The WWE Championship is the highest honor one can earn in professional wrestling. The only title that comes close in comparing is the World Heavyweight Championship (which made it's way around before being defended in WWE). The instance or case in which a wrestler may win their championship occurs in many different situations. Back in the day, it would be the winner of the Royal Rumble match then challenging for and winning the belt. Often times now it is the winner of the Money in the Bank Ladder match as former champion Dean Ambrose can heavily attest to. More than often, wrestlers are just given a chance at the title without earning it. Rarely do wrestlers win #1 Contender's matches nowadays. Title shots are just given away causing it to lose prestige. In some odd cases, the championship is one by people younger than 30. The youngest WWE Champion is Brock Lesnar. He won the title at the age of 25, but the timing was perfect and he was red hot. In fewer cases, wrestlers have one the belt when they were over 40. Very rarely is this ever an issue but sometimes it may be.
Here are the oldest world champions in WWE history
15 The Iron Sheik (41-Years-Old)
Before he was an eccentric and outlandish personality, The Iron Sheik was a mainstay at the top of the WWE roster. Sheik ended the reign of long term champion Bob Backlund. Sheik won the title the day after Christmas in Madison Square Garden. The match ended after Backlund refused to tap Sheik's signature move The Camel Clutch. Backlund's manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel on behalf of Backlund. Sheik's reign as champion lasted only four weeks. In one of wrestling's most iconic moments, Sheik dropped the title to Hulk Hogan. This would lead to the birth of Hogan's long title run as well as the introduction of "Hulkamania." Legend has it Sheik was offered money to break Hogan's leg thus "Hulkamania" would have never existed. Thankfully Sheik never did this.
14 Booker T (41-Years-Old)
Booker T's first World Heavyweight Championship reign really should have come before he hit the age 40, but because backstage antics from Triple H, the Booker man was jobbed out at WrestleMania XIX. On a more positive note, Booker's only World Championship reign in WWE was very entertaining. In 2006, WWE revived the King of the Ring. Booker defeated Lashley in the finals of the tournament. He would earn a title shot against then World Heavyweight Champion Rey Mysterio. He would the win the title at the Great American Bash with help from Chavo Guerrero. Booker would then form a stable called King Booker's Court. The stable included his wife, Queen Sharmell, William Regal, and Finlay. The stable was comedic gold, especially Booker, but unfortunately his reign would be ended by Batista.
13 Batista (41-Years-Old)
Speaking of Batista, he does not seem like a likely candidate for this list. This is especially true as he joined the WWE in 2000 (developmental) and did achieve a ton of success before the age of 40. In fact most of it. He held the Tag Team Championship three times, he won the World Heavyweight Championship four times, and the WWE Championship once once. But his one reign that came while he was 40 came in a very odd way. John Cena had just reclaimed the WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber. Then he was forced to defend his newly one title immediately against Batista. Batista's reign was short and sweet and dropped the title to John Cena at the next Pay-Per-View which happened to be WrestleMania XXVI in a match that was overshadowed by the second match between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels match. It's safe to say this reign was less than memorable.
12 Bob Backlund (45-Years-Old)
Bob Backlund and Darren Young have been missing from WWE television for a few weeks and that's for the better. But before that, he was one of the company's longest reigning champions at 2,138 days. After he dropped the title, Backlund would take a break from the WWE for few years. When he came back, his character completely changed. He adapted to the changing times. Backlund's character, now a heel, would feud with Bret Hart. Backlund defeated Hart for the championship at the 1994 Survivor Series after Hart's mom threw in the towel. His second reign with title was short lived and he lost the title to Diesel at house in Madison Square Garden in match that lasted eight seconds. This reign only lasted three days.
11 Buddy Rogers (43-Years-Old)
The inaugural WWE Champion was in fact over the age of 40. That man being the "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. Rogers is responsible for arguably the greatest wrestler ever, Ric Flair, finding his inspiration. Buddy Rogers never earned the title. He was the winner of a supposed fictional tournament. His reign lasted a very short 22 days. Short compared to Bruno Sammartino's of 2,803 days. Although his reign was short lived, he will always be remembered as the first champion in WWE history. Rogers would be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame as one of their early inductees. He was inducted by Bret Hart. Rogers is a guy who most new fans will not know about, but he should be known by all fans.
10 Sgt. Slaughter (42-Years-Old)
Sgt. Slaughter is one of the most memorable characters in the history of professional wrestling. Both in the AWA and WWE he would maintain the same gimmick of a military character. However, in his second run with the WWE, Slaughter changed completely. He turned on the United States and would become a supporter of the Iraqi cause. He would do anti-America promos, which he said was hard for him to do. At the Royal Rumble in 1991, Slaughter ended the reign of The Ultimate Warrior and became WWE Champion for the first time. During this reign, Slaughter received heat like no other. He feuded with Hulk Hogan and even burned his t-shirt. Slaughter's reign came to an end at WrestleMania VII. He would return to his signature character later that year.
9 Bret Hart (40-Years-Old)
Bret Hart is to thank for all the smaller wrestlers who are given more of an opportunity in WWE. Prior to winning the WWE Championship in his 40s, he had held the title four different times. For the fifth time, he defeated The Undertaker after a dreadful title reign. In the match, Shawn Michaels was the guest referee and unintentionally helped Bret Hart win. In this reign, he defended against the likes of The Patriot and had a match with The Undertaker go to a disqualification. His final match as champion came in via the Montreal Screwjob. He wasn't really treated as royalty during this reign. In fact they booked him rather weakly. Even though Bret's final reign as WWE Champion was weak and ended in controversy, he is still considered to be one of the greatest champions in WWE history.
