Wrestling fans and wrestling insiders feel that the only way for professional wrestling to have a future is for companies to create new stars who can step in when older stars are no longer able to perform. However, professional wrestling is a business where people reach their peaks a lot later in life, and the top stars are able to perform well into their 30s and beyond. In WWE, many of the top stars on the active roster are 40 years old or older, and do not look to be slowing down any time soon.
With that in mind, an interesting proposition is one where predictions are made regarding what these 40-plus WWE stars will be doing five years from now. This list will not include Triple H, because he is not on the active roster. Nor will it include Mark Henry, because he is essentially retired.
The wrestlers on this list are all over 40, and are some of the top stars in the company. Predicting where these wrestlers will be, and what they will be doing five years from now, should insight a lot of conversation, but that doesn’t make the endeavor any less fun or interesting.
Bonus: Chris Jericho – Hall Of Famer, Legends Contract
Chris Jericho is not a full time performer in the literal sense, but when he commits to WWE, it is his only concern, so he qualifies to be included on this list. Currently, Jericho is on of the top talents in wrestling, as his match with Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 will attest. That said, Jericho is currently 47 years old, which means that in five years, he will be 52. Jericho’s physique is already starting to get soft, so in five years, he might not be in shape enough to continue performing.
The most obvious prediction is that he will be in the WWE Hall of Fame, unless the company convinces him to keep having matches, or just puts him off as they are doing The Rock. In addition however, Jericho will become an attraction who has occasional matches. His main function though, will be like Ron Simmons’, but instead of saying “Damn”, Jericho will emerge from out of nowhere to put people on “the list”, much to delight of the WWE Universe.
15. AJ Styles – Chasing Ric Flair’s World Title Record
Currently, AJ Styles is one of the top performers in all of professional wrestling, and has been for quite some time. AJ has only been in WWE for a short time, but he has already won two WWE World Titles. Add that to his two IWGP titles, and his 5 NWA/TNA titles, and Styles has already won nine World Titles, but WWE will only count their two for the time being. Nevertheless, five years from now, Styles’ future should be as bright as his present, even though he’ll be 45.
Because of his ability to stay relatively injury free, Styles should be able to stay on top of his game for years to come. In five years, Styles will probably be world champion again, and moreover, he will probably be chasing Ric Flair and John Cena for most recognized World Titles ever. The record that Styles will be chasing will depend on what happens with John Cena over the next few years.
14. Titus O’Neil – Sports Announcer
Titus is one of the eight wrestlers on this list who are currently exactly 40 years old as of the writing of this piece, and right now, he is finally getting the push that he should have gotten years ago, instead of being saddled with Darren Young in a failed tag team. However, because he has never been one of the top guys in the company, it is hard to predict where he would be in five years. Titus’ career could go in a number of different directions.
Because he is intelligent, articulate and personable, Titus could end up taking Booker T and Jerry Lawler’s place on the pre-show panels for WWE PPVs. At the same time, because Titus will probably not be remembered for his wrestling career, it is possible that O’Neil could end up out of the business, and working in the private sector or as a sportscaster on a local television station. Titus’ future truly remains to be seen.
13. Brock Lesnar – Living In Seclusion
While AJ Styles and Titus O’Neil give the appearance of being young 40-year-olds, Brock has the look of being an older 40. That is because his pro wrestling career, combined with his MMA fights, has given his body a severe beating. Brock does not keep a full time schedule, so some would say that he is already an attraction, so predicting that for him five years from now would be redundant.
Brock is definitely going into the WWE Hall of Fame, but his future seems as if it will be a little different than most former wrestlers. He just doesn’t seem like the type who will hang around the business just to be near it. Brock will probably search for peace and anonymity, and will probably spend his time with something that he loves, like farming. It would not be a surprise if Brock coached high school football and continues living in relative seclusion once his WWE career was over.
12. Bobby Roode – On-Screen Authority Figure
Like AJ Styles, Bobby Roode is a young 40 year old, but also like AJ Styles, Roode has been in the business a lot longer than WWE fans might realize. This is why Roode’s retirement from professional wrestling might come sooner than later, and it would not be a surprise. It would happen because he is ready to walk away, not because of physical debilitation, because he has stayed virtually injury-free throughout his career.
