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So, a Professional Wrestling feud has gone on for seemingly ages, with constantly escalating acts of violence on both sides, and a regular blowoff just doesn't seem appropriate. Where do you go from here? Well, you have one final match to settle the score, and just to make sure it's really final, the Loser Leaves Town.
A Loser Leaves Town match originated in the old "territory" days of wrestling, where a common tactic would be to bring in a new wrestler, establish him as a monster heel through Squash Matches, then put him in a series of matches against the promotion's top Face. After the heel had served his purpose, the face would cap off the feud by defeating him in a Loser Leaves Town match. The heel would disappear forever (usually just to one of the many other wrestling territories that existed in that day) and the face would move onto the next contender.
The more modern version is often called the "Loser Leaves (the promotion)", "Retirement", "Pink Slip", or just "You're Fired" match). As the name implies, a match where the loser goes away, never to return. Supposedly. Due to abuse of this trope, and subsequent use of the Reset Button, the joke in pro-wrestling fandom is that the average pro wrestler's retirement lasts about three months.
In fact, the "three-month rule" often came into effect for another variant of the "Loser Leaves Town" match. Sometimes, the defeated wrestler – almost always a face – wouldn't actually "leave town," but rather he'd return wearing a mask, come up with a crazy name, and often cause trouble for his villainous foe on the defeated wrestler's behalf. Invariably, the heel would complain that the masked wrestler was actually the face he defeated and that he was circumventing the rules, but the authority figures would plead ignorance and say the heel had no proof of who was causing the trouble. Finally, the heel and a few associates would corner the masked wrestler, beat him down to a bloody pulp, and pull off the mask. The "fired" wrestler would be reinstated and one final battle would take place. This storyline was most famously used for the Dusty Rhodes vs. Kevin Sullivan feud of the early 1980s.
So, why have a Loser Leaves Town match? Sometimes, it's to explain the absence of a wrestler who's left the promotion. Other times, it's to give a wrestler time off to heal an injury, film a movie, or spend time with his family. Still others, it can be used to set up a Charlie Brown From Outta Town angle. And yet still other times, it's simply the only way to end a feud that's just gone on entirely too long and consumed the characters of both wrestlers. In the WWE world, with its three separate "brand" rosters, it can be used to move a wrestler from one brand to another. Rarely, if ever, does a Loser Leaves Town match result in the loser actually quitting wrestling; however, Gorilla Monsoon's last wrestling match was a Loser Leaves Town match that he lost.
- For the last eight months or so of his career, Ric Flair wrestled under a stipulation that should he lose a single match, he would be forced to retire -- thus turning all of his matches into Loser Leaves Town matches. He finally lost at Wrestlemania and did indeed retire, making this the rare example of the wrestler actually quitting wrestling when he lost: Flair's real life intent to retire was what sparked the storyline in the first place. It was the WWE's way of giving him a big sendoff.
- Then, after that amazing sendoff at Wrestlemania, he wrestles in a tour of Australia, and started performing for TNA. It became just another Ten-Minute Retirement.
- It is also worth noting that after losing a Loser Leaves Town match to Mr. Perfect in 1993, Flair did not return to the WWE until 2001 - and then only because he had (Kayfabe) bought a 50% share in the company.
- The Undertaker lost one to Edge at One Night Stand 2008. This removal was for the purposes of recovering from injuries. He returned less than three months later when Vickie Guerrero needed him to kick Edge's butt.
- A stranger example occurred in 1999, where Vince McMahon was banished from the then-WWF for several months as a result of The Undertaker losing a match to Stone Cold Steve Austin. What makes this strange is that the time period was essentially the exact time surrounding the WWF's IPO, making many suspect that Vince took himself out of the limelight to comply with SEC regulations.
- William Regal also lost this kind of match. Regal failed a drug test and the WWE needed a kayfabe explanation for his suspension that followed said test.
- The reason for the match as opposed to simply taking him off TV was that Regal was in the middle of a major push at the time.
- Robbie Rotten frequently employs this trope on LazyTown as a way to try to make Sportacus leave the titular town. It's so predictable that Sportacus lampshades it in an one of the earlier episodes.
Robbie: If I win, you have to leave Lazy Town forever.
Sportacus: The usual, right?
- Kevin Nash & Goldberg both lost Loser Leaves WCW matches to Scott Steiner in 2001, which actually stuck due to the company going out of business before they could be brought back.
- This was actually part of Eric Bischoff's big plan to reboot the company following his plans to purchase WCW. The original idea was to have Steiner wipe out every good guy on the roster on his way to having complete dominance over the company. At around the point where this scenario had played out, the ownership transfer to Bischoff's consortium would be complete. In the inaugural Nitro of his regime, he would bring back all the Faces at once and kick the new company off with a fresh start. Unfortunately, after WCW programming was taken off television in the wake of the AOL/Time Warner merger, the buyout was canceled and WCW itself was shut down shortly thereafter.
- One particularly egregious example from WCW featured Curt Hennig losing to Buff Bagwell in a Retirement Match, only to return to the ring THE NEXT DAY. Needless to say, this was booked by Vince Russo.
- Video Game Example: Def Jam: Fight For NY has Crow challenge D-Mob to one of these, with the stipulation "Loser goes to Jersey".
- Shawn Michaels was so desperate to end The Undertaker's Wrestlemania win streak, he agreed to put his career on the line at Wrestlemania XXVI. Unfortunately for him, he failed to end 'Taker's streak. Michaels has made a point to make the stipulation stick, though he still appears for WWE from time to time.
- Anyone else find it ironic that HBK was the one who ended Ric Flair's career(or was supposed to have) at Wrestlemania 26 only to lose his career to The Undertaker and WM 26 two years later. Makes you wonder how much longer before Taker retires.
- Considering his fight in WM 27 with HHH, he could be nearing the end. After all HHH did point out that that was the first time The Undertaker could not actually leave on his own and had to be helped out of the arena. If The Undertaker comes back for WM 28, he will either come back and get one more win and retire at 20-0 or will finally lose and thus end the same way Ric Flair and HBK has.
- This angle becomes Serious Business in Mexico's wrestling circuit, where if a wrestler loses one such match, the result is actually enforced. Much like losing one's mask, a wrestler better think twice about getting involved in this type of match in Mexico, because should they lose, they won't get a chance to go all "Hahaha, just kidding, here I am back for more action!". They'll be kicked out of that town for real, never to return.
- In the Riff Trax version of The Bourne Identity, Mike claims that "Sniping someone is no way to settle your differences. Give me an old-fashioned 'loser leaves town' wrestling match any day." Kevin then realizes that this is the true story behind Mike's move to San Diego. Mike also claims Tom Brady happened to be in the south of France after losing such a match.
- One episode of Goof Troop had wrestling champion "The Bulk" declare one of these. It turned out the reason why is that he didn't want to wrestle anymore and needed a way to bow out.
- At Wrestlemania VII the long-running fued between the Ultimate Warrior and Randy "Macho Man" Savage culminated in a "Retirement Match" where the loser had to retire from the WWF (now WWE). Savage lost and retired from wrestling for an entire year, instead working as a commentator. He was eventually reinstated so that he could wrestle against Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who had been trash-talking Savage on the air, and attacked Savage and his wife (during a Summer Slam wedding portion) Elizabeth with a snake.
- In the Discworld a witch that loses a duel will generally leave town. Being publicly defeated makes it hard to maintain authority, and most witches are proud enough not to want to stick around people who've seen them lose.