Age is only a number, so says the classic adage, and that rings true in the world of professional wrestling. Unlike in sports competitions such as the National Football League where older athletes have to make way for younger would-be stars, a promotion such as World Wrestling Entertainment can push older performers because writers and bookers can cover their flaws so long as they remain over among fans. Some would argue that “Nature Boy” Ric Flair remained arguably the best overall worker in the WWE up through his 50s until he had his last match in that company because of his ability to tell compelling stories during matches and because the organization didn’t ask him to do more than he could, physically speaking, at his age.
A plethora of WWE stars are older than one would think, but they appear much younger because of their impressive physiques and because they continue to have stellar matches past what some would think would be their primes. While nobody can deny that the WWE, like any good organization, needs younger Superstars to attract attention from audiences and to carry the company flag after older pros retire, there’s something to be said for these proven stars continuing to draw money. Truth be told, many of these WWE stars have aged like fine wines in that they only improved into their 40s. Will any of the wrestlers spotlighted in this piece hold a WWE Championship after turning 50 years old? It’s not all that crazy a notion considering the nature of the business.
15 John Cena: 40 Years Old
We start with the leader of the CeNation and the man who has served as the WWE’s top babyface for the better part of the 2000s. John Cena turned 40 years old in April 2017, but his physique has remained as impressive as it was during his 30s when he was evolving into the character who was both beloved and hated by pockets of fans.
Cena may not have always been your favorite wrestler, in part because of how the WWE continued to push him when others seemingly deserved main-event roles, but nobody can question his work ethic or his desire to make the WWE the best it could be. The wrestling industry will be worse off if Cena walks away for other business and entertainment endeavors in 2018.
14 Shinsuke Nakamura: 37 Years Old
Those who aren’t surprised to read that Shinsuke Nakamura will turn 38 years old in February 2018 need to remember that not all WWE fans have been following his career since his days in Japan and well before he debuted in NXT, let alone on SmackDown, earlier this year.
Nakamura is a different competitor than he was even five years ago, due to his age and also to the punishment he has taken during his career, but he remains one of the more charismatic and unique wrestlers currently on the main WWE roster. There remain multiple dream matches for Nakamura to have before he and the WWE part ways, whenever that day arrives. We hope to see several of those contests next year assuming the company will book him properly.
13 A.J. Styles: 40 Years Old
Just as with Shinsuke Nakamura, WWE viewers who don’t pay much attention to promotions such as Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor may be shocked to learn A.J. Styles turned 40 years old this past June. Styles looks as good as he did when he first debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, and he may very well be the best wrestler in the WWE and possibly the best wrestler in the world even though he is no longer in his 30s.
The WWE seemingly understands the company has a gem in Styles, as the promotion put the WWE Championship on him a second time in November 2017. Styles should continue to carry the SmackDown roster as its top star up through next year’s WrestleMania season.
12 Jeff Hardy: 40 Years Old
Jeff Hardy may no longer take as many risks in the ring after turning 40 years old this past August as he did when he made his name during the Attitude Era, but he continues to play a relatively young persona that may cover his actual age at this stage of his career. Granted, Hardy’s age shows when he suffers a significant injury that limits what he can do within the promotion, but he can still get over with younger fans who have only seen his greatest matches via replays that air on the WWE Network.
We are still dreaming of the day when Jeff and his older brother (more on Matt later) will be able to play their best characters working underneath the WWE umbrella. Maybe those wishes will be fulfilled in 2018.
11 Tamina: 39 Years Old
In many ways, Tamina Snuka looks no older than she did when she first appeared on WWE programming, which is hardly an insult for a woman who will turn 40 years old in January 2018. Tamina is an underrated performer who has been lost in the shuffle on multiple occasions following what has been referred to as the company’s Women’s Revolution, and one cannot help but wonder if she has much of a future within the promotion because of how she has been pushed and also because of her age.
Regardless of what the WWE does with the character following the start of the new year, Tamina certainly deserves credit for remaining in tremendous shape past her 30s. She deserves to have a WrestleMania match in 2018.
10 Brock Lesnar: 40 Years Old
Brock Lesnar has been a freak athlete since well before he first debuted in the WWE, and that remains true past his 40th birthday and heading into 2018. The Beast is still the most convincing wrestler in all of the WWE even if his character isn’t as fresh as it was when he first returned to the WWE after his stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, largely because Lesnar looks like he could take literally anybody on the roster with ease.
The WWE, and the wrestling business, in general, could use more believable acts such as Lesnar, who helped bring positive attention to the company during feuds with the likes of John Cena, Undertaker and Goldberg. We’ll miss Lesnar if rumors that he could walk away from the WWE after next year’s WrestleMania are accurate.
9 Kane: 50 Years Old
Wrestling fans who can remember Kane first appearing on WWE programming during the Attitude Era probably aren’t too stunned to realize the veteran of the industry isn’t a young man, but it’s nevertheless somewhat surprising to realize he turned 50 years old in the spring of 2017.
The Demon has worked to remain in great shape even though he is no longer a full-time wrestler and is currently pursuing a spot in public office, and Kane is being pushed as a monster heel in the fall of 2017 leading into a feud with Braun Strowman. We’re rooting for Glenn Jacobs to one day become an elected official in some capacity, if only because he should be able to out-debate just about any opponent. Those promos could be gold even if he chooses to not use his character’s pyro.
