Charlie Morgan is retiring from wrestling, and we owe her our thanks

On Sunday evening, in the middle of Wrestle Queendom II ring – Pro Wrestling EVE’s biggest show of the year – ‘Fearless’ Charlie Morgan announced her retirement at just 27 years old.

I’ve held off writing about this for a few days while I attempt to process it all. To say that Charlie Morgan’s retirement came as a surprise is an understatement. I was in the crowd when she made her announcement. I felt the weight of the stunned silence descend in the moments following her announcement; the collective sharp intake of breath as hundreds of people realized exactly what it was that Charlie Morgan had just said.

Not one person in that hall had anticipated that she would not return from injury. It seemed a foregone conclusion: a few more months off and she’d be back, challenging once again for the top spot.

But Charlie Morgan will not be returning to the ring. The broken ankle she sustained during her Shimmer debut was, in her own words, far worse than she could ever have imagined.

It’s especially gutting to think that Morgan had just made her debut on American soil; that the sky might truly be the limit for her, just 27 years old and already so poised, so confident, so polished. It was always a given that she would spread her wings someday, become a worldwide name. To realize, as we all did in that moment, that this will now never happen is quite the gut-punch.

And the reality is, it goes beyond Morgan’s skills as a wrestler, though these skills have never been in dispute. Morgan represents something incredibly important in the still relatively closed-off world of professional wrestling.

An out-and-proud gay woman, who wears her rainbow colors on her sleeve. A woman who thumbs her nose at the outdated, paternalistic notion that female wrestlers shouldn’t take risks, dive out of the ring, or leap from a balcony. ‘Fearless’, for Charlie Morgan, has never been just a hollow gimmick.

For young girls, an icon like Charlie Morgan can be a godsend. She represents a world of infinite possibilities. A world in which a woman can be as reckless as Kota Ibushi if she wants to. In which she can be defiant, aggressive, ambitious, arrogant – all the things that male wrestlers get to be without so much as a second thought. Nobody tutting on the sidelines, wagging their finger because such behavior is not for girls.

Charlie Morgan tells young women that you can be determined, and you can be strong, and you can be queer, and you can be loved because you are all of those things, not in spite of them. Hell, it’s not just young women who need to hear that message; some of us older, world-beaten queer women need a Charlie Morgan to look up to as well.

With the recent retirement of Kris Wolf, the loss of Charlie Morgan is a doubly difficult blow to absorb. Professional wrestling is still depressingly thin on the ground as far as queer icons go (though, for optimism’s sake, I will note that things are slowly improving.)

And, like Wolf, Charlie was a true fan favorite; the kind of fiery babyface you root for because it’s impossible not to. Because her passion and her heart and her genuine love of professional wrestling shone through in everything she did. Charlie Morgan was a hero in a world that so badly needs all the heroes it can get.

But for all we may lament, it’s important that we support Morgan’s decision. It can’t have been an easy choice for her to make, and however hard it is for us as fans, it must feel ten times as hard for her. Charlie Morgan’s choice to put her long-term health and wellbeing first should be commended.

Professional wrestling has left enough wrecked bodies and battered souls in its wake. God knows we don’t need to sacrifice any more wrestlers for the sake of our own entertainment. To recognize the severity of an injury and to say “no more” is an incredibly brave thing to do. There is life after wrestling, and for all she has done for us, and all she has given us, Charlie Morgan deserves to live that life to the fullest.

The truth of the matter is this: Pro Wrestling EVE will survive without Charlie Morgan. That empty void left behind in the wake of her retirement will be filled by someone new, perhaps several someones.

The likes of Rebel Kinney and Laura DiMatteo will continue to fly the rainbow flag high, and young girls will find new heroes – whether they be queer women, women of color, or women they can see a little of themselves in.

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Charlie Morgan’s retirement is not the end of the world, even if it does feel a little raw right now. The path she has helped to pave in her time with Pro Wrestling EVE is still open. The possibilities for women’s wrestling are still endless. And for this, we owe Charlie Morgan our most heartfelt thanks.