If a professional wrestler should have the combination of talent and luck (or the muscles ,which override both of those things) necessary to take them to Vince McMahon’s WWE, they will undoubtedly find themselves on a pretty enviable salary. It is common knowledge that WWE’s top stars and main eventers earn a couple of million dollars a year. The company’s mid-card players, the good hands, usually earn upwards of $200,000 in a year, while even the lowest ranked main roster performers earn just south of a six-figure salary.
For wrestlers such as Dean Ambrose, who grew up in poverty, the money a WWE career allows them to earn seems to be a million (literally) miles away from what they knew during their childhood. For some, however, it is just a slight rise in the kind of money they were used to seeing during their formative years. You see, while WWE love their “started at the bottom,” rags to riches success stories, many of the company’s employees have been the children of well-off or, in some cases, downright rich parents.
On occasion, WWE will bring in the offspring of a wealthy couple and make their privileged upbringing known to the fans in order to establish the competitor as a heel. For the most part, however, the background of performers remains in the background, because Vince McMahon doesn’t believe in life outside of the WWE Universe.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at some of the WWE performers (past and present) who were lucky enough to be born into money.
Sabu, like a lot of the entries on this list, comes from a pro wrestling family, though it wasn’t referenced on WWE television all that often. Sabu, real name Terry Brunk, is the nephew of WWE Hall of Famer The Sheik, who is also known as “The Original Sheik” in order to avoid confusion with the character played by fellow Hall of Famer Hossein Khosrow Vaziri, aka The Iron Sheik.
The Sheik rose to fame during the 1960s as an unpredictable, exceedingly violent performer who would subject his opponents to beatings far beyond what was required to be victorious.
During Bruno Sammartino’s legendary reign as WWWF World Heavyweight Champion, Vince McMahon Sr. brought in The Sheik to challenge for the championship. It was during this period that The Sheik made the greatest money of his career, most of which it appears he saved, as he was not forced to hit the indie scene during the later years of his life. Along with his character and extensive knowledge of the wrestling business, The Sheik passed on a great deal of his wealth to his nephew, Sabu.
14. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler has been a mainstay of WWE’s upper-mid-card for years now, and has even won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on two separate occasions. For this reason, it is safe to assume Ziggler has made quite a bit of money during his career as a professional wrestler.
However, if we look at the life Ziggler lead before heading to WWE, it seems he was never in a position where he was stuck for money. After spending his final teenage years in the all boys St. Edward High School, Ziggler went on to study at Kent State University. There, he majored in political science and took a pre-law minor.
Just before signing with WWE, Dolph was accepted into Arizona State University’s law school, but he never got past his first semester. While Ziggler’s parents must have been relieved that they never had to cover the cost of their son’s law school education, they might need to start looking into a decent lawyer for their youngest son, Donald, who is currently a suspect in a murder investigation.
Yokozuna was one of the WWF’s biggest stars in the early to mid-90s, and his waistline would suggest he made a pretty nice bit of money after he captured the WWF Championship from Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX.
Of course, being a member of the famous Anao’i family, Yokozuna wasn’t exactly starving before signing his contract with Vince McMahon. Yoko was the nephew of Afa and Sika, better known as The Wild Samoans. As they have done with numerous future WWE Champions, Afa and Sika took Yokozuna under their collective wing and taught him the ropes of the business. His family financed many of his trips to Japan and Mexico, as well as provided him with the money he needed to live during his training.
While Roman Reigns, The Usos, and The Rock are also members of the Anao’i family and could each appear on this list, we decided to go with Yokozuna as his connection to the Samoan dynasty was not mentioned during his time as WWF’s Japanese terror.
12. Randy Savage
WWE Hall of Famer and noted macho man Randy Savage was one of the most colorful characters to ever step foot in a WWE ring. Because of his success as a singles competitor, it is often forgotten that Savage was a part of a successful wrestling family which also included “The Genius” Lanny Poffo.
The Macho Man was the eldest son of professional wrestler Angelo Poffo. The elder Poffo began his formal training in 1948 and made his in-ring debut the following year against Ruffy Silverstein. Angelo Poffo went on to become one of the biggest stars of his era, and captured the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship in 1958, a decade after beginning his training.
Along with his success as a professional wrestler, Poffo made a good chunk of change as a promoter, and ran International Championship Wrestling. He also had a stake in Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling, which he purchased when his sons were ready to get involved in the wrestling business. After retiring from pro wrestling, Angelo Poffo secured a job as a PE teacher, ensuring he would never be stuck for cash even in his autumn years.
11. Barry Windham
Despite being a two-time WWF Tag Team Champion, Barry Windham’s career in Vince McMahon’s wrestling juggernaut was not all that successful. Windham had a couple of runs with the company, each one more underwhelming than the last, but was nonetheless inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.
