Theoretically speaking, any pro wrestler reaching the pinnacle that is a major WWE championship victory should be considered in the prime of their career. On the contrary, while many wrestlers achieve their most important titles early on, plenty of sports entertainers have found themselves in possession of gold well after the athlete would have retired. In fact, for every wrestler to win a WWE championship under the age of 20, there are three superstars who did the same thing after hitting 50.
Both sides of the coin have proved highly controversial, with audiences feeling younger wrestlers tend to get the gold before the deserve it, and older wrestlers have often lost their touch, winning titles on nostalgia alone. On the other hand, when a true wunderkind gets the success they deserve, the feeling can be euphoric, and it’s just as great when a legend who can still perform gets the chance to have one last run on top.
Good or bad, the fact remains people young and old will likely continue winning wrestling titles and changing history for a long time to come. The only way to form an opinion on the subject is to know the full story, and for anyone trying to do the research, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn about the 11 oldest and 10 youngest wrestlers ever to win WWE championships.
21 OLDEST: “Diamond” Dallas Page, WWE European Champion at 45
For all the proof one needs of just how poorly WWE treated former WCW World Championship “Diamond” Dallas Page, look no further than his “greatest” solo accomplishment in the company. Despite being one of the few true stars from Ted Turner’s organization willing to sign with the McMahon’s during the Invasion storyline, DDP quickly plummeted down the card immediately upon his arrival. After getting repeatedly buried by The Undertaker, the once main event superstar was refined to the very bottom of the card, competing for the European Championship. In fairness, no matter how WWE treated him, DDP would have been in the twilight of his career, having not signed until his mid 40’s. By the time of his big title win, which occurred against Christian on a random January 2002 episode of SmackDown, Page was only two months shy of 46, making him the oldest athlete to hold the European gold.
20 YOUNGEST: Wendi Richter, WWE Women’s Champion at 22
Long before today’s women’s wrestling revolution truly took off, it looked like Wendi Richter could have started the movement on her own way back in the 1980s. With rock superstar Cyndi Lauper at her side, Richter’s mission was to prove girls just wanted to have fun in the wrestling ring. In order to do this, she had to topple her villainous trainer The Fabulous Moolah, who had teamed up with the misogynistic Captain Lou Albano. Next to the power of Hulkamania, this women’s empowerment based feud was one of the most popular aspects of the Rock and Wrestling era, capped off by Richter defeating her former mentor at MTV’s The Brawl to End It All in July 1984 at the age of 22 years and 10 months. Unfortunately, Richter’s hard work quickly fell apart when she got into trouble with WWE management, and the status quo of Moolah on top soon resumed, killing women’s wrestling for another few decades.
19 OLDEST: Hulk Hogan, WWE Undisputed Champion at 48
Given the unique relationship Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan formed as they made WWE a mainstream sensation in the 1980s, it always feels possible they’ll become best friends again and the Hulkster could wind up on top at almost any age. This may sound insane to audiences now that Hogan is nearing his mid 60s, but it was already implausible back when he was in his late 40s, and that didn’t stop WWE from doing it then. One month after making his comeback with the nWo and turning face in the legendary WrestleMania X8 match against The Rock, Hogan defeated Triple H for the Undisputed Championship at Backlash 2003, aged 48 years and 8 months. A blatant nostalgia run from the start, though fans still cheered the Hulkster’s names, his matches were plodding and slow as champion, which is probably why WWE quickly changed their minds about it and had him lose the gold to The Undertaker a mere month later.
18 YOUNGEST: Jeff Hardy, WWE Tag Team Champion at 21
Still relatively young despite being a top star for nearly two decades, Jeff Hardy clearly got an early start on his career. Believe it or not, his first appearances on Monday Night Raw came as a teenager, losing to Razor Ramon at the young age of 16. With that in mind, the fact he won a title at 21 is a little less impressive, since it took him five whole years to win his first championship. Hardy spent a long time developing as a performer in the interim, going from a jobber to the more exciting half of The Hardy Boyz. Neither he nor Matt were quite the top level performers they’d eventually become in the summer of 1999, but they were at least strong enough to upset the Acolytes for the WWE Tag Team Championships. Jeff also had the designation of becoming the youngest ever Intercontinental Champion, when he defeated Triple H for the title on a 2001 episode of SmackDown.
