Sunday, October 5, 2014
When should wrestlers just hang it up?
When finishing up Drawing Heat, the discussion of The Sheik's latter days begs the question when should wrestlers retire. Wrestlers often lack a plan for retirement and those who once made good money seldom seem prepared to adjust when no longer headliners. For many wrestlers like The Sheik, a nostalgia factor can get a few hundred a show for a while, but this alone is rarely sustainable. For fans too the nostalgia appeal fades when a wrestler's performance can no longer match their legacy and performers once presented as superstars appear much more mortal (ex. watching any of Ric Flair's matches after his "retirement" in 2008). In the post kayfabe period more opportunities are available that do not require to lace up the boots one more time (e.g. fan conventions, shoot videos), but these again are unlikely to be significant income for the majority of wrestlers.
Related, I recently read that Terry Funk and Mil Mascaras, both in their seventies, are scheduled for a match in Japan in December. Funk I presume returns from time to time out of passion for the business rather than the need of a paycheck (I'm less familiar with Mascaras). Abdullah the Butcher, also in his seventies, occasionally wrestles (or just gouges an opponent with a fork). These examples arguably fit a niche that few others could, but does their desire to still perform discourage others from planning accordingly for a life after wrestling?