The aging process is more bizarre in wrestling than it is in any form of athletics. The peak years of a wrestler entering their prime are usually the early-to-mid 30s. Athletes in other fields are often forced out of work or suffer a decline around that time by having to compete with others who are much younger. Wrestling luckily revolves mostly around star power and making money, this factor will always win out over age. The Undertaker, Triple H and The Rock still being able to sell shows and get fans invested in their work on the big events shows that age is just a number in pro wrestling.
All wrestlers have different paths in their careers with WWE often being the dream. Some performers will get signed at a very young age due to the company seeing the potential in them being valuable enough to take the risk on. Others enter WWE after a long road gaining experience in smaller promotions and learning the craft before getting the opportunity. Both concepts deliver different positives and there’s no exact science to finding success in pro wrestling. The only thing varying career trajectories will really cause is a bit of a weird age gap between performers. Fans often struggle predicting the age of many wrestlers.
Many of today’s stars and most exciting talents are quite young. The years of experience or an early signing to WWE makes them appear older. There is also the rare occasions of a wrestler having a look or persona that visually causes them to look older and causes confusion among fans. We’re going to look at some of those performers here with very talented wrestlers that are deceptively young. The various reasons for this will be examined and each story is unique to the performer with a couple of similar traits. These fifteen talented stars are all still surprisingly quite young.
15 Seth Rollins - 29
The success of Seth Rollins in the WWE has been among the most impressive for his age group. Rollins started wrestling as a teenager, so it feels like he’s a lot older than he is due to the vast experience he has in the world of pro wrestling. Before his 30th birthday, Rollins can boast that he’s won the WWE World Championship in the main event of a WrestleMania event. The early part of Rollins' career saw him have impressive reigns as the ROH World Champion and the first ever NXT Champion. Rollins has a long career ahead of him as a sneaky young superstar already forming his legacy in history.
14 Sasha Banks – 24
The body of work put out by Sasha Banks in her short WWE career is staggering, as she's already had some of the best women’s wrestling matches in company history. Banks being just 24-years-old is an absolutely staggering fact considering she works as well as any other professional. The future of the WWE women’s division is in great hands with Banks and her eventual victory over Charlotte will provide an amazing moment. The fans at most television shows chant “We want Sasha” for good reason and WWE will eventually give her the platform to show why she’s the one of the best wrestlers (regardless of gender) in the world.
13 Nick Jackson - 26
The Young Bucks are one of the most successful tag teams in the wrestling business despite never wrestling in WWE. Matt and Nick Jackson changed the game of independent wrestling following a failed stint in TNA. The brothers recently signed the most lucrative contract in Ring of Honor history and are beloved by fans of ROH, PWG and New Japan. Matt is relatively young at 31, but Nick being a mere 26-years-old is absolutely shocking. Nick has trained since his teenage years and the brothers actually ran their own backyard promotion. The young veteran dazzles in the ring and has made a huge success of his career at a very young age.
12 Rusev - 30
Rusev’s overall look and presence makes it seem like he’s in the same age range with many of the veterans like his former League of Nations mates Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio. Rusev is still quite young at just 30-years-old. Rusev’s debut year in WWE was spectacular but he struggled to stay relevant in his second year. The WWE is full of ups and downs and that perfectly showcased it. Rusev will have plenty more chances at moving back up the card and his young age gives him more chances to fulfill his potential. The fact that he’s ditched LON and will be with Lana has him set for a better run in the remainder of 2016.
11 Emma – 27
NXT’s success of making women’s wrestling credible and respectable once again sparked the main roster division to being taken seriously. The Four Horsewomen of Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch deservingly get credit but a few others helped the process. Emma was one of the first women in NXT to give fans a reason to care about the female division but is often forgotten. The recently turned 27-year-old has gone back and forth between the main roster and NXT over the past year. Emma’s young age works to her advantage, as she has a lot of years left in her prime and WWE has to find a way to use her to the best of her potential.
10 Ricochet – 27
Ricochet is among the rare stars to excel outside of the WWE system. Some know him most for his work as Prince Puma on Lucha Underground but he tears it up on the independent circuit and in New Japan without the mask. Ricochet is arguably the best high-flying wrestler in the industry today with moves that you couldn’t even create in video games. Lucha Underground built Season 1 around the youngster and his success has only grown since then. There have been consistent rumors about WWE having interest in Ricochet and he has lots of time left to make the jump considering he’s not even 30-years-old yet.
9 The Usos - 30
The Usos have been on the main roster for five years now but it feels a lot longer as tag teams rarely stay together that long on WWE television. Rikishi’s sons have become a fixture in the tag team division and their stock has only improved with their cousin Roman Reigns being “the guy" the WWE is investing in as the next top star. The Usos have the advantage of being experienced in wrestling years but are still relatively young in life. The twin brothers are 30-years-old each and WWE clearly loves them. Regardless of if it is a random tag team feud or getting involved in Reigns’ storylines, The Usos will have a spot in WWE for quite some time.
