The Real Reason Why Nigel McGuinness Retired From Wrestling

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Hamish Woodward

Nigel McGuinness retired from wrestling in 2011, never to set foot in the ring again. Unlike most wrestlers, he kept to his promise, and tool only non-wrestling roles since wrestling his last match.

The AEW Commentator was seen as one of the best wrestlers in the world during his prime. His run in ROH in the mid 2000s, especially his matches with Bryan Danielson, are among the best ever seen in the United States.

These performances primed him for a run in the WWE. He was tall, a good talker and great worker. McGuinness could have been a huge star in the promotion. Kurt Angle even thought McGuinness would be the first ever British WWE Champion.

He did sign a contract with WWE. However, just two years later, a bitter and jaded Nigel McGuinness retired from professional wrestling for good.

WWE Rescinded His Contract Off Due To Arm Injury

Nigel McGuinness agreed a deal to sign with the WWE in 2009, but never made it as far as wrestling for them (except for one match, years earlier). An old injury that healed by itself cost him his spot, despite it giving him no trouble in the years before or since.

In his documentary (The last of McGuinness), Nigel McGuinness explained exactly why the WWE pulled out of signing him. Despite agreeing a deal and signing the contract, a previous bicep injury that a previous doctor advised him to let heal naturally, without surgery.

Despite this, the WWE decided to pull out. They advised him to get surgery to fix it, against the advise of previous doctors. Given the cost of the surgery and the time he’d face out of the ring, McGuinness simply couldn’t afford to have it done, and his contract off from the WWE was rescinded.

“When I went for my WWE medical, I passed every test for blood-borne illnesses and for physical health. The doctor asked me, however, if I’d had any injuries in the past. He said if there was an issue, they’d fix it, but if I didn’t disclose something and they found out, I’d be fired. My bicep injuries were common knowledge, but I’d seen an orthopaedic specialist who advised me to avoid surgery by resting and letting them scar in place to where I’d still have functional strength.”

“I couldn’t have afforded surgery anyway, and as it turned out, I changed my style and my arms were perfectly fine. The WWE doctor felt them and agreed but, to be safe, wanted to see the original MRIs. When he saw them, however, he said I needed to get new MRIs done as he felt the left bicep should have been surgically repaired. More money, more time.”

“When he saw the new MRIs, he concurred and told me over the phone he couldn’t clear me to be hired. I went back to my original orthopaedic doctor, who stood by his prognosis, and to be fair, I’d wrestled without an issue for 2 years. He wrote a letter confirming this—that my arm was no more likely to get injured than if it had never been torn in the first place.”

“But it didn’t matter; WWE rescinded my contract. I could have had the surgery their doctor suggested, but at $5,000 when I was already broke from waiting for them to decide, and wouldn’t be able to work for the 6 months it would take to heal—not to mention the fact that no one in WWE would return my calls to say if they’d even be interested.”

Despite wrestling for TNA in the busiest schedule of his career, Nigel McGuinness never suffered a bicep injury in his career after that. However, being rejected by the company was a huge disappointment for the Englishman, and was a key part of him retiring from wrestling just three years later.

TNA Released Him After Contracting Hepatitis B

After the disappointing rejection by WWE, Nigel McGuinness signed to TNA Wrestling. He was immediately brought in to feud with Kurt Angle, with the pair having some of the best matches in company history.

As Desmond Wolfe, McGuinness was pushed heavily, both as a singles star and in a tag team with Nick Aldis. The pair won a tournament in 2010 to earn a shot at the TNA Tag Team titles, but he never managed to challenge for the belts.

TNA pulled McGuinness from TV in September 2010. While it wasn’t revealed why on the show, McGuinness later revealed that a Hepatitis B diagnosis forced him to spend time away from the ring. However, a course of antibiotics eventually rid him of the diagnosis, although he never wrestled for TNA ever again.

Never got tag team title match. Worked at a deli counter because TNA wouldn’t bring him back on an on-screen, non-wrestling role. He didn’t wrestle at all until November the next year, where McGuinness embarked on a retirement tour. This was documented in the superb documentary, titled “The Last Of McGuinness”, where he said:

“Hepatitis B is a completely different virus from hepatitis C. Most people—90%—get rid of the virus on their own, like the flu, within 6 months. I was told not to worry, and that I could continue to be used in a non-wrestling role so I could make some money. I wasn’t. Six months later, however, I hadn’t cleared the virus, so I was put on antiviral medication. Eventually, I was brought back in a commissioner role on a secondary show, but less than a month after that, I was fired. Less than a month after that, I tested negative and was cleared to wrestle.”

His TNA career ended because of this. He doesn’t know how he contracted the virus, but it really affected how McGuinness’ career ended up. He retired just a year later, bitter about the hand he had been dealt in the wrestling world.

Nigel McGuinness: Failing To Wrestle in WWE Is Why I Retired

After a retirement tour of the USA and Europe in 2011, Nigel McGuinness hung up his wrestling boots for the final time. This was documented in the melancholy documents “The Last of McGuinness”, where the Englishman explained how his final matches in wrestling came to be.

Nigel McGuinness’ last match took place in December 2011, but had nothing to do with any injury or illness. The feeling of disappointment from losing his chance to wrestle in the WWE is one he could not shake. He hung his boots up because he couldn’t make it in the WWE, and felt his career a failure.

In a later interview with prowrestling.net, Nigel McGuinness revealed that he quit wrestling because he had done everything in his career – except wrestle for the WWE.

He worked all he could to impress the WWE, but was disheartened when he could not be signed to the company as a wrestler. This caused him to retire from the ring, claiming “there was really no option for me other than to retire”.

“I made the decision that I wasn’t going to wrestle any more unless I was doing something that I hadn’t done before, which really only leaves WWE. I put out feelers (to WWE), and from everything I could surmise, there wasn’t interest. So at that point there was really no option for me other than to retire.”

He also took to Twitter to clear up that fact. Many claimed he was forced to retire due to injury or illness. He refuted that claim, and said he is perfectly okay to wrestle.

“Just for the record, as some people seem misinformed, I was always ok to wrestle, I never retired because of injuries.”

As of 2024, Nigel McGuinness has never wrestled again. He did get in shape and get some new gear made for AEW All In in 2023, for a proposed match against Bryan Danielson. Sadly, the American Dragon was not cleared to wrestle at the show, and McGuinness spent the show at the commentary desk instead.

He did make it in the WWE, but not as a wrestler. Nigel McGuinness was signed as a commentator for the WWE United Kingdom tournament in 2017. He appeared on numerous shows over the next six years, before being released in 2022.

The Englishman then moved to AEW in 2022, where he became a regular commentator on AEW Collision. He is now considered one of the best commentators in the world, and hopefully helped make up for what he perceived as a failed wrestling career.

Nigel McGuinness now spends his time calling Bryan Danielson a clamdigger and fawning over Mariah May.

He’s not doing too badly.

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