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Establishing & Elevating – AEW’s Oldest Wrestlers

Sting

All Elite Wrestling’s monumental rise in under two years has been in no small part due to a varied and constantly evolving roster. While that’s not the only variable, AEW’s veteran performers have proven to perfectly balance and elevate the company’s younger stars. From the announcement of Chris Jericho right at the get-go, All Elite Wrestling signaled their intent to become a global phenomenon, as opposed to an also-ran.

While AEW is filled with an abundance of younger talents, with over 30 under-30-year-olds under contract – and almost half that number under 25, many of the industry’s most experienced performers have been pushing back the hands of time on Dynamite, and helping to establish All Elite Wrestling as a mainstay in the industry.

So, who are All Elite Wrestling’s oldest stars? Here are the veteran talents rolling back the years in AEW right now.

(Note: One honourable mention is Diamond Dallas Page, who wrestled in AEW at the age of 63 – but is not under contract)

Matt Hardy

Matt Hardy

Born: September 23, 1974

Despite being a few years away from his 50th birthday, the ever-evolving Matt Hardy has found yet another gear in AEW – recently having one of the matches of his career at Revolution against ‘Hangman’ Adam Page. Despite a stipulation some may have found underwhelming with the winner taking home the other’s quarterly earnings for 2021, Hardy was one half of what was undoubtedly one of the matches of the night.

For the best part of a decade, though, Matt Hardy has been taking a dip in the Fountain of Reincarnation and reinventing himself along the way – a trend which has continued even in the space of one short year in All Elite Wrestling.

Bizarrely, the 46-year-old has never wrestled in front of a capacity crowd in AEW, debuting in March 2020 inside an empty arena as ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy. Hardy hasn’t won gold in All Elite Wrestling thus far, but has cycled through a variety of his former characters – including Broken Matt Hardy, Big Money Matt, Matt Hardy V1, and Unkillable Matt Hardy. Hardy wrestled in Inside The Ropes’ Match of the Year for 2020 – Stadium Stampede – and had one of the scariest moments in AEW thus far, when he hit the concrete hard from height against Sammy Guevara, of whom he also competed in Elite Deletion at The Hardy Compound against.

Hardy hasn’t just battled against AEW’s hottest prospects, with Big Money Matt taking two younger stars under his wing – aligning with Private Party’s Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen.

Christian Cage

Christian Cage

Born: November 30, 1973

At 47 years old, Christian Cage manages to be both one of AEW’s newest stars, and one of their oldest. The “Hall-of-Fame-worthy” star would be introduced to All Elite Wrestling as the company’s newest signing at AEW Revolution after a shocking Royal Rumble return saw Christian return to action for the first time in almost seven years.

While Christian hasn’t competed in a match in AEW thus far, Captain Charisma seems to have set his sights on AEW World Champion Kenny Omega. Speaking with Inside The Ropes recently, Omega’s foe Jon Moxley named Christian as the one signing he would love AEW to make.

“I’ll tell you, a guy I’d like to see here is Christian. I don’t know if that was a one-off for him in the Royal Rumble but he looked frigging good to me, looked like he was in great shape, he looked sharp, man. I tell you, he’s one of the guys that’s – the wrestlers know it more so than anybody – Christian is so good. Like, his brain and his execution, and his mind for wrestling is just like next-level.”

Moxley would also discuss how wrestling Christian blew his mind in WWE, so there’s no doubt the former WWE star will be invaluable with regards to elevating AEW’s younger talent.

Paul Wight

AEW Revolution thumb

Born: February 8, 1972

Next up is 49-year-old Paul Wight, formerly known as The Big Show. Without Wight in AEW, we may not have been introduced to Christian Cage as the Giant’s big “scoop” was the signing of his fellow former WWE colleague.

