Seasoned Veteran: Why Older Wrestlers are Good for the Business

Christina FreemanContributor IJanuary 15, 2010

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 21:  Hulk Hogan's opponent Ric Flair is greeted by the crowd during Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania Tour at Rod Laver Arena on November 21, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)
Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

I enjoy the push of young new talent as much as the next person. It's exciting and thrilling to see a new person shine. It's a changing of the guards and it's always enjoyable. 

However, like with most media, there is starting to be a trend of claiming something or someone is "outdated" or "over the hill" because of how long they have been participating in what they love. 

It is a common thought in the theater community that a stage play actor isn't really worth their chops till they hit about 40.  The idea is that they don't have enough experience and variation in experience to truly captivate a live audience.  As they age, the average stage performers, like with anything, get better and better at their craft if they have always practiced at a high level. 

For professional dancers however, their prime is somewhere in their 20's as it's thought that most have expended their physical peak by about 30 and are safe in assuming they will be retired by 35 at the very latest. Dance is too physical and doesn’t allow for mild performances.

If they have been dancing for a decent amount of their childhood and have perfected their technique, somewhere in their mid- to late-20s they have enough stage performance to be amazing to behold.  If a dancer somehow has the physical ability to dance past 35, they become a greater performer than their younger counterparts.

Being their own unique level of a performing artist, I think professional wrestlers are somewhere in the middle of those two ideas. I find it ironic that currently the best performers in the professional wrestling big leagues are over 30.

The elite of this contingent is over 40.  This idea alone leads me to believe in the likelihood that performing arts rules should apply to professional wrestling before professional sports rules.

For the stubborn in regards to performing arts let’s compare some of these ideas to a sport. I think back to the heyday of football.  There was a time when a new quarterback was placed second or third string behind the current quarterback to study the game and the sport as the seasoned veteran carefully guided him through.  Then when it was time to take over, the player was ready, willing and able to successfully lead a team. 

Then Tom Brady showed up and wrecked the whole system. Teams wanted to put out their newly acquired quarterbacks and hope for a miracle like him. Thus the current quarterback shenanigans in the NFL.

Unlike football, wrestling cannot be accomplished successfully with athletic feats alone. You can't throw out your newest acquisition immediately and expect positive results. There are simple nuances and crowd management factors that no amount of athletic talent can overcome. 

My point is that if football, a purely physical performance venue, has an issue with it.  Why would anyone think that professional wrestling, a highly artistic performing venue, would be able to successfully function with like minded ideas?  You have to have the over 30, 40, and yes, the over 50 crowd to show the young guns how it's done because they have been doing it at a high level for some time now.

Sites and journalists like to complain about new wrestlers not getting the pushes they deserve.  The stories bemoan people being held back because of backstage politics and dislike by people in higher spots in companies. 

I say that when you're out there in front of the people, like with any performance of any kind, it is yours to take. You either have the ability to outshine someone else or you don't.

Honestly I believe the veterans on top are waiting for some of these new talents to do just that.  Because that's how they got their spot and they shouldn't be expected to give it up. Why? That’s how they proved that they deserved to be there. Call it barbaric call it mean but anything else would just be disrespectful to the business and to the watching fan base. 

Professional wrestling is a competition, make no mistake about it. If everyone is a new kid learning the ropes then there is no gauge anymore for quality. There must be diversity in the performers.  Because of the before mentioned performance quality aspects in similar fields, age is a major factor. 

There should be diversity in a wide variety of ways including wrestling style, body image, and performance quality.  That way there is no doubt that when the cream rises to the top, it is absolutely supposed to be there.