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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Shawn Michaels, Too Old"
March 3, 2006 by Jacob Kuhn


Perhaps it's because my thirty-first birthday is coming up. Don't get me wrong, getting older doesn't bother me at all; or at least that's what I am telling myself. Each year passes and I don't really notice it. I still feel like I'm a kid and act like it most of the time. I'm in pretty good shape; sure not like AJ Styles or Chris Masters, but more so than Nunzio. The only thing that bugs me as years go by is that I am becoming too old to ever become a wrestler. Of course, if I can get a start before 40, perhaps I can continue for a while.

But I don't really have aspirations to be a wrestler and this column isn't about some lame dreams I have had since I was 16 and wrestling in high school. With Shawn Michaels possibly becoming a part time wrestler like the Undertaker, there has been a lot of talk that it's the best thing for him. He's pushing 41 years old. They keep telling me it's time for him to step aside and let the younger wrestlers shine. He doesn't deserve another World Title but let him have the US or IC Title.

I don't understand this line of thinking at all. I have tried defending Michaels by saying that he still puts on amazing matches. The man is in phenomenal shape. He's keeps giving to the sport and should deserve to keep giving even more. If he's healthy and he enjoys competing and fans want to see him, let him continue.

My defense is generally met with comments that seem to want to point out how ludicrous my thoughts are. I have been told that wrestling is now a young man's sport. Back in the day, it was a big deal for a wrestler to win a World Title in his 30's, but now it's more appropriate for him to get it in his 20's. Some have even gone as far as telling me that most wrestlers shouldn't wrestler past their mid 30's. And I have one thing to say to all of that: It's the most ridiculous amount of tripe I have ever heard in my life.

I am going to prove this too. Following here is my argument why wrestlers should not retire just because they are getting older.

Ric Flair

Of course Flair is going to be my first example. Most people think he's too old, too flabby and needs to retire soon. But a lot of newer fans don't realize that people have been calling for Flair's retirement for almost two decades. It's nothing new. If Flair had retired when he was approaching Michael's age, here are some things we may have missed out on.

Flair turned 40 in 1989. This is the age most younger fans have been pushing wrestler to retire at. Yet this was the year that Flair had what some people consider the greatest wrestling feud of all time. He faced Rick Steamboat in some of the greatest matches ever. The two traded titles in the best matches of the year. Afterwards, he had a classic match with Terry Funk. These are matches I wouldn't give up for anything.

So, should Flair have retired after that" If he did we would not have seen him win the 1992 Royal Rumble right before his forty-third birthday. At the time, this was the single greatest battle royal performance of all time. It still stands today as probably the greatest Royal Rumble match ever.

I could go on and on about Flair, but it's a discussion I have made already. Flair's performances against Kurt Angle, Triple H and Edge of recent time have been great. Although Flair is pushing it at the almost age of 57, there's no good argument to say that he should have retired all of the previous times people have said he should.

Bret Hart

Bret Hart turned 40 in 1997. Although the end of this year saw him involved in the famous Montreal match, and was followed by a mediocre run in WCW, it also was the year the famous Wrestlemania 13 submission match with Steve Austin took place. I have yet to talk to anyone who really didn't like this match. I was in attendance at the event and it is still the best live match I have ever seen. If Hart retired, we may have never seen it.

Hart's WCW run wasn't great, but that wasn't really his fault, either. He still put forth the effort we all know that Bret has always been capable of. He had good matches with Chris Benoit and still had a better work rate than most people in the business. He carried this on until he retired at the age of 43.

Chris Benoit

Yes, Benoit is only 38. But he'll be 39 in a few months. I haven't yet heard one person calling for his retirement though. A large part of the internet community seems to think that Benoit deserves another title run. I wholeheartedly agree, of course. His matches are still some of the best in the entire sport. I don't see him slowing down, either. Benoit wrestles like a young man and can probably carry on for years to come. It's not really necessary to point out any matches because Benoit hardly ever puts on a poor performance.

Booker T

I have never been a fan of Booker. Never have I doubted his ability, however. For those who don't play close attention to the ages of wrestlers, Booker is actually three months older than Shawn Michaels. He'll turn 41 in May. He has the body and the flexibility of a much younger man and I haven't heard a single person tell me that Booker should retire. It would be wrong to say that his best years are behind him too. The man is continuing at full speed and I honestly think if he's used right, he may even have another World Title reign in his future. As is the case with Benoit, Booker always puts forth maximum effort and is one of the most talented wrestlers on SmackDown!

