You couldn’t be blamed for thinking World Wrestling Entertainment is a company largely interested in pushing veterans and older performers in main events and at the top of cards these days. Goldberg, who first became a Superstar while working for World Championship Wrestling in the 1990s, was placed in arguably the top match on the WrestleMania 33 show. Triple H continues to be involved in major storylines 20 years after he and Shawn Michaels began the group that became known at D-Generation-X. The Hardy brothers are back working in the WWE two decades after “Team Xtreme” debuted in the company. A.J. Styles is a face who first became a major player in the WWE in 2016, but he'll turn 40 years old later this year.
With all of that said, there are plenty of WWE wrestlers in their 20s attempting to establish themselves as top stars as of the spring of 2017. Some, unfortunately, have been buried thanks to poor booking or unflattering storylines, while others have not yet been given a chance to flourish or flop on the main roster. Last but not least on the list is a young man who turned only 20 years old earlier this year. We have not yet seen that individual work on cable television shows such as Raw and SmackDown, but that the WWE sees something in him leads one to believe the company can have faith in younger workers. We’d like to see more of this, if only to bolster the future of the company heading into next decade.
15 Bo Dallas (26)
Those of you who Bo-Lieve the WWE has thoroughly buried the Bo Dallas character to the point that he cannot be repaired or saved should realize he is only 26 years old. Truth be told, Dallas may not yet even be in his physical prime or his prime as an in-ring talent.
Granted, the WWE has done zero favors for the character since he was called up from NXT to the main roster, and one cannot help but wonder if he wouldn’t be better off being sent back to developmental for somewhat of a career restart. Fans have, in the past, seen Dallas can be an entertaining heel when given an opportunity to shine, but whether or not the WWE will show it has real faith in him as a top star has yet to be determined.
14 Carmella (29)
It does not seem like it was all that long ago when we first saw Carmello appear as the third wheel latched onto the team of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. The woman who legitimately worked as a Laker Girl before she made the career switch to pro wrestling quickly established herself as a character all on her own, and she has done just fine since being separated from the tag team that worked in one of the most entertaining matches on the WrestleMania 33 card.
Watching Carmella perform alongside James Ellsworth has been fun for viewers, but we cannot help but wonder what might be for all involved if the WWE decides to reunite her with Enzo and Cass via a trade or some other roster shake-up.
13 No Way Jose (28)
Before he made his official debut on NXT television, it almost felt as if the WWE was actively sabotaging the career of No Way Jose by giving him a wacky gimmick that included annoying vignettes. Members of the NXT audience almost immediately embraced the character, though, and No Way Jose has to be considered one of the top babyfaces working on the brand even though he has not yet been treated like a main-event act in storylines and booking.
Jose has a unique look, plenty of size, a large amount of charisma and solid talent as an in-ring worker, and it seems as if it's only a matter of time before the WWE pushes him as a member of either Raw or SmackDown. Jose is still relatively young, so it’s safe to hope his best is yet to come.
12 Emma (28)
You can call her Emma, Emmalina or whatever name the WWE will attach to her in the future. All would do well to recognize Emma has the goods to be one of the top female heels on either Raw or SmackDown as long as she is able to remain healthy and given positive pushes by people who make those decisions for the promotion.
Emma has a great look, and she proved in NXT she can produce entertaining matches with a variety of counterparts. The 28-year-old has not yet been awarded a chance to carry the figurative ball as a member on the main roster, and the possibility exists that it would be best for all three ladies if Emma, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay were teamed up later this year.
11 Apollo Crews (29)
The WWE career path of the performer currently known as Apollo Crews is seemingly going nowhere as of the spring of 2017. At first, it appeared some within the promotion were high on Crews, as he was given a significant push in his early days on the NXT brand.
We never saw Crews establish himself as a main-event worker in that portion of WWE, but he nevertheless received a call-up to the main roster in the summer of 2016. That decision proved to do little for Crews, though, as he hasn’t been treated all that well working on the SmackDown brand. At this point, it may be accurate to suggest the WWE should’ve attempted to grow the Crews character in NXT longer. We hope a shift change on the Raw brand can resurrect his career.
10 Paige (24)
Paige is still technically a member of the WWE roster as of the typing of this sentence, and thus the 24-year-old deserves a mention here. The story of Paige’s career is downright fascinating, as she first began working as an active wrestler at the age of 13. She was a teenager when the WWE first noticed her working on the independent scene, and some fans out there may still consider Paige to be the greatest NXT Women’s Champion in the history of that developmental brand.
Paige’s WWE career remains in limbo for a number of reasons, including the fact she's sidelined because of a neck injury and also her relationship with the wrestler formerly known as Alberto Del Rio, who has parted ways with the WWE multiple times.
9 Tyler Breeze (29)
Perhaps nobody on the SmackDown roster needs a gimmick shift or a career restart more than Tyler Breeze as of April 2017. The 29-year-old got himself over as a top heel on the NXT brand, but he became a jobber not long after he was called up to the main roster.
