When it comes to finding out information regarding the salaries of professional wrestlers it’s hard to find a reliable source. The companies go to great lengths to keep it a secret from the public for some reason. One thing for certain is they make way more money than they did back in the 80’s. Today they have guaranteed contracts instead of being paid per appearance like it used to be. In those days the main event performer could bring home $10,000 for a night of work in a title match while a mid-card performer might make 500 to a thousand bucks depending on their overall status with the company. Sadly, the undercard performers could be paid as little as five to twenty dollars.
Forbes is always a good source of information whenever you are looking for anything money related. They have come up with estimated salaries for the world of professional wrestling based on tax filings in 2016 and 2017. They came up with what they figure each person made in 2017. Not surprisingly the average wrestler makes around $500,000 a year now. Also, not a big surprise is that the women make far less than the men do. Charlotte Flair is rumored to be the highest paid woman with earnings between $400,000 and $500,000. The rest of them take home around $300,000 per year on the high end. We will look into the earnings of the top performers today so you will know exactly who is overpaid and by how much.
15 Brock Lesnar ($12 million)
Whenever it comes to the contracts for professional wrestlers it’s near impossible to find reliable sources that concur on the figures and details. Lesnar has three listed and two of them say that he once made five million bucks for one year’s worth of work while another source says that he also had a three-year deal that was worth three million bucks. Yet another one says that the 5-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and one-time UFC Heavyweight Champion makes ten million per year.
One of the most reliable sources states that he pulled in twelve million bucks last year and that probably includes several performance bonuses as well as merchandise additions. He has done it all as Lesnar also played for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in 2004 after leaving the WWE the first time. Whatever the source, the figure is simply staggering.
14 John Cena ($8 million)
When you are the face of a company for as long as John Cena has been you get rewarded handsomely for it. Its estimated that his 2017 earnings are anywhere from $8.5 million to $9.5 million but the most reliable source puts the number at $8 million dollars. Many have called Cena the greatest performer in the history of the WWE. He has been the WWE Champion thirteen times and has won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on three occasions. When you are a main event status performer like that it’s not surprising you are paid extremely well.
His acting career now spans over 12 years and he makes a good amount of money to perform on screen. He has also been endorsing products for more than ten years now so you can bet that he doesn’t come cheap. These additional revenue streams certainly added to his sky-high earnings last year.
13 Triple H ($3.8 million)
Triple H, also known as Paul Levesque, doesn’t have any controversy when it comes to his salary. As the Executive VP of Talent for the WWE, his salary is released officially to the government each year. In 2017 he made a base salary of $1.1 million and plenty more for performing in the ring along with other bonuses. Those came to a total of $1.65 million, giving him a grand total of $3.8 million for the year. That total makes him the highest paid executive in the WWE, including the boss himself, Vince McMahon.
Triple H is a long time top draw for the company and now that he is older he has taken to sharing his talents with others on the roster and teaching them the right way to do things. It just goes to show you that if you are loyal to Vince you will be rewarded nicely.
12 Roman Reigns ($3.5 million)
Roman Reigns is a real man’s man. He’s one of those guys who grew up in football and moved his talents over to the squared circle where they become some of the most finely tuned men in the world. Reigns, real name Leati Joseph Anoaʻi, started off by playing football at Georgia Tech. He did some time in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings before playing a season in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos. He retired in 2008 and in 2010 he started training to become a pro wrestler.
He quickly rose to main event status and last year it is reported that he made $3.5 million for his work in the ring. Other sources claim he made as low as $2.1 million or as much as five million. However, smart money says that the $3.5 million is the most accurate number.
11 Dean Ambrose ($2.7 million)
Dean Ambrose is another who has conflicting reports on what he earned in 2017. One source says he earned $1.1 million while another more reliable source says he made a cool $2.7 million. That’s the smarter bet when you consider he has headlined many pay-per-view events and has been a main event status performer for some time now.
Ambrose, real name Jonathan Good, has won the United States Championship, and won the Intercontinental title on two different occasions. He hit the top when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Championship in 2016. He is currently sidelined with a serious triceps injury but before you feel too badly for him you can rest assured knowing he is still making some serious bank while he recovers.
10 The Miz ($2.5 million)
The Miz, or as his wife Maryse knows him, Michael Mizanin, is a former WWE Champion and he has won the Intercontinental Championship an amazing eight different times. He is one of the WWE’s constant main event performers and because of that status he is paid extremely well, earning a very nice $2.5 million in 2017.
Mizanin didn’t take the normal path to stardom with the WWE. He started out as a reality television star on many different shows. Eventually, he ended up on a WWE related show and his path was set once he was discovered. A few of the shows he was on before hitting the big time were MTV’s The Real World: Back to New York, Real World/Road Rules Challenge and Tough Enough. Mike and Maryse will be starring in their own brand new reality show later this year called Miz & Mrs.
9 AJ Styles ($2.4 million)
AJ Styles, known off camera as Allen Jones, could have been a star in professional wrestling long before he actually became one. Back in 2002, he appeared in the then WWF and the company was very impressed with him and offered him a development contract. For reasons known only to Styles, he turned down the offer and spent many years with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Fourteen years after rejecting the offer that could have changed his life, he signed a deal with the now WWE and he is a two time WWE Champion.