17 OLDEST: Goldberg, WWE Universal Champion at 50
Knocking down 173 challengers without breaking a sweat, there were many times during Goldberg’s undefeated streak when it looked like he may well hold the WCW World Championship for all time to come. That’s not exactly how things panned out, though, as it all came crumbling apart at Starrcade 1998, and WCW was out of business not long thereafter. It wasn’t the end for Goldberg, though, as he would reappear like a force of nature almost two decades later and experience one last brush with dominance and destruction. Shortly before his 50th birthday, Goldberg made a shocking comeback to WWE and defeated Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016. A few months later at Fastlane, his streak extended to 2-0 when he beat Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship. Unfortunately for Goldberg, this reign lasted significantly shorter than his first run on top, as he lost the big red belt to Lesnar a month later at WrestleMania 33.
16 YOUNGEST: The 1-2-3 Kid, WWE Tag Team Champion at 21
When the 1-2-3 Kid experienced the greatest upset in Monday Night Raw history by defeating Razor Ramon, he truly looked like a teenager living his dream. That’s because he basically was, pulling off the victory only a few months before his 21st birthday. From that moment onward, the Kid was an incredibly popular star, with his small size and super speed making him an underdog in almost every battle. The same was somewhat true of his first tag team partner, Marty Jannetty, who had been stuck his own since the dissolution of The Rockers. This made it all the more shocking when the exciting young superstars upset The Quebecers at the 1994 Royal Rumble, winning the Tag Team Championships when the Kid was only 21 years old. For whatever reason, the success was rather short-lived, as the tandem lost the gold back to the amazing French Canadians one week later.
15 OLDEST: Billy Gunn, WWE Tag Team Champion at 50
One of the most versatile and decorated tag team performers in history, Billy Gunn won the WWE Tag Team Championships 11 times, with three different partners. His first reign began a full 19 years before his last, truly a testament to his endurance as a performer and character. Another way to look at it is that nostalgia was at a high during the 2014 Royal Rumble, when Gunn and Road Dogg culminated the New Age Outlaws’ comeback and won the WWE Tag Team Championships from Goldust and Cody Rhodes. Gunn was 50 years and 4 months old at the time, thus far making him the oldest man to hold the belts that now get defended on Raw. They would lose the belts to the Usos a little over a month later, with both men basically retiring from there. And if there’s anyone out there who ain’t down with Billy’s last big win, well, we’re sure he’s got two words for you.
14 YOUNGEST: Essa Rios, WWE Light Heavyweight Champion at 21
Two years before he was one of the youngest champions in WWE history, Essa Rios, also known as Mr. Águila, was already in the record books as one of the few teenagers to compete at WrestleMania. At the age of 19, he challenged Taka Michinoku for the Light Heavyweight Championship in a losing effort, leaving WWE for his native Mexico soon after this failure. Two years later, Águila ditched his mask and revealed bright red hair to return as Essa Rios, dragging Gillberg out of the catacombs for a match on Sunday Night Heat, winning the Light Heavyweight gold at long last. Not that anyone really noticed, as all eyes were on Rios’s fiery valet, Lita, who went on to become a much more famous superstar than anyone else involved in this picture. One month later, Rios lost the title to Dean Malenko on Raw and faded into obscurity, while Lita climbed he ladder all the way to the Hall of Fame.
13 OLDEST: Roddy Piper, World Tag Team Champion at 52
Just when you thought retirement was the answer, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper did as he’s wont to do and changed the question by making his final comeback. Considered perhaps the greatest villain in wrestling history, Piper became an icon battling Hulk Hogan at the first WrestleMania in the 1980s, followed by continued success in WWE and WCW throughout the 1990s. While he never won the World Championship in either promotion, Piper always remained a top star and bona fide legend, leading to many nostalgic appearances after his initial retirement. In addition to many passionate speeches prior to big Pay-Per-Views, Piper’s biggest comeback came at Cyber Sunday 2006, when he was voted to be Ric Flair’s partner in a World Tag Team Championship match against the Spirit Squad. The legends won the gold and became the oldest men to hold those belts in history, with Piper aged 52 years and six months. They lost the belts to Rated RKO one week later.
12 YOUNGEST: Hornswoggle, WWE Cruiserweight Champion at 21
Regardless of his age, Hornswoggle would have been one of the biggest underdog champions in wrestling history due to a much more obvious issue. Even knowing wrestling is scripted, many fans had trouble believing the short statured superstar could win an invitational for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at the Great American Bash in 2007. It didn’t help that his opponents were all seriously talented wrestlers, including former champions Chavo Guerrero, Funaki, and Jamie Noble. Nonetheless, Hornswoggle found a way to walk out with the gold, becoming champion at the age of 21. Many critics were quick to claim Hornswoggle’s victory killed the title, and as it would turn out, they were exactly right, with Vickie Guerrero stripping him of the belt due to fears his size meant defending it would put him in jeopardy, followed by quietly retiring it rather than crown a new champ.
