement.
4 The Undertaker
Any list of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time is sure to include Mark Calaway. Under the name “Mean Mark” Callous, Calaway began his wrestling career in the WCCW way back in the mid-1980s. He hit the big time in 1990 when he signed with the WWF and introduced fans to The Undertaker whose horror-themed and supernatural gimmick was an instant hit. Since then, The Undertaker has been the focus of countless storylines and feuds over the past couple of decades in which the 6 foot 10 inch Texan has won multiple championships. He is known for his streak of 21 straight WrestleMania wins between 1991 and 2013 (he missed 2 WrestleManias due to injury). His last appearance in the ring was a loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 in April 2017.
3 Chris Jericho
It might be hard to fathom but Chris Jericho has been a professional wrestler since his debut in 1990. While he may not look it, the 6 foot-tall and 227-pound star is 47. The youthful-looking and multi-talented father of three has won a load of championships over the course of his career and is widely regarded as one of the best professional wrestlers of all time. Jericho has also found success in other areas such as acting and in music. He’s appeared in a few movies, been in several television shows, and he has been in a band called Fozzy since 2000. The band has released 7 studio albums and it appears that the legendary wrestler is about to take his band on a tour. Fozzy has already lined up several tour dates so Jericho will be quite busy in retirement.
2 Buff Bagwell
Marcus “Buff” Bagwell trained under Steve Lawler before making his professional wrestling debut in 1990 as Famous Fabian. He went back to his real name in 1991 when he signed on with the WCW where he developed over the next 5 years. Bagwell built a reputation for being rather controversial and was recently involved in an unsuccessful lawsuit against the WWE which involved royalties that he felt entitled to. Love him or hate him, Bagwell has been an entertaining presence no matter where he’s been. Being 47 might have something to do with his retirement but another factor was a serious car accident that he was involved in back in 2012 in which he broke several bones in his neck, face, and jaw. He recovered enough to embark on a retirement tour which will end in May of 2018.
A little bit of bad publicity doesn’t often seem to affect many professional athletes in North America but it’s very different in Japan. Harumafuji is a famous sumo wrestler in the land of the rising sun. At least he was until he suddenly announced his retirement in November 2017 at the age of 33. The 302-pound behemoth has won several championships and achieved the highest rank that a sumo wrestler can have in 2012. At such a relatively young age and at the height of his career, Harumafuji resigned from the Japan Sumo Association and announced his retirement after he admitted to assaulting another wrestler in a restaurant bar. He felt that he disgraced the honor of sumo wrestling and was basically not worthy of being a sumo wrestler, especially in light of allegations of fixing matches and mafia ties to the sport.