Bobby Lashley is the new WWE Champion after 16 years of waiting at age 44. Although Lashley might deserve recognition, his triumph raises the question of why WWE hasn't invested in younger champions? The topic of age has been in the news a lot following a Royal Rumble that featured many stars who have been around for quite some time.
The Universal and WWE Championships
A dependence on older superstars to hold titles is not new in WWE. One clear example is the Universal Championship. No one younger than 30 has ever won the Universal Championship. The current Universal Champion, Roman Reigns (35), is set to face Edge (47) at WrestleMania.
Another clear sign that WWE prefers older champions is the list of recent WWE Champions. Over the last four years, all of the superstars who held the title were 30 or older. The last wrestler to win the title in his 20s was Bray Wyatt at age 29. Four of the past five champions were over 40 when they won the title.
Lately, none of the superstars in the WWE title picture were younger than 35. The Elimination Chamber match is clear evidence of the reliance on older stars. Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, and Sheamus are all over 40. The other two participants in that match were Kofi Kingston (39) and Drew McIntyre (35).
The Intercontinental and United States Championships
Since 2013, every WWE Intercontinental Champion has been over 30 years old. The current Intercontinental Champion, Big E, was the last superstar to hold the title in his 20s. He won it at the age of 27 back in November 2013.
On a similar note, only superstars over 30 have held the WWE United States Championship since 2016. The last WWE superstar to win the title in his 20s was Kalisto (29 at the time). The current champion is Riddle (35).
The tag team division
The WWE women's division
In the women's division, Raw Women's Champion Asuka is about to turn 40, while her latest challenger, Lacey Evans, is 30. That match was booked for Elimination Chamber but was canceled after Evans announced her pregnancy. Charlotte Flair, 34, is now the favorite to face the "Empress of Tomorrow" at WrestleMania.
On SmackDown, Sasha Banks remains the youngest champion (29). Her challenger at WrestleMania is Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair (31).
NXT is not for young talent
If young superstars do not get many opportunities on the main roster, one might expect them to be receiving them on NXT. The reality, however, is different.
Out of the past five NXT champions, only Adam Cole won the title in his 20s. Cole captured the NXT Championship at the age of 29 and nearly 11 months. The current NXT Champion is Finn Balor (39).
The NXT Women's Champion is Io Shirai, who is in her 30s as well. She won the title from Charlotte Flair (34).
WWE main roster titleholder ages:
- WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns - 35
- WWE Champion Bobby Lashley - 44
- WWE Raw Women's Champion Asuka - 39
- WWE SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks - 29
- WWE Raw Tag Team Champion Cedric Alexander - 31
- WWE Raw Tag Team Champion Shelton Benjamin - 45
- WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champion Dolph Ziggler - 40
- WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champion Robert Roode - 43
- WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Shayna Baszler - 40
- WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Nia Jax - 36
- WWE Intercontinental Champion Big E - 35
- WWE United States Champion Riddle - 35
WWE NXT titleholder ages:
- WWE NXT Champion Finn Balor - 39
- WWE NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai - 30
- WWE NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano - 33
- NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar - 36
- NXT Cruiserweight Champion Jordan Devlin - 30
- NXT Tag Team Champion Oney Lorcan - 35
- NXT Tag Team Champion Danny Burch - 39