The importance of age in wrestling is completely different to any other form of sport. Most athletes see their prime years come in their late 20s and early 30s. NFL stars typically see their careers end once they reach 30 depending on the position. NBA stars are lucky to get over 40. It's the exact opposite in pro wrestling barring injuries. Most wrestlers see their best years come in their late 30s and many even find their greatest success in their 40s. Part-time wrestlers have become huge parts of WrestleMania season every year finding their way into big matches.
The value of a wrestler in terms of the fans desire to see them will play the biggest role in WWE’s decision to use them. Wrestlers build up emotional relationships with the fans through the years. Once a talent hits their later years, it's harder to say goodbye and fans welcome them back with loud support. There is also the opposite direction here with WWE signing a few very young talents. The potential will make up for the lack of experience. WWE currently employs many wrestlers with ages that would surprise the average fan. We'll take a look at eight wrestlers younger than you’d assume and seven wrestlers older.
15 Younger: Sasha Banks (25)
Sasha Banks is already a four-time Raw Women’s Championship and one of the most successful women’s wrestlers in WWE history at the young age of 25. The progression of Banks from being the breakout star in the NXT Women’s Division leading the revolution into a main roster Superstar makes it shocking to realize just how young she is.
Most of us are figuring out life and hoping to get the early steps in starting our career at 25 years old. Banks is already at the top of her profession. It's easy to get frustrated with some of the missed opportunities in Sasha’s career due to WWE booking, but she has done so much and has nothing but time on her side. Very few wrestlers have ever accomplished as much as Banks has at this age.
14 Older: A.J. Styles (39)
The fact that A.J. Styles has only been in WWE for a little over a year at this point and is at the top of his game makes it all the more surprising he is nearing 40. Styles spent the majority of his career in TNA and New Japan before finally making the jump to WWE in 2016. Sadly, that means we'll only get to see the tail end of his prime in WWE.
TNA wasted many of Styles’ best years with horrible booking and a lack of commitment in making him the face of the company. However, A.J. coming to WWE is still great news and age is just a number. We may very well get another strong five years of Styles being one of the best wrestlers in the world. Regardless, no one would ever be able to guess he was 39 years old looking at one of his matches.
13 Younger: Authors of Pain - Rezar (22) and Akam (23)
The current NXT Tag Team Champions are two of the youngest wrestlers currently employed by WWE. Both members of the Authors of Pain happen to be extremely young despite already winning gold. Rezar is only 22 years old and Akam is just one year older at 23. The larger men are deceptively agile and can move around the ring with the best of them.
Rezar and Akam impressed with great matches against The Revival and DIY on NXT TakeOver specials over the past few months. Triple H clearly sees huge potential in them to make them the top team in NXT at such young ages. Given their youth, they could very well be in WWE for decades if they find a way to get over on the main roster when eventually called up.
12 Older: Asuka (35)
WWE typically signs younger female talent and they sadly have shorter shelf lives than the male wrestlers. Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres and AJ Lee all retiring at young ages prove just how tough it can be to age in WWE as a woman. Asuka is however changing the game. WWE signed her a few years ago and she has become the biggest female star in NXT with an undefeated streak longer than Goldberg’s in WCW.
Surprisingly, Asuka is one of the older women employed by WWE at the age of 35. Asuka has been wrestling at a high level in Japan for many years before getting signed to NXT. WWE is cashing in on her talent and they're actually treating women like wrestlers these days rather than models. That means Asuka will have the opportunity to succeed on the main roster for many more years.
11 Younger: Randy Orton (37)
Randy Orton has been around for over fourteen years now and it feels like he's one of the oldest stars on the roster. The shocking fact is Orton is on the higher end of the average age for a WWE star and could have another decade left in him at just 37 years old. Orton made his debut at a young age with WWE viewing him as a “can’t miss prospect.”
The faith from WWE has allowed Orton to accomplish just about everything possible before hitting 40. Orton doesn’t wrestle a very risky style making it possible for him to have long career ahead of him. Various interviews have quoted Orton as stating he doesn’t plan to retire any time soon. Orton is in the same age range of Kevin Owens, A.J. Styles and many of the other “new” stars in WWE.
10 Older: Samoa Joe (38)
It feels like just yesterday Samoa Joe was a young star making waves in TNA and Ring of Honor. Joe wrestled a style unlike anyone else in the business exuding both dominance and excitement with his superb matches. The talent of Joe was never a question but WWE didn’t traditionally sign wrestlers with his body type in the past.
WWE finally signed him in 2015 to become part of the NXT brand. Today, he's a star on the Raw brand at the age of 38. Joe is sadly no longer arguably the “best in the world” like his prime days, but he's still a great wrestler. The last chapter of his career will luckily take place in WWE. Joe has always deserved to perform on the big stage. Unfortunately for us, it's coming a little later than ideal.
9 Younger: Bo Dallas (26)
Sometimes a few years of failure will make a wrestler appear older than they really are. Bo Dallas has been a huge flop on the main roster following his call up from NXT. The early years of his WWE tenure saw him become a standout prospect as a NXT World Champion with his heel character. It just didn’t translate to the larger audiences on the main roster and WWE lost faith.