8 Big E – 30
The New Day is the most beloved act on the WWE roster right now with the trio of talented wrestlers finally getting a chance to showcase their personalities. Big E has seen a drastic change from the serious, quiet singles wrestlers into the thrusting comedic Superstar. WWE put a lot of faith in Big E during his first big push as a face winning the Intercontinental Championship but the run flopped pretty badly. Big E has completely found himself with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. At just 30-years-old, Big E has a very bright future ahead of him and likely has the best chance at singles success if The New Day ever splits.
7 Adam Cole – 26
If you’re breaking down the top young wrestling stars outside of WWE, Adam Cole has to be at the top of the list. Cole is already an independent wrestling star with ROH and PWG World Championship runs all at the age of 26. The can’t miss prospect looked promising from day one and it led to Ring of Honor investing in him as the face of the franchise. Cole’s young age and goals will most likely lead him to WWE one day. Kevin Owens always names Cole first when answering questions about which independent wrestling stars would do well in the WWE. The magic of Cole has him carrying himself like a veteran despite being one of the youngest talents making a living from wrestling.
6 Zack Ryder – 30
Zack Ryder’s Intercontinental Championship win in the ladder match at WrestleMania 32 was the biggest moment of his career but he’s already back into obscurity a month later. Ryder's career is one of those that appears much longer than it actually is. Ryder has been the WWE system for the majority of his adult life, so most would assume he’s in the mid to late 30s but Long Island’s favorite son is just 30-years-old. No one seems as loyal or hard working with fewer results in WWE but the company definitely appreciates him to some extent to give him a WrestleMania win. Ryder will never be a major star but he should continue to stay employed as a role player for many years in his long career.
5 Drew Galloway - 30
WWE failing to make a star out of Drew Galloway will always be one of the biggest errors of the recent years. Galloway was given an initial push early into his career but it didn’t work out and he was never put into a position to succeed again. Unlike many released talents, Galloway worked even harder outside of WWE to prove himself and has progressed into one of the best all-around wrestling performers in the world. The athletic talent, personality and size make Galloway a rare commodity in wrestling and he has at least another decade left in the tank. If you think Galloway is no longer in his prime following the run of failure in the WWE, remember he is actually younger than Roman Reigns.
4 Bo Dallas – 25
Bo Dallas has failed to find his groove since getting called up to the WWE main roster in 2014. The work and character of Dallas in NXT worked to perfection as a main event heel act but it was clearly a niche act that couldn’t succeed on the main stage. Bo is trying to find a role that best suits him and it’s definitely going to be a struggle. One positive for Dallas is being one of the youngest wrestlers on the roster at 25-years-old. Being the son of I.R.S. and the brother of Bray Wyatt will only help Dallas get more opportunities, as there's lots of time left in his career.
3 Paige – 23
Paige's WWE carer would indicate she’s far older than just 23-years-old. Paige was one of the top NXT stars for a couple of years and then became a two-time Divas Champion on the main roster. Through all of her accomplishments and character changes, Paige has ended up in the lower tier of the division right now. The ups and downs happen to most performers in WWE and she’ll likely be back in the title picture again soon enough. Paige’s misleadingly young age is due to starting her wrestling career as a teenager on the British wrestling scene. The mix of youth and experience along with her marketability makes Paige a great asset for WWE in the next ten-to-fifteen years.
2 Cody Rhodes/Stardust – 30
The best example of a wrestler being in the WWE system for a long time period and making us forget just how young they are is Cody Rhodes. The son of legendary star Dusty Rhodes entered the WWE main roster in 2007 and has been a fixture in the midcard since then. Cody has worked singles and tags, heel and face, serious wrestling and comedy, and everything in between to add to his resume. His current character of Stardust is falling flat and he’ll likely have to ditch the face paint soon. Luckily, Rhodes is young enough to completely revamp his career. His chances of becoming a main eventer are slim but it still exists for the 30-year-old Rhodes as one of the younger veterans on the roster.
1 Bray Wyatt - 28
WWE has struggled to develop their young talent over the past decade. Most of the top new stars were products of Ring of Honor, Japan or other wrestling promotions before coming to WWE. Bray Wyatt would likely be the biggest success story of someone entering the WWE system and completely finding himself. Wyatt's character is one of the more unique and fascinating transformations from Husky Harris into Bray Wyatt. Between the look and his persona, Wyatt carries himself like someone that’s in his mid-30s but he is just 28-years-old. WWE values Bray highly and it will be shocking if he never holds the WWE Championship. Wyatt’s young age gives him a chance at being an icon if the future goes accordingly to plan.