Professional athletes who are still able to play into their forties is an amazing accomplishment. However, the athletes who continue their careers into their fifties is an accomplishment on a whole other level. In the history of sports, only a few select people have played into their fifties. Gordie Howe didn’t play his last NHL game until the age of 52. Ken Shamrock still fought in MMA at the age of 52. Nancy Lieberman was fifty years old when she suited up for a couple of games for the WNBA’s Detroit Shock.
While there is no denying that being a professional wrestler into your fifties is not the quite the same as other sports, but it’s still a big achievement. As you get older it gets harder and harder to remain in top shape. Even though wrestling is “fake”, it still can take a huge toll on your body. The older you get the more time it takes for the body to heal.
Not only did the wrestlers on this list continue their careers into their fifties, but they all became champions too. While there are a few examples of this list where some their championship victories for mostly a comedic purpose, some the wrestlers on this list were very believable champions even at their old age.
Here are 15 professional wrestlers who won championships while in their fifties.
15. Tim Storm
You are probably thinking, who the heck is Tim Storm? It’s not shocking if you have never heard of him considering he has only wrestled on the independents. However, it would be a bit surprising if you had not heard of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, a title the 51-year-old Storm currently holds.
While the NWA World Heavyweight Championship doesn’t have a whole lot of significance in wrestling today, it was at one point the most important belt in all of wrestling. Back in the 1950s and ’60s the NWA Champion would travel territory to territory, while drawing in huge crowds. One of the guys who held the prestigious belt was Thou Thesz, who was at one time the oldest NWA Champion at the age of 49. In 2016, Tim Storm would win the NWA Heavyweight title at the age of 51, which broke Lou Thesz’ fifty-year-old record.
14. Chavo Classic
In 2004, Chavo Classic signed with the WWE to join forces with his son Chavo Guerrero Jr. At the time Chavo Classic was the ripe of old age of 55, and you wouldn’t think a championship run for him would be in the cards. However, Chavo Classic would become the oldest WWE Cruiserweight Champion in history when he “accidently” won a Triple Threat match against his son and Spike Dudley.
Chavo Classic would successfully defend the belt a few times, against the likes of Funaki and Billy Kidman. While most of his wins occurred because he got help from Chavo Jr., the elder Guerrero proved he was still able to move pretty quickly despite his old age. Unfortunately, Chavo Classic no-showed a couple of WWE house shows and was fired because of it. Even though he was technically fired, he was professional enough to drop the Cruiserweight Championship a couple days later to Rey Mysterio.
13. Gerald Brisco
Although Gerald Brisco retired from wrestling in 1985, his career had a second wind of sorts during the Attitude Era in the WWE. After his involvement in the Montreal Screw Job in 1997, the WWE decided to capitalize on his return to the spotlight by making him an on-screen character. Along with Pat Patterson, Brisco became one Mr.McMahon’s stooges.
Brisco would return to the ring for one more match, teaming up with Patterson in a losing effort against Shane McMahon. While Brosco never competed in the ring again, he did out of it. In May of 2000, at the age 53 he won his first of two WWE Hardcore Championship titles when he pinned a sleeping Crash Holly.
12. Bret Hart
When Bret Hart was forced to hang up his wrestling boots in 2000 due to concussion problems, the chances of him winning a title seemed slim. When he suffered a stroke in 2002, any thoughts of another championship run seemed like a fantasy. However, in 2010 at the age 52, “The Hitman” would capture his fifth Unites States Championship.
While it was nice seeing Bret win the title after he had to go through all his health problems, it really did nothing to help the U.S title. Bret was in no shape to wrestle and to call his bout against The Miz a match would be an overstatement. Luckily for fans, Bret never “wrestled” again, and his reputation as one the greatest in-ring technicians was not completely tarnished.
11. Vince McMahon
The Attitude Era in the WWE gave birth to many characters like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. It was also the time when WWE Chairman Vince McMahon became known as Mr.McMahon. It was the feud between the heel owner of the WWE and the “Texas Rattlesnake” that really made the Attitude Era such a success. That is why it is kind of ironic that it was Stone Cold that helped the Mr.McMahon become the oldest WWE Champion in history at the age of 54.
Vince must of like having championship gold around his waist because eight years later he once again decided to make himself a champion. During the WWE’s revival of ECW, Mr. McMahon was involved in a feud with then ECW Champion Bobby Lashley. It’s not like the belt had much value to being with, but when a 61-year-old Vince won the title off of Lashley, it killed any credibility the belt had.
10. Pat Patterson
In 1979, Pat Patterson became the first ever WWE Intercontinental Champion. It’s safe to say it’s a record that Patterson is proud of. In the year 2000, Patterson would set another record. However, it’s also safe to assume Patterson could care less about this particular accomplishment. On June 19, 2000, Patterson became the oldest WWE Hardcore Champion at the age of 59.
Patterson won the belt by turning on his friend Jerry Brisco. While celebrating Brisco’s second Hardcore Title win, Patterson hit his partner over the head with a champagne bottle and got the 1-2-3 on Brisco. The two would face off at King of the Ring in a hardcore evening gown match. Patterson’s less than a week long title reign was ended when he was pinned Crash Holly who interfered in the match.
9. Scott Hall
While it is a well-known fact that Scott Hall never won a major World Heavyweight Championship, he won just about everything else during his career. In the WWE, he was one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all-time, winning the belt on four different occasions. In WCW, he was multiple time United States and Television Champion, as well as a seven-time Tag Team Champion.
