The WWE is full of up-start wrestlers looking to make it big. Usually, the league’s upper management will relegate potential future stars to developmental leagues like the Ohio Valley Wrestling league. This provides a unique opportunity for those interested in becoming superstars, as it gives them a chance to hone their wrestling skills, their characters, as well as their ability to move the fans through the microphone.
Sometimes, though, a wrestler arrives on the scene at an incredibly young age. Managing to gain a foothold in the upper leagues is no easy task, yet some rather young wrestlers have actually managed to not only do so, but go on to become league champions! It’s the type of start to a professional career that any aspiring employee strives for, and sometimes it is the foundation for a hall-of-fame worthy body of work.
The WWE has been around for quite some time, and throughout that time a lot of records have been set. We’ve scoured through the history books to find the young individuals who set records as the youngest champions ever to hoist a golden belt in the WWE. Reader beware: if you’re over the age of 21, this list may make you feel slightly upset!
12 Honorable Mention #1 - Brock Lesnar - WWE World Heavyweight Championship - 25 years, 1 month, 13 days
If there’s anything to be learned when analyzing Brock Lesnar’s career it’s that he’s used to winning. He’s a gargantuan wrestling phenomenon, and he’s proven to be an absolute beast in the ring over his career. He’s found success not only in professional wrestling, but in other fighting sports like the UFC practicing mixed martial arts.
Lesnar’s accomplishment is just shy of a spot on the list but that doesn’t detract from his accomplishment. Many of the previous wrestlers earned spots through tag team championships. Lesnar made it all on his own. He holds the record for the youngest wrestler to ever win the World Heavyweight Championship at the age of 25. In order to do so, he had to take down the incredibly popular Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who was the previous record holder at the time.
11 Honorable Mention #2 - Randy Orton - World Heavyweight Championship - 24 years, 4 months, 14 days
Up through 2004, Randy Orton was an unstoppable force, and it was clear that the league was beginning to see him as the face of the WWE. They continued to skyrocket his storylines, culminating in a rather impressive record. Though he’s fallen short of this particular list, we feel his accomplishment is still worth noting.
During a SummerSlam event, Orton defeated Chris Benoit for the World Championship belt. At only 24 years of age, he was the youngest WWE superstar to ever claim the title. He outranks some younger wrestlers because of the belt’s prestige. The league was all set to begin a feud between him and Triple H, but Orton’s infamous immaturity soon blossomed. The league was eventually forced to back off their constant billing of Orton at events, and Orton learned a lesson in maturity in the process.
Now on to the real list.
10 Jeff Hardy - World Tag Team Championship - 21 years, 10 months, 4 days
Jeff Hardy is currently still involved with the wrestling scene, though it’s with the TNA rather than the WWE. He is well known in tandem with his brother. Both have gone on to have rather successful professional wrestling careers, and each has gone through rather public struggles with substance abuse.
Hardy became the youngest superstar to win the Tag Team Championship after he and his brother Matt Hardy defeated The Acolytes. His record comes in at just two months shy of 22 years of age. What makes his accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that he’d already been wrestling in the WWE for five years!
9 Paige - Divas Championship - 21 years, 7 months, 21 days
Paige signed a WWE contract back in 2011, making her a relatively new commodity. That wasn’t the beginning of her wrestling career, though, as she’d been wrestling in the independent circuits throughout Europe since she was thirteen years old. When she finally went to the WWE, it was clear the league had a sudden star on their hands.
After Aj Lee retained her title following WrestleMania 30, Paige decided to show good sportsmanship and congratulate her on the achievement. Lee didn’t take too kindly to the gesture, and an impromptu divas match was suddenly underway. Paige managed to win the match in whirlwind fashion, becoming the youngest diva to win the Divas Championship at the age of 21.
8 Rey Mysterio - Cruiserweight Championship - 21 years, 6 months, 27 days
Spoiler alert: Mysterio isn’t the only luchadore wrestler to make an appearance on our list. He may be one of the most famous to ever wrestle in the league though. Mysterio had his sights set on making his mark on the league, and from an early age he wouldn’t let any setback deter him.
Back in 1996, Mysterio challenged for the Cruiserweight title against Dean Malenko. Unfortunately, he tried and failed, losing the match at the Great American Bash. In true underdog fashion, Mysterio just came back swinging. Less than a month later he tried to gain the title again. This time he succeeded, earning the Cruiserweight title at only 21 years and 6 months of age. His career continued to earn him titles, and Mysterio won a total of 8 Cruiserweight titles in particular before the belt was set aside.
