Superstars come in all shapes and sizes, and while the mold of a superstar wrestler has been defined by height and weight, for the most part, a prodigy is different - because a prodigy is defined by age as well as accomplishment.
In the long storied history of the WWE and WCW/NWA, there have been dozens of champions of varying ages, with the general average being somewhere in the early 30s. Buddy Rogers, the first WWE champion, was 42 years old when he was first crowned. The man who went on to be the longest title-holder in company history, Bruno Sammartino, was only 27 when he won his first world championship.
While the WWE has had many champions of varying ages, it's company standard bearers have tended to be grown men well out of their 20s. Hulk Hogan was 31 when the strap was put on him, as was Shawn Michaels, Kane, Sheamus and Chris Jericho. Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan, 32. Mick Foley, Edge and CM Punk, 33. Steve Austin was 34 (but probably should have been under 30). Bret Hart was 35, as was Kevin Nash.
Oddly enough, the over-40 club has some unusual members. Randy Savage was 40 when he first won the WWE title, as was the guy who will currently fight for it, Batista. Sergeant Slaughter and the Iron Sheik, transitional champions if there ever were any, were both 43 at the time they held the belts.
But for all of those great Hall of Fame wrestlers, they aren't prodigies. That, as stated, requires a certain age. The following are the 10 best professional wrestling prodigies, as defined by both a combination of age and accomplishment:
10. Bruno Sammartino. First got the title at 27 and didn't give it up until he was 35. To have that much control over an audience at that young an age is worthy of the definition of prodigy.
9. Jeff Hardy. Didn't win any titles until later on in his career, but he started wrestling in the WWE when he was 18. EIGHTEEN.
8. The Rock. Had all the natural gifts. Took him an extra year to win the title due to his disaster of a first year. Still won it at 27 and went on to be arguably the best of all time.
7. Yokozuna. Many people might not realize he was only 27 when he won the title. Quite possibly the most athletic ultra-heavyweight ever. Must be a Samoan thing.
6. Randy Orton. Became the WHC at 24. Became WWE champ at 27. Bred for this business. A natural prodigy, even if he was pushed too early. Might have had an even better career if he wasn't pushed so far so soon.
5. Zack Ryder. Don't laugh. He became a tag champion (with Curt Hawkins, same age) at 23 and later on went on to become US champion. He did, really!
4. Brock Lesnar. The freak of nature. Definition of an athlete. World Champ at the age of 25, but he was pushed to the moon too. Him leaving and never really being interested in wrestling full-time knocks him down a few pegs.
3. The Undertaker. The first truly gifted big-man wrestler who fell into an awesome gimmick at an early age. Was only 26 when he became WWE champ, and he was already somewhat polished. His career since has proved he deserved the title at such a young age.
2. Rene Dupree. A tag champ at the age of 19. That's unbelievable. Even if he never became much after that.
1. The Big Show. Was WCW champion at 23 and WWE champ at 27. If you ever watched his early work, or some of his training videos, you'll see why he's No. 1 on the list of wrestling prodigies. We never got to see footage of Andre the Giant when he was in his 20s, but we have Paul Wight, and that'll have to do.