Wrestling is a very lucrative career but it comes with hardships both physical and mental. The top position is for only one wrestler, so it’s him vs. everyone else and for accomplishing that the wrestler has to break their shackles of fear and absorb a daily dose of pain. The wrestlers who know how to tackle these odds and move forward become the Champions.
There are some wrestlers who are just born to nail the ring. From their very first match we knew there was something extraordinary in them and they proved us right. John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton: these are born Superstars and if you’re fighting against them then you are bound to get tortured and thrashed. There is not any place for mercy in their heart. They just know how to bury their opponents and raise the championship belt for their fans.
Few robust wrestlers have achieved the highest place at an age where an ordinary guy goes to college or just steps into their professional career. We, fans fascinate their victory, sometimes criticize too but most of us don't know the back story of hardships they had to undergo in order to reach the ultimate position. The journey from being an underdog wrestler to the overnight sensation needs a lot of determination and after all that when a wrestler becomes the idol of their young fans and getting superstardom, worth the pain.
So, let’s have a look at the list of top 15 wrestlers who succeeded at a young age.
15 Ivan Koloff
Ivan Koloff always wanted to become a wrestler. It was his childhood dream to become a successful wrestler and to make a name for himself. At the age of 18 years Koloff left his school and started pursuing his dream. He joined Jack Wentworth’s wrestling school and started his training. In 1967 Koloff made his debut in the International Wrestling Association and started dominating the ring.
In 1969 Koloff made his debut in the World Wide Wrestling Federation and at that time Bruno Sammartino was having his career peak. Soon rivalry grew in between Koloff and Sammartino. On 18 Jan 1971, The Russian Bear created history in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd by defeating Sammartino and ending his seven years’ title reign. He was 28 years, four months, 24 days old.
14 The Undertaker
The Undertaker needs no introduction; he is the most monstrous wrestler the world has ever seen. The Undertaker always has a deadly entry and with his huge giant like body, he used to spread fear everywhere he stepped.
The Undertaker made his debut in 1984 (WCCW) and one year after his debut he won his first WWE Championship against Hulk Hogan at an age of 26 years, eight months, three days and has accumulated a total of eight World Championships. He is also famous for his winning streak of 21 matches in a row at WrestleMania which was broken by Brock lesnar. He won his WWE Hardcore Championship in 2001, but after that had to wait a long time before winning another World Championship. He won his first Royal Rumble in 2007 then the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania against Batista.
13 The Rock
Dwayne Johnson is the complete package in terms of being one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Wrestling is in Dwayne's blood as he comes from a family of wrestlers like Peter Malvia, his grandfather, and Rocky Johnson, his father. He combined his grandfather and father’s name and made his debut as Rocky Maivia in 1996 and from the very earliest day everyone knew that this guy would be the face of the WWE platform. It was clear that he wasn’t just a mere wrestler.
After debuting in 1996 The Rock had to face the ups and downs, but he struggled his way through to the top in 1998 and won his first World Championship title. He became the WWE Champion at the age of 26 years, six months, 13 days.
Yokozuna was the sumo of WWE, and his name Yokozuna refers to the top position in professional sumo wrestling in Japan. After a successful career at the American Wrestling Association as Kokina Maximus, he made his debut on the WWE platform in 1992.
In the year of 1993 Yoko defeated Randy Savage and cleared his way to strive for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania against the mighty Bret Hart. Yokozuna’s wrath came as a surprise to Bret as he couldn’t cope with it and the sumo became the one of the youngest champions in history at an age of 26 years, six months, two days but this title lasted a brief moment for Yoko as Hulk Hogan would take it away shortly afterwards. But of course, after a couple of months he regained the belt by defeating Hogan.
11 Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE. In 2000, Brock joined the World Wrestling Federation and was sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling for training. Within a few weeks of training, Brock formed a tag team with Shelton Benjamin as The Minnesota Stretching Crew. Brock and Shelton won the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship three times. The Next Big Thing was the nickname given to Brock Lesnar by his agent, after his debut in WWE on an episode of Raw in 2002 where he attacked Al Snow, Spike Dudley, and Maven. Brock got a massive hype and he lived up to it. Lesnar was very successful in his first run promo matches.
In 2002, when Brock was 25 years, one month, 13 days old he claimed his first WWE Championship against The Rock.
10 Randy Orton
Randy Orton was a Superstar from the very first day. Randy joined WWE in 2001 and continued his training in the development territory in Ohio. There he wrestled with Rico Constantino, The Prototype, and many others. He also won the Ohio Valley Wrestling Hardcore Championship title twice by crushing Mr. Black in February and Flash Flanagan in May 2001.
In 2002, Randy made his first real appearance in front of a WWE crowd during the WrestleMania X8 Fan Axxess event where he had a match against Tommy Dreamer. Though he did not succeed in that match, he continued on his path to glory. Later on, he joined a faction that made history with Ric Flair, Triple H, and Batista. At the SummerSlam of 2004, Orton won the World World Heavyweight Championship by crushing Chris Benoit. He was 24 years, four months, 14 days old at that time.
9 Big Show/The Giant
Paul Wight is popularly known as The Big Show now, but long before this he was known as The Giant. Paul is one of the most feared wrestlers in the world because of his sheer size and stare alone. He weighs around 500 pounds and stands seven feet tall and with such a fearful appearance he dominates the ring and also the fans.
In 1995 Paul joined World Championship Wrestling and had his debut match at Halloween Havoc. The Giant became very famous from the very start because of his size and also for his match against Hulk Hogan. He became one of the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in wrestling history by defeating the Hall of Fame World Champion Hulk Hogan in his debut match at Halloween Havoc, at an age of 23 years, eight months, 21 days.
