In an ideal world, every wrestler would be extremely passionate about the industry with aspirations of providing fans with classic matches and quality entertainment. But like so many other industries, not every employee pictured wrestling as their full-time career. Throughout the years, there have plenty of Superstars who only landed a job with the major companies due to their great looks rather than their talent. Appearance has always been emphasized in wrestling as you can become a major star if you manage to be a draw.
Some may refer to draws as having the “it” factor, meaning they can capture the attention of audiences with a relatively minor effort. And while many fans dream of eventually becoming wrestling stars themselves, there are some who simply saw an opportunity and made the most of it. Wrestling is a business at the end of the day – a very rewarding one – so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of our favourite stars were more into picking up their hefty paychecks over anything else.
It’s easy to spot wrestlers who prefer the financial benefits over any other factor, as we have witnessed some names refuse to compete until their highly expensive demands were met. While it’s fair to say that wrestlers have to be fairly compensated for generating an influx of money, there is a fine line between negotiating and being greedy. With today’s list, we look at 15 wrestlers who were only in it for the money.
15. Lex Luger
Lex Luger has a reputation for jumping around wherever the money was. He broke into the industry with NWA but moved to WCW as soon as he could where he wrestled for the next five years. When a hefty offer came in from the WWE, Luger couldn’t resist and joined the company immediately to fill in the spot left by the departing Hulk Hogan.
Once it became clear that it was never going to happen, Luger was once again on the move and took his talents back to WCW in 1995 thanks to a generous offer from Eric Bischoff. Luger would become one of WCW’s top-paid stars for the next few years despite having a very forgettable run. But the money was too good to pass up at that point as he was earning millions while doing very little.
14. Brock Lesnar
Many WWE Superstars have always dreamed of competing in the ring since a young age but that was not the case for Brock Lesnar. When an opportunity presented itself, he pursued a career in professional wrestling but he was fed up just a couple years in. After leaving WWE in 2004, he attempted to join the NFL but that fell through which is why Lesnar once again resorted to wrestling by joining NJPW.
To say the least, his run was mostly terrible. Lesnar collected paychecks for showing up a few times a year, and his performances were unimpressive. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Lesnar’s next venture came with UFC where he competed for many years, and he only returned to WWE once all other options fell through, as the pay and schedule were simply too good to pass up. Plenty of fans and wrestlers believe that Lesnar is only around when the money is right.
13. The Ultimate Warrior
Along with Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior was the only other Superstar who truly threatened Hulk Hogan at the peak of his popularity. Warrior rose quickly to fame to become one of the most beloved figures. But as his Superstar status grew, so did his ego. This created some problems between him and Vince McMahon. When he left in 1991, a money dispute was the main reason as Warrior continued to ask for raises and even demanded to be paid $500,000 in cash.
He threatened to no-show WWE events if his demands weren’t met, adding that he must be paid an equal amount as Hulk Hogan at all times. At some point, it seems like McMahon had had enough of his demands, especially since Warrior was also a controversial figure so they went their separate ways. When he returned to the WWE a couple years later, money was once again The Ultimate Warrior’s only concern.
12. Stacy Keibler
Stacy Keibler joined the wrestling industry at a time when you only had to look like a model to make it. She would spend most of her career as a manager or involved in silly storylines, as she was never a legitimate wrestler. Despite having been employed by WCW and then WWE for several years, Keibler never bothered to improve her wrestling skills. While the likes of Trish Stratus and Lita established themselves as great wrestlers, Keibler was earning her paychecks by showing off her legs and being apart of bra & panties matches in the WWE.
Once new opportunities presented themselves outside of the industry, she was quick to leave and never looked back, doing some time on Dancing with the Stars. While most Superstars from that era have returned for some appearances or even one final match, Keibler has kept away from WWE and tries to distance herself from the past.
Goldberg never planned to be a professional wrestler. After a brief run with the NFL, he wasn’t picked up by any teams and eventually was recruited to WCW since he had the physique to compete in the ring. Goldberg became the most dominant force during the Attitude Era despite having barely trained to wrestle with many claiming that he was sloppy and far from a finished product.
But Goldberg never had to put out great matches since most of them barely lasted, and he became one of the highest paid wrestlers in the world. Once WCW died, he only agreed to join the WWE after a year of negotiations since Goldberg was only willing to compete for a hefty salary. Following a one year run, Goldberg left the WWE and talked trash about it for the next decade by claiming that he absolutely hated his time there and would only return if the money was right.
10. Buff Bagwell
Buff Bagwell was an interesting figure, to say the least. He wasn’t a great wrestler nor was he an exceptional entertainer, but he did manage to get a reaction out of WCW crowds, so one must give credit where it’s due. But he has never been known as a top worker, and his attitude has burned many bridges in the industry. Since being fired from WWE in 2001, Bagwell has mostly wrestled on the independent scene before he took on a career as a gigolo, where he apparently was raking in plenty of money.
Aside from his WCW days, Bagwell is remembered for his very short run with WWE in which he was fired almost immediately after being hired. Plenty of officials believe that he couldn’t care less at the time and was simply there to pick up a paycheck, so the company didn’t keep him around for long.
9. Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash will always have a place in wrestling history as he contributed significantly to the Monday Night Wars. While he was never a great wrestler and didn’t have the mic skills of his peers, he did have a great look that was enough to make him a main eventer. After wrestling as Diesel for many years in the WWE, Nash received a contract offer from WCW which Vince McMahon refused to match.
