WWE’s most active wrestler of all-time has recently left the company, although only on a temporary basis. Think you know who that wrestler is? If you guessed Kane, you are correct. Nobody in the history of the world’s largest pro-wrestling company has wrestled more matches than Kane has. Not Bruno Sammartino, not Hulk Hogan, not anybody.
With his WWE tenure securely ranked #1 all-time, Kane has decided to run for mayor of Knox County in Tennessee. The 50-year old whose real name is Glenn Jacobs was first signed by WWE some 22 years ago. After briefly performing as Dr. Isaac Yankem and the fake Diesel, Jacobs adopted the Kane gimmick in 1997.
Kane’s sabbatical from the company now opens the door for a new member of the current roster to take the reigns as the WWE’s most tenured star. There are plenty of longtime WWE veterans who qualify as Kane’s potential replacements as well.
Wrestlers don’t move around from promotion to promotion today like they used to. In the territory days, wrestlers would frequently move promotions in order to stay fresh. During the Monday Night War era, wrestlers would sign with rival promotions frequently. Nowadays, however, WWE’s roster stays put for the most part.
Out of every Superstar on WWE’s current roster, here are WWE’s longest tenured wrestlers.
15. Bo Dallas – 9 Years
Despite being just 27 years old, only 14 current WWE wrestlers have been with the company longer than Bo Dallas. With Mike Rotunda as his father, Barry Windham his uncle, and Bray Wyatt for a big brother, Bo was thought of as a blue-chip prospect when the company hired him in 2008.
Only 18 years old at the time, Bo was sent to Florida Championship Wrestling, which was a WWE developmental territory at the time. Dallas won the NXT championship in 2013 and also won a tournament with the winner earning an entry into the 2013 Royal Rumble. He would become a full-time main roster member later that year.
14. Curtis Axel – 10 Years
Joe Hennig, better known to modern day wrestling fans as Curtis Axel, has been with the WWE for over a decade. He was signed in late-March 2007 and was sent to WWE’s developmental territory in Florida. The son of Mr. Perfect, Axel was considered a can’t miss prospect, much like his current tag-team partner Bo Dallas was.
Now 37 years of age, it is safe to assume Curtis Axel won’t become the world champion many thought he might be. He was given a monster push as a “Paul Heyman” guy back in 2013, but unfortunately, fans didn’t see him as that level a performer.
13. Natalya – 10 Years
35-year-old old Natalya has been with WWE for a decade. Considering how well-respected she is by fans, wrestlers, and WWE brass, it’s safe to assume Natalya will be on the roster for many years to come.
Her husband, Tyson Kidd, is just as respected as she is, however, a serious neck injury brought his career to a premature end. He has since started working as a backstage producer.
Natalya grew up wrestling in the Hart Family Mansion in Calgary. Tyson Kidd was a family friend and also spent much of his youth in the Hart’s backyard wrestling ring.
This year at SummerSlam, Natalya has a chance to win a championship for just the second time in her WWE career. A former Divas champion, Natalya has yet to strike gold since the championship was renamed at WrestleMania 32.
12. Alicia Fox – 11 Years
No female wrestler in the history of WWE has ever been signed to the company for longer than Alica Fox has. Understanding that fact, and it’s hard to understand why Noam Dar was unable to commit to the relationship.
The 31-year-old Victoria Crawford was signed by WWE in 2006 and made her main roster debut in 2008. Her signing comes one year earlier than the next most tenured female on WWE’s current and all-time roster, Natalya.
Trish Stratus, Lita, and even the Fabulous Moolah did not have as long a run in WWE as Alicia Fox has. Many would say that despite the long time she has been with the company, WWE has failed to make the most of her skills. She is a former Divas Champion, but it has been many years since Alicia Fox was portrayed as a championship contender.
11. Kofi Kingston – 11 Years
35-year-old Kofi Kingston first signed with WWE as a 24-year-old in 2006. He was originally assigned to Deep South Wrestling, a former WWE developmental territory in Georgia. He would wrestle there until 2007 when he was called up to be a part of the ECW brand.
In 2008, Kofi would be drafted to Raw and would promptly win the Intercontinental championship from Chris Jericho in his first official match for the brand. He would continue to rise up the card but ended up plateauing as a mid-carder. Despite having a main event feud with Randy Orton, Kofi failed to reach the main event level.
Kofi’s career was given a boost in 2014 when he was put together with Xavier Woods and Big E to form the New Day. Despite a horrendous early run, the team would go on to become the longest reigning tag team champions of all time.
10. R-Truth – 12 Years Over 2 Stints
Few remember that Ron Killings’ first run with WWE was under the name K-Kwik. He was first signed by the company in 1999. He was sent to Memphis Championship Wrestling, which was a developmental territory for WWE at the time. He even won the company’s Southern Heavyweight Championship on two occasions. The first time he held the title he would lose it to Jerry Lawler.
Truth cracked the main roster in 2000 and wrestled as part of a tag team with the Road Dogg. Unfortunately, Road Dogg ended up being released by the company not long after, and R-Truth himself would be let go before 2001 was up.
9. Zack Ryder – 12 Years
Zack Ryder has lost far more matches than he has won throughout his 12 year WWE career. Yet somehow, the 32-year-old Long Island native has always come out unscathed when the company purges their roster of unneeded talent. He has always been just good enough to not get fired.
Ryder wasn’t yet 20 years old when he had his first match with WWE. He was used as enhancement talent against Matt Morgan on an episode of Smackdown. Eventually, he was sent to Deep South Wrestling where he formed a team with Curt Hawkins. They would later debut on the main roster together as Edge’s lookalike run-in buddies.
