Wrestling shares a lot in common with professional sports such as hockey, baseball, and football in that its athletes have a hard time transitioning to real jobs upon retirement. In fact, for most wrestlers, there really is no such thing as retirement, especially the ones that didn't reach main event status in a major promotion or enter into mainstream consciousness. Those wrestlers give up the prime years of their working career to chase that dream and, when they realize they aren't going any further in the business, it's often too late to start fresh with a new career. Getting a job and a stable career is hard enough with a college degree, let alone when you tell employers your only professional working experience involves beating people up in front of raucous crowds.
That's why most of the wrestlers on this list are still going strong on the independent scene well into their 60s and even 70s, in some instances. Some are more active than others, but it's hard to turn down guaranteed money from a promoter when wrestling is all you've ever known. Conversely, there are a few competitors on this list who are already making quite a name for themselves well before their expected prime. Most wrestlers peak in terms of talent and popularity in their early 30s, but some of these Superstars are on their way to being household names before 25.
20 Alberto Del Rio (40)
You don't even have to know much about wrestling to be aware of José Alberto Rodríguez, better known as Alberto Del Rio in the WWE. The son of the legendary Dos Caras and nephew of Mil Mascaras, Del Rio is already 40 years old, which is tough to believe given he has only been in the mainstream consciousness for about five or six years.
The four-time WWE Champion and two-time United States Champion was a major draw in the company up until 2014 (and for a brief period during a return in 2015), but was let go for unprofessional conduct. The fiery Del Rio made headlines earlier this year for an alleged domestic abuse incident with his fiance, WWE's Paige, who is 15 years his junior. Into his 40s, we've likely seen the last of Alberto inside of a WWE ring for good.
19 Lita (42)
While there isn't any indication that Lita might make an in-ring WWE return, it's great to see her back with the company in some capacity. She was heavily involved with the Mae Young Classic and can often be seen on WWE PPV pre-shows. Given we haven't seen many of the other dominant divas from her era back - even for sporadic appearances - in recent years, seeing Lita on our screens is incredibly refreshing.
And, while there's no word on if she will wrestle or not again for the company, she did get back into the ring earlier this year for the Maryland-based MCW, when she participated in an eight-man tag match alongside The Hell Cats and The Bruiser. That's pretty impressive for a 42 year old who has taken tough bumps for over 17 years. Oh, and can we say - there's no way she looks a day older than 35.
18 Dave Batista (48)
Dave Batista might not be one of the best technical wrestlers of all-time, but there's no denying his draw as a physical specimen capable of tossing around his opponents. Would we love to see another Brock Lesnar versus Batista, even though it might be less than ten minutes at most? Absolutely. Would both men be able to pull it off? It seems unlikely given that Batista is surprisingly already 48 years old, despite being a championship contender as recent as three years ago.
He's on record as saying he would never return to the WWE anyway, and it seems even more unlikely given his burgeoning film career. He recently appeared in Blade Runner 2049 as well as two Guardians of the Galaxy films. While it's tough to believe he's 48 years old, he's in phenomenal shape.
17 Haku (58)
Whether you know him as Haku, Meng, or even King Tonga, chances are you appreciate the wrestling skills of Tonga Fifita. The Tonga native was a big part of the WWE in the late 1980s and early 1990s before leaving for Japan, but resurfaced in 1994 with WCW and spent seven years with the company. Despite being prominently featured in both promotions, he is only a one-time WWE Tag Team Champion and one-time WCW Champion, but he has had - and continues to have - success in independent promotions.
A little over a year ago, he and The Barbarian defended the APWA World Tag Team Championship at Gold Rush III in Virginia. He has also worked frequently for New Japan Pro Wrestling in the past few years and competed as recently as August of 2017 with the National Wrasslin' League based out of Kansas.
16 Trevor Lee (24)
The first entry in our list of younger wrestlers, Trevor Lee has been an established star for a little over three years already, but is still only 24 years old. To put that in perspective, Finn Balor, who is only scratching the surface of his WWE career, is 36 years old. Lee, a native of North Carolina, who was unsurprisingly trained by Matt and Jeff Hardy, began his career with Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and OMEGA Championship Wrestling, before making his debut with TNA in 2015 and making an immediate impact.
In two short years, Lee has won the Impact X-Division Championship three times as well as the GFW World Tag Team Championship. Given his young age and status, it's hard not to imagine him in the WWE some day, though he only recently trashed 205 Live, calling it "garbage."
15 The Great Muta (54)
Highly regarded for his work as The Great Muta in New Japan Pro Wrestling throughout the 1990s, Keiji Mutoh's wrestling career spans four decades and includes stints with NWA, WCW, and Wrestle-1, the latter of which he recently concluded a stint as president. He was a four-time World Heavyweight Champion with New Japan as well as a six-time Tag Team Champion. He also has numerous Match of the Year and Wrestler of the Year awards from various publications.
Given that he was president of Wrestle-1, he remained active on-screen and at live events despite being 54 years old. Unlike some of the others on this list, however, he's still highly regarded as an incredible worker in spite of his age. He last wrestled in a six-man tag match during September Wrestle-1 event.