I suppose the wait paid off in the long run as he earned a nice $2.4 million in 2017. He has been a main event status player for several years now and many media outlets consider him to be one of the top performing professional wrestlers in the entire world.
8 Vince McMahon ($2.4 million)
It’s hard to believe that Vince McMahon is now 72 years old. He has been in the wrestling business ever since he was a kid and finally took over what was then the WWF from his father, Vince McMahon Sr. The kid had a vision and he made it come true as his company took over the wrestling world and put all of the other major factions out of business.
Last year Vince brought home $2.4 million and he has come a very long way from the days when the company was weeks from going out of business itself. Today he has an overall net worth of $1.79 BILLION. So the next time you see his name in the news because someone is coming after him, now you know why. Anyone with that kind of money is always a target.
7 Shane McMahon ($2.2 million)
When your dad is beyond rich, you’ll eventually get some of that wealth for yourself. Shane McMahon started working behind the scenes in the WWE at the age of just fifteen years old, much like his dad Vince did. He worked his way up through the company ranks and last year he took home $2.2 million. His total net worth is $35 million and the 48-year-old has brought it all in from the world of professional wrestling.
He has spent more than his share of time inside of the ring and he is known for not being afraid to pull off high-risk moves. His most famous move came at Wrestlemania 32 when he leaped off of the top of a Hell in a Cell steel cage, some 20 plus feet I might add, to deliver an elbow smash to The Undertaker, outside of the ring. If you haven’t seen it, google it. You’ll be amazed too.
6 The Undertaker ($2 million)
If you want to see a guy who makes fantastic money for just showing up to work, look no further than The Undertaker, also known in real life as Mark Calaway. The 53-year-old only makes the rare, occasional appearance now at pay-per-view events but still managed to take home two million bucks in 2017. He originally signed with the company back in the WWF days in 1990 and is the longest-tenured performer in the company. That’s probably why he makes so much to do so little.
He has been the WWE Champion four times and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship three separate times. He was known for his twenty-one match winning streak at Wrestlemania, which covered, you guessed it, twenty-one years. However, when you realize that the outcome is predetermined, the streak is really not that impressive but his take-home pay per appearance certainly is!
5 Seth Rollins ($2 million)
Seth Rollins, real name Colby Lopez, has some variation in his reported earnings from 2017 but for the most part, the differences aren’t a wide gap like some of the others are. There are reports that he brought home $2.4 million and others that say he earned three million dollars. The most reliable says that he received 2 million smackeroos for his time in the ring in 2017 so that’s what we are going with.
He joined the WWE main roster in 2012 and headed right for the top of the cards. It didn’t take him any time at all to become a main event performer and he has held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship twice. He has also held the United States Championship. Rollins once received the highest compliment one could ever get when Sting said he was “the most talented professional wrestler he has ever seen or worked with.”
4 Randy Orton ($1.9 million)
Orton is another guy who doesn’t make a ton of appearances anymore, yet he is still paid quite well. This makes his pay per match extremely lucrative for him. His salary is widely varied depending on what source you use but either way, since he doesn’t have a lot of on-camera sightings anymore, he is raking in a ton of dough.
In a divorce filing, it was claimed that Orton made $291,666 each and every month. That comes out to be around $3.5 million for the year. Another report says that bonuses would be tacked on to that making his earnings closer to five million. Documentation that Forbes got a hold of though, says that he earned $1.9 million in 2017 and since they know just about all when it comes to money, that’s the one we will go by.
3 The Big Show ($1.5 million)
In the world of professional wrestling, compared to other wrestlers, Paul Wight is highly underpaid. The seven-foot-tall beast of a man, also known as The Big Show, is one of the most physically scary people in the world to face off against. He has held seven world championships in his career. He was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion twice, he won the WWF/WWE Championship also twice, The WWE World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions and also won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. He is the only man in the world to hold each of the ECW, WWE, WCW, and World Heavyweight championships.
For all of that success, he brought home a measly $1.5 million in 2017. Vince McMahon should be embarrassed by that number. The Big Show has been a staple for a long time now and always does what he is asked and never causes any problems in the locker room.
2 Kane ($1.3 million)
Kane is another physically imposing figure standing at seven feet tall. He has held three world championships over his illustrious career and has been a main event status performer for many years. He has held the ECW Championship, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship. He has also won the Intercontinental Championship on two occasions.
Glenn Jacobs, as his wife knows him, owns an insurance company outside of the wrestling ring. He and his wife own an Allstate agency based in Knoxville, Tennessee. He brought home $1.3 million last year from his WWE action so any income he makes from the insurance agency is just icing on the cake. Jacobs recently announced that later this year he will run for Mayor of Knox County. I’m sure Mayor Kane would have no problem getting fellow politicians to fall in line!
1 Dolph Ziggler ($1.4 million)
Dolph Ziggler, known in real life as Nicholas Nemeth, is probably the most overpaid guy in WWE. For his lack of in-ring talent it is hard to believe that the company has made him a WWE World Heavyweight Champion twice, a United States Champion twice and an Intercontinental Champion five times. He brought home $1.4 million in 2017 and he should count his blessings each and every day for that.
It’s not often that someone can get by on less than average skills but he has been doing it for some time now. You have to give credit where credit is due, he does just enough to stay in the good graces of the WWE executives and he is rewarded nicely for his ability to do what he is told.