With the arrival of NXT, the WWE is now starting to push new and exciting talent in the business. This wasn’t always the case, however. Fans grew frustrated of the product's constant reliance on the old guard, and this caused the company to lose on a number of fans throughout the years.
If you stuck around long enough though, you’ll be happy and pleased that the company is now pushing the younger generation. The likes of Rollins, Owens, Ambrose and Reigns are all stars that are in their early 30s. This is a great thing no matter how you look at it, and something that will help in the future.
On the contrary, the company does have some other wrestlers that although feel new, are actually not quite. Reasons for this might be a gimmick change which makes them feel new, or the fact that they launched their WWE careers later on after some extensive Indie experience. We highlight these types of performers in 15 WWE stars that are shockingly older than you think. Enjoy!
15 Byron Saxton: 35 Years Old
Although he may feel relatively new, truth be told, Byron Saxton has actually been employed by the WWE since 2007 if you can believe it. That’s almost a decade.
Saxton previously worked as a traffic reporter, but he’d later change fields and pursue a career as a pro wrestler. He made his debut with FCW all the way back in October of 2007, losing his debut to Hade Vansen (do you remember that guy?).
Following an injury, Saxton was moved to commentary with FCW and later worked with the ECW brand, alongside former WWE employee Josh Matthews.
After a lackluster performance on the third season of NXT, Saxton became a full time commentator for the WWE. He worked the commentary and in-ring announcing when NXT was rebranded back in 2012. His huge break came in January of 2014 when he made his debut as a color commentator, a position he still holds today. Although he still looks and seems relatively young, he’s certainly been around the last couple of years.
14 T.J. Perkins: 32 Years Old
Take a deep breath, folks, the Cruiserweights have finally arrived! Following the CWC Tournament, fans all over the world praised the entire tournament along with the tremendous talents that were involved. Most of the wrestlers were in their mid to late 20s. Perkins, the winner of the tournament who looks incredibly young, is actually into his 30s. T.J. just recently celebrated his 32nd birthday on September 3rd, just 11 days prior to his biggest career night defeating both Ibushi and Metalik to win the CWC.
For WWE fans, things have just begun for Perkins, although the veteran has been doing this around the world since 1998 (when he was only 13 years old). He made his debut at 14 in his hometown of LA, wrestling under a masked identity. His career featured many downs, including living on the streets at one point. His dedication and love for what he does eventually set him apart and made his vision into a reality not only joining the WWE but becoming the first Cruiserweight Champion. Never give up on your dreams, folks!
13 Karl Anderson: 36 Years Old
Similar to Perkins, Anderson seems new to WWE fans, making his debut this past April but the truth is, he’s been around the block and back again, set to turn 37 this January.
The North Carolina native started his wrestling journey back in 2000 when he wrestled the Indie scene. He’d start to make his mark as a Singles wrestler with both Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Ring of Honor. His stock would later rise to new heights with an unexpected twist becoming a Tag Team wrestler down in Japan.
Anderson’s stock would eventually explode with the rise of The Bullet Club. Shortly after he became part of one of the hottest acts in all of pro wrestling. Following AJ’s departure to the WWE, Anderson and Gallows both joined the Superstar shortly after. The veteran still has a lot to give under the WWE umbrella (his Tag Team partner Luke Gallows, is younger at the age of 32).
12 Erick Rowan: 34 Years Old
We haven’t seen much of Rowan, even though he’s been on the main roster for a couple of years now. Since he made his WWE debut, Rowan has become a background player to the circus of Bray Wyatt.
Set to turn 35 in November, Rowan surprisingly has quite the body of work stemming from his pre-WWE days. Erick began by working the Indie scene in the Midwest back in 2003. He took his pro wrestling journey to another level when he departed for Japan where he ate, trained and slept for a little while. Following his time overseas, Rowan returned with a plethora of work on the Indie scene with the new Japanese experience under his belt.
In 2011, his hard work paid off and the big man joined the FCW developmental. After some failed personas, Rowan struck gold becoming a member of the Wyatt family once FCW rebranded to NXT. He remains with the company today but his time might come to an end sooner rather than later if nothing refreshing comes up creatively in the near future.
