WWE Superstars are among some of the best-paid athletes in the world. It has been rumoured for many years that Brock Lesnar is one of the highest paid stars that are currently contracted to the company despite only making a handful of appearances each year. John Cena seems to have adopted the same philosophy recently by only making a number of appearances for WWE while he instead spends a lot of his time filming movies, appearing on TV shows, and hosting awards events outside of WWE.
The company releases a list of the highest paid wrestlers every year and it seems that this year is no different but for a change, it is someone other than John Cena who is topping the list.
It comes to the surprise of many of the WWE Universe when they read through these kinds of lists because most fans are unaware of how much wrestlers actually earn and will now be shocked by the insane amount WWE has agreed to pay some of these superstars in order to get them to sign a contract.
The following is a list of the 15 highest paid WWE superstars in the current year, and some of them may surprise you.
15 The Miz - $1.2 Million
The current Intercontinental Champion kicks off the list here at 15 with a total of just $1.2 million dollars for the 2016 calendar year. Miz has been one of the most consistent performers in WWE for a long time and following the WWE Draft in the summer of 2016, it was Miz who stood out as one of the biggest stars on the SmackDown brand throughout his feuds with Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler.
It's a shock that someone like Miz is so low on the list given the year that he had and the fact that he was pushed so hard by the company and used so frequently. Hopefully, The Miz will renegotiate his contract this year and be able to lift himself up through this list when it's released again in 2018.
14 The Big Show - $1.2 Million
Last year, The Big Show came into the list at number eight when he was earning $1.5 million dollars for the year. It seems that this year Big Show has been wrestling much less and only really shows up as a talent enhancer and on WWE Live Events.
Big Show is a legend in WWE circles and it seems that despite the fact that he doesn't have a current storyline and hasn't had one for a while now, WWE is still keeping him on the books and as part of the company out of respect for the things he has done over the years. It is likely that The World's Largest Athlete will drop off the list next year given how little he has been on WWE TV so far their calendar year.
13 Sheamus - $1.3 Million
The Irish Superstar held the World Championship back at Survivor Series 2015 when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Roman Reigns, but sadly it was a short-lived reign as the former champion won back the title ahead of the 2016 Royal Rumble. Despite this, Sheamus wasn't earning enough to make the Forbes official list in 2016 but he comes in at number 13 here after a successful year that has seen him and Cesaro play both enemies and champions together.
Sheamus is reaching the point in his career where he is putting over talent that is much younger than him and would obviously be signing a contract now that would see him earning much less than he was a few years ago, so this could be his first and last appearance on the list.
12 Randy Orton - $1.9 Million
Randy Orton is not used to being outside of the top ten when it comes to being one of the highest paid wrestlers in the WWE. Back in 2015, he was at number four on the list when it was revealed that he had earned $2.7 million for the year. It seems that despite the fact that Orton was part of a huge match at SummerSlam last year against Brock Lesnar before he was pushed towards the main event picture, that he has still managed to earn almost a million dollars less in 2016.
The Viper is a former WWE Champion so it seems that when this list is released again in 2018 Randy Orton should definitely be much higher up the list in a place that he will find much more familiar.
11 Stephanie McMahon - $2 Million
Stephanie McMahon has been an authority figure on WWE TV over the past few years and despite the fact that she has been a constant presence on WWE TV and appeared in her husband Triple H's corner at WrestleMania, she is still the lowest earner out of the entire McMahon clan.
Stephanie wasn't even part of the top ten list that Forbes created last year, but it seems that she controls how much she is paid since she is a shareholder in the company. Stephanie isn't actually an active wrestler so it makes sense that she doesn't earn as much as other wrestlers and doesn't appear as regularly as some of the bigger stars on the WWE roster, but it does all depend on what kind of contract the Billion Dollar Princess has signed.
10 Seth Rollins - $2 Million
It seems that the time off recovering from a knee injury from November 2015 up until June 2016 has taken a toll on Seth Rollins' net income over the past year. The Architect was much higher up the list back in 2015 when he was earning $2.4 million dollars, but now it seems that his Shield brothers who have been forced to take his place in his absence have now taken over him in the list as well.
For 2017, Seth Rollins is the lowest earner in The Shield, but he did miss out on WrestleMania and a good six months of the year, so it will be easily fixed when the figures for 2017 are released and it shows Rollins' income for a full year if he manages to stay fit for the next few months. There is also the added revenue that Rollins will receive for being on the cover of WWE 2K18 this year.
9 The Undertaker - $2 Million
Undertaker is perhaps the only person on the list who has remained in a similar position over the past two years. Taker earned $2 million dollars for his match against Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31 and earned $2 million dollars for his Hell in a Cell match against Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 32.
It's a shock that WWE hasn't paid one of their legends much more for being part of a dangerous match like Hell in a Cell against someone like Shane who isn't a fully trained professional wrestler. Undertaker doesn't make a lot of appearances throughout the calendar year, so he is an easy star to be able to measure his income on when he only wrestles one match in 365 days.