Wight quietly left WWE at the beginning of the year, before signing with AEW as a commentator and in-ring talent. Speaking of the move, Wight said:

“It’s been amazing to watch what AEW has built in just a couple of years. AEW Dark is an incredible platform to hone the skills of up-and-coming wrestlers, but I also love that established AEW talent can build out their personalities and showcase themselves in new ways on Dark. It’s no exaggeration when they say that AEW is boundless.”

The World’s Largest Athlete was behind the announce table during this week’s premiere of AEW Dark: Elevation, but is yet to wrestle a match in the company.

Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho

Born: November 9, 1970

The first wrestler over the age of 50 on the list is former AEW World Champion Chris Jericho! Despite being the self-proclaimed Demo God, Jericho actually falls outside the 18-49 demographic having turned the fine age of 50 in November.

Jericho was undoubtedly AEW’s marquee signing, being unveiled in January 2019, having signed a three-year contract with the company. Shortly after his debut for the company, Le Champion’s name would be etched into the history books of the company as the inaugural AEW World Champion – before forming the Inner Circle alongside Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, Santana and Ortiz. On Dynamite, Jericho has shared the ring with many of AEW’s rising stars, wrestling the likes of Darby Allin, Jungle Boy, Scorpio Sky and Orange Cassidy.

Despite no longer being AEW World Champion, Jericho has become a true staple of AEW – whether it be inside the ropes, as part of the broadcast team, or even starring alongside one of the company’s youngest stars in MJF in the critically-acclaimed Le Dinner Debonair segment.

While Jericho is now two thirds of the way through his original AEW contract, The Demo God seems to be having the time of his life in AEW – as Miro recently told Inside The Ropes.

“I think he’s having the most fun of his life! You can just tell… Just being around him, you can just see that this is it for him, that he’s not thinking of going anywhere else. He’s not thinking about anything else. He’s just 1,000 percent dedicated to AEW. He’s giving it all out there – but he’s not saving it all for himself. If you notice, the people that he’s been working, he’s been wrestling against, he had angles with, it’s all people that he’s trying to bring up.”

Miro would note how Jericho is actually at the forefront of elevating new talent within AEW, despite being one of the greatest performers of all time.

“You know, he’s not trying to bury people, he’s trying to bring talents that people haven’t heard of, bring it up, let them see what they have and go from there. I feel like you don’t see that in veterans all the time. Chris, the more I think, has got to be one of the greatest of all time, just by the time he’s put in, the stuff that he’s done – that he keeps doing – innovating the game every day. I think Chris is definitely one of my top GOATs of all time.”

Jericho, meanwhile, also pointed out to ITR how he had wanted to work with MJF for a while, stating that he’s here for the long haul – so it looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more of the 50-year-old going forward as he seemingly has no plans to wind down his career.

Christopher Daniels

Christopher Daniels

Born: March 24, 1970

One of the more surprising names on the list might be the timeless Christopher Daniels. Despite having a multitude of experience behind him, it’s hard to believe Daniels is 51 years old.

Daniels is a true veteran of the industry, and recently opened up about comparisons between AEW and TNA, noting how his personal experience means the former won’t make the same mistakes as his new employers.

“The one thing that I do feel is different and where I don’t think we’ll make some of the same mistakes that TNA made was, in the creative process, I feel there is a collaboration rather than a feeling of exclusion. There are many times where I tried to comment on things happening with me and there was immediate push back. Not always, but often enough to where I ended up getting a reputation as being a guy who asked too many questions. It ended up hurting me at TNA. […] In AEW, there is a feeling of collaboration. They want to hear opinions. All I wanted [in TNA] was to be heard. I had an opinion and if you had an opinion that negated mine or convinced me to [see a different way], then at least I was heard.”

As part of AEW, Daniels has found success as part of a trio – SoCal Uncensored – alongside 43-year-old Frankie Kazarian and and 37-year-old Scorpio Sky. The team were among three of AEW’s first signings, and SoCal Uncensored were rampant following the inception of the company, aside from a Daniels loss to Cima. SCU would face off against some of AEW’s youngest talents in Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt of Jurassic Express in the company’s infancy. In October 2019, though, Daniels suffered a pinched nerve and was out of action for a month. Since then, Daniels has shared the ring with the Lucha Brothers before Dark Order tried to recruit him.

