Veterans in wrestling serve a role in the current product of any major promotion. Older stars with name value will bring in fans that usually wouldn’t watch a show due to the nostalgia of seeing a former favorite. WWE has started doubling down by bringing in the older stars in recent years to wrestle once in a while. Bill Goldberg, The Rock, The Undertaker and Sting are just a few of the veterans to make their presence known at various big shows in recent years. This often receives polarizing results from fans and their fellow wrestlers about the older names coming in.
One train of thought is that they're coming in and taking the spots away from the wrestlers that worked all year to earn the big matches. Others believe these talents paid their dues a long time ago and interest in them is all that matters. The approach of the older wrestlers is what is more interesting about their reputations. Some try to help the younger talent of today by putting them over or passing along help and advice. There are also those that just get the win and want to make their opponents look silly. We'll look at both with the eight older wrestlers who put over young talent and seven that buried them.
15 Put Over: Sting
The legendary Sting has retired from the business with his couple of matches in WWE being his final ones. Sting used his unofficial retirement match to put over then WWE World Champion Seth Rollins. All reports indicated Sting was happy to do the job and wanted to make the young man look great. Unfortunately, by trying to keep up with Rollins, Sting suffered some severe injuries that limited any desire for a return.
Everyone that worked with Sting in TNA also has kind words to say about him. TNA put the World Championship on him numerous times and often hurt younger talents by doing so, but Sting tried to help them out. A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe and Abyss all achieved noteworthy wins over Sting during their TNA tenure showing he would put over young talent when the company allowed.
14 Buried: Goldberg
WWE’s recent decision to make Bill Goldberg the WWE Universal Champion is what has led to this discussion being relevant again. Goldberg squashed top heel Kevin Owens at Fastlane to win the Universal Championship at the age of 50. Unlike the other veterans to wrestle, Goldberg didn’t even allow Owens to get in any offense. The dominance of Goldberg saw him hit the Spear and Jackhammer for the easy victory burying the former champ.
It was one thing to see Goldberg defeat Brock Lesnar in shocking fashion, considering both are part-timers in the attraction act category. The precedent of Goldberg winning by dismantling one of the top active performers just exposed Owens and the roster. Goldberg is definitely not going to help anyone on the current roster aside from fellow part-timer Lesnar eventually.
13 Put Over: Rhyno
Former ECW Champion Rhyno has returned to WWE after a long absence. The hardcore legend came back to the WWE main roster in 2016 after spending some time in and out of NXT. Rhyno realized he was an older performer and used his role to help teach the younger performers. Baron Corbin specifically worked with him in NXT in a tag team and then as an opponent to learn from the veteran.
Rhyno is now on the SmackDown Live roster in a tag team with Heath Slater. While they did have a Tag Title reign, it was mostly used to spotlight Slater and Rhyno’s prior underdog story. Now they are mostly used to put others over.
It's a mutually beneficial relationship where Rhyno has a roster spot to help the current generation, while he passes along the knowledge he learned to better them.
12 Buried: Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett started TNA with the intention to make it a viable alternative to WWE. The hope was to fill the void in the business following the death of WCW. One of the first big mistakes was Jarrett using his position as the man in charge of the company to make himself the World Champion during the early years. New stars with talent started to make waves, but Jarrett dominated the title picture.
It wasn’t until bigger signings like Christian Cage and Kurt Angle that Jarrett stopped hogging the top heel role. Jarrett was clearly in the past, but he tried to keep his spot on top by burying young stars instead of building them up for the future of the company. His return to power in TNA today could very well lead to him returning on television to hold down the active stars.
11 Put Over: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio's experience has seen him make a living in professional wrestling for 28 years. Mysterio is a legend of the sport with his lucha libre style paving the way for many undersized and international performers to shine in the current landscape. All wrestlers to work with Rey have nothing but great things to say about him.
Towards the end of his WWE run, Mysterio constantly put over new talent like John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. At one point, Rey actually requested to work with Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania XXVII because he saw something special in the youngster and wanted to help. Mysterio currently wrestles in Lucha Underground and has tried his best to help establish many future luchador Superstars.
10 Buried: The Rock
The Rock is very popular with all the active wrestlers he talks to. There’s no doubt he’s a cool dude that likely is a joy to be around, but that doesn’t mean he helps the current stars on the screen. Almost every Rock interaction with wrestlers on the actual WWE product leads to them getting humiliated, like when The Rock defeated CM Punk at Punk’s peak to end his lengthy title reign.
It would get worse with Rock running down the likes of Rusev and The Wyatt Family by easily destroying them with a couple of signature moves. Aside from Cena, everyone to work with Rock on screen has been worse for it. The role of being Rock’s punching bag is not worth it unless the wrestler is already established as a legitimate top star.
9 Put Over: Ric Flair
WCW was the home of veterans abusing their power. Eric Bischoff handed out huge contracts to all former WWE stars that were in their older years. The majority of the younger wrestlers in the WCW locker room had horror stories about most of the older guys. Ric Flair is one of the few veterans that had a good reputation among some of the younger stars.
Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko and a few others have spoken out publicly about Flair being a supporting voice. Flair realized WCW was going downhill with the other older guys making it miserable for the young stars. That is the reason he tried to help out those suffering and ended up keeping close with them when all moved on to WWE following the end of WCW.
