Thousands of children dream about becoming professional wrestlers. The bright lights, the screaming fans, the big gold belts—what kid wouldn’t want to be a part of the show? Fortunately for the kid, although unfortunately for imagination, there are certain rules and regulations involved in wrestling. It actually takes a performer years of training and dedication before they can wrestle safely enough to do so at a professional level. That said, given the right motivation, ambition and natural athleticism, if a person starts training to become a wrestler, they could still end up on TV at a pretty young age.
At least seven teenagers have wrestled on WWE television, with a few competing in WCW and ECW as well. The earlier examples are mostly jobbers, people hired solely to lose to the more important wrestlers. The longer WWE existed, however, the greater the chances of a pre-naturally gifted young athlete being seen and given the chance to appear on television became. Some of the teens went on to become huge WWE Superstars, while others faded away before they hit their 20’s. Most were at least over 18, but a few were arguably too young, needing to lie about their age to sign the contract to wrestle. Regardless of how they got there, these 10 wrestlers made WWE record books years before they could legally drink.
10. Kelly Kelly Is the Youngest Female to Wrestle For WWE
It hasn’t been too long since Kelly Kelly, real name Barbie Blank, wrestled for WWE. Still, she doesn’t get mentioned terribly often, so fans might be surprised to learn she was in fact the youngest female ever to wrestle for WWE. Less than a decade ago, aged 19, Kelly debuted in 2006 as an “exhibitionist,” repeatedly promising to strip naked on the WWE revival of ECW. She became the onscreen girlfriend of Mike Knox and eventually had her debut match in August 2006, teaming with Knox and Test in a losing effort against the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer and Torrie Wilson. Still young and inexperienced, it would take Kelly five years before winning her first title, the WWE Diva’s Championship. Another career highlight saw her tag with Maria Menounos at WrestleMania XXVIII in 2012. She was released from her contract later that year.
9. The Tonga Kid Is the Youngest to Join the Family Tradition
A member of one of the biggest families in wrestling history, The Tonga Kid’s real name is Samuel Larry Anoa’i Fatu. His most direct relations are his brother, Rikishi, and his nephews Jimmy and Jey Uso, but as a member of the Anoa’i family, the Tonga Kid is distantly related to several dozen wrestling Samoans. Naturally, his wildest uncles, Afa and Sika, trained him and the former WWE World Tag Team Champions used their influence to get Tonga a job when he was only 18. Tonga Kid started making appearances in 1983 on shows like WWE Championship Wrestling, All-Star Wrestling and Prime Time Wrestling, aligning with Jimmy Snuka in his feud against Roddy Piper. On the strength of this feud, Tonga became the youngest person ever to headline a show at Madison Square Garden. Tonga eventually changed his name to Tama, turning heel and teaming with Haku as the Islanders.
8. David Flair Is the Youngest Champion in WCW History
David Flair is the son of Ric Flair, the 16-time World Heavyweight Champion, who many to this day consider arguably the greatest professional wrestler of all time. It is in no way surprising, then, that he would take his hand at wrestling, just as it isn’t surprising he couldn’t possibly live up to expectations. Nonetheless, David made his debut in WCW while he was 19 at Souled Out 1999. Teaming with his father, the Flair’s defeated Curt Hennig and Barry Windham. Several months later, shortly after turning 20, David was awarded the WCW United States Championship, making him the youngest champion in WCW history. David stayed with WCW until the promotion went out of business in 2001 and made occasional appearances in WWE, primarily only on television in relation to the Nature Boy.
7. René Duprée Is The Only Teen To Win A WWE Title
It’s true only the few people on this list even got the chance to try, but only René Duprée actually accomplished the rare feat of winning a WWE championship while still a teenager. Duprée debuted in 2003 as a member of La Résistance, a French nationalist tag team angry over genuinely stupid Francophobic comments made by Scott Steiner. They would briefly feud Steiner and his partner Test before winning the WWE World Tag Team Championships from Kane and Rob Van Dam. After La Résistance split, he formed another team with Kenzo Suzuki, winning the WWE Tag Team Championships. After several years of little success as a solo performer, he tried reviving La Résistance with his former partner Sylvain Grenier before being sent to rehab and then released from his WWE contract by his own request in 2007.
6. Alex Wright Is The Youngest Wrestler In WCW History
Alex Wright was wrestling his first matches in Germany when he was 16-years-old, and only a few years later in 1994 he debuted in WCW. He started wrestling for them when he was 18, and it’s hard to say exactly due to WCW’s taping schedule at the time, but it seems like none of the matches actually aired until he was 19. Regardless, “Das Wunderkind” was definitely a fitting nickname for the young superstar from Berlin. One of Wright’s earliest feuds in WCW saw him repeatedly victorious over a muscular Frenchman named Jean-Paul Levesque, and he would later go on to become a Television, Tag Team and Cruiserweight Champion. Wright stayed loyal to WCW his entire career, tagging with Disco Inferno as the Boogie Knights and wrestling under a German industrial gimmick named Berlyn before essentially retiring after the promotion went out of business.
