Over the past weekend, we got retirement announcements from two different wrestlers who spent time working for Impact & WWE, and who spent some time in the news cycle for non-wrestling reasons.
Chad Lail, whose best known for his five year run in Impact as Gunner and a slightly short stint working as Jaxson Ryker in WWE, told the Wrestling for the Faith podcast he’ll be calling a in-ring career after an Aug. 27 independent show in his native North Carolina:
“But I do feel like, man, it’s time to step away. Not necessarily doesn’t mean I won’t do guest ref spots or sign some autographs or use it as a ministry. But the in-ring action is just — I think it’s time to step away just because of injuries... it’s just gotten to a point to where I think I’m ready to press on into a new career and being 40, almost 41, I’ve been blessed. I’ve had an amazing, amazing career. What else do I have left to prove? Go work some indie shows and get hurt? I just can’t do it.”
While his career spans almost two decades, many fans remember the 40 year old U.S. Marine Corps veteran for tweeting his support of then-President Donald Trump after Trump’s defiant response to nationwide protests for racial justice in the summer of 2021. Lail’s tweet was not well received in the WWE locker room, and ended the push of his group the Forgotten Sons. His teammates Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake barely made it back to television before being released; Lail got one more shot as a babyface before being given his walking papers.
At roughly the same time news of Lail’s retirement hit the web, Kimberly Frankele tweeted a lengthy statement announcing the end of her pro wrestling career. As Kimber Lee, the 32 year old had a successful indie career before signing with WWE in 2017. Wrestling as Abby Laith, she never really found her footing in the company and was released the following year. She debuted with Impact in May of 2020; it’s not clear when she left the company, but her last match for them was in Sept. 2021.
Now, she’s leaving wrestling behind as her heart isn’t in it anymore due to negative associations with her time performing in the ring:
The goodbye that I thought would never come. The mistress that has overtaken my life for the past 15 years. At times, wrestling was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I have been to places and I have gotten to see things that I never would have dreamed of in my lifetime. But at the some time, there comes a point in everyone’s life where things just cannot continue in the same fashion that they have, because circumstances and goals evolve and change.
I originally thought that this was just going to be a break from wrestling. That after some time I would be ready to put my heart into this again and come back better than I have ever been before. But the thing is, the more I think about it, the more I come to realize that my heart is not in this anymore. Kimber Lee brings me instant heartache and anxiety, not the butterflies and joy that once was. There are too many painful wounds that come with going back into this world, and I am not willing to give those wounds my power or dominion over my life anymore.
With that being said, I will no longer be taking active bookings for the foreseeable future. Kimber is going to step away from the squared circle, and Kimberly Frankele is going out into the world, ready to become something amazing. I know I am being called into my healing abilities, and will be continuing to step forward in that space and I would love to have as many of you as I can along for that journey. When you close one door, you give yourself the opportunity to open up any new door you choose. I have lives to change and heal, and this is my first official step into my true self. As the real me.
I love you all so much, and with this, the Princess takes her final bow. Let the curtain fall....
Some of the pain Frankele alludes to may be related to the end of her marriage to another former Impact & WWE talent, Zachary Green (aka Zach Wentz, fka Nash Carter). Her public accusations of mistreatment by Green last April, which included posting a 2015 photo of him imitating Adolph Hitler, led to his WWE release. Throughout what was clearly a painful situation for all involved, Green’s had prominent supporters such as his tag partner Wes Lee’s wife and AEW’s Maxwell Jacob Friedman who’ve countered Frankele’s claims.
While their divisive outside-the-ring reputations are divisive, as they move on to whatever else life has in store for them we’ll still thank both Lail & Frankele for putting their bodies at risk for our entertainment.