Terry Funk

Funk is probably the best example. Although, for his own health, retiring may have been a good thing, here is a man who never slowed down, despite his age. Funk may have been 31 when he won the NWA World Title for the only time, but his greatest fame arguably didn't occur until after he was 40.

If Funk would have retired at 40, we would never have seen his classic match with Ric Flair. Funk was 45 when this match happened. Still, it's not what we think when we hear Terry Funk.

Overlooking the very strange run he had in the WWF, Terry Funk is one of the people responsible for the success in ECW. So far, he's the only 50 plus year old I can think of that regularly had the moonsault in his move set. Even though Mick Foley is referred to as the 'Hardcore Legend," this is a name that should apply to Funk as well. Wrestling on a knee that should have been replaced, Funk continuously battled pain to put on extremely entertaining matches. No matter who he faced, nor what matches he competing in, Funk looked like an old man in body only.

At the age of 61, Funk still wrestles occasionally. I haven't seen any of his recent matches at all, so I can't attest for the quality of them. But I believe that ECW might not have been the same without his contribution. I think his time there was invaluable, despite his age.



The Boogeyman

Okay, this was really a joke. See, even I have a sense of humor, lame though it may be.

Now, for every wrestler who fits my categories, there are many more who don't. Some older wresters are incapable of putting together an entertaining match in any way. Roddy Piper's and Randy Savage's recent matches have been nothing but a total embarrassment. I don't feel personally Hulk Hogan nor Kevin Nash have enough ability to move around a ring to be entertaining. So, my argument is not all encompassing.

But as long as a wrestler is healthy and keeps putting on matches that fans want to see, they should be allowed to do so. Older wrestlers wrestling is not something new. Abdullah the Butcher is north of 70 and still gets in the ring every now and then. Lou Thesz has competed in seven different decades, losing his last World Title at the age of 50.

So for those thinking Shawn should retire, get the thought out of your head. The man puts on better matches than almost anyone in wrestling and certainly almost anyone in the WWE. If he continues doing this for years and wants to, I will be happy to keep watching him.

by Jacob Kuhn ..


Michael Dam wrote:
Finally somebody sees the same thing in Booker T as i, as you say Booker T is a very talented wrestler and i love that he gives 100% everytime, he also sells the oppenents moves better than anyone.
Isaac Horan wrote:
HBK can go with Shelton Benjamin like it was the mid-90's and Shawn was hoping for the Intercontinental title shot and not even thinking about the big belt.. There is no age-restriction on how old you must be to be a wrestler its just all about respect. I don't know who the new era of wrestling fans are going to have that put on matches like we saw from two starving companies in the mid and late 90's being the WWF(e) and the WCW. We had Stars.. sorry Superstars that knew their roots. People like Randy Orton or carlito Cool may have a wrestling background in their families but come on.. who really wants to see the same angle that Rock played years ago to blow someone up to a new generation.

I'm sure superstars have used a gimmick that was from the 70's, 80's to become famous and big in the 90's but the Rock isn't done wrestling yet, or Stone Cold, or Foley! I don't want to call them lazy as i love all those wrestlers but all(minus Foley) are still in tip-top shape and could mop the floor with the whole new batch of superstars out today and lets face it they are all just paid out the ass and no longer need to keep up with the constant stress wrestling puts on their bodies.

The WWF(e) seems to be going the way of brute force rather than wrestling skill (i.e. Batista, Cena, M.Henry) and seems to be having a champion for the moment rather than for the past. I know some of these superstars have put in their dues and some are really in great shape.. but who really wants to see when Chris Masters steps into the ring next""

I agree that noone is too old because this business was once built on respect and in my mind all that went out the window when McMahon aquired the CW's. Even though some dream matches and funny angles happened there was no more mystique about the company and too many gimmicks old and new were shoved down our throats.. so as long as the people respect you; you will still wrestle.....