8. The Miz – 13 Years
In just a couple of months, it will be 13 years since Mike Mizanin competed on season 4 of Tough Enough. Despite losing out to Daniel Puder, Miz was offered a contract anyway and sent to Deep South Wrestling. After a couple of years in the Georgia based developmental territory, he was transferred to Ohio Valley Wrestling where he would win the promotion’s tag team titles with a wrestler named Chris Cage.
In 2006 the Miz would be called up to Smackdown. He would spend a brief period as Smackdown’s “host” before debuting his MizTV segment. He would be drafted to the ECW brand in 2007, which is where he really came into his own.
7. Dolph Ziggler – 13 Years
Rumors are that 13 year WWE veteran Dolph Ziggler will be returning to television with a brand new gimmick, though nobody seems to know just exactly what that will entail.
It won’t be the first gimmick change for the 37-year-old. He has had a few of them over the years. He was the caddie for the short-lived “Kerwin White” gimmick used by Chavo Guerrero, and then in 2005 was famously cast as “Nicky” from the Spirit Squad. No matter what the gimmick he’ll be returning as, however, it has to be an upgrade from his first two WWE gimmicks.
Ziggler signed with the company in 2004 and spent some time in Ohio Valley Wrestling before being brought up to the main roster. In his time with WWE he has won the World Heavyweight Championship, the US championship, and the Intercontinental Championship on 5 occasions.
6. Matt and Jeff Hardy – Matt 16 years, Jeff 12 years
Matt and Jeff Hardy each wrestled their first WWE match on May 23rd, 1994. Matt was still a few months away from his 20th birthday, while Jeff had yet to turn 17, though it’s doubtful WWE knew his real age at the time.
Both brothers would work as jobbers, often appearing on episodes of Monday Night Raw. WWE saw something in them though, and in 1998 decided it was time to give the boys a push. The team would eventually come into their own and contribute to arguably the greatest period in tag team wrestling history along with the Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian.
Jeff Hardy was released in 2003, though Matt would stay with the company. The younger Hardy ended up in TNA before rejoining his brother in WWE in 2006. They would both leave again 3 years later, finally returning again in 2017.
5. Goldust – 16 Years Over 6 Stints
48-year-old Dustin Runnels wrestled his first match on the WWE roster in 1990. His first stint with the company was from 1990 to 1991, largely playing a minor role in his father’s feud with Ted Dibiase. From 1991-1995 he wrestled in WCW before he and his new wife, Terri Runnels, left for WWE. His first stint as Goldust lasted throughout most of the Monday Night War until he signed with WCW in 1999. Following WCW’s demise, he re-signed with WWE where he would wrestle until 2003. At that time, WWE simply let his contract expire. He signed again with WWE in 2005 but was again let go later in 2006.
From 1991-1995 he wrestled in WCW before he and his new wife, Terri Runnels, left for WWE. His first stint as Goldust lasted throughout most of the Monday Night War until he signed with WCW in 1999. Following WCW’s demise, he re-signed with WWE where he would wrestle until 2003. At that time, WWE simply let his contract expire. He signed again with WWE in 2005 but was again let go later in 2006.
4. Randy Orton – 16 Years
Randy Orton was only 21 years old when WWE first signed him. He’s now 37. Orton was a blue-chip can’t miss prospect even back in 2001 when he was signed. The company immediately sent him to Ohio Valley Wrestling where he would wrestle some guy named “the Prototype”, amongst others.
In 2002 Orton debuted on the main roster as a fresh young babyface. He would turn heel later in the year after suffering a shoulder injury. In 2003, he joined Evolution and the rest was history. His first WWE World Championship victory would come at SummerSlam in 2004. The victory made Orton the youngest world champion in WWE history.
3. Chris Jericho – 16 Years
Chris Jericho signed with WWE on June 30th, 1999, over 18 years ago. During his tenure with the company, he has taken several sabbaticals, however, making his total time with the company at closer to 16 years.
Jericho had been wrestling as a mid-carder in WCW throughout most of the Monday Night Wars when he defected. Despite not being given much in the way of a push, Jericho won over many fans with his humor and wrestling style. His WWE debut felt as though a main event wrestler had switched sides, only Jericho was far from that high up the card in WCW.
From 2005 to 2007 Jericho stayed away from wrestling, and he has taken several long breaks since returning, mainly to tour with his band Fozzy. Now 46, some say Jericho is as good as he ever has been.
2. John Cena – 17 Years
John Cena’s first WWE match was a Smackdown dark match in 2000. Using the name “The Prototype” Cena would defeat Mikey Richardson that night. He would wrestle in another dark match a few months later and eventually was signed by the company. He would be sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling where he would wrestle the likes of Randy Orton and others.
Paul Heyman would be the first to push John Cena when he did so while head writer of the Smackdown brand in 2002. This was early in the first brand-split era, and Heyman’s Smackdown also featured a young rookie by the name of Brock Lesnar. The show also featured a young Batista as well.
1. The Big Show – 18 Years
Now that both Kane and The Undertaker are out of the picture, the longest tenured member of WWE’s current roster is the Big Show.
WWE was so confident in how well Big Show would do on their roster that they signed him to a 10-year contract in 1999. No doubt Vince McMahon needed to match a sizeable offer from WCW at the time. He was immediately placed into the main event picture against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Originally referred to by his real name, Paul Wight, the company would soon begin referring to him as “the Big Show”.
Now 45 years old the Big Show spends most of his time helping to get other wrestlers over. Currently, he is involved in the storyline involving Big Cass and former tag-team partner Enzo.
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