One more match, one more match. This is a chant you will hear from time to time on WWE television. Another one you will hear is a wrestler being told ‘You still got it’ after they were away from the ring, or didn’t seem to be a focal point in a promotion or particular scene. Over the course of a wrestler’s career, they have to have any number of thoughts, whether that means feelings of self-doubt, elation, assurance, or they are just told they have a lot of learning to do. For some, their career in the ring lasts only a short time. They decide that the life that comes with being a wrestler is too daunting. They feel it isn’t worth losing time away from home. It’s a justified feeling for any husband, wife or parent to have when they leave for work each day, only in a wrestler’s case, when they leave home it isn’t just a day, as travel is a major part of this commitment.
Over the course of this piece, we will explore three separate instances of a wrestler’s careers appearing to be approaching an end, only to find out that the suggestions it was coming to an end were simply a well-crafted story intended to draw in fans. It is simple to show respect for a wrestler that has dedicated their time to not only make a name for themselves, and they should be appreciated for all they have given while in the ring. With WWE Hall of Fame inductions coming soon, it is easy for fans to share with the likes of Diamond Dallas Page, Kurt Angle and a ‘You still got it!’ chant, because of that ability to wrestle a convincing match and sell every move as though it was their last one got fans invested in them in and out of the ring. There is a genuine admiration that is shared by fans when they believe that a wrestler’s career is on the verge of being over. However, there are times when we are led to believe that a wrestler’s time could be up, but not enough was done to convince fans to believed that they were going to have one more match.
Before ending his career due to legitimate concussion issues, Christian was booked to be looking for ‘one more match’, or rather ‘one more opportunity’. As a viewer, it was easy to think that there didn’t appear to be anything wrong with Christian, that he was completely fine and the man who was among many fan’s favorites was capable of having a lot more than just one last anything. Jay Reso, the man behind the Christian character, was and still is a relatively quiet person when it comes to his personal dealings. So when he quietly ended his career, it caught many off their guard. It could have been a case of where he wanted to go out this way, rather than in the manner of his best friend Edge, whose career ended while he was on top.
On the whole, however, having the end come prematurely can be fairly effective. Many fans of Ring of Honor will recall Kevin Owens (Steen at the time) sharing his ongoing knee issues, and presenting it as a reason for him to have to end his career. The tears in his eyes had many convinced that his career would abruptly end far too soon. In this instance, there was truth to it, as ongoing issues with his knee have plagued him essentially his entire career. It was easy to be convinced that if someone’s ability is impacted, then it is less likely they will be able to continue. When we consider wrestlers that took many risks, and Owens is an example, it is clear to see why an early retirement would be plausible. So for Steen to turn on his partner El Generico at the time, it was the perfect swerve as fans were caught hook, line and sinker.
When Mark Henry appeared to be on the verge of retiring, fans were so caught up in his tears and the reaction of other wrestlers in the backstage area that it was believable. He spoke about wanting to be home with his wife and children. He spoke about how he gave everything he could for the sport. It was a moment that fans may have a hard time forgetting because he made us believe it. Henry has seen his share of injuries that have plagued him throughout his career. So, when we take that and also highlight his age, then retirement is plausible. However, much like Kevin Steen in ROH, fans were swerved as he attacked John Cena and later challenged him for the WWE championship.
The most convincing of these tales where the end could be near are those where some of it is steeped in truth. So when we find that a wrestler’s career could be coming to an end we can be comforted that these men and women even at the end will make you care for them and commit to them, as much as they commit to entertaining the public.