There is no denying Breeze could be a tremendous worker capable of carrying others to great matches on the main roster, and he could generate heat with promos if given the opportunity to do more than look up at the lights at the end of matches. Fortunately, Breeze is still young and in the early days of his WWE career, so there remains hope that the company will realize what it has in this talent.
8 Dash Wilder (29)
We can’t blame anybody for assuming Dash Wilder was, at the very least, in his late 30s as of being called up to the main roster as part of the Raw brand. After all, Wilder and Scott Dawson, who work together as tag-team act The Revival, wrestle a style that more resembles what fans saw from heels in the 1980s. This throwback duo is arguably the best overall team wrestling for the WWE, and fans should be excited to see what Wilder and Dawson can do feuding with babyface acts on either Raw or SmackDown.
Tag team wrestling is not always protected underneath the WWE umbrella outside of NXT, but the hope is that executives will not get this one wrong. The Revival are what they say they are; top guys.
7 Jack Gallagher (27)
Take one quick look at the mustache Jack Gallagher currently rocks as part of his character, and you may assume he's an older wrestler who stepped out of some time capsule in order to wrestle on shows such as 205 Live.
The 27-year-old became a popular babyface among WWE fans in 2016 when he competed in the Cruiserweight Classic, and he has since been featured on Raw and as one of the key figures of the company’s Cruiserweight Division. WWE has not yet made Gentleman Jack a champion on any brand, and we wonder if he would be a bigger star if he was placed in a tag team and on one of the two promotion’s top brands. Gallagher and a teammate could be a blast to watch on episodes of SmackDown.
6 Sasha Banks (25)
Sasha Banks is one of several performers who helped put WWE women’s wrestling on the map and in main-event slots of shows, and the best could still be to come for the 25-year-old who has proven she can be a believable babyface and also a hated heel.
Banks is one of the top wrestlers, male or female, to ever come from the NXT brand, and her contest versus Bayley (more on her later) at the 2015 edition of NXT Takever: Brooklyn is arguably the best women’s match in the history of the WWE. The “Legit Boss” can do it all as a member of the main roster, and she could evolve into an all-time great if the WWE pushed her as a dominant champion.
5 Jason Jordan (28)
Those of you who have closely followed NXT over the years may automatically assume Jason Jordan must be into his 30s because he was in developmental for several years until the company teamed him up with Chad Gable. Jordan is the type of wrestler WWE would seemingly build if given the opportunity, as he possesses all of the tools needed to be a top superstar. He is an athletic marvel, he can work with just about anybody on the roster, he has a good look and he's a proven babyface.
It’s not an overstatement to claim Jordan could become his generation’s Kurt Angle if the WWE gave him a proper push as a solo act. For now, though, we still want to see Jordan and Gable compete as the team American Alpha.
4 Cedric Alexander (27)
Cedric Alexander is another wrestler you may believe is older than he actually is because he's been working for the majority of this past decade. Some out there may have first noticed Alexander during his time in Ring of Honor as part of the C&C Wrestle Factory, and it was hardly a secret among knowledgeable fans that he deserved an opportunity to work in the WWE long before the company signed him ahead of the Cruiserweight Classic.
One of the top moments of that entire tournament was when fans chanted for the WWE to sign Alexander after he was eliminated, and the company heard those cries and granted that wish. A healthy Alexander could emerge as one of the top stars of the WWE Cruiserweight Division before 2017 comes to an end.
3 Alexa Bliss (25)
One could claim Alexa Bliss is, all things considered, the most promising wrestler of any mentioned in this piece. The 25-year-old was not all that impressive in the ring during her early days on the NXT brand, but she improved as a worker and then found new life as a character after the company turned her heel.
While Bliss was somewhat forgettable as a babyface, she quickly became an entertaining heel able to generate heat from fans despite the fact that she's often smaller than opponents. In fact, Bliss improved so much that it’s difficult to imagine her making the change back to babyface. Her career is still on the rise, and we imagine she hasn’t come close to hitting her peak just yet.
2 Bayley (27)
WWE admittedly made numerous mistakes regarding the Bayley character once she was called up from NXT to work on Raw, but fans should remain optimistic the company will eventually get things right and help make her one of the top babyfaces on the main roster. After all, Bayley was routinely treated as a second-tier talent in developmental, but her underdog story helped make her popular among fans who attended weekly NXT tapings and those who flocked to touring shows around the country.
Bayley is already a mainstay and cornerstone of the WWE Women’s Division, and she should only improve as a wrestler and performer in time. Maybe, just maybe, Bayley’s best days on Raw will involve an unforeseen heel turn that shocks and even angers viewers.
1 Tyler Bate (20)
Yes, you read that correctly. The current WWE United Kingdom Champion won that title as a teenager, and he turned only 20 years old earlier this year. Tyler Bate is already a solid worker, and his entertaining personality allowed him to get over as a babyface during the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament that he eventually won.
Bate will likely be one of the top stars featured on an upcoming UK show expected to be shown on WWE Network, but fans should expect him to eventually receive a promotion to either Raw or SmackDown down the road. He's already a special talent too good to not be on cable television and Pay-Per-View cards. Bate could carry the WWE banner for decades and become a mainstream Superstar.