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Debunked: WWE's "Aging" Roster Isn't an Issue
Submitted by Damn Fine Wrestling on 02/15/2021 at 01:43 PM


By @JDBWrestling

This year's WWE Royal Rumble was partially headlined by a 54-year-old man in a world title bout, as well as a 47-year-old man winning the coveted Royal Rumble match. This statistic irked some wrestling fans, yet brought many to the defense of the aforementioned fan-favorites (Goldberg and Edge). Many articles pointed out the overall age of Royal Rumble participants as 39-years-old.

Royal Rumble aside, how does the rest of the roster break down, and for that matter, how does AEW break down when it comes to age? Does age even matter in the wrestling industry, or is youth a sign that a company is truly building towards its future? Does professional wrestling get better with age -- like a fine wine?

This week, let's dive into the age-old question of "does age really matter when it comes to a pre-determined display of story-driven stage fighting?" -- Hot Takes and responses from last week's article on The Undertaker are towards the end...

First, this was no easy task, as determining who is and isn't on the main roster for every promotion can be a pain with NXT/205 Live and the moving around of wrestlers between Raw and Smackdown. I split WWE up into three, between Raw, Smackdown and NXT/205 Live. I did not account for NXT:UK (sorry, lads) OR managers/announcers/interviewers. I then tallied up All Elite Wrestling's average age, as well as the demographics of 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-40, and 40+. I also took account of average age of champions per show.

Mind you, these numbers are approximate, but should be fairly accurate. With that, let's get into it!

WWE Raw

-Average Roster Age: 35.9
-Largest Age Group: 30-34
-Percentage of Roster 35 and Over: 55%
-Youngest Wrestler: Humberto Carrillo (25)
-Oldest Wrestler: Goldberg (54) (part-time)/R-Truth (49)
-Average Age of Champions: 38
-Average Age of Floating Championships: 40 (Women's Tag Team/Cruiserweight/24-7)

WWE Smackdown

-Average Roster Age: 33
-Largest Age Group: 30-34
-Percentage of Roster 35 and Over: 36%
-Youngest Wrestler: Dominik Mysterio (23)
-Oldest Wrestler: Rey Mysterio (46)
-Average Age of Champions: 36.4

WWE NXT

-Average Roster Age: 31.2
-Largest Age Group: 30-34
-Percentage of Roster 35 and Over: 27%
-Youngest Wrestler: Cora Jade (21)
-Oldest Wrestler: Bobby Fish (44)
-Average Age of Champions: 35.2

WWE Overall

-Average Roster Age: 32.6
-Largest Age Group: 30-34
-Percentage of Roster 35 and Over: 37.4%
-Youngest Wrestler: Cora Jade (21)
-Oldest Wrestler: Goldberg (54) (part-time)
-Average Age of Champions: 37.4


All Elite Wrestling

-Average Roster Age: 33.8
-Largest Age Group: 35-39
-Percentage of Roster 35 and Over: 45%
-Youngest Wrestler: Anna Jay (22)
-Oldest Wrestler: Sting (61)
-Average Age of Champions: 32.8

Notables:

-WWE Raw has ZERO wrestlers on their brand in the 20-24 age demographic.
-WWE Raw has the highest roster age, as well as largest percentage of the roster aged 35 and over.
-AEW has the most wrestlers in the 35-39 age group.
-NXT has the youngest roster out of all groups.

So what is the ultimate takeaway with measuring up the ages of these rosters? It's that age is truly just a number.

If we compare to other promotions around the world, we get world champions that are at the very peak of their career. Current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kota Ibushi is 38 -- not far off from his Golden Lover counterpart, Kenny Omega, who is 37 as current AEW Champion. In fact, looking back at recent champions from all promotions, it's hard to find a 20-something world champion, as it's a bit of a rarity. Seth Rollins captured his first world championship at 29, which is the last time a 20-something held the WWE Championship. The Universal Championship has never been held by someone under the age of 30, and even the same can be said about NXT, who hasn't had a world title holder in their 20s since Andrade in 2017. When you take a look at All Elite Wrestling, the average age of their three world champions is 40.6 years old.