8 Shane McMahon - $2.2 Million
The current Commissioner of SmackDown Live returned to WWE in February 2016 after more than seven years away from his family's company and it seems that he made the right choice since he only wrestled two matches in 2016 at WrestleMania and Survivor Series and still managed to pick up a bigger paycheck than his sister Stephanie.
Shane has been as present a fixture on WWE TV over the past year, as his sister has, but it seems that the two matches are the biggest difference between them and are the reason why Shane has come back into this list inside the top ten of the highest paid WWE stars in 2016. It seems that despite his two matches, Shane still hasn't managed to earn as much as his father, who has only appeared a handful of times the entire year.
7 Vince McMahon - $ 2.4 Million
The Chairman of WWE obviously can earn however much he wants or however much he decides to claim he is earning when it comes to his board meetings. The official released income for Vince McMahon for 2016 is $2.4 million. Vince does a lot for WWE behind the scenes and even though he only appeared as part of Shane's return segment and a few times when it was revealed that there was tension between the siblings.
Vince McMahon wasn't part of the top ten list last year with many of the stars inside the top ten earning much more than $2.4 million dollars so it seems that even though inflation has gone up, WWE has managed to save some money over the course of the year, which shows great business skills.
6 AJ Styles - $2.4 Million
AJ Styles made his long awaited WWE debut back at the 2016 Royal Rumble and it seems that he signed a great contract for his debut year, a year in which he managed to become WWE Champion when he defeated Dean Ambrose.
Styles obviously wasn't part of the list last year but it will be interesting to see if his income has grown any over the course of this year or if WWE paid him so much in his first year to make his contract much more appealing. Styles has been one of the biggest stars over the course of the past year so he definitely deserves his spot inside the top ten when it comes to his income and the fact that he has a wife and four children at home dependent on him.
5 Dean Ambrose - $2.7 Million
Dean Ambrose has been the one member of The Shield that has been overlooked ever since the split and it seems that he has finally managed to climb up one list over the past year. Ambrose was the Money in the Bank winner and then the World Champion during the WWE Draft in the summer of 2016, so it makes sense that he has earned more than he did in 2015, which was the first full year that he was a solo competitor.
Dean was on the edge of the top ten this time last year after earning just $1.1 million for 2015. It seems that Dean has managed to more than double his net income over the past year and allowed himself to climb much higher than his long-time rival Seth Rollins.
4 Roman Reigns - $3.5 Million
Roman Reigns had a fantastic 2016 that saw him defend his World Champion title in the Royal Rumble match, and main event WrestleMania for the second consecutive year before walking out of Texas with the World Championship around his waist once again.
The one blemish that will be on Roman's year would be the fact that he was suspended for 30 days ahead of The Shield's triple threat showdown at Battleground. Despite this, it seems that Roman has managed to go from 6th to 4th in the top ten after earning more than $1.4 million more than he did the year before. Roman amassed a total of just 2.1 million in 2015, which was the year he won the Royal Rumble, evented WrestleMania for the first time, and won his first WWE World Championship.
3 Triple H - $3.8 Million
The COO of WWE also had a fantastic year in 2016. He won The Royal Rumble match and the World Championship to become a 14 time Champion before main eventing WrestleMania along with Roman Reigns. Triple H then disappeared of WWE TV for a while after that until it was time to come and begin building up his feud with Seth Rollins, that finally reached its climax at WrestleMania 33.
When Triple H isn't on WWE TV he is busy down in NXT creating the next Rollins, the next big star, and helping WWE's third brand to become the biggest promotion it can. And he has allowed it to become a phenomenon so far, which explains why The Game has managed to earn a million dollars more over the past 12 months than he did in 2015.
2 John Cena - $8 Million
John Cena is the face of WWE, but it seems that 2016 wasn't a great year for the 16 time World Champion, since he did take a large amount of time off again as he began filming American Grit. Cena was part of WrestleMania 32 but he didn't actually wrestle this year as he attempted to be fit in time after undergoing emergency surgery on his shoulder.
Despite the fact that Cena hardly appeared in WWE for the entire year, he still managed to be the second highest paid WWE star that year after earning just $1.5 million less than he did the year before. Cena has missed a lot of WWE again this year as he continues to explore projects outside of WWE, so it seems that the former World Champion may be set to fall further down this list in the next few years.
1 Brock Lesnar - $12 Million
The Beast Incarnate didn't have a great 2016 after he was eliminated from the 2016 Royal Rumble and then went on to face Dean Ambrose in what was a below par match from both men at WrestleMania. Brock then went on to be defeated by Goldberg at Survivor Series towards the end of the year, but despite this it seems that Brock still managed to double his income from the year before.
Brock was the champion and part of a headline feud with The Undertaker throughout 2015 but he only earned $6 million for 2015 and has somehow managed to double this for doing much less and being part of much worse matches in 2016. It's crazy to think that Brock can do so little and still be paid so much more than full time WWE athletes.