The famous old saying teaches that one is only as old as he feels, and that has been the case for a plethora of professional wrestling performers over the decades. Numerous World Wrestling Entertainment competitors found tremendous amounts of success and won titles long after their theoretical primes should’ve expired. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair continued to delight fans and earn spots on WrestleMania cards well into his 50s. Many observers would claim that “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels had the best run of his legendary and historic career after he returned from a back injury that sidelined him for roughly four years.
Wrestlers who remain in remarkable physical condition and create memorable matches are able to fool casual fans about their ages. In some cases, a WWE star may be older than you think because of when he or she debuted on the main roster. After all, pockets of WWE fans throughout North America and around the world only follow that one wrestling promotion, and, thus, these viewers and customers do not know the histories of wrestlers who made their names in organizations such as Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor and other promotions. The argument could be made that many of the best overall wrestlers in the WWE today are closer to 40 years old than to 30 as of the start of 2018.
15 Dolph Ziggler: 37
Depending on your viewpoint, Dolph Ziggler may be either one of the most underrated and under-appreciated WWE stars of the past decade or so, or he may be an “Internet darling” who isn’t nearly as talented as some diehards would say.
The fact remains Ziggler looks great for somebody set to turn 38 years old in July 2018, and the veteran can still go in the ring for long periods of time when given the opportunity. Ziggler opens 2018 with an interesting storyline that involves him taking a brief hiatus away from television programs leading up to the start of the WrestleMania season. The hope is that the WWE will allow Ziggler and another great wrestler to try to “steal the show” when WrestleMania 34 arrives.
14 Kofi Kingston: 36
Kofi Kingston is one of those WWE stars who you forget has been around for longer than a decade, in part because of how the company booked him for years. Despite being awarded with championship runs, it never felt as if the 36-year-old was truly given the figurative football and allowed to run with it, and he was largely a lost member of the roster when writers paired him with Big E and Xavier Woods to form the trio The New Day.
At first, it felt as if New Day was a bad joke played on the wrestlers and on fans, but the three did well to turn the group into one of the most-over acts on the main roster. We believe Kingston deserves to have at least one big solo run before he turns 40.
13 Tye Dillinger: 36
Long-time fans of the WWE who go back and watch older segments via the WWE Network or YouTube may have first recognized the man currently known around the world as Tye Dillinger as “Stan,” a background act once super-kicked in the face by Shawn Michaels during a segment on Raw all because HBK wanted to show that he knew how to be controversial.
Dillinger has come a long way since then, as “The Perfect 10” who turns 37 years old in February 2017 went from being a jobber in the developmental system and in NXT to a member of the SmackDown roster who draws pops from crowds. Sure, Dillinger may never become WWE Champion, but he’s proof that you can achieve your dreams if you continue to believe in yourself.
12 Finn Balor: 36
Those of you reading who have never seen a match involving Prince Devitt when he performed under that name may be surprised to learn that Finn Balor will turn 37 years old in the summer of 2018. Balor first debuted on the main roster in 2016, and he was quickly sidelined after first appearing on Raw because of injury. Because of this, you may not be aware of Balor’s age.
It’s also worth noting that Balor is in amazing physical condition at this stage of his WWE run. He’s as cut as he ever, was working overseas or in NXT, and he can work as well and as exciting as he did earlier into his career. Balor deserves a chance to reclaim his Universal Championship at some point in 2018 after WrestleMania season.
11 Nia Jax: 33
While the WWE has done well to present Nia Jax as a monster heel due to her size in comparison to the majority of the women in NXT and on either main roster brand, the former model still has a baby face, particularly when she is glammed-up at WWE shows. Because of this and because she has been a member of the WWE roster only since she first debuted in NXT back in 2015, you may not know that she will turn 34 years old in May.
Jax remains rather green both on the microphone and in the ring because of her limited time in the business, but there’s something there to work with if the company protects her with the right booking. If nothing else, Jax has shown she can be carried by the likes of Asuka.
10 Luke Harper: 38
Wrestling fans who knew little, if anything, about Luke Harper before he signed for the WWE likely didn’t realize he was already into his 30s when he first debuted as a member of the Wyatt Family. Following the 2017 holiday season, Harper is now 38 years old, and he and former Wyatt Family member Erick Rowan are back together, this time as the Bludgeon Brothers.
While we’ve never seen all that Harper can do as a singles act because of how he has been booked, there have, over the years, been glimpses that Harper could get over on his own as either a babyface or heel if given the chance. Harper is too good to be relegated to tag team duties and in the mid-card on SmackDown and during pay-per-view events.
9 Natalya: 35
If you’re anything like us, you are actually shocked to read that Natalya will turn 36 years old in May of this year. For starters, the WWE has often presented Natalya as an afterthought and a background figure in the Women’s Division for whatever reasons. Even though she’s been around for over a decade, she’s often faded from our memories thanks to her treatment in storylines.
While she is now a key figure on the SmackDown women’s roster, she has aged like a fine wine both in her in-ring work and in her looks. Anybody who has stumbled upon this piece in one way or another would be downright lucky to look as good as Natalya looks heading into their 36th birthday. She also remains one of the most talented women on either Raw or SmackDown ahead of WrestleMania.