Dallas is actually only just 26 years old despite spending the last three years struggling to find a role on television. The bad news is he's spending the early years of his prime as an enhancement talent. The good news is he'll likely have more chances to succeed with youth on his side. Bo is one of the youngest performers on Raw despite being on the show for quite some time now.
8 Older: Shinsuke Nakamura (37)
Shinsuke Nakamura has been signed to WWE for a little over a year now and just recently made his debut on the main roster. That makes the average fan assume he’s a young star on the rise. Nakamura however has been wrestling for a long time as a huge star in New Japan. The current age of 37 is surprising to realize due to how new he is to the WWE.
Part of the reason WWE called him up despite not having a replacement ready as the face of NXT is his age. Nakamura has a few years of his prime left and it has to come on the main roster. Luckily, Nakamura hasn’t shown signs of regression and has enough personality to make up for any athleticism that may be lost in the next few years.
7 Younger: Drew McIntyre (31)
The wrestling career of Drew McIntyre has already seen so many twists and turns at the age of 31. WWE signed McIntyre at a young age due to his obvious potential. McIntyre wasn’t mature enough to succeed yet and flopped with an early push. WWE lost faith in him and did nothing to help his career for the rest of his first stint.
McIntyre proved them wrong after his release to become a huge star on the independent circuit. WWE took notice and recently signed him back to fill one of the top spots in NXT. At just 31, McIntyre has plenty of time left to make his mark in WWE. To compare, McIntyre is younger than Roman Reigns who WWE is still trying to make the face of the future. The combination of experience and youth will only help Drew’s cause.
6 Older: Bobby Roode (39)
NXT is usually meant to showcase the future stars of the WWE. Men and women that stand out on NXT find themselves having a successful future on Raw or SmackDown Live. Bobby Roode is an exception given his age of 39 years old. TNA employed Roode for the majority of his career before he made the decision to bet on his own talent during troubling times in the company.
Roode ended up getting an opportunity in WWE as a part of the NXT brand. The work was impressive enough to become NXT Champion within a couple of months. Roode is the current champ and the face of the brand as they rebuild. It's unlikely he'll receive a huge push on the main roster given his age, but Roode is still a great performer aging very well.
5 Younger: Aiden English (29)
The failure of The Vaudevillains tag team on the main roster hurt the career of Aiden English. Once viewed as a top prospect, English spent a full year becoming irrelevant with tag team partner Simon Gotch. WWE recently released Gotch and is looking to repackage English in a new role. The young age of 29 gives English a great chance at redemption.
Both the context of his former throwback character and the time of irrelevance makes English appear older than he actually is. There is plenty left in his tank if he wants to move up in the pecking order in WWE. Smackdown Live is the land of opportunity and Aiden will have his shot to make waves. 29 is very young in wrestling luckily for English.
4 Older: Nia Jax (32)
Most would assume Nia Jax is in the age range of Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss and Bayley given how new she is to the business. Jax is actually one of the older women on the main roster at the age of 32 years old. WWE signed her with no wrestling experience due to her look, potential and family history in the business.
Nia is slowly progressing in the wrestling side of things. WWE clearly wants to push her to the moon with many big opportunities given to her early in her career. Part of the reason for that is her age. Most women’s wrestlers are already established and in the tail end of their careers at 32. Jax is now getting started in hopes of having a long career.
3 Younger: Jinder Mahal (30)
One of the main reasons for the shocking push of Jinder Mahal is his age. Mahal was an enhancement talent in WWE for many years, got released and was re-signed to once again become a jobber. A move to SmackDown Live in the Superstar Shake-Up saw him win the number one contenders spot and a title shot against Randy Orton.
Mahal being just 30 years old is one of the factors in why WWE is hoping to get something out of him. The India market is extremely important to the company’s future as a thriving global brand. Mahal has both the heritage and the youth on his side. WWE is giving him a golden opportunity to set up a bright future in the company right here with many years left for him.
2 Older: Finn Balor (35)
Finn Balor seems far younger than he is for many reasons. The time spent in NXT and a debut on the main roster just last year made the average fan thinks Balor was a new star on the scene. A youthful look and smooth in-ring style also makes it easily feasible that Balor could be in his late 20s. Finn is however 35 years old and a veteran of the sport after many years in Japan.
WWE tried to push him right to the top of the mountain making him the first ever Universal Champion just weeks into his debut. Balor would sadly suffer from an injury that would force him to relinquish the title in just 24 hours. A return sees Balor getting another push but no longer in the title picture. The fact that Balor is 35 and coming off an injury could have scared WWE away from making him “the guy.”
1 Younger: Alexa Bliss (25)
Alexa Bliss recently made history as the first woman to hold both the Raw Women’s Championship and SmackDown Live Women’s Championship following the brand split. No one expected Bliss to become the breakout star of the Women’s Division after her call-up in the 2016 draft. The young age and potential of Bliss made it more likely she would slowly mature into a relevant role. Instead, she completely took over the Women’s Revolution.
Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch were the clear top four women on the WWE roster until Bliss changed everything. At the age of 25 years old, Alexa is already a huge star and one of the most accomplished women in WWE history. The fact that she's so young makes it scary to think what she else can do in her career going forward.