5. Jeff Hardy Is the Youngest Wrestler In WWE Raw History
The Hardy Boyz, Matt and Jeff, were obviously wrestling fans their entire lives, always wrestling each other as they grew up and continuing to do so today as Matt ages into his 40’s, Jeff close behind. Jeff got his start on his career over two decades ago, though, wrestling for WWE in 1994 when he was only 16-years old. Hardy debuted on Raw against WWE Hall of Famer Razor Ramon, wrestling under the name Keith Davis. Davis was allegedly the real name of the original wrestler scheduled to battle Ramon, but he backed out at the last minute allowing Jeff to step in and lie to WWE agent Tony Garea about his age.
Shortly after his debut, Jeff also appeared on WWE Superstars under his real name. Hardy made occasional minor appearances in WWE over the next four years before finally breaking out as a high flying extreme tag team wrestler, winning the WWE World Tag Team Championships with Matt for the first time in 1999. Jeff would prove to be the far more popular of the pair, winning his first WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2008. He and Matt currently compete for Total Nonstop Action, where Matt is the TNA World Champion.
4. Louie Spicolli Is A Rad Teenager
Louie Spicolli passed away just before getting his big break in the wrestling industry, and he had already put in a decade’s worth of work on his way there. Only 17-years old, Spicolli appeared on WWE Superstars and WWE Wrestling Challenge in 1988. Spicolli made very rare appearances as a jobber to other jobbers, the lowest place a person can be on the card. He did face several notable opponents, including challenging both Bret Hart and The British Bulldog for the WWE Intercontinental Championship on separate occasions (although those matches wouldn’t happen until after he turned 20). He wrestled for WWE on-and-off while also wrestling in Mexico as Madonna’s Boyfriend in Asistencia Asesoría y Administración. Spicolli was eventually renamed Rad Radford, a grunge inspired gimmick and the “Bodydonna-in-training,” praising the physiques of Chris Candido and Sunny. The angle was dropped after Spicolli overdosed on muscle relaxants resulting in his being fired from WWE. He appeared briefly in ECW and WCW before overdosing a second time and passing away in February of 1998.
3. Kenny Dykstra Is the Youngest to Take the Challenge
A fan of wrestling from childhood, Ken Doane trained with WWE Hall of Famer Killer Kowalski and made his wrestling debut on Raw when he was only 17-years-old. In 2003, wrestling as Ken Phoenix, Doane tagged with his brother Mike in a losing effort at Rodney Mack’s “White Boy Challenge.” Several years later in 2006, Doane returned as Kenny, one of the members of the male cheerleading Spirit Squad. As a member of the group, Doane briefly held the WWE World Tag Team titles. After losing the belts he briefly wrestled as Kenny Dykstra before leaving WWE in 2008, publicly voicing his various personal problems with John Cena.
2. Águila Is the Youngest Person to Fly to WrestleMania
He’s most likely better known to WWE fans as Essa Ríos, but the lightweight luchadore first debuted in WWE known as Águila. In late 1997, WWE decided to attempt to compete with WCW’s groundbreaking cruiserweight division by implementing a Light Heavyweight Championship. A tournament was held to determine the champion of the new division, and one of the competitors was 18-year-old Águila. Águila would even challenge Taka for the title at WrestleMania XIV, making him the youngest person to wrestle a match at WrestleMania. Águila briefly went to ECW to wrestle as Papi Chulo before also becoming one of the youngest champions in WWE history. Águila won the WWE Light Heavyweight Championship at only 21 after pairing up with Lita and changing his ring name to Essa Ríos.
1. Mass Transit Is the Youngest Wrestler In ECW History
Eric Kulas, better known as Mass Transit, never wrestled on television, but he deserves special mention on the list since he’s directly the reason ECW almost got banned from Pay-Per-View for a second time. In late 1996, Kulas and his father infamously lied to ECW owner and booker Paul Heyman, telling Heyman that Kulas trained with WWE Hall of Famer Killer Kowalski and was 23-years-old. Both of those things were completely false, as Kulas was only 17 and had no professional wrestling training whatsoever. A very dangerous idea situation already, the saga became destined for infamy when Kulas was booked in a tag team match, teaming with D-Von Dudley (his original partner Axl Rotten was a no-show), against the Gangstas, Mustafa Saed and New Jack.
Mustafa was a notoriously bad wrestler who became successful on the strength of the Gangstas hardcore, gang violence gimmick, and New Jack was equally notorious for actually living that same gimmick. Instructed to “blade” Mass Transit (make him slightly bleed for dramatic effect), New Jack tossed caution to the wind and stabbed him in the head with an exacto knife. Kulas attempted to sue ECW over the incident and they nearly lost their Pay-Per-View deal because of it, but ultimately even the courts ruled it was Kulas’s own fault for lying, even if many feel New Jack’s actions were way over the line. Kulas died in 2002 due to complications during surgery.