There are many who feel Windham did not live up to his full potential, as he was undoubtedly a talented wrestler and came straight from the loins of the legendary Blackjack Mulligan.
Blackjack Mulligan was part of the WWE back when it was still owned by Vince McMahon Sr. During his run with the company, he was accompanied to ring by The Grand Wizard of Wrestling, who also managed major stars such as “Superstar” Billy Graham and Sgt. Slaughter.
Like his son, Mulligan was a WWWF Tag Team Champion, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the man’s achievements. He held countless championships outside of the company, including both the WWA and the IWF World Heavyweight Championship. Blackjack Mulligan passed away in April of this year, leaving big shoes and an even bigger wallet to be filled.
10. Bray Wyatt
Now seems like a good time to talk about “The Eater of Worlds” Bray Wyatt. For all of Wyatt’s claims about witnessing destruction, desolation, and various other horrors during his formative years, he actually had quite a privileged upbringing.
Though it has never been mentioned on television, Bray Wyatt is the grandson of Blackjack Mulligan and son of five-time WWF Tag Team Champion Mike Rotunda. Rotunda performed under his own name for a period in the eighties, but found his greatest success as Irwin R. Schyster, commonly known as IRS.
Unlike his brother-in-law, IRS had a lengthy and lucrative run in WWE and was the icing on the cake of Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Man character. He also performed in WCW and carved out a nice career for himself in Japan while his children were growing up. Neither Bray Wyatt nor his brother, WWE superstar Bo Dallas, wanted for much as kids, and are now themselves the highest earners to ever come out of the Rotunda/Windham family.
9. Bret Hart
WWE Hall of Famer and multiple-time world heavyweight champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart did not have the easiest childhood. Towards the end of his teenage years, the Hart family were struggling to make ends meet and their Stampede Wrestling promotion was suffering due to Vince McMahon Jr.’s attempts to monopolize the wrestling business.
However, for much of The Hitman’s early years, Stampede Wrestling was thriving and family patriarch Stu Hart was earning more than enough to support his increasingly large family. In fact, the Hart’s lived in a mansion which is to this day referred to as “Hart House,” despite the fact it is no longer under Hart ownership.
It was in this house that Stu would establish the infamous Hart Dungeon, where he would train aspiring wrestlers from all over the world; another source of income for the family.
However, Stu and Helen Hart refused to let their wealth impact the way they raised their kids, and insisted all of their children work for their allowance. Bret and his siblings were all involved in Stampede Wrestling, with some collecting tickets or assembling the ring, and some working as referees or even wrestlers. It seems the Harts’ determination to teach their children the value of hard work paid off, as Bret went on to become one of the most successful performers professional wrestling has ever seen.
8. René Duprée
At the age of 19, René Duprée captured the WWE World Tag Team Championships alongside his tag team partner Sylvain Grenier, becoming the youngest champion in the history of WWE in the process.
René’s success at such a young age can mainly be attributed to the wisdom and training he received from his father, Emile, who was a wrestler and promotor. Emile Duprée first began his career in the mid-fifties and quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. He became much in demand as a performer and travelled throughout the United States, earning himself copious amounts of fans and a whole lot of money. He also spent time in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling, as well as embarking on numerous tours of Australia and New Zealand.
Duprée was also the man behind Grand Prix Wrestling, which as I mentioned earlier, Angelo Poffo was also involved in.
Emile Duprée was an attentive booker and a suave businessman, and managed to land a TV deal for Grand Prix Wrestling before selling the company to Vince McMahon. This sale had two obvious benefits for the Duprées. First and foremost, it provided the family with a significant financial boost during trying economic times. Secondly, though it was not immediately apparent, the sale helped support the company which would eventually turn René Duprée into an international star.
7. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Though he began his WWE career as a cruiserweight, it was obvious from the get-go that Rey Mysterio would have success far beyond the confines of the failing division. Several lucrative deals and multiple world championships later, Rey Mysterio is a multi-millionaire who never has to work a day in his life if he doesn’t want to.
Though Rey’s bank balance was not always as high as it is today, as he was no stranger to money when he first appeared on the professional wrestling scene. Prior to coming to WWE, and during his early days there, Mysterio was known as Rey Mysterio Jr. This was because he is the nephew of the original Rey Mysterio, who was a major name in his home country of Mexico. Rey Mysterio Sr. began his wrestling career after spending a period of time trying to break into the world of boxing. He soon climbed to the top of the lucha libre ladder (which he probably then did a flip off of) and cemented himself as one of the sport’s top draws. Much like The Original Sheik, Rey Mysterio Sr. had no problem helping out his nephew when it came to his career and his finances.
6. David Otunga
David Otunga, much like his television character, is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and was fortunate enough to have parents who could cover the costs of his education. After graduating and spending some time in various high paying jobs, Otunga landed a job with World Wrestling Entertainment, which probably meant taking a bit of a pay cut.