8 Buried: Booker T
Booker T's mindset was completely different in WWE and TNA. Booker always did business as a wrestler putting over those he worked with in WWE, but his move to TNA saw him become a difficult person to work with. Booker did not try his hardest according to many of the young stars he worked with. There have even been interviews where Booker admitted it wasn’t his best work.
A.J. Styles specifically called out Booker for looking down on him and the other stars trying to make their way up the rankings. Booker kept his poor attitude up when returning to WWE as a broadcaster. The Young Bucks were his targets at their tryout when he berated them in front of the locker room for leaning on his jacket in the locker room. Booker then vented on Twitter in hopes of burying them, but it just made The Bucks a more popular act on the indies.
7 Put Over: Batista
Batista's return in 2014 could have been something special but WWE squandered it by trying to push him to the moon. Fans rejected it due to wanting Daniel Bryan to main event WrestleMania XXX over Batista. Batista's past work did not sway them to abandon their new favorite wrestler. Batista would adapt and see his role become one that puts over the young stars of the company.
Bryan achieved the biggest win of his career at WrestleMania XXX by tapping out Batista in the middle of the ring. The next feud for Batista featured a reunion of Evolution in a program against The Shield. Batista took a pin in both matches to help craft Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose into the future main eventers they are today.
6 Buried: Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam is another instance of someone that was once the cool young wrestler that turned into another complaining veteran. RVD's signing by TNA was supposed to be a huge get in competing against WWE in their attempts of recreating the Monday Night Wars. Van Dam did not acclimate well to the new surroundings and often blamed the young stars for it.
His big TNA Championship win saw him defeat A.J. Styles to end the latter’s momentum. Then, Van Dam trashed Styles, The Young Bucks and other young stars in interviews. The comments saw RVD say none of the young stars had the potential to draw any money and he was a rock star on the roster bringing in the fans. Van Dam’s final few years changed his perception as he publicly buried young stars for no reason.
5 Put Over: The Undertaker
The Undertaker has been a veteran in WWE for almost two decades now as the locker room leader any time he's around. Vince McMahon has viewed The Undertaker among his most loyal employees, as he has always done whatever is asked of him to help the company. The Undertaker’s final few years as a full-time wrestler saw him help quite a few wrestlers get over.
Edge saw his career get to the next level by feuding with The Undertaker and scoring a few big wins. Randy Orton had the same with a huge feud against The Undertaker making up for his singles main event run flopping against Triple H. The Undertaker even put over The Shield during his part-time years by working extra dates and allowing them to put him through the commentary table to prove how legitimate they were.
4 Buried: Triple H
Triple H's reputation has changed throughout the years from a performer to a businessman. Triple H in recent years has done his best to create new stars in his role running NXT and setting up the future for when he takes control of the WWE from Vince McMahon. It's a complete turn from his days as a full-time in-ring performer, when he was competing against the wrestlers in the locker room for a top spot.
Triple H gained power in his veteran years. Most wrestlers at that stage of their careers would have seen their position lessen to make room for the new stars. Triple H remained a top star and scored victories over the likes of Randy Orton and Edge in matches that should have gone the other way. Even as a part timer, Triple H buried CM Punk in a match during his hottest popularity.
3 Put Over: Kurt Angle
You can’t argue against Kurt Angle loving the wrestling business and doing everything he can to help it following his TNA run. Angle spent his veteran years in TNA and worked harder than any other experienced star to help the new era. A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal are just three of many young talents to see their careers improve from working in feuds with the legend.
Angle even did the favor to help put over Ethan Carter III in his final TNA feud to make sure their new face of the company looked great. His career is winding down and he’s still helping to pass along knowledge to the young stars at independent promotions in his rare appearances. Angle is heading to WWE Hall of Fame, but it's very possible he'll put over some new stars in a couple of final WWE matches before retirement.
2 Buried: Hulk Hogan
No one has buried more young talent during their career than Hulk Hogan. Hogan's act became a little bland in the mid-90s, towards the end of his WWE run. Fans started to grow tired of Hogan but he did not want to give up his spot. Hogan flat out refused to put over Bret Hart as the next big star and chose to leave the company by losing with interference to Yokozuna.
Hogan continued his antics in WCW by choosing to not work with any young stars aside from Goldberg. One young star that feuded with him was Billy Kidman. Hogan repaid him by trashing the youngster in interviews saying he couldn’t draw flies at a bingo hall. A return to WWE nearly a decade after leaving saw him get wins over Triple H, Randy Orton and a few other young stars that deserved better.
1 Put Over: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho is one veteran that has never let his ego get in the way of creating new stars. At the age of 46, Jericho is still going strong by doing his best to help the current talent become big names. Jericho has recently helped make Kevin Owens, A.J. Styles, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose all look more credible after losing to each of them.
Jericho's main focuses in the ring these days are to have fun and do what is best for business. WWE has used that against him in the past by having him attempt to put over failed projects like Fandango and Dolph Ziggler. Jericho puts over young wrestlers in hopes of giving them the break he worked many years to get. It's commendable for someone in wrestling to not lose sight of the future and try to better it.