11 OLDEST: Gerald Brisco, WWE Hardcore Champion at 53
To wrestling fans who started watching in the Attitude Era or later, Gerald Brisco is remembered as the Stooge of Vince McMahon during his war against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Believe it or not, Brisco was actually a pretty huge wrestler in his day, although he had nothing on his brother Jack, a two time NWA World Champion. Jerry wasn’t that bad either, winning dozens of regional titles as a solo star and in tag teams with his brother, and his career in the ring far outlasted his older sibling’s. The final championship of Gerald’s career came long after Jack retired, when he utilized the 24/7 rule to defeat Crash Holly on a 2000 episode of SmackDown. While Holly won the title back on the next Raw, Brisco regained it moments later, making him a two time Hardcore Champ at 53 years and 8 months. Mere seconds after that, he lost it to Pat Patterson, which will get covered as this list continues.
10 YOUNGEST: Paige, NXT Women’s Champion at 20
Unfortunately, fans of the WWE Universe recently learned that Paige has become the latest superstar forced into early retirement due to a number of serious injuries. If there’s any upside, it’s that the Anti-Diva had already managed to achieve a great deal in the business despite her young age. In fact, Paige started making history the very moment she arrived on the main roster, challenging and defeating AJ Lee for the WWE Diva’s Championship at 21 years old. She was also the NXT Women’s Champion at the time, becoming the only woman to win hold both titles simultaneously. Paige held the title for three months before losing it back to AJ, after which she regained it again a month later. Obviously, Paige was even younger when gained won the NXT Women’s title, beating Emma to win the inaugural championship tournament at the age of 20 and holding the gold nearly a full year until she was called up to the main roster.
9 OLDEST: Chavo Classic, WWE Cruiserweight Champion at 55
While not quite as famous worldwide as younger brother Eddie, Chavo Guerrero, Sr. was an incredibly popular wrestler in his day. Alongside some of his brothers, Guerrero regularly sold out arenas with his emphatic babyface persona throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, winning many regional championships along the way. In contrast to the fan friendly character that made him a star, when Chavo Classic returned to WWE in 2004 to back up his son, he was firmly a villain from beginning to end. At the time of Chavo, Sr.’s debut, Chavo, Jr. was Cruiserweight Champion, and his father’s role was usually to interfere and ensure things stayed that way. However, during a triple threat match on SmackDown, Classic would defeat his own son and Spike Dudley to win the gold at the age of 55, making him the oldest man ever to hold that title. A little under one month later, he was defeated by Rey Mysterio, and soon retired from there.
8 YOUNGEST: Kenny Dykstra, World Tag Team Champion at 20
Bouncing their way to the ring in an acrobatic display, the Spirit Squad were hardly the most popular group of male cheerleaders to hit the WWE Universe. The mere fact fans despised the group didn’t stop WWE from pushing them as stars, though, as the five man team almost immediately started challenging for the World Tag Team Championships the moment they debuted. Two short months after their arrival, members Kenny and Mikey defeated Kane and The Big Show on an episode of Raw, just a few short days after the former had turned 20. Taking full advantage of the Freebird Rule, the two shared their gold with Johnny, Mitch, and Nicky, collectively holding the belts for an impressive seven months prior to getting defeated by legends “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Ric Flair. Much of the Spirit Squad faded away from there, including Kenny, with only Nicky going on to significant fame as Dolph Ziggler.
7 OLDEST: Ric Flair, World Tag Team Champion at 57
Standing next to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper when he became the second eldest World Tag Team Champion in WWE history was an even older athlete in his friend and partner Ric Flair. Compared to the 57 year and 8 month old Flair, the 52 year old Piper looked like a spring chicken as the wrecked havoc on the Spirit Squad at Cyber Sunday 2006. That reign only lasted a single week before losing it, though, so it’s not like team had to do much. Then again, just one year earlier, he also became the oldest Intercontinental Champion in history by defeating Carlito at Unforgiven 2005 at age 56. Hardly a fluke, Flair held on to the gold for a solid six months before losing it to Shelton Benjamin on Raw. Of course, neither accolade quite matches winning 16 World Championships, but that doesn’t change the fact Flair made history one more time in his storied and celebrated career.
6 YOUNGEST: Tyler Bate, WWE United Kingdom Champion at 19
Still very young and growing as a performer every day, there’s truly no limit to how much Tyler Bate could achieve in sports entertainment. At the age of 19, he already became one of the youngest superstars ever to hold WWE gold, outlasting 15 other men to win the inaugural United Kingdom Championship Tournament in January of 2017. During the finals, Bate defeated Pete Dunne in a match that was instantly heralded as a classic. Five months later, the two wowed fans once again in a rematch at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, where Dunne captured the title and became a fairly young champion himself at the age of 23. For whatever reason, WWE hasn’t been shining all that much of a spotlight on these two or the United Kingdom Championship in general aside from a few random matches, but that isn’t stopping the wrestlers involved from giving it their all and creating unforgettable experiences for the audience.
