We are used to seeing professional sports teams overpay during free agency. It has become part of the norm for teams to do that so they can make a splash and get their fan base excited and hopefully make the team better. The same goes in the wrestling industry with the WWE and the now defunct WCW, who also went through this process most notably during the Monday Night Wars. Although, unlike professional sports, the contracts aren’t usually displayed to the public eye.
A WCW contract summary document surfaced over the internet about a year ago because of Sonny Onno's racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW. All the contracts of WCW were finally open to the public and to no surprise, most of the roster was ridiculously overpaying . Some the contracts were extremely dumb, to be frank.
WCW isn’t only at fault with making bad contracts though, WWE has done that in the past and has a list of signings that were major failures. The money isn’t the only factor; if the signing was a failure it’s the longevity and impact the wrestler made during their run. Here are the worst wrestling contracts in history.
15 Disco Inferno
The comedic heel with subpar skill, Inferno made a very decent career out of his ridiculous gimmick; he is a two time TV champion and a one-time cruiserweight champion. Most wrestling fans hated Inferno, but for some odd reason Inferno was a guilty pleasure of mine, as I was actually a fan of his. Though, when I found out how much he was earning in WCW I was in complete and utter shock that he was that highly paid for his useless gimmick and playing the role of a lower card wrestler.
Contract: $300,000 (year 1-2), $350,000 (year 3)
14 Bam Bam Bigelow
He was a very talented wrestler for his size. Bigelow was one of the most natural, agile and physical big man in wrestling history. The money he signed for in WCW was ridiculous. He had a shot at the WCW championship once against Goldberg (as you might imagine he lost), and then was thrown into the Hardcore Division and never won the title. No surprise, the WWE didn’t take his contract when they purchased WCW.
Contract: $400,000 (3 years)
13 Buff Bagwell
The “buff stuff” was a prototype WCW wrestler; great physique with no talent. Bagwell had nothing to offer but his looks. He was terrible on the mic and was a terrible in-ring wrestler. Bagwell was a six time tag team WCW champion, but he was most memorable for his time spent hanging around with the nWo. Bagwell was paid as an upper tier wrestler and the money was certainly not merited. Luckily for us, the WWE fired him after only a couple of weeks of acquiring his contract. You can find Bagwell working as a gigolo today (yes, that's right).
Contract: $400,000 per year (3 years)
When he came to WWE it was a match made in heaven. A big man (which we all know Vince loves) but the difference was he was agile and could move in the ring. Vader made his debut in WWE with a huge fan base, as he was very successful over in Japan and in WCW. Vader’s career in WWE got off to a great start, feuding in programs with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. Unfortunately, that would be Vader’s ceiling in WWE. He fell out of favor because of rumored problems with Michaels. He ditched the mask and became a jobber with his lowest point coming when he called himself “a fat piece of s***” during an interview.
Konnan lands on this list simply because he was getting an absurd amount of money for being a midcard wrestler. Konnan did help bring in Mexican wrestlers to WCW and that aided in the strong Cruiser-weight division. However, the contract was horrible and WWE didn’t even contemplate taking it. The "Mexican Hulk Hogan" is currently with Lucha Underground.
Contract: $570,000 (year 1-2), $650,000 (year 3)
10 Tank Abbott
Most, if not all of you, will not know who Tank Abbott is. Here is a little description of the forgettable Tank Abbott. Abbott was a legit Mixed Martial Arts fighter for the UFC, fighting in a couple of tournaments and having a career record of 2-5. WCW decided to sign him to initially be an opponent for Goldberg. However, that never came to fruition and Abbott ended up in segments with a boy band stable called “3 count” becoming their biggest band member while dancing to their songs (this isn’t made up folks). Abbott eventually fell out of favor and was released, but he was well compensated during his time with WCW.
Contract: $650,000 (3 years)
9 Sycho Sid
Whether in WWE or WCW, Sycho Sid never seemed to pan out. Sid's first stint in WWE was in the early 90’s and was seen as a possible replacement for Hogan (which he obviously wasn’t). He then went to WCW only to return to WWE and…wait for it, return back to WCW with a ludicrous contract. Sid's legacy as a pro wrestler will be remembered for his insane botches and broken leg after a ludicrous big boot attempt of the top rope.
Contract: $850,000 (WCW), WWE: NA
8 Bret Hart
WWE and WCW were involved in two really bad contracts with Hart. In 1996, the WWE signed him to a 20 year contract with incentives that he would have a job in the WWE offices after he retires. Hart was one of the top wrestlers at that time, but 20 years is a foolish amount of time to sign any wrestler. The main reason it was done was to keep WCW's hands off of him. Ironically enough, a year later Hart would sign with WCW for another lucrative contract, but this time it was not the years, but the amount of money he was getting. Hart never came close to earning the money and a kick to the head by Goldberg would cut his career short.