8 Ric Flair (42-Years-Old)
Ric Flair joined the WWE in 1991 after a dispute in WCW. When he first appeared, he would carry the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and proclaimed to be professional wrestling's "True World Champion." He would screw Hulk Hogan out of the title at the Survivor Series of that year and the WWE Championship was held in abeyance. To determine the new champion, the belt was put on the line in the 1992 Royal Rumble. In one of my favorite matches, Ric Flair came in at number three and lasted over an hour to win the belt. From Flair's debut, to the time he won the championship is one of the quickest in history. His reign ended at the hands of Randy Savage at WrestleMania XIII. He would then defeat Savage once more for his second and final reign with the WWE Championship.
7 Andre the Giant (41-Years-Old)
Andre the Giant was a special attraction in professional wrestling. If Andre was coming to your town or city, people would pay money to see him. Unfortunately, he is more known for his feud with Hulk Hogan. They had the "classic" match at WrestleMania III where Hulk Hogan slammed and pinned Andre for the first time in his career. Andre was given another shot at the title at a show called The Main Event. Andre would win the match in a controversial manner. Andre's manager Ted DiBiase came up with an odd plastic surgery on the referee angle to secure Andre would defat Hogan, even after Hogan got his shoulder up during the pin. President Jack Tunney immediately made the title vacant and Andre's only WWE Championship reign lasted less than a day.
6 Kane (43-Years-Old)
Kane has been a member of the WWE roster since 1995 and still competes somewhat actively. During his last match he defeated Bray Wyatt at No Mercy for some reason. His last singles championship reign came in 2010 when he was a member of the SmackDown roster. He won the Money in the Bank briefcase and cashed in that same night. Also during this period he was on the search for The Undertaker's attacker who put him in a vegetative state. In reality, Undertaker had his orbital bone broken by Rey Mysterio. When it was determined that is was Kane (which we all knew) they feuded over the title. This included the return of Paul Bearer who turned on The Undertaker. After beating The Undertaker in all three of there Pay-Per-View matches, Kane would lose the title to Edge.
5 Triple H (46-Years-Old)
Triple H has held the WWE and World Championship an outstanding combined total of 14 times during his long and storied career. His 14th championship came in a very unique way. Roman Reigns was forced to defend the WWE Championship in the Royal Rumble match. This was only the second time in history that this has happened. Triple H made his return, eliminated Reigns and lastly Dean Ambrose to win the match and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He defended the title against Ambrose at Roadblock in a wonderful match. Reigns would win a #1 Contender's match to earn a shot at the title at WrestleMania. Triple H's reign would come to an end there as Reigns would regain the title in a very boring and long main event.
4 The Undertaker (42-Years-Old)
The Undertaker won the WWE Championship various times before he turned 40. In fact, he was once one of the youngest WWE Champions. The Undertaker's first reign as World Heavyweight Champion came when he was over 40. He won the 2007 Royal Rumble and defeated Batista at WrestleMania 23. His next reign came after he beat Edge at WrestleMania XXIV in a match that doesn't get enough credit. His final reign came in 2009 where he would defeat CM Punk at the Hell in a Cell Pay-Per-View. During this reign he would defend against Batista and Rey Mysterio. His title reign came to an end after the Elimination Chamber in 2010. Shawn Michaels would interfere on behalf of the winner Chris Jericho to set up their second straight WrestleMania match.
3 The Rock (40-Years-Old)
This title reign infuriates me the most being a die hard CM Punk fan. The Rock defeated John Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII in a match billed as "Once in a Lifetime." CM Punk was the longest reigning WWE Champion in the 21st century. He defeated everyone that came in to his way and then he met The Rock. At the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View in 2013, CM Punk faced The Rock in a match that main-evented over the actual Royal Rumble match. The Rock defeated Punk even after The Shield interfered. On an unrelated note John Cena won the Royal Rumble that night. The match billed as "Once in a Lifetime" was happening once again at WrestleMania XXIX. The match was dreadful, it was slow, and it was downright bad. Cena regained the title and he and The Rock shook hands at the end.
2 Hulk Hogan (48-Years-Old)
Hulk Hogan made his inevitable WWE return in 2002 as member of the nWo. He turned face after losing a match to The Rock at WrestleMania X8 even though fans were already treating him like a hero. He then had a feud with Triple H over the WWE Undisputed Championship. At Backlash that same year, he defeated Triple H to win the Undisputed Championship. He would then feud with The Undertaker who was undergoing a career renaissance. The feud was an absolute DUD. Hogan failed to get Undertaker's motorcycle started on one occasion and that summed up the entire feud. At Judgement Day 2002 the match was even worse. Hogan was pinned off a poor Chokeslam from the Undertaker and some outside interference.
1 Vince McMahon (54-Years-Old)
The Chairman of the WWE makes the list at number one as he is the oldest to ever win the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship. More of the reason is that he never should have won it to begin with. People who aren't wrestlers should never hold titles. This goes for you Vince Russo, David Arquette, and especially Vince McMahon. McMahon defeated Triple H for the title on an episode of SmackDown. He would vacate it on Raw only for it to be won by Triple H at the next Pay-Per-View, Unforgiven. To make matters worse, Vince McMahon ruined the new ECW by making himself the champion after he defeated Bobby Lashley in a handicap match. This reign would serve no purpose and he would drop it back to Lashley at the next Pay-Per-View.