Daniels’ role is actually much more important than just elevating talent inside the ring, as he also works in Talent Relations for AEW. As he noted how he wants to elevate the younger talent in AEW right now.

“My best efforts now are to wrestle younger guys and help them get better if I can. If that happens on Dynamite, great. If it happens on Dark, also great. That’s my focus now. Wrestle guys who are under contract with us and see if I can help them not make the same mistakes I made or I see other young wrestlers make. Who can I wrestle to build up and help give them credible wins? I feel like wrestling me and beating me means something, though it seems like everyone does it these days.”

Dustin Rhodes

Dustin Rhodes

Born: April 11, 1969

51-year-old Dustin Rhodes had arguably the match of his career in his very first match in AEW, competing against his brother Cody at the inaugural Double or Nothing pay-per-view. The embrace between the siblings has been etched in history as one of All Elite Wrestling’s most iconic and memorable moments, with the brothers reuniting shortly after to take on The Young Bucks before the official announcement came of Rhodes’ signing.

The Natural’s career would be resurrected in AEW, competing against the likes of Jake Hager and Cima before putting his career on the line against Kip Sabian – a match which Rhodes won. The former WWE star has taken on Lancer Archer and Shawn Spears since, before aligning with QT Marshall to form The Natural Nightmares.

Outside of the ring, Dustin Rhodes has been helping coach the women of AEW, alongside Brandi Rhodes, Awesome Kong and Kenny Omega, as he told me in December 2019 via SK Wrestling.

“Here in AEW, I look forward to going to work every single week because I coach the girls, me and Brandi [Rhodes], and Kia [Awesome Kong] and Kenny Omega. I hold this training session every Wednesday with the girls, I’m a backstage producer and coaching for promos, teaching these kids how to talk on camera, and to get them comfortable with a camera in their face – because some of them have never had the television experience so it’s a learning experience for them and also I had to have a little patience with them because this is their first time doing it – and I love to teach so I consider AEW and these kids, they are kind of my kids, man. I love them.”

Rhodes also suggested in that interview that he’s far from finished, and feels he has a few years left in the ring. No matter if it’s between the ropes or outside of them, there’s no doubt the 30-year veteran’s experience is invaluable to All Elite Wrestling.

Luther

Luther

Born: October 30 1968

At 52 years old, Luther is one of the surprise packages of AEW. The deathmatch legend appeared in January 2020 for the first time as the fourth member of the now-defunct Nightmare Collective stable alongside Brandi Rhodes, Awesome Kong and Mel. While Luther’s role in that faction was short-lived, he’d debut soon after on AEW Dark, defeating Sonny Kiss.

In March 2020, Luther’s signing to All Elite Wrestling was sealed, signing as an in-ring performer and in an unspecified role in the office, having reportedly been working as a production capacity before appearing on-screen in the first place.

Luther went on to form Chaos Project with Serpentico on AEW Dark, where they developed a winning streak that led to a main event on Chris Jericho’s 30 year anniversary show against the Demo God and Jake Hager. Wins since then have been hard to come by, but both Luther and Serpentico have stolen the show at ringside, on AEW Dark, and by attempting to ruin Brodie Lee Jr’s birthday party before getting their comeuppance. Luther and Serpentico also recently faced off against AEW’s two youngest stars – Top Flight – in a losing effort.

Billy Gunn

Billy Gunn

Born: November 1st 1963

Billy Gunn’s on-screen appearances on AEW Dynamite have been few and far between with the 57-year-old working as a coach primarily having been hired at the company’s inception.