Contract: WCW: $2.5 mil (5 years), WWE: 20 year contract
7 Roddy Piper
The late great Roddy Piper was a legend in the wrestling business and was always a big draw wherever he went. But that was way back in the 80’s and WCW was paying him big money when he was past his prime. To make matters worse, he was only obligated for a total of 51 appearances in his contract and 6 PPVs. Oh, and here’s the kicker, he also needed to have a 60 day notice period for an appearance. To give you an example of how bad this contract was; Piper was getting the same amount as Booker T.
Contract: $750,000 (year 1-2), $800,000 (year 3)
6 Lex Luger
The Total Package as he was branded in WCW. The only package Luger brought to the table was his physique, as he had no other wrestling talent. Bad mic work, and terrible ring work is basically what Luger is remembered by. WCW offered him a big contract to lure him away from WWE during the Monday Night Wars. Luger’s debut was exciting and cool but that was the only significant memory of his WCW run. Seven figures spent well.
Contract: $1.2 mil (year 1), $1.4 mil (year 2), $1.6 mil (year 3)
5 Scott Hall
One of the focal points to the start of the Monday Night Wars era was when Scott Hall jumped ship to WCW for a large amount of money and a guaranteed contract. To show how ridiculous it was, Hall was getting paid more than WCW legend Sting, and furthermore Hall was getting double the amount Ric Flair was getting. When Hall made a return to WWE, it gave a great nostalgic feeling but he was past his prime and still earned a hefty contract while doing so.
Contract: $1.45 mil (5 years), 180 day work contract WWE: NA
4 Kevin Nash
One of the key reasons WCW went belly up was because of Nash. He was getting overpaid working a minimum amount of days and was given creative control. Nash was a horrible booker and kept him and his aging friends (Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall) in the spotlight for far too long. Nash was not only given a spot on the writing team (despite no experience), but he also requested a half a million dollar bonus to go along with his new job. Believe it or not, WCW would agree to his ludicrous demands.
Once WCW was bought out, due to Nash's guaranteed contract he basically got payed to sit at home. The WWE eventually brought Nash and his friends back with a big contract, but it didn’t last long, as Nash overstepped his boundaries in WWE and wasn’t very liked in the locker room.
Contract: $1.45 mil (5 years), 180 day work contract WWE: NA
3 The Great Khali
With the WWE trying to make a market in India, they desperately sought after a new face for it. So, along came Khali, a staggering 7 foot 1 towering man. Sounds like the perfect recipe for success, right? However, there was one major problem…Khali couldn’t wrestle. Wrestling wasn’t his only problem, as he also couldn’t move or perform any maneuvers (unless you count a chop as a maneuver because he did many of those). Khali surprisingly was a two time World Champion and had various feuds with the likes of John Cena, The Undertaker, and Batista. WWE put a lot of money on Khali, only to see him turn out as a massive failure for the company.
When Goldberg skipped out of the 2001 invasion, it left fans with an empty feeling and the idea of what if? The biggest homemade name in WCW didn’t crossover, and was one of the reasons why the story line failed miserably. In 2003, fans would finally get to see Goldberg debut with none other than The Rock. It was considered one of the best debuts of all time, but after that feud Goldberg had forgettable feuds and eventually had a three month program with Triple H capturing the World Title. Goldberg's final match was a dream match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX, but both were leaving the company and put on an embarrassing match to their standards. Goldberg never fit the WWE mold, perhaps it’s because WWE had too much of a talented roster and didn’t have enough jobbers to feed Goldberg like WCW did. Whatever the case was, Goldberg's signing was a huge fail on the WWE's part.
Contract: $2.5 mil (years 1-3), $3.5 (year 4), 175 day work contract WWE: NA
1 Scott Steiner
Where do I begin with this one? Steiner is possibly one of the worst wrestlers to step foot in a ring. When WWE signed him, the excitement was through the roof (I think fans forgot he didn’t know how to wrestle). The WWE would later set up a great feud with Triple H for the Heavyweight Championship. This resulted in two very bad matches that made the WWE's creative team and fans lose faith in him. He was eventually put in useless feuds and released. Steiner’s WCW contract was terrible as well (he was paid as an upper tier star but had no talent and no upper card match to prove he was worth this kind of money). That is why he goes down as the worst signing in history.
Contract: $750,000 (3 years), 180 day work contract WWE: NA
Check out some more ridiculous pro wrestling contracts here.