For the most part, full-time wrestling is a young man's game. All the bumps and bruises plus time away from loved ones is generally best handled by the young, athletic and unencumbered. However, some of the WWE's greatest current superstars are currently closer to a mid-life crisis than to getting carded at a bar.
At WrestleMania 33, two stars over 50 featured prominently into selling out the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The Undertaker was a part of the night's final match and Goldberg co-headlined the event with Brock Lesnar.
Today, one of the faces that run the place joined the WWE's 40 and over club. Allen Neal Jones was born on this day in 1977. You may know him better as AJ Styles. Considering he's only been in the WWE for a little over a year, it's hard to imagine that AJ is already 40. He certainly doesn't move around the ring like a normal 40 year old. I'm only 6 months younger than him and I can't do a cartwheel.
How rare is it for wrestlers to perform at high levels in their 40s? Diamond Dallas Page famously got his start in wrestling at the age of 35 and didn't hit it big until he was 44. Batista was 37 when he really got it going and wrestled well into his mid 40s. Ric Flair, Sting and Hulk Hogan all wrestled well past their 40s. But for the most part, it's rare.
Only a handful of top level WWE stars are still getting it done over 40 and here are the five who running it at the highest level - in chronological order.
AJ Styles - 40
He may be a WWE rookie, but Styles started wrestling nearly 20 years ago. The Phenomenal One spent time in ROH, New Japan and TNA before finally landing as a coveted free agent in the WWE during the 2017 Royal Rumble.
AJ actually got an early TV tryout with WWE against Hurricane Helms when he was just a wee lad in the early 2000s, but the timing of AJ's first full-time run with the company couldn't have come at a better time. At 40, Styles is an absolute master of his craft and considered by many to be the best in the business.prevnext
John Cena - 40
Hard to believe that the young, brash Doctor of Thuganomics has already grown up to hit the big Four Oh, but John Cena recently celebrated the milestone. Leaving his 30s hasn't slowed The Cenation leader down in the least bit and, if he decides to, its clear Cena could give it another 5-10 years solid before he needed to hang it up.
The only thing that can keep Cena's goal of piling on to the WWE Championship record is the constant call of Hollywood.prevnext
Matt Hardy - 42
Matt Hardy may not be a youngster anymore, but since returning to the WWE at WrestleMania, the 42 year old has proved he can still get just as extreme as the rest of the WWE roster. Hardy has done an amazing job of reviving his career since leaving WWE nearly a decade ago. From his run as Big Money Matt in Ring of Honor to the Broken characters he created in TNA, Hardy keeps finding a way to stay on the cutting edge.prevnext
Chris Jericho - 46
Speaking of staying relevant, Chris Jericho has brilliantly found a way to keep his character the same and yet exciting and new during each of his returns to the WWE. The 20 year wrestling veteran seems to know exactly how to play the crowd and when its time to jump from heel to face and back again. Not to mention, Jericho's likely notched up more catchphrases than anyone else in the history of the business.
At age 46, Y2J still has fans begging for the 6 time World Champion to get back to the WWE as soon as possible.prevnext
Goldust - 48
Now, here's a guy that we probably would have accidentally left off this list only a month ago. Dustin Rhodes, aka Goldust, has been one of the most loyal, hard working superstars for the last 20 years. In recent years, WWE had only been using the Attitude Era star as a comedy act, but the Gold one is in the middle of a throwback resurgence.0comments
After turning heel on his partner, R-Truth, the 48 year old has gone back to his mysterious theatrical roots and could be in line for a big mid-card push.
Let Goldust's career be a lesson to anyone looking to stay in the business for a long time – if you paint your entire head and wear a full body suit, it makes it much harder for anyone to tell how much you've aged.prev