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Pro Wrestler prime years

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This was a topic being debated at another site and thought it would be interesting here, so I cribbed it.


his is an off shoot from the retirement thread.


In boxing most heavyweights prime tend to be 28-33. Do you consider this to be the case for pro wrestling as well?


I think before 1998 and The Rock Vince Mcmahon thought the same thing to. He usually liked to have the world champion to be in the 30 range because he felt they would be mature enough for the title and position.


I think there were exceptions such as UT in 1991 and Yokozuna in 1993, but for the most part Hogan's first reign came in this age range as well as Randy Savage and Steve Austin and HBK.


Has the rush to have wrestlers become the youngest champs ever hurt their chances of being as great as the greats who became the champion at a later age?


Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar come to mind. Should that rule apply to wrestling what applies to boxing for the most part with the exception of say a Bob Backlund(who was patterned after George Foreman in boxing imo and is an example of what I meant in another thread about Mcmahon use to know how to connect with pop culture) or Hulk Hogan in 2002.


It seems the boxing "rule" may also apply to wrestling in that those greats prime years were in that age range. Of course, someone like Ric Flair defied that logic in 1989 at the age of 40 I believe with his matches with Steamboat and Funk although some may still say his prime was 86-87.

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I don't think there is a prime age for wrestlers. Most guys back in the day didn't get the strap until they were 30 plus because they had to pay their dues in the territories first.

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Yeah I remember it initially because Rob Van Dam turned 33, so there was a thread up saying "OMG, he's now 33...he's out of his prime!"


Anyway for a serious answer there is no real prime years. Ric Flair was at his peak as NWA champ in his mid to late 30s, and his best year came when he was 40. Bret Hart didn't even get the WWF title until he was 35.

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IMO, Stone Cold Steve Austin hit his prime and was fucking tearing it up in the ring throughout 2001. A year after his neck fusion. I'd say really beginning with the 3 Stages of Hell against Triple H at No Way Out 2001, he really hit his stride, and had decent to amazing matches throughout the rest of the year. Once 2002 hit, you could really tell he was tired of being active though.

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Okay, the discussion was a bit heated at the other site. Here are some posts from the discussion.


Well Undertaker winning the title at 26 was very suprising. I think he was the youngest star to win it at the time, and thats why it came to be such a massive shock and upset, let alone him beating Hogan.


As for the topic of what the prime years are, and its still early to mid 30s. Apart from Underaker and Rock, no one else won it in thier 20s in the 90s, and only a few have done it in this decade ; Orton, Lesner and Cena?

Lesner failed, Cena kinda did it when he was on the verge of 30s, and Orton is really the only guy who's managed to do well winning the title in his 20s, at best.


The reason for this age change though is what took place in 2001-2002. The 30 odd stars which usually rule, all somehow got pushed out. Austin, Rock, Foley just to name a few. Not only that, but the 40 odd people made a massive return. The WCW stars with Hogan, Nash and Hall. Goldberg and Flair. HBK wasn't 40 when he returned, but he was getting there.


I think this is where they ended up with a locked room of 20-30 and 35-45. They lost the stars in the early 30s, the men who usually carried the roster. Vince had no choice but to go for the young stars, and it kind of worked.




I agree with you. I think in wrestling it is 30-40 years old. Now physical prime wise it might tend to dip a bit once the late thirties are there (around 37 years old). But at the same time all around character and performance wise I think it is 30-40 in wrestling.


Remember in the NBA when Jordan was completing his second three peat. He was 33, 34, and 35 years old respectively for those 4th, 5th, and six titles. He was still the best player in the game and would have been probably for another two years until he was 37. He wasn't the same on an athletic basis (even though he was still very athletic and had hops still) but skill wise and mentally he was better than ever. That made up for the half a step he may have lost.


Some guys are so great that even if they are past their prime physically they can still be great at their sport, even as good as they ever were. It just depends on their skillset and style. Taker is a great example, HBK is as well. Taker is a big power guy who has that naturally long lean frame. Of course over the years you become more injury prone. But when he's in the ring and can go Taker in my mind isn't past his prime all around. HBK doesn't move as fast as he did back in the day but he's still damn fast. HBK was could always go the technical route, even back in the 96-98 days. However he's relying on technical shit more now because of the injuries, even though he can still do high flying stuff very well.





Okay, I guess the best way to do this may use some of these definitions and then apply them to the greats. I also think the greatness of someone is of equal importance to the greatness around him that made him great.


An example would be Mike Tyson whom many say was great when he fought average fighters(in other words bums), but once he started facing guys of equal status he started to show his kinks.



Hulk Hogan:

I say Hogan's prime was actually 1986-90. The reason I say this is that he was at his physical prime where he could work matches to the best of his ability. He was at the height of his drawing powers and a mainstream cash cow. The matches in this time frame included matches with Andre The Giant(back to him later), Paul Orndorff, Randy Savage, Harley Race(back to him later), Ted Dibiase, Mr. Perfect, Ultimate Warrior, and Earthquake for his big feuds. You have to ask what age was Hogan here.


He started to lose steam in 1991 as a draw and his matches also suffered at the time in performance with going through the motions for the most. The business started to tank as a result of this.


"Stone Cold" Steve Austin:

I actually think his prime was 96-99. He was such a great heel in 1996 that it gets overlooked and he was also at his physical peak imo in 1997(he put up a good fight with that bad knee that started to haunt him right before WM 13). His character peak was 1997 when he was in his tweener role against Bret Hart and Vince Mcmahon(remember his first stunner on Vince in MSG was built up from him not wanting to sign a waiver).