14 AJ Lee (30)
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AJ Lee was at the height of her career over four years ago as Divas Champion. She has been out of the WWE since 2015, a year after marrying CM Punk, who is incredibly unlikely to ever return to the company. In total, her wrestling career spanned eight years, dating back to 2007, which makes it tough to believe she's still only 30 years old, which is well before some wrestlers even enter the industry. Diamond Dallas Page, for instance, famously didn't begin wrestling at all until he was 32 years old.
Since leaving the WWE, Lee has focused on writing and has produced a New York Times bestseller, Crazy is My Superpower. She spoke positively of her time with WWE in a recent interview, so perhaps she comes back in the near future: "So I have positive memories of that and I miss the fans. Doing these autograph signings and seeing people I've known for seven years is the coolest thing in the world to me."
13 Marty Jannetty (57)
If you've been keeping up on Marty Jannetty news lately, you won't be surprised to learn that he's still crazy enough to wrestle at 57 years old. The former Rocker and WWE Intercontinental Champion recently found out his daughter Bianca, who he only found out about in 2014, isn't actually his biological daughter. So to celebrate, he posted on Facebook that he was going to try and stop fighting the urge to have intercourse with her....
"From a guy's side, SHE'S F***ING HOT, but she's been [my] daughter. I want to, but I can't get past that," he wrote. He has wrestled for a number of different small promotions throughout 2017 and apparently also hosts Party with Marty events, where he shows up to drink with fans at local pubs.
12 David Finlay Jr. (24)
Dave Finaly, better known as Fit Finlay in wrestling circles, might be well past his prime, but the 59 year old former WWE United States Champion can look forward to following his son's potentially impressive career. It's already off to quite an impressive start. "The Celtic Prince" David Finlay Jr. is an ever-improving 24 year old who continues to build experience and talent in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
He recently held the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship with Ricochet and Satoshi Kojima for over 100 days and, prior to joining NJPW, held the Power of Wrestling Junior Championship for nearly one year. He has been wrestling a full schedule since he was 20 years old and is certainly someone worth keeping an eye on for years to come.
11 Hacksaw Jim Duggan (63)
Like most semi-retired wrestlers, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan is always up for money-making appearances. He recently wrestled a few independent shows in Canada and was spotted in early October at the Great American Beer Festival, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans in front of the section for Melvin's Brewing, a Wyoming-based brewery. We're not sure if the 63 year old is a big beer drinker, but you would suspect he would have to stay away from it to wrestle the schedule he does at his age.
Never exactly a skilled technical wrestler to begin with, Duggan continues to be somewhat of a draw on the independent scene due to the popularity of his early 1990s WWE gimmick. He has ridden that success to a lengthy career; for instance, he has already wrestled over a dozen matches in 2017.
10 Dory Funk Jr. (76)
The Funks are one of the most well-known wrestling families. The patriarch, Dory Funk, was an NWA legend who died in 1973, but not before fathering Terry and Dory Jr., both of whom are WWE Hall of Fame inductees and continue to wrestle to this day. Dory Funk Jr. primarily wrestled in the Southern United States and was at his peak throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but also worked in Japan, where he was a two-time NWA International Heavyweight Champion with All Japan Pro Wrestling.
In fact, he continues to wrestle sporadically for the promotion, despite being 76 years old. There are people who can't stand up longer than a few minutes at that age, but Funk Jr. is putting on matches that last over ten minutes, albeit most of them are tag team matches. That's still pretty damn impressive.
9 Greg Valentine (66)
A native of Seattle, Washington, Jonathan Wisniski is best known as Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, a WWE Hall of Famer and former Intercontinental Champion who experienced tremendous success in NWA and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling throughout the 1980s. In fact, Valentine made his professional wrestling debut way back in 1970 after being trained by Stu Hart and continues to book matches 47 years later. Yeah, you read that correctly.
The 66 year old has worked at least five events this year, according to Cage Match, including an SWF show in which he battled Tito Santana to a no contest. His most recent booking was a October 21 East Coast Pro Wrestling event, where he partnered with Andrew Anderson in a tag match against Gino Caruso and Nunzio AKA Little Guido.
8 Sabu (52)
While he's the youngest of our "old" entries on this list, it's incredible to imagine Sabu is still competing quite regularly given the bumps he took throughout his career, especially during his time with ECW, where he was a two-time World Heavyweight Champion known for his affinity for barbed wire and going through tables. He is prominently regarded for his hardcore and extreme style more than anything, which makes it tough to believe he's still going strong at 52 years old.
In fact, not only is Sabu still going, but he's still taking bumps and competing in extreme, hardcore-rules matches. Taking a look back through his recent matches in the past few years, he has competed in ECW rules hardcore, three-way hardcore, and TLC matches. In mid-October, he defeated Jimmy Havoc in a no-holds barred match put on by International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom.
