February 07, 2010
I wrote the following for my “Storm Front” article for “Fighting Spirit” Magazine, back in November, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
Retirement is a funny thing and something most of us in the wrestling business have a hard time with. Few people in the industry have the ability to decide, for themselves, when to hang up their boots and even less of those have the ability to stick to that retirement once they have.
I’m one of the fortunate ones, who was able to hang up their boots (amateur wrestling shoes more accurately) on their own terms, but the sticking to it part, I’ve yet to get the hang of. The problem I’ve had with sticking to my retirement, is that there was no definite reason behind my in ring career coming to an end. When I first hung up my boots I was but 34 years old and still pretty healthy. My decision was based more on wanting to get off the road and finding a new position with in WWE, as head trainer of their then developmental system OVW, provided me a means by which to reduce my road schedule.
I was changing directions in my career and I didn’t see the need nor have the desire to take smaller booking when I had the full time training gig in OVW. My last match at that point was a WWE Sunday Night Heat match with Stevie Richards, which was taped in my home town of Calgary… Alberta, Canada. This seemed like an appropriate end to my WWE career seeing that I debuted for WWE in that same building, super kicking Perry Saturn, to kick off the WCW Invasion angle. After this match I fully intended for it to be my last match.
As everyone no doubt knows that retirement didn’t last too long. It lasted just less than one year because the of the opportunity to work ECW’s One Night Stand PPV. The ECW reunion PPV was just too great an offer to pass up and the fact that my match that night was going to be facing my good friend Chris Jericho I just had to accept. Ending my career at a PPV event rather than on Sunday Night Heat seemed like a much better way to go out and the fact that my last match could now be against the guy I had my first pro-wrestling match with made it perfect. I had often, through out my career, joked that it would be so cool to start and end my career with a match against the same guy that this seemed perfect.
Once I agreed to wrestle the ONS match I worked a few other matches leading up to it. I worked two matches in OVW, as well as one more WWE Sunday Night Heat match, again in Calgary, this time facing Maven.
After the One Stand match with Jericho I was really serious about my retirement; I had no intentions what so ever in wrestling again. I tried really hard to stick to my guns this time out, turning down several tempting offers. It’s the tempting offers that are the real problem, with wrestling retirements; no matter how much you want to stop there always seems to be that one offer you just can’t refuse.
Once again the wrestling business pulled me back in, although not as most of you probably think. My retirement after the Jericho match at ONS lasted just 10 months when I returned to the ring to challenge Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Title. This is the match that everyone thinks drew me back in, but as much as I wanted to do this match it wasn’t the deciding factor in my return. The offer I couldn’t refuse was actually one made to me by 1PW in England, to wrestle two shot a month after the ROH booking. The reason the 1PW offer was more tempting than the ROH one, was that it included an extra plane ticket for my wife and enabled me to take her on the week long London vacation she always wanted. I reluctantly gave up my perfect retirement match from ONS to treat my wife to a trip she dearly wanted, not to facilitate any want or need I had to wrestle again. I suppose I could have just sucked it up and financed the trip myself, to preserve my dream retirement match, but when you retire at the age of 35 you need to be some what frugal, and the 1PW bookings allowed us a great vacation and the ability to actually come home with more money than we left with. Once I’d accepted the 1PW bookings the ROH match was just icing on the cake.
After the 1PW match with Doug Williams, I wasn’t actively taking bookings anymore but did not consider myself retired again. I was open to the right booking offer, if it came along, but was also keeping my eyes open for an appropriate match to once again attempt retirement.
That appropriate match came along in the summer of 2007. A friend of mine was promoting a BSE (Blood Sweat and Ears) event in North Bay, Ontario. North Bay is my real home town, having spent the majority of my child hood there. The event was going to be at Memorial Gardens in North Bay, which was the building I saw my first live pro-wrestling event in. This seemed like the perfect full circle moments to once again try to end my career. I worked two other BSE events leading up to the North Bay match and then wrapped up my career (or so I thought) in front of my family and friends in the town I grew up in.
Like the Jericho ONS match I was quite serious about this retirement and turned down numerous tempting offers in order to stick to it. As you get older turning down bookings becomes easier so I lasted a lot longer this time out but after 2-years of retirement, I once again made a comeback.
I wrote about this latest comeback 2 months ago so I don’t need to go into it again here but I will say that I do once again intend this to be my last match. There is no significance to making my ROH match, with Chris Hero my last match; it just feels like it’s time. This was the first time that I felt physically taxed preparing for a match, and while I was happy with the match I put out there, I did feel a little less capable than I once was.
I’ve never wanted to over stay my welcome in this business and I often said I didn’t want to be bumping past 40. This last comeback I did at the age of 40, and while I feel I can still go, I’m most definitely past my prime. I think teaching is where I am best suited now, and since it’s something I truly enjoy that is where my focus needs to remain.
They say, “Never say never in this business” and because of that I won’t, but barring one last shot at a Lance Storm – Chris Jericho retirement match, I am once again hanging them up, and perhaps this time it will be for good.