8 Mickie James: 38 Years Old
Mickie James is a mother who turned 38 years old in the summer of 2017, which makes the fact that she looks as good as she did during her first run in the WWE all the more impressive. Just as incredible is that James has managed to remain an entertaining worker to the point that she is one of the best female performers on the roster as of November of this year.
James may not have a long future in the organization because of her age, but she still deserves at least a final run with one of the company’s two Women’s Titles because of all that she has given the business during her career. Other veterans of the business have been gifted memorable retirement angles. James should receive similar treatment from the WWE.
7 Matt Hardy: 43 Years Old
Matt Hardy turning 43 years old in September 2017 is difficult to comprehend and accept for several reasons. For starters, Hardy looks to be in just as good of shape today than he was a decade ago.
The daredevil wrestler who has sacrificed his body time and time again for the business has also done well to make necessary changes to his character to remain fresh throughout the past decade. Hardy’s "Broken" gimmick that he introduced to the world in 2016 was nothing short of genius, and it’s a shame that he isn’t able to utilize it in the WWE before the start of 2018 all because of a legal battle with a wrestling promotion that has little life left in it. We continue to hold onto the hope that we’ll see “Broken Matt” in the WWE before he retires for good.
6 Big Show: 45 Years Old
A wrestling fan who decided to take a break from the WWE, for whatever reasons, may be shocked to read Big Show will turn only 46 years old in February 2018 upon seeing him these days. Show recently did well to shed excess weight and get himself in tremendous shape, and he currently looks as good, if not better, than he did when he was the WCW Rookie of the Year back in the mid 1990s.
Show may no longer be viewed as the world’s biggest athlete or as a competitor worthy of holding the WWE Championship, but there’s no question he can still contribute a lot to the business in and outside of the ring. Unfortunately, injuries he has sustained while wrestling for decades may result in him retiring at some point in 2018.
5 R-Truth: 45 Years Old
R-Truth, who has also worked as Ron Killings over the years, turns 46 years old in January 2018, but he continues to look as good as he did during what most would deem to be his best days as an athlete. Granted, Truth is no longer even flirting with reaching main-event status these days, as he is more a comedic figure than a wrestler pushed as a serious athlete on WWE television.
Nevertheless, one cannot help but be impressed upon seeing his physique at this state of his career. There’s something to be said for an individual such as R-Truth holding onto a WWE roster spot at his age. Not everybody can be a World Champion who earns millions of dollars a year, but there are worse things in the business than owning a spot on shows such as Raw well into your 40s.
4 Goldust: 48 Years Old
Some face paint and a full body suit can go a long way in convincing viewers and fans that a performer is younger than he actually is. Goldust, or Dustin Rhodes depending on how you were first introduced to the wrestler, is closer to 50 years old than to 45 as of November 2017, but one wouldn’t know that just by watching him perform on editions of Raw or on Pay-Per-View events.
Goldust can still go inside the ring, and some of his best overall WWE matches occurred during his recent stint in the company after he returned to the promotion roughly a decade ago. The hope is that the WWE will use him to help build future stars in the developmental system after he eventually decides to hang his wrestling boots up for good. He could offer a lot to those learning in NXT. But for now, as evidenced by his peers on various podcasts, he should continue to work his craft in the ring as his effortless foot work hasn't misses a beat.
3 Chris Jericho: 47 Years Old
Chris Jericho celebrated his 47th birthday on November 9, 2017, which is an astonishing fact when you realize he has continued to evolve as a character and a wrestler well throughout his 30s and 40s. Even late this year, Jericho generated headlines when he announced, somewhere out of nowhere, that he will be facing Kenny Omega in the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 12.
The artist known as “Y2J” has done well to keep his options open and remain a fresh performer, and that, combined with his ability to remain in such good shape, helps keep him young in the eyes of fans. It also doesn’t hurt that Jericho may very well be, in his own words, the best in the world at what he does. Drink it in, man!
2 Shane McMahon: 47 Years Old
It’s easy to forget that Shane McMahon, the son of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, will turn 48 years old in January of 2018. After all, Shane-O-Mac looks as good, if not better, than he did when he was having incredible matches versus performers such as Kurt Angle and The Rock in the early 2000s, and he continues to turn the clock back and take ridiculous risks in contests against heels like Kevin Owens.
The younger McMahon is scheduled to perform up through the fall months of 2017, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t want to wrestle on future WrestleMania cards. Maybe McMahon shouldn’t be leaping off of cages anymore, but we’re not going to be the ones to tell him that he should take it easy at his age.
1 Triple H: 48 Years Old
One could only hope to look as good at 48 years old as Triple H looks heading into the final weeks of 2017. The Game, who is one of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history, is now seen as the father of NXT and the man who will, one day, take over for Vince McMahon as the leader of the promotion, but the Cerebral Assassin still has the occasional match versus the likes of Seth Rollins and, in the future, with Kevin Owens.
Triple H may wear more suits than wrestling trunks these days, but he can still manage to transform into a version of his former self for a major event such as a WrestleMania. We hope he continues to have matches into his 50s. He’ll probably be in shape for those contests well into next decade.