Oh and HBK come on now one more title run.... just one more"" the last deserving superstar homegrown from the WWE and USA Mr. Kurt Angle
Jose Aguirre wrote:
I have to agree with you for the most part except that Booker Was born in March. Secondly I think Shawn Michaels should be champion one or two more times, then start to wind down over the next three or four years.
Wattsrvn wrote:
I agree with what you're saying in this article. I think that giving World Titles to the younger generation is a pretty bad idea, because they don't have the experience to really go with it, and it can even kill their career. If Chris Masters won the World Title this year, it would make him the youngest World Champion in history. There goes his push because he's done something no-one else has done. I think that keeping the older generation of wrestler in promotions is great, because the younger athletes can really learn a bundle from them. Where would Chris Masters be without his feud with Shawn Michaels" Where would Randy Orton be without his feud with Undertaker" You get my point.
#1 Flair Fan wrote:
Age is just a number "for all the young people out there" Your body does go down hill after 28 or 30 if you allow it to. You can get healthier and stronger after 30 by training hard and changing certain lifestyle habits along with diet. Most of the best wrestlers have years of experience great bodies and are past 35. If you think you are too old at 30 to get into pro-wrestling than YOU probably are. Guys like me at 40 are ready don't take a back seat to guys in there 20's. I am in the best shape of my life now. I would go for wrestling but im settled in a career that I like very much. I agree there are some guys past 30 that should retire. There bodies are too warn down and there too sterile. There are some that need to pass the torch on. Understand that many of us wrestling fans who are not in our teens or 20's really like seeing people we grew up with like FLAIR, MICHEL'S and such. BENIOT,BATISTA,BOOKER-T,FINLEY, Just to name a few out standing talents are all 38-to early 40's.

Yes I agree let the new young talent rise and shine as they are the future of wrestling. But no one is stealing anyone's spot. If some one is talented they will get on the ticket regardless of there age. I have been following wrestling for since I was a kid. I infact went to pro-wrestling school when I was 27. After a year of intense training and a few injuries I was booked for some local house shows with small out fits around the country. Some of my toughest completion came from older wrestlers past 35.

So to all the set thinkers that think every one is equal, please look a little deeper.
Derek Wallace wrote:
I agree that Shawn Michaels is still entertaining even after he hit 40. His match with Shelton Benjamin was very entertaining, non-stop action. I'm not sure I agree with your point on Hogan. I thought he put up a great showing when he faced Flair and Sting in WCW, and when he faced the Rock and HBK in the WWE. He is still capable of giving great matches but on a much, much smaller scale than Michaels and Booker T could. I always did think that if you use Booker right than he would make a great star. I just wish they would give him the ball and let him run with it.
Cody Chaney wrote:
Well as far as I can see you're only as old as you feel and yet characters like HBK don't feel 40 although thats what the birth certificate proves. But somehow I find myself less enthused by his matches today. I'm seeing shades of Flair's techniques like chops and punches, etc. Sure their great for pumping the crowd up because a fist fight makes the crowd pop real well. But try adding some extras in there besides S.O.S. You know I do enjoy watching his feuds with Vince but sometimes I tire of watching him do the exact crap over and over, Ric Flair I can understand but Michaels" Hey I guess I'm just bigger fan of creativity rather than wrestling and based on the creativity I see it lacking substance, even throwing urine on Vince's face was still kinda funny but when you've seen it with a Milk Truck and a Beer Truck you know I guess its kinda new but in a way that's what it reminds me of, Michaels too old" Nah I just think he needs a new route.
Comments by Jacob Kuhn towards Jose Aguirre: Booker T's OWW profile has his birthday listed as May 1 1965, and that's the information I use for my research. Thank you.

Charlie Eccles wrote:
Ric Flair is in the best shape of his life. And guess what, thats pathetic. Great on the mic, horrible in the ring, fat, and old. He's gonna break his hip. Get him out.
James Redd wrote:
I agree very much with what was written about these guys. Shawn Michaels gives great matches and his mic skills improve more and more all the time. Ric Flair has made it through the last couple of decade by making his opponents look good (a talent very few of the younger guys possess). Booker T is very annoying (actually it's his wife) but he does give good matches. The same goes for Benoit (I have never heard anyone harp on this guy, he does everything he does well- which is why they limit his mic time). If they want to wrestle, let them wrestle. It's better than watching the women wrestle.
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