11 Kofi Kingston: 35 Years Old
For Big E and Xavier Woods, The New Day’s success was not an absolute must. Xavier is still relatively green at the age of 30, while Big E is also the same age. Kofi on the other hand, was not in the same boat as the youngsters. Kingston has peaked following various title pursuits and desperately needed something fresh to give his career an extra boost.
Just turning 35, we can happily say Kingston got the boost he deserved with the success of The New Day. Not only has the stable been a massive success but it’s pretty much given Kofi a new lease on life with the company which seemed to be plummeting at one point. The WWE pushed him really hard early on, having the wrestler feud with the likes of Randy Orton and winning the prestigious Intercontinental Championship. Things peaked too fast and he was later moved down the card.
At the age of 35, he’s looking to be in terrific shape and has the legs to go for a long, long time.
10 R-Truth: 44 Years Old
This man simply does not age; Truth looks remarkably the same, now 44 years of age, than he did back in 08’ when he returned to the WWE. Time does fly however, with Truth set to turn 45 in January.
Truth is the prototypical journeyman in the world of professional wrestling. He started working the Indies back in 1997 and later enjoyed a brief run with the WWE. He would return six years later but during his time in between he kept active working several Indie dates along with a TNA stint that saw him capture the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
His success and constant pursuit landed him another try with the WWE, something very few wrestlers actually get. Truth thrived in his return working with the likes of John Cena at one point in a prominent storyline. Although he’s become a lower-card player today, we applaud the veteran’s journey nonetheless.
9 Asuka: 35 Years Old
Like an abundance of other former Indie stars on this list, Asuka seems new to the WWE universe but she’s anything but that, travelling the world since 2004 as a pro wrestler.
The graphic designer turned pro wrestler became a dominant name on the Japanese Independent Circuit, wrestling for companies like Pro Wrestling Wave and Tajiri’s promotion, Smash. She would later bring her talents to the United States working with Shimmer Women Athletes. During that time, Asuka bounced around both Japanese and American circuits till the WWE finally came calling and inked the Superstar to a deal in August of last year.
Since her arrival, the newly turned 35 year old took the scene by storm capturing the NXT Women’s Championship quickly. Already in her mid 30s, look for the WWE to call her up quite shortly. Some believe she’d already be on the main roster had it not been for all the female call-ups. The touring brand still needs a face to sell tickets, which is why Asuka remains with the development.
8 Baron Corbin: 32 Years Old
Love him or hate him, we must give credit to Baron Corbin for his quick rise in the WWE. The guy is a prominent part of SmackDown Live, which is kind of mind blowing considering he had no prior experience whatsoever when he signed back in August of 2012. Four years later, the WWE is pushing him high up the card and has major plans for him in the future. Pretty remarkable.
His experience in the business might still be green but outside of it he’s had his fair share of experiences doing other things. Coming out of college, Corbin was a huge football prospect. Although he went undrafted, both the Colts and Cardinals gave the big man a try-out for the teams.
He also had a prominent career as a Golden Glove regional champion in the field of boxing. His prior experiences have helped him a great deal in making it with the WWE.
7 Nia Jax: 32 Years Old
If you thought Baron Corbin’s rise to the top was fast, what about Nia Jax? Like Corbin, Jax signed a deal with the company having no prior experience asides from being a former model and college basketball player. Her rise is quite astonishing really; signing in 2014 she had no experience at all, and two years later she’s being pushed as a dominant force on Raw.
A big reason for her quick rise is the look factor, as she’s simply something the WWE hasn’t had in a long time. A dominant looking heel that can crush an opponent rather quickly. The WWE pushed her briefly down in NXT and before you knew it, she was already with the main roster after a short stint down in developmental.
She might not have all the experience in the world but her age and maturity has made her a favorite behind the scenes and one of the easiest wrestlers to work with, both on and off the screen. Look for some big things in the near future from the Sydney native.
6 Titus O’Neil: 39 Years Old
Some might be very surprised to find out that Titus is turning 40 next year. Coming from a football background, O’Neil entered the business later on at the age of 32 reporting to FCW. He stayed in developmental for a couple of years and later made his main roster debut as a Tag Team wrestler alongside Darren Young, forming the Prime Time Players.
During his WWE run, Titus has bounced around several storylines, including the Slater-Gator run and a recent Singles push which was halted after a failed United States Championship pursuit. His contributions nowadays are limited with a stacked Raw roster.