5 OLDEST: Pat Patterson, WWE Hardcore Champion at 59
In addition to being a great wrestler in his day and possessing an incredible amount of charisma, Patterson has long been Vince McMahon’s right-hand man behind the scenes, scripting some of the greatest angles and matches in wrestling history. Rewarding Pat for this loyalty and service, McMahon allowed him to remain onscreen long past the usual expiration date for the average wrestler. In fairness, it was mostly as a commentator or Vince’s Stooge, but he also occasionally got in the ring alongside Gerald Brisco. Immediately after Brisco won, lost, and re-won the Hardcore Championship from Crash Holly in 2000, Patterson decided to get in on the fun by winning the gold from his friend, aged 59. The two would then wrestle a Hardcore Evening Gown Match at King of the Ring 1999, scarring both of their legacies and any fans who watched it. Somehow, Holly also won the title back in the process, and it was all seldom mentioned again.
4 YOUNGEST: René Duprée, World Tag Team Champion at 19
For many years, it almost looked like René Duprée’s record of being the youngest person to win a WWE championship was virtually unbeatable. At the young age of 19, he teamed with Sylvain Grenier in La Résistance to defeat Kane and Rob Van Dam and June of 2003 for the World Tag Team Championships. The team held on to the gold for three months, occasionally utilizing the Freebird Rule so Rob Conway could swap in and defend one of the belts. Ultimately, the group lost their titles to The Dudley Boyz in a tables match three months later at Unforgiven. Duprée wasn’t done proving he was a wunderkind just yet, though, winning the titles that became the Raw Tag Team Championships with Kenzo Suzuki the next year at the age of 20, making him one of the youngest title holders in history twice over.
3 OLDEST: Vince McMahon, ECW Champion at 61
Being the owner of the biggest franchise in sports entertainment history, Vince McMahon can pretty much do whatever the hell he wants with his WWE Universe. On many occasions, he’s apparently done just that, making moves that seem only to satisfy his own ego and little else. In the interest of fairness, we’ll note that wasn’t necessarily the case in his much maligned WWE Championship victory, which occurred on an episode of SmackDown when Vince was 54. He defeated Triple H for the gold and vacated it several days later on Raw, and while this wasn’t exactly necessarily, it fit the storyline and Vince’s character was hardly presented as dominant. That’s exactly how he was treated during his reign as ECW Champion, though, despite the fact that at that point, Vince had reached his 60s. To win the title, Vince defeated Bobby Lashley in a 3-on-1 match at Backlash 2007 with his son Shane and Umaga as his partners. He lost it back to Lashley a month later.
2 YOUNGEST: Nicholas Cone, Raw Tag Team Champion at 10
Going in to WrestleMania 34, speculation ran rampant about who Braun Strowman would choose as his partner when he challenged Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Championship. Ultimately, it would have been borderline impossible to accurately predict the answer, as the Monster Amongst Men simply walked into the audience and grabbed a 10-year-old kid to stand in his corner. All he did was look nervous and accept a hot tag, but the few seconds this gave Strowman to recover was enough for him to tag back in and win the belts. The next night, it was revealed the fan was Nicholas Cone, son of WWE referee John Cone. Unfortunately, at the same time, the young champion was also forced to vacate the belts, what with his being enrolled in the fourth grade. The jury is still out on Nicholas’s lasting impact, with some feeling his win diminishes the prestige of the belts, and others calling it a true WrestleMania moment.
1 OLDEST: The Fabulous Moolah, WWE Women’s Champion at 76
Professional wrestling is scripted, which means anyone could win any title at any point if WWE wants them to win it. Whether or not said victory would be “believable” is irrelevant, as WWE can almost always make it work with their own internal logic. Case in point, every other win on this half of the list. However, that wasn’t so with The Fabulous Moolah’s last stand, which came when she was at the ripe age of 76. Moolah defeated Ivory for the WWE Women’s Championship at No Mercy 1999, becoming the oldest wrestler to win any championship in the sport’s history. Though she lost the gold back to Ivory eight short days later, the damage was done, and the belt wasn’t taken seriously for years after the change. Believe it or not, even without this victory, Moolah still would have been the oldest champion ever, with her penultimate Women’s Championship win started when she defeated Velvet McIntyre in 1987, at the brisk age of 63.