Even though Roode hasn’t been with WWE for very long, his future will be tied to the company, as he is an asset that the company will not want to let get away. He will definitely be an ambassador for the company, but beyond that, he has options. Roode could end up as a color commentator on either Raw or SmackDown, or he could possibly end up as an on-screen authority figure for one of the two main shows. Either way, Vince and Triple H will find a way to utilize Bobby Roode.
11. Jeff Hardy – Running Wrestling Promotion With Matt
While Roode and Styles are young 40s, Jeff Hardy is an old 40. Between TLC matches, dirt bike accidents and his personal demons, Hardy has done a lot of damage to his body. This would make one think that he would retire probably sooner than later. Unfortunately, Hardy is always looking for the next big thrill, and five years from now, his mindset will not change very much.
Within a span of a single year, Jeff, along with his brother Matt, worked for ROH, TNA, WWE, and a number of indy promotions. Five years from now, it is possible that WWE would have let him go, but Jeff will still be working in professional wrestling. He will use his name to command huge fees on the indy circuit, while running his own promotion with his brother Matt. Jeff will want to continue performing and seeking out the next big challenge in his life.
10. Sin Cara – Wrestling In Mexican Promotions
The former Hunico, and the current Sin Cara, has the advantage over the other 40-somethings in that Mexican wrestlers tend to spend longer in professional wrestling than others, but no one knows exactly why. As such, Sin Cara is 40 years old, but still moves at the same level as the other Cruiserweights in WWE. Because he hasn’t lost a step as he ages, Sin Cara more than likely has several very good years left in his body.
Five years from now, Sin Cara will probably not be in WWE, as the company will look to reload with younger talent, but that will not deter the former Hunico. He will simply go back to one of the prominent companies in Mexico, and will continue his career. If the company is still in business, Hunico might have the opportunity to compete in the temple in Boyle Heights, where Lucha Underground resides. Wherever he goes, chances are, he will still be able to perform at a high level.
9. Sheamus – Steady Mid-Carder In WWE
Sheamus does not exactly look 40, and it doesn’t seem as if he has been in the business very long, but he has over ten years in WWE under his belt. Sheamus is still in phenomenal shape, and is still performing at a high level. Working in more tag team matches and fewer singles matches is lengthening his career, and he is currently in the perfect role of working with and putting over younger stars.
As he grows older, it is very possible that Sheamus will still be on the WWE roster, in the exact same role that he currently occupies. The difference will be that instead of working with top level guys, he will be working with mid-card talents, much in the way that the Big Show does when he is called upon. Sheamus will still be in very good shape, and will still be able to compete with the younger stars in the company. If guys like R-Truth and Goldust have hung around in their mid-40s, there’s no reason to think Sheamus can’t.
8. John Cena – Retired In-Ring Wrestler, Big Hollywood Star
“The Face That Runs the Place” has been the top man in WWE for longer than most of the names on this list have been in the wrestling business. That means that Cena has taken a lot of punishment on his body. His recent transition into Hollywood has indicated to Cena that he was wrong about The Rock, and the fact that making movies is less punishing than wrestling and this is where the future for John Cena lies.
Cena will continue to make movies and television appearances, along with his Make-a-Wish work. Unlike The Rock, Cena will make occasional but more frequent appearances with WWE. The big question for Cena’s future is the WWE Hall of Fame. He deserves to be in, and someday, he will. However, will he get in immediately as he deserves to, or will he be held off under the auspices of him being “to busy to nail down for WrestleMania weekend” as the fans are being sold regarding why Rock is not yet in the Hall? Only time will tell.
7. Shelton Benjamin – Operating Wrestling School
Shelton Benjamin’s return to WWE from his stint in Japan, and on the indy circuit, was interrupted by an injury that kept him out of action for a considerable amount of time. Since his return, Benjamin has looked like his old self, and that will give him the idea that he can continue to perform for years to come. Unfortunately, as he ages, WWE will no longer see a use for him, which will force Benjamin to make decisions about his career.
If he is able, Shelton Benjamin will still want to compete in five years, but WWE might not be interested as they continue their youth movement. Benjamin will look to continue his career, and companies in Japan or Mexico might be interested. Benjamin also has a lot to offer the next generation of stars, so a wrestling school, perhaps with former partner Charlie Haas, might not be out of the question either.