7 Will Ospreay (24)
Depending on who you ask, Will Ospreay is one of the most promising young wrestlers in the industry. The New Japan wrestler is only 24 years old, but has already won multiple championships at a variety of United Kingdom-based promotions and briefly held the ROH World Television Championship. More than championship success, he has been putting in a full scheduled of matches for over five years now, since he was 19 years old, and has more in-ring experience than several prominent NXT Superstars.
Earlier this month, he won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at NJPW's King of Pro-Wrestling event, which earned him high praise from a man who clearly knows talent - Paul Heyman. The Advocate posed the question on Twitter "How long til he's in every discussn re: World's Best In Ring Performer?" We expect it isn't too long.
6 Mil Mascaras (75)
Casual fans of wrestling might best know Mil Mascaras for his one-time WWE appearance during the 1997 Royal Rumble, but for hardcore fans, the Luchador is one of the all-time greats. He competed in the United States in the late 1960s and again two decades later with WCCW and won multiple tag team championships, including one with a young Jeff Jarrett, but the bulk of his work has been in his home country of Mexico, where he is highly revered.
Despite being 75 years old, he continues to wrestle at various promotions in Mexcio, and, as recent as last year, traveled to Japan to wrestler in charity shows and fan fest promotions. His most recent match was a two out of three falls eight-man tag match with Todo X El Todo in September of 2017.
5 Lio Rush (22)
We know, the title says outside of WWE, but Lio Rush is likely years away from reaching the WWE after being signed to an NXT contract this past summer. Beyond that, he has only just recently appeared in NXT tapings. Still, he's a name fans should get used to hearing as, at only 22 years old, he's one of the youngest and most promising stars in the industry. Not only does he have the look of a potential future WWE Champion, but he already has the athleticism and in-ring talent; given his young age, he has the chance to carve out a lengthy career as a top performer in the company.
What's even more impressive about Rush's age is that he has been a relatively-established star for almost two years now. The former CZW World Heavyweight Champion previously wrestled for Ring of Honor, where he won the 2016 Top Prospect Tournament.
4 Bushwhacker Luke (70)
The Bushwhackers were never considered a talented tag team, though they were decent draws in the WWE back in the early 1990s. The New Zealanders surprisingly never won tag team gold in the WWE, but had tremendous success together in other promotions throughout the United States, including NWA and UCW. Months after they competed in the WrestleMania X-Seven Gimmick Battle Royal, Butch suffered a neck injury that forced him to retire from the ring, but Luke continues to wrestle to this day at 70 years old.
Earlier this year, Luke even challenged for the Juggalo Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Title. In April, he wrestled on three consecutive nights for the Canadian promotion Ultimate Championship Wrestling, which is tough to do for a wrestler in their prime, let alone a 70 year old. The Bushwhackers were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.
3 Nikolai Volkoff (70)
Nikolai Volkoff was one of the original heels that helped the WWE take off into mainstream consciousness following the advent of WrestleMania in the 1980s. In fact, he teamed with The Iron Sheik at the inaugural WrestleMania to win the WWE Tag Team Championship and, in 2005, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. His last full-time run with the WWE ended in 1995, but he later appeared in the WrestleMania X-Seven Gimmick Battle Royal and has sporadically appeared on Raw in the years to follow.
Beyond his affiliation with the WWE, Volkoff continues to work independent promotions throughout the United States and Canada, including Pennsylvania Premiere Wrestling and Great North Wrestling. Despite being 70 years old, he wrestled earlier this year for Hardcore Hustle Organization on a card that also featured semi-retired wrestlers Shane Douglas and Kevin Sullivan.
2 Rey Mysterio (42)
If it feels like Rey Mysterio has been around forever, it's because he kinda has. Okay, maybe not, but the distinguished luchador and three-time WWE Champion, three-time Cruiserweight Champion, and four-time Tag Team Champion made himself known to North American wrestling fans with ECW way back in 1995, when he was only 21 years old. He began working the following year with WCW and developed a rabid following, eventually becoming a five-time WCW Crusierweight Champion.
Given that he has been in the business in North America for over 20 years, it's hard to believe he's still only 42 years old, which is considered the peak of some wrestlers' careers. He left the WWE in 2015 and is currently competing with Lucha Underground. He's also quite active on the independent scene, having recently wrestled in Canada, Illinois, and New York.
1 Big Van Vader (62)
Maybe we're giving a lot of these older wrestlers far more credit than they deserve. How many of them can say with certainty that they will be dead within the next year or two and yet, instead of settling down and taking it easy, continue to wrestle high-impact matches and take bumps that many wrestlers in their prime wouldn't even think about? That's the case with Vader, the 62 year old former WCW World Heavyweight Champion who continues to wrestle despite being diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2016 and being told he has only two more years to live.
Despite the diagnosis, he has competed for a variety of promotions since and even took part in three matches in Japan earlier this year. In one match, he was knocked unconscious, which led people to question whether it had anything to do with his heart, but he later let fans know via Twitter that it was because he fell on his head. Despite likely having a concussion, he wrestled the next night. YOLO.