The last title Scott Hall would win in his career would be the TNA Tag Team Championship. Of all the titles Hall won in his career, this was by far his least deserving. Not only did he and Kevin Nash win the belts in less than ten seconds, the 51-year-old Hall was in terrible shape. Only a week after being winning the belts, Scott Hall was released by TNA for his drug and alcohol problems.
8. Billy Gunn
Even though Billy Gunn has been wrestling since the mid-1980s, you wouldn’t think he’s that old based on the shape he’s in. In reality, during his last major run with the WWE in 2014, Gunn was already in his fifties. During his last tenure with the WWE, Gunn teamed with his former partner Road Dogg and The New Age Outlaws were once again reunited. It may have been 15 years since the team was last together in the WWE but both men looked great wrestling against men half their age.
At the 2014 Royal Rumble, The New Age Outlaws defeated Cody Rhodes and Goldust to become eleven-time WWE Tag Team Champions. The Outlaws held onto the belts for a few months before dropping them to The Usos. It’s been a few years since then, but Gunn still looks like he could be a believable champion.
7. Roddy Piper
By the year 2000, Roddy Piper’s in-ring career was pretty much over. He spent the previous few years wrestling in WCW, where his battered body was barely holding up. While Piper stopped wrestling full-time before he his fiftieth birthday, he would still take part in the odd match with the WWE in the mid-2000s.
In 2005, Piper was involved in a high-profile feud with the ” Legend Killer” Randy Orton. While most fans will remember that feud, few people probably remember when Piper won his last ever WWE title. At the 2005 Cyber Sunday, he teamed up with Ric Flair and they defeated The Spirit Squad to win the World Tag Team Championship. Their run would be short lived, as the dropped the titles back to The Spirit Squad just a week later.
Goldberg is the most recent entry on this list having just won the WWE Universal Championship at WWE Fastlane at the age of 50. While some people might argue that having a fifty-year-old carry the company’s top belt, doesn’t help title’s credibility, Bill Goldberg is unlike most fifty-year-old human beings. Out of every wrestler on this list, there no one else who was in better shape than Goldberg. While he doesn’t look exactly like the beast he was during his prime in WCW, he still looks he’s capable of out-muscling almost everyone on the WWE roster.
Which makes Goldberg’s Universal Title win even more significant is the fact that he is only the second person to ever win a major WWE Heavyweight title after the age of 50. The only other person to do that was Vince McMahon, and you can take that reign with a grain of salt. Goldberg is truly a one of kind performer, and he might be the last over fifty WWE Champion in a long time, if there ever is another one.
5. Bobo Brazil
Bobo Brazil is considered by some to be the Jackie Robinson of professional wrestling. He was one of if the not the first successful African American wrestler in the business. Arguably the biggest achievement of his career occurred in 1962 when he defeated Buddy Rodgers to become the first ever African-American NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
While it was hard to top that particular accomplishment, Bobo still went on to do some incredible stuff later on in his career. One of the bigger things he did late in his career was winning the NWA United States title in 1977 at the age of 52.
When WCW closed its doors in 2001, Sting was already over forty years old. Nobody would blame him if he decided to retire after a few more years of wrestling. In 2003, Sting signed a contract to make four appearances with TNA Wrestling. After making those four appearances he would end up staying with the company for eleven years.
Sting was a four-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, with two of those reigns coming after the age fifty. He also came close to becoming the second oldest WWE Champion in 2015. At Night of Champions, he came up short against Seth Rollins in what turned out to be the last match of his career.
3. The Fabulous Moolah
The Fabulous Moolah began here career way back in the 1950s and she didn’t wrestle her final match until a half century later. She is well known for her lengthy reigns as the Women’s World Champion. What people might not know, is the fact that Moolah actually legally owned the belt. When on the rare occasion that she lost the title, she would always win it back just a few days later.
In 1984, Vince McMahon signed her to a contract, which included the purchase of her Women’s World Championship. At this point, Moolah was already in her sixties, but that didn’t stop her from winning several more championships. Her last title win came in 1999 at the age of 76.
2. Ric Flair
If Ric Flair decided to call it a career when he turned fifty in 1999, he would still be considered one of the greatest of all-time. The fact that he continued to wrestle for another decade-plus only solidified his legendary status. While Ric Flair was definitely not the same wrestler as he was during his prime in the 1980s, he still had some very memorable moments later on in his career.
The most success Flair has post the age of fifty, was when he was a member of Evolution. While teaming up with Batista, he won the World Tag Team Championship on two different occasions. He would win his first ever Intercontinental Championship in 2005 and held the belt for an impressive five months. Flair’s last ever title win occurred in 2007 at Cyber Sunday when he won the World Tag Team Championship with Roddy Piper.
1. Terry Funk
Out of all the wrestlers on this list, nobody had a longer career after they turned the age of fifty than Terry Funk. Funk turned the big 5-0 in 1994 and didn’t retire until 2016 at the age of 72. However, with how many times he has “retired” it wouldn’t be a huge shock if he once against got into the squared circle.
Funk’s wrestled for many promotions during the later part of his career including the WWE and WCW. However, the most success Funk had post fifty was his four-plus years with ECW in the 1990s. At ECW’s first ever pay-per-view, Barely Legal, Funk would miraculously defeat Raven for ECW Heavyweight Championship. It also happened to be his second match of the night, which proves just how dedicated of a worker he was, even when he was old enough to get a senior discount.
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