6. Rhyno – Roaming The Indies
Terry Gerin, the man-beast Rhyno, recently ran for office while taking a break from professional wrestling. When the election was concluded, and Gerin was defeated, Rhyno returned to WWE to continue his professional wrestling career. Rhyno in 2018 has clearly lost a step, but he can still execute his signature move; the spear. That alone will tell Rhyno that he can still go and is still a top talent.
Rhyno might soon be released by WWE, and he will quickly make his way to Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion or Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling promotion. His relationship with these promotions will allow him to return to WWE from time to time for anniversary shows. He can come into the ring, deliver a spear, and then soak up the cheers of the crowd as the chant “gore, gore, gore”.
5. Matt Hardy – Legends Contract, Running Promotion With Jeff
Practically everything that was written here about Jeff Hardy, the same goes for Matt Hardy. However, there are differences, and they are many. Matt is not the thrill seeker that Jeff is, so it is possible that he will look forward to retirement. Matt is also three years older than Jeff, and has done similar damage to his body, so he could be ready for retirement soon. Running the school with Jeff might happen, but Matt has more things to consider than Jeff currently does.
Matt might decide to leave the spotlight and just be a family man, raising Maxel and Wolfgang with his wife Reby. However, “Broken/Woken” Matt is a character that WWE can use on occasion when they need something bizarre for a backstage skit, similar to the Boogeyman’s appearance at the 25th Anniversary show. He comes out, does his sinister laugh, threatens to delete someone, and then other stars do the worked, after which, Matt proclaims the injured party “Dele-e-e-ted, Ye-e-e-e-e-e-s”.
4. Big Show – Pursuing Acting Career
In five years, Paul “Big Show” Wight will be 50 years old, and his professional wrestling debut will have been 28 years in the past. Show is currently working a limited schedule, partially because of his age, and partially because the WWE writers cannot honestly find ways to make use of the man and his character. WWE doesn’t use managers, so Show couldn’t do that, and the company has chosen not to use him as a commentator, so in five years, these things will not change.
Five years from now, Big Show will be exactly what he is today, an attraction that is infrequently used, and an ambassador for the company. He will continue to have opportunities to make television and movie appearances, because his natural talent will not fade, and Hollywood will be able to do what WWE cannot; make use of that talent. The main thing that will happen is that Big Show will definitely be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, and any other Hall of Fame that will have him.
3. R-Truth – Hosting Wrestling Podcast
R-Truth is a former two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, but WWE has never seen him as more than a mid-card talent, and a comedy act. As such, Truth has never been pushed to the top of the card, and has never been trusted with titles. Even during the Hardcore Titles 24/7 era, Truth only held the belt twice, for a total of less than one day. However, Truth is still employed by the company, but in five years, that could change.
Because he hasn’t been used much, Truth’s body will be in better shape than more frequently used 50 year old talents, and he will still be able to perform at a high level, just not in WWE. Truth will make his way through the indy circuit, and will perform for several years there, refusing to retire, and continuing to thrill fans with his entrance rap. However, Truth’s real future lies in shoot videos. Ron Killings has seen a lot during his time in the business, and he will willingly share his insight with the world.
2. Goldust – NXT Trainer
Dustin Rhodes made his professional wrestling debut 30 years ago, and he is still able to perform, despite his age and the damage that he has done to his body because of his demons. He is currently working with the 205 Live roster, which is impressive considering his age. Goldust is a character, and that character will always be in demand by WWE, like the Boogeyman, Dustin will make those appearances when called upon, but he will have much more to offer the company and the business.
Like Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, D-Von Dudley and others, Dustin Rhodes will serve the business as an agent and producer for WWE, helping plan matches and working with younger talent. He might also spend time with the WWE creative staff, or as a trainer for NXT. Rhodes has a lot to offer the business, and WWE would be wise to take advantage of what Dustin Rhodes has to give.
1. Kane – Furthering Political Career
Kane is the oldest member of the WWE roster, except for the Undertaker, and unlike the Undertaker, Kane makes regular appearances for WWE. It is incredible that a man his size can still take the bumps that he does at 50 years old, but his career is close to coming to an end. The good thing is that Kane is also one of the smartest men in the company, and he has a lot of options for his future.
Kane will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but his future will hold much more than that. Kane owns an insurance company with his wife, and he is very active in politics. He has already announced his intentions to run for a mayoral seat in Tennessee, and he has made several appearances speaking at political functions. Kane will maintain his affiliation with WWE, but his life will be full of challenges.
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