As with any person in any profession, most wrestlers don’t publicly reveal each and every detail of their contracts or financial situation in general. However, as with fans of any person in a public profession, wrestling fans have done the sleuthing required to unlock some of those mysteries. Some people seem to have the assumption that wrestlers are paid extravagantly, leading excessively glamorous lives like buffed up rock stars. Unfortunately for the wrestlers, this is only really true of the best paid guys on the roster, and in fact a lot of them aren’t paid terribly well at all. Wrestlers are “independent contractors,” meaning they all have very specific personal contracts, and some are compensated far better than others.
What exactly makes a “bad contract” is almost entirely subjective and based on the goals and abilities of the individual who signs it, but there are a few clear-cut signs someone got a raw deal. In certain cases, wrestlers were promised huge things that clearly never happened. In other cases, no great promise needed to be made, but things still went so horribly for the wrestler we can’t leave them out. Ask any wrestler before 1990 and they’ll probably tell you they were all screwed by their contracts, and that might be true. More recently, however, a few people in particular have come up with some concrete proof they were screwed by their contracts. People like…
10 Booker T
9 Jack Swagger
8 CM Punk
7 The Von Erichs
6 Wendi Richter
5 The KISS Demon
4 Rob Van Dam
3 Shawn Michaels
2 Al Snow
Al Sarven finally settled into his place in wrestling history in the late 1990’s when he revived the Al Snow name in ECW. Snow eventually brought the character and his decapitated mannequin friend, Head, to WWE and had a couple years of success in the midcard and as a trainer. However, prior to that, few people were jerked around by bookers and promoters on quite the level he was. Snow had a quick success in ECW in the early 90’s before moving to SMW to team with Kane, finally getting hired by WWE in 1995. Snow actually found himself in the strange position of being offered deals from both WCW and WWE, and he chose to go with WWE after he felt WCW executives were already treating him poorly before he even signed.
1 Owen Hart
Survivor Series 1997 will forever be one of the most shocking and important events in WWE history. Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon famously “screwed” Bret Hart out of the WWE World Championship, but ultimately, Bret wasn’t the only person affected by their actions. Bret’s brothers-in-law, Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart, alongside family friend Rick Rude, all walked out of the company in protest. Mick Foley tried to do the same, but changed his mind when he realized that would be a breach of contract. So, why did we put Owen on the list instead of Mick? Well, it’s probably a given Owen wanted to do the same thing and couldn’t for the same reasons, and considering he was even closer to the situation, it must have been worse for him. On top of that, WWE spent the next year having him lose to lesser and lesser opponents, before ultimately forcing him to participate in a stunt that cost him his life.
Sources: PW Insider, Wrestling Inc., Pro MMA Now
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