Though, the WWE loves his presence outside of the ring as a great ambassador for the company. Titus made headlines in 2015 after he won the Dad of the Year award, which was huge for not only him but the WWE as well, gaining more publicity during a PG era which welcomes such gestures. His in-ring career might be suffering, but he’ll remain a part of the family for a while because of his connection to the company behind closed doors.
5 Sheamus: 38 Years Old
Heading into his 40s, the Celtic Warrior is still going strong wrestling week in and week out on WWE Raw. Some believe his success in the business was because of friendships with higher ups like Triple H. Although that might have boosted his career to an extent, it does not undermine the fact that Sheamus had a massive body of work before inking a deal with the WWE starting way back in 2002 when he began to train.
Sheamus worked the Indie scene down in Ireland and the UK for several years. Deservingly so, the WWE took notice and signed him to the FCW development. After two years of development he took the main roster by storm and became a huge part of the WWE.
Still today, although older in age, Sheamus still works at an elite level in the ring and can attribute that to his tremendous work ethic outside of the ring. Although he’s almost 40, the Dublin native looks like he has a lot left in the tank.
4 Cesaro: 35 Years Old
A major reason and growing concern as to why WWE fans are becoming extremely restless with the booking of Cesaro is because the Superstar is set to turn 36 in December, and the WWE has still not done anything of significance with the Swiss Superman.
When Cesaro first signed in 2011 fans were overjoyed. The hardcore wrestling fan knew Cesaro from his Indie days wrestling with ROH, Combat Zone Wrestling and his ever popular stint with Chikara.
Cesaro had a brilliant career on the Indie scene but seemed to fall flat on his face time and time again thus far with the WWE. Fans constantly vocalize their displeasures with his poor use week after week.
Heading into his 40s, fans are rightfully becoming more upset, which has lead to some speculation that Cesaro may actually be departing from the company very soon. Whatever the case may be, it’ll be a shame to watch him go without having one prominent run as “the guy”.
3 Eva Marie: 32 Years Old
You’d think Eva was still in her 20s considering how green she still appears in the ring. Though, Marie is actually 32, just recently celebrating her birthday on the 19th of September.
Since she joined the company in 2013, the WWE has tried repeatedly to make her get over with the live crowds. At this point, it just seems more desperate than anything else.
The company made the wise decision to finally properly repackage Eva in 2015. She left the company and got some one-on-one training with the Brian Kendrick. When she returned, her progress seemed quite little (she did improve but marginally). Crowds still reacted poorly, yet they still chose to call her up anyways.
Her SmackDown Live career got off to a decent start because, well, she didn’t wrestle and played off a gimmick that she would “miss matches due to injury”. Just as the persona was gaining traction she was suspended for failing the Wellness Policy.
At the age of 32, her window appears to be fading.
2 Bobby Roode: 39 Years Old
His WWE debut was simply glorious. The WWE crowds watched in awe as Roode made his TakeOver debut dawning a perfect Ric Flair-like robe along with a “glorious” theme song. The guy truly looked like a million bucks.
Hard to believe that with such a look, Roode is set to turn 40 on January 1st. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Roode has been at this for a very long time since his days wrestling independently in his hometown of Ontario in 98’. He was actually signed to a WWE contract in 2002, but things would never pan out. He would leave only to come back more than a decade later.
During that time, Roode made his name known predominately wrestling with TNA. He enjoyed a great run as a Tag Team wrestler forming the ever so popular duo of Beer Money. He would later win the World Championship before departing and joining the WWE recently.
1 AJ Styles: 39 Years Old
Watching him in the ring, the guy looks like a 20 year old Cruiserweight rookie. Truth be told, he’s set to turn 40 next year and has been putting his body on the line all over the world since 1998.
They call him the best in the world for a reason, his in-ring abilities are simply breathtaking to watch as a fan. Everything he does just seems so effortless, something Styles emphasized when working on his abilities inside of the squared circle.
His body of work is legendary to say the least. He wrestled around the globe most notably becoming the face of TNA and later, re-branding his image completely with New Japan. The decision to recreate himself seems to have given AJ an extra ten years. Watching him, it seems like he can go for another 20 years like the great HBK Shawn Michaels. Age is certainly just a number for the WWE Champion.