In 2008, Otunga became engaged to singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, and the couple had their first child the following year. There is likely a connection between Otunga’s financial stability and his lack of ambition during his wrestling career.
5. Randy Orton
Throughout his career, “The Viper” Randy Orton has held the Intercontinental Championship one time, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship four times, and the WWE championship eight times. Because he has so successfully cemented himself as a major star, there is rarely any need for WWE to reference Randy Orton’s family or their connection to the wrestling business.
It wasn’t always like this, however. When he first began his career in WWE, commentators would frequently mention Orton’s famous father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton. This was done to raise fan interest in the young man and further establish him as one to watch.
“Cowboy” Bob Orton was already a veteran with much international experience when he began appearing regularly for the World Wrestling Federation in 1983. Competing as a heel, he aligned himself with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, the company’s premier bad guy, and together they feuded with the likes of Paul Orndorff, Hulk Hogan, and Andre The Giant.
As one of the WWF’s biggest stars during the pro wrestling boom, Bob Orton was able to provide a fantastic life for his family, even though it meant him being away from them for most of the year.
Nowadays, Randy Orton is doing the same thing, and is currently preparing to return to the road after taking some time off to heal a recurring shoulder injury. He is scheduled to face Brock Lesnar at this year’sSummerSlam, in what is likely to be the most heavily promoted bout in the history of the event.
4. Mick Foley
There’s a reason Mick Foley likes to refer to himself as “Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy”; his mother and father did everything they could to provide for him and give him a great life growing up.
Unlike a lot of the entries on this list, Mick Foley’s father was not a professional wrestler, and had virtually no interest in the sport. He was, however, employed as the alethic director for Ward Melvin High School. As it sounds, this was an important and much sought after role which allowed Jack Foley to earn more than a decent living.
The Original Cactus Jack, as Mick Foley would dub him in later years, was also a member of the Suffolk County High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame, meaning the Foley family has produced two Hall of Famers. With the money Foley’s parents earned during his childhood years, it is no wonder the former WWE Champion has come to love Christmas so much.
3. Alberto Del Rio
Though they seem to have dropped the gimmick since his return to the company, WWE originally portrayed Alberto Del Rio as the son of a wealthy family from Mexico, who grew up with access to millions of dollars, fast cars, and all the women he wanted.
While this wasn’t exactly the case, it isn’t far off from what Del Rio’s life was like prior to his WWE singing. Alberto Del Rio is the son of luchador Dos Caras, who is considered by many to be the greatest performer to ever come out of Mexico. Del Rio has frequently discussed his father in interviews, noting that he is incredibly proud to be the son of a three-time UWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Dos Caras experienced his greatest success in an era where luchadores where treated as gods, and could get pretty much whatever he wanted with a click of his fingers or a flick of his wrist. Caras is the brother of the lucador Mil Máscaras, who helped popularize the lucha libre style around the world, as well as starring in over a dozen feature films.
With his recent deal with WWE rumored to be worth over one million dollars, it should not be long before Del Rio surpasses both his father and his uncle in lifetime earnings (if he has not done so already).
As one of WWE’s longest tenured performers, Kane has no shortage of money in the bank (especially since he won that match back in 2010). Though he has always been billed as being from “Parts Unknown,” Glenn Jacobs was born in Madrid, Spain in 1967. He was born into a high ranking family in the US Air Force, which was stationed in the Spanish city at the time of his birth.
The Jacobs family soon returned to America and the new parents sought out only the best education for their child. After graduating high school, the future Big Red Machine attended Northeast MissouriState University, where he excelled in basketball and football. Kane has since claimed that he was not a great student, although he did managed to graduate with a degree in English literature.
The wealth which Kane has been exposed to his whole life – although there is likely a vast difference between the money his parents earned and the money he has earned – is probably a contributing factor to his unwavering support of the United States Republican Party.
1. John Cena
A 15-time world champion and the face of WWE for over a decade, John Cena is quite possibly the most famous professional wrestler of all time. In fact, he may just be one of the most famous people in the world today.
However, long before the Cenation established himself as the top athlete in the world, his father was fascinated by the world of professional wrestling. Little is known about John Cena Sr. prior to his involvement in the wrestling business, but it has been said that he and his wife Carol worked tirelessly to earn money and provide for their children.
Evidence of John Cena Sr.’s wealth can be found in his 2007 purchase of his own wrestling company. The booker of the Millennium Wrestling Federation, the elder Cena has been able to live out his dream and work with many of the wrestling legends he watched during the 70s and 80s. He also has a side gig as a justice of the peace (that’s not even a joke), so John Sr. has no shortage of money coming in. It’s just a pity his son is so adamant about never marrying again.