8 Chris Candido
Chris Candido was a fantastic wrestler. He started training for his craft at a very young age. He was the grandson of “Popeye” Chuck Richards, a famous wrestler of the World Wide Wrestling Federation. In 1993 Chris joined Eastern Championship Wrestling, where he was part of a stable called “The Suicide Blonds”.
He was very successful in Smoky Mountain Wrestling during 1992-95 where his manager was Tammy Lynn Sytch, who was also his girlfriend. In 1994, Chris won a 10-man tournament defeating many famous wrestlers like Tracy Smothers, Al Snow, and Dirty White Brothers to become the youngest NWA World Heavyweight Champion of all time at an age of 22 years, seven months, 28 days. Chris' life was ended prematurely and unfortunately, he was never able to fulfill his complete wrestling potential.
7 Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy is a multi-talented person: from wrestling to the Arts he has his hands dipped into everything. Hardy has won many titles like the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, WCW Tag Team Championship, WWE World Championship, Intercontinental Championship, TNA World Tag Team Championship, etc. He is mostly famous because of his time in WWE, but before that he made his own wrestling promotion, the Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts. Jeff then began working in the WWE as a jobber.
After struggling days as a jobber, Jeff and his brother finally signed in 1998 with the World Wrestling Federation. The Hardy brothers formed a Tag Team as The Hardy Boyz. On July 5, 1999, all the hard work of the Hardy brothers paid-off as they won their first WWE Tag Team Championship by crushing The Acolytes and Jeff was mere 21 days, 10 months, four days’ old.
Troubled WWE Superstar, Paige is the daughter of the professional wrestler Ian Bevis. Paige made her debut at the age of 13 years in the World Association of Wrestling. In 2014, she made her debut on WWE’s main roster. When AJ Lee retained her title at WrestleMania, Paige wanted to congratulate her the following night on Raw, but her gesture backfired as the title holder AJ Lee felt offended and Paige unlikely became a challenger.
AJ underestimated Paige as an underdog but the young English wrestler showed the title holder that she was wrong. Paige turned the whole situation on her side as she nailed it in the ring, thrashing AJ Lee and becoming the youngest Divas Champion in WWE history at an age of 21 years, seven months, and 21 days.
5 Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio was a born Superstar with raw talent. Rey Mysterio Sr. Who is the uncle of Rey nurtured his talents and trained him. He made his debut when he was just 14 years of age in Mexico and it’s in Mexico where he learned the signature moves of the high flying Lucha Libre style.
In 1995 Rey joined ECW and rose to fame by defeating Psicosis who was also a debutant. After a year, he joined the WCW Cruiserweight Division and made his debut by challenging the mighty Dean Malenko at The Great American Bash for the Cruiserweight Championship. Though he wasn’t successful at his first attempt, he was destined to thrash The Iceman. When he got his second chance in just a few weeks, he pinned Malenko and became an overnight sensation by winning the Cruiserweight title at an age of just 21 years six months 27 days.
4 The 1-2-3 Kid
Sean Waltman also known as The 1-2-3 Kid and X-Pac is one of the most infamous wrestler of all time. Sean wrestled in the World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance, and many more.
Sean made his debut in 1993 on Monday Night Raw as The Kamikaze Kid where he lost a match against Doink the Clown and acquired a new name The Cannonball Kid. Then just The Kid. Sean scored a huge upset victory over Razor Ramon and became an underdog who thrilled the WWE fans with a deadly attitude. Later teaming up with Razor in a Four-on-Four Elimination match where he and Marty Jannetty were the final survivors. They then formed a tag team and won the WWE Tag Team Championship In 1994. He was 21 years, five months, 28 days old.
Dylan Postl, popularly known as Hornswoggle or Little Bastard is one of the most famous midget wrestlers of the world. He also made an appearance with NWA Wisconsin as “The World Sexiest Midget” and won the NWA Wisconsin X Division Championship.
In 2006 Dylan joined WWE and made his debut on SmackDown and from the very start he became a fan favorite. He continued his work of appearing under the ring and attacking Finlay’s opponents after the match. With time, he became more aggressive. In 2007 at The Great American Bash, he won the WWE Cruiserweight Championship by pinning Jamie Noble. He was the last ever to win this title (before it was recently reintroduced) and also the shortest. He was 21 years, one month, 23 days old.
2 Essa Rios
Jose Delgado Santana popularly known as Essa Rios and Papi Chulo is a Mexican wrestler. He made his debut in the World Wrestling Federation in 1997 when he was 18 years old. Raw is War was the episode where the fans first saw him as Aguila. He was pretty much successful under the monikers of Aguila and Papi Chulo.
In 2000, he was finally given more of an opportunity with a new name Essa Rios. On the February 13, 2000, edition of Sunday Night Heat, WWE Light Heavyweight Champion Gillberg issued an open challenge. Rios accepted the challenged and proved to Gillberg that it was a mistake to make such a challenge as he thrashed him with n few minutes and took the title from him. He was 21 years, two months old.
1 Rene Dupree
Rene Dupree is an outstanding Canadian wrestler. There are people who are born to do some specific work and they simply nail it at performing at those things. Well, Rene is made for wrestling and is one of the most underrated talents of his time. Rene signed a development contract with WWE and went to Ohio Valley Wrestling for his development training.
In 2003 Rene made his debut on Raw as one half of La Resistance. After a very successful start La Resistance made history. On June 15, 2003, not only did they win the World Tag Team Championship but this also made Rene the youngest champion of all time in World Wrestling Entertainment history. Rene was only 19 and half months old when he became champion.
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