With the exception of a few terrible choices by professional wrestling bookers, to get to the top of the sport and become world champion means a great deal. For every Vince McMahon or David Arquette, there are Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The latter three men took the sport on their backs and are now considered some of the best the sport has ever seen inside a ring. For these men, their legacy in the business was not something that their promotions knew about early on.
There are some wrestlers throughout the course of history that fans, bookers, and fellow wrestlers knew were going to be something special. These wrestlers were given the reigns of the company at an early age. Regardless of which promotion these men became world champions in, their place in history will forever be remembered.
To clarify, the list will only feature a wrestler's first title reign, as in the youngest wrestlers to become world champion, otherwise you'd be seeing re-runs on this list. For example, Big Show would be on this list twice if you included both his WWE and WCW title reigns, but since he won in WCW first, only that one will be on this list.
This list of the youngest wrestling champions of all time includes title runs in World Wrestling Entertainment, World Championship Wrestling, National Wrestling Alliance, and Extreme Championship Wrestling. Some of the names that appear here may be expected, but others, including those at the very top of the list, may come as a surprise.
15 15. Pedro Morales – 28 years, 3 months, 17 days
14 14. Ivan Koloff – 28 years, 4 months, 24 days
13 13. John Cena – 27 years, 11 months, 11 days
12 12. Bruno Sammartino – 27 years, 7 months, 11 days
11 11. The Undertaker – 26 years, 8 months, 3 days
10 10. The Rock – 26 years, 6 months, 13 days
9 9. Yokozuna – 26 years, 6 months, 2 days
For younger fans, the idea of a man competing inside a WWE ring with a weight surpassing 500 pounds and being effective is non-existent. In the early 1990s, that idea was not only something that fans could imagine as it was something they could see each week with Yokozuna. At the 1993 Royal Rumble, Yokozuna eliminated the Macho Man Randy Savage to earn the right to compete for the world title at WrestleMania against Bret Hart. Yokozuna’s size was too much for The Hitman and at the time became the youngest world champion in the company's history. Unfortunately for Yoko, his reign lasted only a couple of minutes, as Hogan beat him for the belt moments after winning it. He would regain it from Hogan a couple of months later.
8 8. Brock Lesnar – 25 years, 1 month, 13 days
7 7. Tommy Rich – 24 years, 9 months, 1 day
6 6. Randy Orton – 24 years, 4 months, 14 days
5 5. The Giant – 23 years, 8 months, 21 days
4 4. Kerry Von Erich – 23 years, 3 months, 3 days
3 3. Chris Candido – 22 years, 7 months, 28 days
2 2. Mikey Whipwreck – 22 years, 4 months, 24 days
1 1. Lou Thesz - 21 years, 8 months, 5 days
What did you accomplish in your life at 21 years old? Well, the legendary Lou Thesz was winning his first world title in the NWA. On December 29, 1937, Thesz defeated Everett Marshall for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. His reign would only last six weeks, but it would be the first of many for Thesz, whom many believe was wrestling's first true superstar and left the biggest impact on the business. Getting the world title at 21 was the start of a long, decorated career.
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