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Never Too Old

The legend may be true, age might just be a number. With athletes such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and even Randy Couture competing at a high-level into their 40's, many professional wrestlers are following in their footsteps. The advancement of training methods and the sports nutrition sciences have allowed many the opportunity to compete in their respective sport for much longer periods of time.

Professional wrestling is seeing the affects of this trend in very unique ways given the complexity of the industry. With Shawn Michaels, 40, and Undertaker, 43, we are not only seeing two exceptional athletes able to perform at a later age, but we are witnessing the resurgence of two characters once believed to be past the point of box-office appeal.

Both Shawn Michaels and Undertaker are arguably more popular today then they have ever been in their respective careers. The combination of HHH's injury and the hot feud with Rated RKO has given Shawn Michaels more attention and momentum then he has had in several years . Though Shawn does not have physique nor the ability to do much of the high-risk moves he did 10 years ago, he is able to play the veteran underdog role well. Through facials, sound psychology, and fiery comebacks Shawn Michaels is like no other at bringing an audience to their feet.

Many whispered in 2002 that Undertaker's best years were behind him. Injuries and issues with his weight forced a situation where Undertaker was unable to produce even a decent match. After devoting himself to getting in outstanding conditioning in 2004, Undertaker returned and had what many call among the best matches of 2006 with Kurt Angle at No Way Out. Undertaker has built great momentum over the year with strong matches and reconnecting with fans that still tremble in awe over his entrance 16 years later. His momentum is so strong that many think winning the World Heavyweight Championship atWrestleMania is the right thing for business. A notion no one would agree with just a few years ago.

In a business that often forgets its past and the legends that helped create it, we are currently experiencing a very nostalgic period within wrestling. Many think that the sudden resurgence in popularity of Shawn Michaels and Undertaker are evidence that the stars of today are simply not connecting with wrestling fans. Is their popularity evidence of a backlash against stars such as Batista, Lashley, and Randy Orton? My guess is it's a combination of many factors.

Is this a trend or, as professional sports is teaching us, a new reality? Is 42 the new 35 when it comes to describing the latter part of an athletes career? Stars such as the 48-year old Fit Finlay and the 43-year old Jerry Lynn may lead us to think it's never too late to make an impact in wrestling. Even stars such as Batista, Abyss, Chris Benoit, and Kurt Angle, who are all in their late 30's, have no plans of retiring soon.

What then are the consequences of this shift in age? Could we see 30-year old rookies become more prevalent? Will independent wrestlers continue to wrestle longer thinking they may always have a chance at stardom? With Father Time going down for the 1-2-3, anything is possible.

6 comments: on "Never Too Old"

The Hitman said...

"Aging does not necessarily mean a deterioration of the body's physical properties. Thanks to modern advances in both science and medicine, combined with proper diet and exercise, adults can be well into their 60's, 70's, or even 80's and be just as healthy, is not healthier, than some people who are only half of their age."

My dad is currently going back to school at an Ivy League college(thank God his company is paying for all of it), and he's taking a class on adult development and aging. The above quote was a snippet from an essay I helped him type last week. It was an "a". Yes, I am using Tha O Show to toot my own horn, but I also threw that in because it backs up what Frank stated in this article.

Ben Boudreau said...

First, I disagree with you about Shawn's ability to perform high risk maneuvers. This is like the third time someone has said this on Tha O Show and it is simply untrue.

Does anyone remember last year's Mania? Hell, a PPV match doesn't go by without a sick Michaels bump. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say Michaels takes more high risk bumps now than he ever has before.

Here's my take on Taker and Michaels. Yes, both are legends. Yes, both have two of the greatest WWE runs of all time. But, there could also be two other explanations for their recent megapushes.

The first is the more simple answer. They are nearing the ends of their careers and the E wants to give back to the men that gave it all to their company.

While I suspect the above is acutally the more accurate reason, here's another. What if the writing teams are unable to develop new stars that outshine the established WWE veterans? What if the writers have been unable to create the next Rock or Steve Austin in so long that they have no choice but to put the cart behind their oldest stallions?

Again, I do believe the former is more of an appropriate reason and I mean absolutely no disrespect to Michaels or Taker, but this is something certainly worth thinking about.

Tim Haught said...

Perhaps WWE would be best suited to try to forget the era with Austin and the Rock for a while, rather than trying to live off it.

Had WCW folded say in 1992, and Savage and Hogan retired, I wonder how WWF would have done in getting over Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. At that time, Vince was literally forced to provide an alternative and he even went as far to bury his former talent.

Rock, Foley, Hogan, and Austin have all been listed on the WWE roster pages long after they have been inactive performers.

Perhaps if we jump straight from the New Generation to the post-attitude era, we can do what was done during the Rock N' Wrestling Connection and phase out new stars and build new ones.

However, if WWE continues to push that their best days and greatest stars are behind them, it may be a bad long term decision.

I am not saying ditch the Hall of Fame or forget your history. I am just suggesting not bumping deserving young talent off of major events in order for old names to come back and get the big payday.

Michaels, Taker, and Flair are the least guilty of the old guard, because they have all stayed relatively active for a good amount of time. They deserve their place in the sun a lot more than those who will make a quick buck by knocking mid-card talent off pay per views at a critical stage in their development and present a "dream match."

I think as the Hitman suggested, a Michaels/Undertaker title run would be a great sending off, bring back some old fans, and when they decide to hang it up, they will do business and put over the future stars of the industry. It's hard to find two guys that deserve more respect!

Anonymous said...

Age correction, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker are both 41 years old.

Anonymous said...

correction noted, thank you for the accurate information.

Anonymous said...

nice article!!...i have been noticing that, lately, the old gaurd have been stepping up and teaching these kids how to work especially Finlay and Shawn Michaels...Finaly is freaking 48!!! and he can still go better than i ever rembered him in WCW.

-Same goes for Shawn, what he lacks in physical ability (due to age) he more than makes up for wih Pyschology...when it comes to showing emotion at the right time and place no one can touch HBK right now.

As for the other WWE veterans...i feel like Chris Benoit is just going through the motions at this point....and i cant say i blame him....when Eddie died you could tell benoit was effected the most and i think his time off last summer gave hime time to reflect...he just doesn't care as much