The 10 Best Wrestlers Under 30
In professional wrestling, being under the age 30 can be frustrating.
While an individual may have years of experience, they're going to have to learn the WWE style if they want to make it in that company. Just look at how few men win a world title before that age. Management often makes them pay their dues, and find a compelling character before the WWE machine gets behind them.
Right now, the company is stacked with talent that is their early 30s (Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Ryback), but not many younger than that.
TNA is also in the same boat with very few young members on the roster. That doesn't mean there isn't some gems to be found though.
This list covers the best wrestlers in both major companies who are under the age of 30. The criteria is simple: the individuals must have competed on one of the main rosters. They are then ranked by their potential, their in-ring work and popularity.
These are the men and women you would draft if you were starting your own company, and the order you may take them in.
For the companion piece, check out the list of best wrestlers over 40 to see the other side of the spectrum.
No. 10: Brad Maddox (29)
In another era, Maddox may not have made this list, but with the lack of wrestlers under 30 on both national rosters, he squeaks in.
Maddox has yet to show much inside of a WWE ring. So far he’s only been involved in a few squash matches on TV. But his strengh lies on the mic.
There’s just no one in all of wrestling possesses his style of vocal delivery. It's a bizarre mix of awkwardness, confidence and delusion that makes him strangely endearing.
WWE should pull him away from Vickie, and let him wrestle.
There’s way too many authority figures in WWE, and not enough wrestlers for their bloated TV schedule. At the very least, he could be a good pesky heel. He’s also shown potential as a color commentator, and could alleviate some of the staleness that we’ve been hearing for years.
Maddox is a love him or hate him type of guy, but with the right push he could be a solid role player for the company in the years to come.
No. 9: Zema Ion (26)
If TNA still cared about the X-Division, Ion would be a solid choice to build it around.
Not only does he possess the flashy moves, but he has a cocky personality that could be highlighted to set up a series of babyface challengers to shut him up. At his young age, he already has more charisma than anyone else in the division.
Ion did hold the X-Division title for a few months, but he dumped it unceremoniously to Rob Van Dam. It was a poor choice, as Van Dam is on his way to the WWE while Ion can be a star in the company for years.
Ion is currently out with an appendectomy and had a tumor removed. Hopefully he doesn’t have any more health scares and can return to the ring soon to realize his potential.
No. 8: Cody Rhodes (27)
photo via wwe.com
Cody Rhodes career sadly (and surprisingly) stalled a couple years ago. But at the age of 27, there’s still plenty of time to make something of him.
WWE treats Rhodes as a high-class jobber these days, but he could be so much more. Ever since his debut, he’s displayed a confidence on the mic that seemed to come naturally. Perhaps it's due to his famous family lineage (father Dusty Rhodes, and half-brother Dustin), but Cody belongs in a wrestling ring.
What Cody doesn't have though is a serious push to his name. His biggest run was as Randy Orton's lackey in The Legacy, and then as an Intercontinental Champion before he was squashed by The Big Show at WrestleMania 28.
It may come down to Cody's size holding him back. Maybe if Vince McMahon and creative can get past that, then he could easily transcend the bad mustache and finally be taken seriously.
No. 7: D.O.C. (29)
photo via withleather.uproxx.com
The former Festus and Luke Gallows just can’t catch a break.
D.O.C. has a solid look, he’s a good worker for a big man and he can talk. All he gets to do in Aces and 8s though is take on a stupid name, and play second fiddle to Bully Ray, Devon and Mr. Anderson.
He barely means more to the company than Garett Bischoff or Wes Briscoe. It’s a shame, as his WWE career was promising, but cut short.
TNA could have made something out of him, to show WWE what they missed out on. At the very least, he should be pushed in a dominant tag team with Knux. But TNA brought him in and immediately made it clear that he’s not on the level of guys like Sting or Kurt Angle.
With the current creative regime in TNA, it’s doubtful that he’ll get a big push anytime soon. Perhaps a return to WWE someday could put his talents to good use.
No. 6: AJ Lee (26)
In terms of character, there is no woman in the WWE who can touch AJ Lee.
She’s a bit too short to portray a legitimate in-ring threat, but she more than makes up for that with her entertaining personality. Right now, there are few people in all of wrestling who are more flat-out fun to watch than she is.