While the veteran’s two sons – Austin and Colten – have recently grabbed the limelight inside the squared circle, though, Gunn has wrestled over 25 times for AEW, most prominently teaming with either one or both of his sons on AEW Dark as The Gunn Club.

Wrestling under the name “Billy” in All Elite Wrestling, Gunn has shared the ring with 25-year-old MJF on AEW Dynamite, where the younger man prevailed. Three years shy of his 60th birthday, Gunn has locked up with many of AEW’s younger stars while teaming with his sons.

Sting

Sting

Born: March 20, 1959

At the age of 62 years old, Sting recently wrestled his first match after six years away from the ring, facing near-certain retirement. The Icon would star directly alongside and against AEW’s rising stars, teaming with TNT Champion Darby Allin against Ricky Starks and Brian Cage, with Powerhouse Hobbs and even 21-year-old Hook getting physical with one of the most legendary figures in wrestling history. Not only that, but one of those talents, in Allen, actually directed 90% of the match.

While the cinematic nature of the match would differ slightly from a traditional in-ring bout, Sting going bell-to-bell in front of the AEW faithful hasn’t been ruled out. Sting has signed a “multi-year agreement” with All Elite Wrestling and, although the build has been slow, we have witnessed Sting take a powerbomb in the middle of the ring at Daily’s Place.

However, as Jon Moxley noted to Inside The Ropes, even the presence of Sting is enough to elevate AEW’s younger talent.

“Oh, yeah, man, he’s the Stinger, he’s a legend. What more can you say that’s not already been said? He’s just a great guy to have in the locker room for younger guys to see walking around backstage, or to see in the ring on the same show as they are because that’s just not one of their regular old peers they see every week – that’s f***ing Sting! Sorry for that, but that’s a real bona fide wrestling superstar that’s here to chose to be here at AEW because it’s a great platform to maybe… Maybe this is where he’s going to close out his career, and the fact that he’s chosen to do it here at AEW is telling that we’ve got a really good thing going on here that people like Sting want to be a part of it. It’s a place where people can come to excel and get the best out of themselves. Sting wants to be here and wants to help out this next generation of guys, and this special group of generation of guys AEW has is really cool.”

Sting has only wrestled one match in AEW, but that single bout may have just proven that the possibilities are endless with the 61-year-old, who may just have younger talent queuing up to work with him.

Tully Blanchard

Tully Blanchard

Born: January 22, 1954

With all due respect to one of the true legends of the wrestling industry, Tully Blanchard would have been nowhere near this list a matter of weeks ago. Why? Well, he is – or was – a manager. However, a monumental return to the ring almost 15 years after his last match means we’d be remiss not to call Blanchard a wrestler.

Blanchard has been part of AEW since July 2019, having signed to serve as an “exclusive advisor” to Shawn Spears, whom he’d accompany to the ring thereafter and barbing with Cody Rhodes’ coach – Tully’s equally legendary tag team partner Arn Anderson.

After a brief hiatus, Blanchard returned to AEW Dynamite in June 2020 to try and help turn Spears’ fortunes around by presenting him with a black glove similar to the one worn by Blackjack Mulligan and Ted Dibiase. Following another brief spell with Spears, Blanchard aligned with FTR in August 2020, leading the former Revival to the AEW Tag Team Championships.

Months later, on March 3rd, 2021, Tully Blanchard stepped back in the ring to team with FTR, emerging victorious against Jurassic Express in a match where the trio were managed by JJ Dillon. Tully’s former protege Shawn Spears returned at the culmination of that encounter, and FTR, Spears and Blanchard aligned with MJF and Wardlow the following week.

Will Tully Blanchard step back in the ring? That remains to be seen. Would he deliver another great performance if he did? There’s almost no doubt.

To find out who the youngest AEW stars are, click here.

Catch AEW Dynamite every Wednesday evening at 1am via Fite TV, and AEW Dark: Elevation on Mondays & Dark on Tuesdays via AEW’s YouTube channel.