5. Stone Cold Steve Austin
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the one of the biggest stars and the “poster boy” of the Attitude Era and he sure knew how to cause trouble and piss people off, mainly Vince McMahon. Throughout his career, Austin was plagued with injuries including a serious neck injury he suffered at the hands of Owen Hart at SummerSlam 1997, which meant he was wrestling on borrowed time. But, that did not stop The Texas Rattlesnake from rising to superstardom and his rivalry with his boss, Vince McMahon was some of the best work in his career. Unfortunately, Austin’s injuries caught up to him in the end and he was forced to retire early from in-ring competition or risk permanent paralysis or even death. Austin is still around making the odd appearance, doing what he does best, opening cans of whoop-ass and delivering Stone Cold stunners left right and centre and not to mention, he runs the Stone Cold Podcast on the WWE network. It was nice to see The Rattlesnake appear on RAW 25 to a resounding pop and it was also nice to see that Vince McMahon still doesn’t know how to sell a stunner. Even his wife can sell a better stunner… OK, on second thought, maybe not.
The Rated-R Superstar, Edge had an incredible career in the WWE, winning a total of 31 championships during his time there, including the main prizes; the WWE Championship four times and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship seven times. And how can we forget his live sex celebration with Lita. Thankfully, it was with Lita and not Vickie Guerrero, her screams would kill a man. Sadly, no rewards come without risks and Edge was constantly battling with injuries and on several occasions, he was forced to vacate titles including the WWE World Heavyweight Championship not once but twice. Eventually, The Rated-R Superstar realised that it was time to hang up his boots after he was diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis, which meant he could risk neck-down paralysis or even death should he take another hard bump. Just days after successfully defending the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVII, Edge retired as the champion and gave an emotional retirement speech about his career and the harsh realities of wrestling. You can’t think of a better way to go out as the world champion, can you?
3. CM Punk
CM Punk is certainly not afraid to speak up and his pipe bomb promo back in June 2011 was a solid testament to this. When he exposed the insides of the company and its owner, Vince McMahon, we were all just looking on like this. Punk’s mic work was pure gold and like Austin, he stood up to his boss and made sure that his voice was heard, earning him the moniker, “The Voice of the Voiceless”. During his time in the WWE, Punk became a three-time World Heavyweight Champion and a two-time WWE Champion, with one of his reigns lasting for 434 days, the sixth longest of all time. However, in 2014, Punk decided that he had enough and retired from professional wrestling, citing health as the main reason for his departure. He has since transitioned to the world of mixed martial arts, which hasn’t gone to well for him thus far but there’s still time. Despite ongoing chants for his name, it is unlikely that CM Punk will ever return to a WWE ring again but never say never I guess.
2. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan had one of the greatest underdog stories in WWE history as he was able to capture gold against all odds after battling with The Authority… and Vince McMahon. Thanks to the power of the Yes! Movement, Daniel Bryan propelled to the main event picture and walked out as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXX, the pinnacle of his career. But, reaching the top of the mountain wasn’t easy as Bryan was plagued with injuries along the way, which resulted in him being stripped of the World Heavyweight Championship just two months following his big win. Not only that, but Bryan had to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship he won at WrestleMania 31 a year later due to concussion-related injuries. This left Bryan no choice but to sadly retire from in-ring competition at just 34-years-old and he gave an emotional retirement speech about gratitude, leaving fans in tears. For a while, Daniel Bryan has been wanting to return to in-ring competition and we are reminded of this constantly. But who knows, maybe he will but likely in the Independent scene as opposed to a WWE ring.
Just when things were getting good with Paige’s recent return to WWE, we were all shocked to hear news spread of The Raven-Haired Renegade possibly having to retire at just 25 years old after she sustained a serious neck injury at a house show on December 28th, 2017. The injury came when Sasha Banks kicked Paige in the back with quite some force I must say, leaving her briefly unable to stand. It’s unfortunate that the injury came at such a bad time, right before the first ever WWE 30-Woman Royal Rumble match. Throughout her time in the WWE, Paige has undoubtedly made history becoming the inaugural NXT Women’s Champion and the youngest Divas Champion at the age of 21, as well as the only woman to simultaneously hold both the Divas and the NXT Women’s Championships. But, for someone who has been wrestling since the young age of just 13, it’s such a shame that she may never be able to compete in a WWE ring again. Instead, she could have a new career waiting for her… a career as a manager. You were thinking of something else, you dirty…