Today's wrestlers aren't afraid of being paralyzed,the long term effects of steroids or a half a dozen other reasonable things to be afraid of. The most terrifying thing for a pro wrestler in this era is the number 30. Or more specifically the age 30. The general consensus is that once you've hit the magic number, you've missed the boat. You may get good opportunities to work good shows but a dream of being a WWE contracted wrestler is over. Is this fact or merely a bitter fiction that has made its bed in our world.
I did some heavy research for this article. I asked the question of several veterans who use to work the territories. Were they afraid of 30 or some other magical number? It wasn't that they were afraid of 30 but aware of it. If someone hadn't become a star or had gotten a good as they were going to by the time they hit 30 they usually started making alternative plans for the future. The big difference between then and now is that it was their decision. Plus with several profitable companies and bookers, if one promoter didn't see anything in you, whose to say the next one wouldn't.
When Vince started offering contracts to guys like to build a national WWF. He didn't hire guys 18-20 years old. He hired guys that were seasoned, guys that he knew he could be in relatively any situation and they could perform because this wouldn't be their first rodeo. And it made for a great product, were from top to bottom you had genuine workers. Guys that were working together to make money. Now everyone wasn't a Randy Savage or Ricky Steamboat but everyone played their role perfectly.
Now it isn't to say that WWE has never and will never hire someone over the age of 30. Because they have, most notably guys like The Boogyman and Rico, who were in their late 30s even 40s when hired. The ratio to twenty-somethings vs thirty-plus is a one sided margin for sure. So what is "being in your prime" in pro wrestling now? You look at Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker, two guys in their 40s who went and had probably the greatest match in Wrestlemania History. Neither man could have had that match when they were 25. Because they hadn't had the 1000s of matches prior to learn from.
I personally know for a fact that if WWE would have hired me when I was 20 years old, I would have screwed it up in some way. Because I was stupid like all 20 year olds. It's like any sport, you draft someone directly out of high school and you have to deal with a maturing process. You draft a college senior and 4 year starter then,for the most part, you take that maturing process out of the equation. I personally would rather hire someone who is a great worker at 33, that could work for 10 more years than someone who is gonna be just "ok" for 20. But I promise I don't know everything.