AJ became a breakout star in the WWE last year, and was quickly pushed as a focal point of Raw. A babyface turn didn't work out as well as planned, but her pairing with Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston appears to be getting her back on track.
Recently, WWE seems to have restored their faith in her by rewarding her with the Divas title.
The shelf life of a WWE diva is very short, but with AJ’s popularity and passion for the sport, she can potentially break the mold and have a lengthy career in the company.
No. 5: Seth Rollins (27)
photo via wwe.com
Former ROH Champion and current member of The Shield, Seth Rollins has the potential to become a breakout star in the WWE.
The company has had a lack of young, daredevil, Jeff Hardy type acts and Rollins could fit that void perfectly as a babyface. He is the best worker in The Shield, and has already been a part of many great tag matches.
It's surprising to see him in such a high-profile role at all. He spent over two years in WWE developmental before being called up. Many fans began to wonder if they'd ever see him at all. The time spent in the minors was worth it though.
Had he been brought up by himself, it's highly doubtful he would have been placed in such a high profile position.
Rollins has speed, crisp offense and takes great bumps that make his opponents look like gold.
In a group composed of Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, it would have been easy for Rollins to be overshadowed, but he's done a fantastic job of holding his own.
When The Shield does go their separate ways, expect Rollins to have a chance for a big run as a fan favorite.
No. 4: Bray Wyatt (26)
photo via wwe.com
Bray Wyatt has yet to officially debut his new character on TV, but we’ve already had a taste of what he’s capable of.
Back in 2010, Wyatt (then known as Husky Harris) showed great athleticism for a man his size on NXT. WWE was impressed, and decided to give him a shot on the main roster by having him join The Nexus. It wasn’t long though before WWE soured on him, and sent him back to developmental reportedly to drop some weight.
It was probably the best thing that could have happened to him, as he took that time to get in great shape and create a compelling character.
Watching his promos and vignettes, it’s clear that he’s already one of the best actors on the roster. The question is how WWE will push this new act. If they take things seriously and give him in-ring credibility, then there’s no telling how successful Wyatt may become.
Bray Wyatt is coming. Be afraid, but also be excited.
No. 3: Roman Reigns (28)
It will be surprising if Roman Reigns doesn't become a big player in WWE someday.
He has the family lineage: son of Sika, brother of Rosey and cousin of The Rock. He also has the looks, and has already improved in the ring since his debut seven months ago.
Not many rookies get the chance to score pinfall victories over John Cena, but The Shield has been trusted with that honor. Within a few years, he'll get the chance to break out on his own as a top face or heel.
You can imagine that Vince McMahon is perhaps more excited about the possibilities of Reigns than the other members of The Shield because of his build.
No. 2: Magnus (26)
Magnus is ready to be a big player for TNA, that is if those in charge don't screw it up.
He's been with the company since late 2008, and he's still only 26. Besides having very little character development over the years and no high-profile wins to speak of, the crowd is starting to get behind him.
Magnus was groomed in The British Invasion, and started to find his stride as Samoa Joe's tag partner. Now he looks ready to make a name for himself.
He's currently in the Bound for Glory series, and hopefully TNA pushes him more aggressively than he was last year.
With some more time in the spotlight, and some great opponents to work with, Magnus has the potential to be the biggest star in the company (provided no one else from WWE is signed and pushed ahead of him) within a few years.
No. 1: Dean Ambrose (27)
The best thing a wrestling company can have to sell tickets is an insanely popular babyface.
But the next best thing is having a great heel for them to battle.
Despite Ambrose being in the WWE for less than a year, there is hardly anyone who is as convincing as he is on the microphone. His words don't feel forced. He just looks like a natural heel, and has the potential to be a top foil for guys like John Cena, Sheamus and Randy Orton in the upcoming years.
Ambrose has often been compared to Roddy Piper, which can only be a huge compliment. Back in the 80s, Piper was in a league of his own in the WWF when it came to cutting heel promos that drew serious heat from the fans.
While he's not a great in-ring worker yet, he's more than capable of delivering a good match. His wrestling style is completely unique, and his facial expressions are top notch. Right now, Ambrose is the complete package and has an incredibly bright future in wrestling.
If you were to draft anyone who is under 30 in the WWE or TNA for a new promotion, Dean Ambrose should be your No. 1 pick.