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WWE’s old roster was on full display in the men’s Royal Rumble match

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One thing that I didn’t understand about Undertaker and Goldberg’s recent criticism of the current WWE roster is that today’s locker room isn’t exactly full of young inexperienced wrestlers who don’t have a clue about storytelling and in-ring psychology. If anything, one of the most glaring characteristics of today’s WWE roster is that there are very few upper card male stars who are under the age of 35.

That brings to me to the 2021 men’s Royal Rumble match. The average age of the thirty men who competed in tonight’s match is 39.4 years old. Here is the full list of all thirty ages, sorted from oldest to youngest (in years):

  • 53.8 - Kane
  • 47.3 - Edge
  • 47.2 - Christian
  • 46.6 - The Hurricane
  • 46.1 - Rey Mysterio
  • 44.5 - Bobby Lashley
  • 43.7 - AJ Styles
  • 43.4 - Jeff Hardy
  • 43.0 - Sheamus
  • 41.9 - Carlito
  • 41.3 - John Morrison
  • 40.9 - Shinsuke Nakamura
  • 40.8 - Randy Orton
  • 40.5 - Dolph Ziggler
  • 40.3 - The Miz
  • 40.1 - Cesaro
  • 39.7 - Daniel Bryan
  • 38.4 - Damian Priest
  • 37.4 - Braun Strowman
  • 36.6 - Sami Zayn
  • 36.4 - King Corbin
  • 35.0 - Matt Riddle
  • 34.9 - Big E
  • 34.9 - Mustafa Ali
  • 34.7 - Seth Rollins
  • 34.4 - Xavier Woods
  • 33.2 - Elias
  • 32.3 - Ricochet
  • 29.1 - Otis
  • 23.8 - Dominik Mysterio

That’s 16 out of 30 wrestlers who are 40+ years old, and only two wrestlers under 32 years old.

Now let’s remove the part-timers who were only here for this Royal Rumble match, and are not expected to be wrestling for WWE over the next few months. That includes Kane, Christian, The Hurricane, and Carlito. The average age for the remaining 26 men is 38.2 years old. The median age drops to 39.0 years old. In other words, half of the field is still north of 39 years old.

Unfortunately I have not done the work for any previous years, which would help develop a better understanding of Royal Rumble age trends over the last 34 years. But as someone who follows a few real sports, I do know that average and median team ages hovering around 39 years old sounds like a big problem. And when you look back at WWE’s top stars of the past like Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, and John Cena, they all became the face of the company well before 35 years old. Goldberg, Undertaker, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Roman Reigns all became main event stars well before the age of 35 years old.

WWE’s top priority should be looking to build young new stars. But here we are in a Royal Rumble match where 54 year old Kane is tossing out 32 year old Ricochet, and 47 year old Edge is the winner. The only real viable threat to win this match under the age of 35 was Seth freakin’ Rollins. Damian Priest was the new NXT guy given the big spotlight, and he’s already 38 years old.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Edge winning is a bad thing, Kane eliminating Ricochet is a bad thing, Otis not being a viable threat to win is a bad thing, or that Priest getting a spotlight is a bad thing. But it at least reinforces the notion that WWE’s men’s roster is old, and there isn’t much reason to expect this will change any time soon.