His drawing power peak was 98-99 imo and it was off the strength of the character of 1997 imo. He obviously wasn't the same physically since that match with Owen Hart at SummerSlam 97. You have to consider what age he was here. His matches and feuds included The Rock, HHH, HBK, Bret Hart, Mankind, The Undertaker, Savio Vega, and Mr. Mcmahon.


The Rock

I believe his prime was actually 2000-2001, but I say the timeframe could stretch from 1999-2001. He was at his physical best knowing how to work a match to the best of his abilities. His drawing power was off the meter. He was at ease on the mic compared to 1997 and even 1998. The character's prime may be a bit more tricky though. Some may argue The Rock's character was at its best in 1998-99 when he was just being a top level heel that got cheered for being so entertaining. His big feuds from 1998-2002 included Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, HHH, Mankind, Brock Lesnar, and Undertaker. You have to consider what his age was here.


"Macho Man" Randy Savage

I would say his prime was 1986-1990 just as Hulk Hogan. All of the same attributes I gave to Hogan for this period I give to Savage. His major matches and feuds included George The Animal Steele, Ricky Steamboat, Jake The Snake Roberts, Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant, and Ted Dibiase. Consider what his age was at this time.


The Nature Boy Ric Flair

I would say his prime was the same as Hogan and Savage imo for all the same reasons as The Mega Powers. His major feuds and matches included Ricky Steamboat, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Sting, and Lex Luger. Consider what his age was at this time.


Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat

I think his prime was the same as the trinity of Hogan, Savage, and Flair for the same reasons mentioned. Some may even stretch it to include 1984 and 1985. His major feuds and matches included Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Honky Tonk Man, and Don Muraco. Consider what his age was at this time.


Bret "The Hitman" Hart

This is where the prime thing gets tricky. I actually think Bret two prime eras in the wwe. The Hart Foundation were extremely over from late 1986-1989. They were a draw and put on the best matches on the night every time they feuded with The British Bulldogs in 1986 and 1987.


His singles career prime would have to be 1992-1997 imo. I actually think he was a better draw in 1992 than he was in 1993 and 1994 and some may argue he was putting on better matches in 1992 too. However, his physical peak may have actually been 1994-96(right before the layoff). He was still putting on classics as we know with Austin and UT(One Night Stand). Again, consider what his age at this time was. His top feuds and matches included Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, Owen Hart, Undertaker, Diesel, British Bulldog, Mr. Perfect, Dibiase, and Jerry Lawler.


"Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels

I think his prime years were 1994-1998. He was a much stronger draw however after the Montreal screwjob imo than any time during his "boyhood dream" title reign that actually ended up with him getting booed in MSG losing to Sid. He was consistently the best performer on the night(more things change the more they stay the same). His big matches and feuds included Bret Hart, Razor Ramone, Diesel, Sid, Jeff Jarrett, Vader, Mankind, Steve Austin(remember the feuding tag team champion started with them first in the attitude era?), and British Bulldog.

Consider his age at the time too.


The Ultimate Warrior

I say his prime years were 1988-1991 in terms of drawing power and match performance. His top feuds and matches included Honky Tonk Man, Rick Rude, Ted Dibiase, Sgt. Slaughter, Macho Man Randy Savage.


Andre The Giant

I bring him into the equation because I think it's safe to say even the most casual fan could see Andre was not in his physical prime when he was at perhaps his most strongest as a draw from 1984-1988. Consider the age.


The Undertaker

I say his prime for drawing may actually be now. I think he has become a better draw in the last couple of years than the previous years in the business. However, I think his physical prime may have been around 2001-2005. I bring him up since he is debatable to some as being in his prime now. Consider the age.



I think it was no doubt 1999-2002 in terms of drawing power and performance. His top feuds and matches included Mick Foley, The Rock, Steve Austin, Jericho, and Undertaker. Consider the age.




Now does anyone think any of the current stars such as John Cena, Edge, Orton, Batista, and............you see the problem?


Cena, Edge, and Orton imo haven't hit their prime yet, but they have been booked like they have hit their peak. Sometimes the booking should equate the level of the stage of the career of the wrestler. Maybe some of the masses sees it the same way which is why some are getting mixed reactions.


It should also include how great the talent around them actually is as well. The whole image of you are only as great as the next talent you are involved with. This is an argument in boxing about how a George Foreman can return to win the world title 20 years after losing it to Muhammad Ali. Was Foreman really that great or was the landscape that weak? That is an argument that is made sometimes with Hogan's return in 2002 or anytime someone of that status returns and outshines the younger talent(HBK was another one the night at SummerSlam that year).


Also, I notice basically there is a 3-5 year timespan where that wrestler in his peak can be at the top for his performance and drawing power. After that it kind of drops off. With that said it could be possible The Rock got out at the right time before he really started to show weaknesses at a younger age.




WrestleMania III: Randy Savage (34) vs. Ricky Steamboat (34)


Chi-Town Rumble: Ric Flair (39) vs. Ricky Steamboat (36)


WrestleMania XII: Bret Hart (38) vs. Shawn Michaels (30)


WrestleMania XIII: Bret Hart (39) vs. Steve Austin (32)


Royal Rumble 2003: Kurt Angle (34) vs. Chris Benoit (35)


WrestleMania XXV: Shawn Michaels (43) vs. The Undertaker (44)



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There really isn't any real overal prime, It can be different for the wrestler in question.


For Flair it was in his mid thirties to early 40's. I would Say Cean and Orton's are right now. It is true that many of the greats are in their prime in their early 30's. The obvious reason for this is they are in the game long enough to be at their best but still young enough to be physically prime.

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Good God yes, there's no denying that Triple H's prime ran from 1999 - Spring 2001. Dare I say he was the best in that sport during that time. There really wasn't anyone else I can think of that came off as such a dick, and could back up his trash talking with some really good matches.

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