8 Samoa Joe: 38
Passionate wrestling fans who first discovered Samoa Joe in Ring of Honor back in the early 2000s likely aren’t too shocked to see that he'll be 39 years old midway through March 2018. WWE viewers who only know Joe from his runs in NXT and on Raw may, however, not realize that the “The Samoan Submission Machine” has, for the most part, looked the same for the past 15 years.
Joe has quieted any doubters who may have believed the WWE signed him too late and past his prime, as he was a revelation during his stint in NXT and as a heel on Raw. It should be only a matter of time before Joe is awarded with the Universal Championship and presented as the baddest man in all the WWE unless bookers and writers waste his skills.
7 Matt Hardy: 43
We’ll admit that Matt Hardy is no longer the undersized high-flyer he was back in his early days in the WWE or during his stint in “Team Xtreme” alongside brother Jeff Hardy and Lita, but the formerly BROKEN one who is now WOKEN still looks and performs great for somebody who turned 43 years old last fall.
It took a little longer than some wanted, but Hardy is finally able to portray the character he made famous in Impact Wrestling. It’s natural the WWE would have the WOKEN one feud with Bray Wyatt at the start of 2018, but the hope, moving forward, is that a new Wyatt Family will battle with Hardy, Brother Nero and maybe even Reby Hardy, Matt’s wife. We need to see a match at the Hardy Compound on WWE television this year.
6 Titus O’Neil: 40
We understand if the Titus O’Neil character or the “Titus Worldwide” gimmick isn’t your favorite thing on either Raw or 205 Live. Nevertheless, you have to give the guy credit for remaining in top-tier physical shape even after turning 40 years old in April 2017. O’Neil still looks like he could play pro football as some level, and he has done well to improve his managerial character in recent years.
Granted, we never want to see O’Neil work any long-term program as a wrestler, but that doesn’t mean he has no future in the company. The promotion needs solid talkers, and a manager who builds a stable would be a throwback to storylines from the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s that got over among fans during those times.
5 A.J. Styles: 40
If you ever need extra motivation to get to the gym a couple of days in a row, just realize that A.J. Styles turns 41 years old in June 2018, looks as cut as he did, if not more so, while in his 20s and 30s, and is also probably the best overall wrestler in the WWE as of the start of the year.
Styles has exceeded expectations among fans who feared the promotion wouldn’t properly utilize his skills since he first appeared in the company, and he is the current WWE Champion months ahead of WrestleMania 34. Styles has done well as the “face who runs the place” on the SmackDown brand. He should continue to play that role up through the end of the year while having feuds with the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens and maybe even Sami Zayn.
4 Cesaro: 37
Cesaro has always done well to keep himself in the best shape possible throughout his wrestling career, and he seemingly hasn’t lost a step even after turning 37 years old in late 2017. The biggest complaint WWE fans who watched Cesaro perform in Ring of Honor and other promotions years before he first appeared in NXT is that the promotion has never given him a chance to become a singles star on either Raw or SmackDown.
Despite his age, Cesaro remains one of the best wrestlers working underneath the WWE umbrella in 2018, and he has the goods to get over as either a babyface or heel if the company would put a rocket underneath the character. We’re still hoping Cesaro will become either Universal Champion or WWE Champion before the end of the decade.
3 Shinsuke Nakamura: 37
Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the truly unique personalities and performers in the WWE and in all of pro wrestling today. We understand those who followed Nakamura during his days wrestling in Japan would likely say that his best days occurred before he ever worked for the largest promotion in the world, but he has still managed to create multiple highlight-reel matches in WWE, particularly during his stint in NXT.
Like other dedicated fans, we would like to see the company better utilize Nakamura’s undeniable skills on either SmackDown or Raw. There’s always the hope that the WWE will go through with the program involving Nakamura and A.J. Styles that was briefly teased in 2017. That could produce a WWE match-of-the-decade so long as the two weren’t handcuffed by bad writing.
2 Asuka: 36
We are grateful the WWE no longer has any issues with pushing female performers who are past a certain age. Asuka turned 36 years old in September 2018, but you wouldn’t know that upon looking at her or by watching her perform during her time in NXT or her run on the Raw brand.
There’s little question Asuka is the best women on the roster today and, truth be told, maybe the best woman to ever compete full-time for the promotion, and we hopefully won’t have to wait long until she enjoys a lengthy run as a champion on Raw. It’s possible we could see an encounter between Auska and former Ultimate Fighting Championship title-holder Ronda Rousey in 2018. That could be a lot of fun.
1 John Cena: 40
John Cena may not look exactly as he did when he first debuted during an episode of SmackDown to challenge Kurt Angle all the way back in 2002. Most notably, Cena’s hairline isn’t what it was roughly 16 years ago. Still, Cena’s body is as impressive, if not more so, than it was back then, as the leader of the CeNation remains jacked and in great shape as he approaches his 41st birthday that is coming in April of this year.
There are more than a few rumors floating around that Cena could be eyeing the end of his full-time wrestling career soon, perhaps even this year. Even when Cena does pursue other endeavors, we expect to see the all-time great make sporadic returns to the company and business he loves.