Nash didn’t hesitate and was quick to follow the money, and he earned millions of dollars over the upcoming years while also having creative control. Once WCW folded, Nash was brought back by the WWE but they eventually realized that he wasn’t worth the salary he was receiving since he was no longer a draw and could barely move anymore. With WWE out of the picture, Nash joined TNA to also become one of their highest earners despite contributing very little to the company.
8. Kelly Kelly
Luckily for Kelly Kelly, she was recruited to the WWE at a time when she only needed to be eye candy. Kelly’s prime years were spent mostly stripping off her clothes on national television back when women’s wrestling was at its absolute worst state. She managed to stick around for years more than she should have despite very minor improvements. During those years, she was one of the highest paid female talents in the company but Kelly left just when the women’s revolution was beginning to make noise.
There aren’t many fans who could name a memorable Kelly Kelly match, and she is known mostly for reportedly having engaged in multiple flings while working for the WWE. Kelly has moved on since then, and she probably won’t even consider a full-time return now that she would actually have to wrestle instead of picking up checks for looking pretty.
7. Ken Shamrock
Ken Shamrock was one of the better mid-carders during the Attitude Era although he hasn’t been seen on WWE television since his departure in 1999. It is believed that the company holds a grudge towards him, especially Triple H, for various reasons. Although Shamrock has admitted to contacting the WWE in hopes of working out a deal, the interest hasn’t been mutual. He left abruptly to return to UFC, which reportedly frustrated the WWE at the time since he had only been there for two years.
And to make matters worse, Shamrock diminished his UFC legacy by going on an embarrassing losing streak for many years. Some WWE officials, as well as fans, believe that he was only there for the paycheck and left as soon as the door opened for his UFC return, which would explain his absence since then. And to be brutally honest, it’s not like the majority of the WWE Universe would recognize him today.
6. Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio was brought in by the WWE to follow the footsteps of Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio to reach a Latin audience. While he boasts an impressive resume, most fans agree that he wasn’t nearly as great as his resume would indicate. Del Rio never really became the star that WWE had hoped for despite having given the ball to run with on several occasions. And while he blew many of his opportunities, he was handed a second chance with his 2015 return but that was forgettable.
It would be fair to say that Del Rio does care for the industry, but his heart was simply never in it for the WWE nor did he ever push himself to reach his potential. He was handed everything almost immediately which surely played a part, but fans have the right to believe that Del Rio’s main goal was to make money first and foremost.
Sable is probably the biggest star from the Attitude Era who is rarely mentioned these days, and there is a good reason for that. With the company promoting the Women’s Revolution, it would make little sense to remind fans what the product used to be like at the time. Despite working for WWE for several years, Sable was the definition of a beauty queen who had zero talent. She helped pioneer an era of Divas who wrestled very little and stripped often.
Sable’s ego grew with her fame, believing that she was a bigger star than she actually was. Naturally, this made her disliked in the WWE locker room. When negotiations fell through, Sable didn’t hesitate to leave the company. Although she did return, it was more of the same old thing as Sable never really bothered to be a wrestler. And much like her husband Brock Lesnar, Sable couldn’t care less about the wrestling industry but didn’t mind those huge paychecks that kept coming her way.
4. Andre The Giant
Many believe that Andre The Giant will always be the greatest giant in wrestling history and that is warranted if you have seen him in his prime. He was a dominant force who truly looked larger than life, but he regressed at a quick pace with the quality of his matches dropping. As he got older and his injuries worsened, Andre was very limited in the ring and many accused him of phoning it in for the second half of his career.
He was one of the highest paid Superstars at the time and wrestled outside of the WWE for large amounts of money. Regardless of what you may think of Andre as a wrestler, or whether you doubt his passion for the industry, he has undoubtedly left a tremendous legacy that will live on for decades to come.
3. Eva Marie
With the rise of the women’s revolution, most believed that there was no place for Eva Marie who was essentially a Diva rather than a true wrestler. She would have surely been more successful in any other era, but as she was exposed for her lack of talent, fans weren’t exactly getting behind her. Considering this, she struggled to truly leave her mark. Following some years with the WWE, the company eventually gave up on her and released her in 2017.
Despite being provided with numerous chances to succeed, Eva Marie was more than happy to just collect paychecks as she failed to make any significant improvements while her peers were always making strides. She has become a prime example of why women’s wrestling needs to turn a new page; being eye candy simply doesn’t cut it anymore in the WWE.
2. Sycho Sid
Despite being a four-time World Heavyweight Champion with two of his reigns coming in WWE while the other two in WCW, Sycho Sid is a name that is rarely mentioned these days. Perhaps history would have been much kinder to him if he didn’t continuously jump from one company to another, earning him a bad reputation as someone who is only chasing the highest paycheck out there.
In the 90s, Sid switched from WWE to WCW and vice versa on several occasions, and his salary got higher every single time. Although he was never a major draw, he had the look of a star which was enough to get him over with the fans. But Sid is one of the many wrestlers from his era who didn’t strike fans as someone who loved the industry, and instead just seemed to go through the motions.
1. Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is arguably the most important figure in modern wrestling history, the one who changed the landscape of the industry. For all his popularity and mainstream acclaim, Hogan has never been one to put on high-quality matches due to his limited in-ring ability. Hogan has always been knowing for playing backstage politics in order to have creative power when it comes to his own bookings, which led to the burial of many stars.
On top of that, Hogan has always been the highest paid star whether in WWE or WCW and he was quick to leave for the biggest paycheck out there. Many of his arguments with Vince McMahon stemmed from negotiations regarding his salary as Hogan always wanted more. Even late in his career when WWE declined to have him compete in any in-ring competitions, Hogan opted to take his talents to TNA where he was offered a hefty salary.
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