One thing hasn't changed in the way the wrestling business is conducted: What truly matters is how much money you can make, not the age of your roster. What I think trips many fans up in the WWE's alleged "aging" roster is that very few new and bright faces have come into the NXT developmental system and have come out as promising future main event talent -- nor are they really building any hot young stars for the future. Any fresh faces to the main rosters like Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, or Aleister Black (all in their mid-30s), have seemingly had their pushes stunted. Black isn't even on television anymore.

What I think is most revealing out of these numbers is that the lowest average age of current champions belongs to AEW. When you take a look at the talent currently on the rise and featured in major storylines, they're all quite young. Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Darby Allin, "Jungle Boy" Jack Perry, Sammy Guevara, "Hangman" Adam Page, Britt Baker, and even Red Velvet and Jade Cargill -- are all in their 20s. If you were thinking I missed Orange Cassidy -- he's actually 35.

The WWE Problem...

The point here is that WWE doesn't have an aging roster, but the focus continues to be on their older talent, while younger talent tends to fall behind. With the exception of Sasha Banks and Io Shirai, not a single title-holder in WWE is under the age of 30. While this is normal for a world champion, when you compare it to a hot product such as AEW, you have a 27-year-old Darby Allin as TNT Champion, The Young Bucks at 33 as tag champions (compared to WWE's tag champions at 40 years average age), and the AEW Women's Eliminator with 10 out of 16 participants under the age of 30.

All Elite Wrestling is building their future, and it shows. However, WWE just seems to be continually shifting around their 30-something main-event caliber talent in the mid-card until they no longer have a use for them, only to bring in the next set of 30-something main-event mid-carders from NXT to Raw or Smackdown. While WWE and AEW have differing fanbases, it might be a reason why not only is AEW winning the demographic wars, but they continue to be the focus of growing news stories from non-wrestling publications. They have the best and brightest up-and-coming stars of the wrestling industry -- and are featuring them on a weekly basis in some form.

You can't say the same for WWE right now -- and this is the major difference. This isn't an "age" problem, it's a "future" problem, as WWE continues to fail at building new stars that can carry the company well into the 2020s, 2030s and beyond. Triple H has a chance yet, however, as NXT is still filled with bright young talent that can be molded into the next best thing. Shotzi Blackheart, Toni Storm, Chelsea Green, Pete Dunne, Cameron Grimes, Isaiah "Swerve" Scott, and Austin Theory -- these should be your future Wrestlemania headliners in 5-10 years time. But will they be? This is the ultimate question, and a question that will be answered based on the company's ability to create future stars -- something they haven't been able to do in quite some time.

About last week...

My Undertaker article was received with mostly anger. That's okay, because at the end of the day -- I was right. Point being that most who commented on social media didn't do so in careful critique and response to the valid points I was making, but blind support of The Undertaker -- no matter what he says. This is why I mentioned towards the end to "kill your idols". Chris Jericho is my all time favorite wrestler -- but he's also a conspiracy theorist and a Donald Trump supporter -- two things I will generally look down at you over. Just, never meet your heroes...

The larger point is that what Mark said in regards to missing when "men were men" is a troubling statement. When you say something like "men were men" it creates an empty definition of what a "man" should act like. When you try to define gender, you simply date yourself, and fail to follow along with the times. Socially, Mark Calaway IS behind the times. "He's 55" isn't an excuse, as many older politicians continue to fight for the LGBTQ community and transgender rights year-round.

To point out that many wrestlers prefer to pick up a game controller over a bottle of booze as a negative says a lot about the likely unhealthy mental state Mark Calaway lives in. I don't care if he's a wrestling legend or not -- when you act in antiquated ways, you're going to get called out. That, and Mark, much like Jericho, has also made large donations to the Trump campaign last year. Suffice it to say, he's another person I wouldn't want to talk to based on potential misogynistic and toxic viewpoints of the world.

Next time...

I finally write about what an AEW Weekly Women's Show looks like!







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