7 1-2-3 Kid - World Tag Team Championship - 21 years, 5 months, 28 days
Kid brought a sense of wonder to the fans who saw him wrestle live. From the very start, it was clear this youngster had a passion for the sport, and it culminated in a career that includes twelve total championships spread across several different leagues.
It is for his first tag team championship victory that he earned a spot on this list, though. Back in 1994, Kid teamed up with former Intercontinental Champion Rocker Mart Janetty. On January 10, the two took on the Quebecers for the title, defeating them in the process. Kid outranks Hardy on this list because his Tag Team Championship was earned at 21 years and 5 months of age, a few months younger than Hardy’s victory.
6 Essa Rios - Light Heavyweight Championship - 21 years, 2 months
Rios brought his luchadore roots to the WWE at the ripe young age of eighteen! Keeping with the tradition of luchadores turned WWE superstars, Rios brought a style of wrestling that the normal superstars couldn’t keep up with.
During a 2000 event of Sunday Night Heat, current Light Heavyweight Champion Gillberg pulled a bold move out of his hat and issued an open challenge for any wrestler to answer. Rios seized upon the opportunity, with the diva Lita by his side. As you’ve likely deduced simply by his placement on this list, Rios won the match, becoming the Light Heavyweight Champion at a mere 21 years and 2 months old.
5 Hornswoggle - Cruiserweight Championship - 21 years, 1 month, 23 days
Back in 2007, Hornswoggle shocked the wrestling world. For anyone unfamiliar with the superstar, Hornswoggle is a midget wrestler who first began in the league in 2006. Less than a year later, he was already making shockwaves that reverberated across the league.
During the Great American Bash event, the WWE allowed every superstar imaginable to compete for the Cruiserweight title. Wrestler after wrestler fell by the wayside, until only Hornswoggle remained. Beating wrestlers over twice his size, he claimed the belt at the young age of 21. The league saw fit to retire the belt for good later that year, making him the last person to ever hold the Cruiserweight title.
4 Rene Dupree - WWE Tag Team Championship - 20 years, 8 months, 25 days
Back in 2004, Dupree teamed up with Kenzo Suzuki and competed for the tag team title. The French-Canadian had already made a name for himself, and here’s a spoiler alert: you’ll see his name once more on this very list. Though he was only 20 years old at the time, Dupree had already proven himself to be a championship contender whenever he entered the ring.
He and Suzuki squared off against Billy Kidman and Paul London for the WWE Tag Team belt. At this point in time, he’d already been wrestling for six years! He’d later find a niche with fellow Frenchman Sylvain Grenier as the snobby wrestlers of La Resistance.
3 David Flair - United States Championship, 20 years, 3 months, 29 days
Back in 1999, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s son made his professional wrestling debut in the WCW, forming a tag team with none other than his very own father. Together, the two took on the formidable Curt Hennig and Barry Windham. The two would win the match, and David was only 19 at the time.
Still, it was clear David Flair needed some more experience before earning an actual championship. After a year of honing his craft, he was eventually given a vacant championship, as “Slick Ric” was forced to give up the United States Championship title. At 20 years old, 3 months, and 29 days, David Flair is one of the youngest United States Champions in wrestling history.
2 Kenny Dykstra - World Tag Team Championship - 20 years, 18 days
Yet again, we have a wrestler earning a spot on our list through a tag team belt. There’s something to be said with this trend, though, as clearly the WWE is more comfortable easing younger superstars into success through group wrestling rather than immediately throwing them into the fire with singles competitions. The benefit is clear: they develop skills and aren’t expected to entirely carry the show on their backs.
Dykstra is one such wrestler the league developed from an early age. He was signed to the league by 18, making his debut a year later. A year after that, he won a shocking World Tag Team Championship match by beating Kane and Big Show, hoisting the belt while he was only 20, making him the second youngest champion of any kind.
1 Rene Dupree - World Tag Team Championship - 19 years, 6 months
Déjà vu? We told you his name would pop up once again, and it’s actually good enough for tops on this list! Dupree most notably made his mark in the tag team realm. The son of Canadian wrestling promoter Emile Dupree, he first began wrestling as a young teenager, mastering some complicated wrestling moves along the way. Clearly, wrestling was a family passion, and one that influenced him to make it his career.
Dupree makes the top spot on our list, topping the likes of famous wrestlers like Rey Mysterio and all those prior because he is the youngest WWE champion of any kind, ever. He’s the only WWE superstar to have won a championship as a teenager, winning the World Tag Team Championship. That, my friends, is quite the fun fact to put on any resume.