With Ryback’s recent statement going viral, you can’t help but to really think about what he said. Ryback believes all wrestlers should be treated as equals financially, and he stresses this factor because after all, wrestling is in fact pre-determined. Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say all wrestlers deserve to be paid equally, but I would agree that some superstars undeservingly get paid way more than others. You admire Ryback’s intent, but at the end of the day countless wrestlers have tried to unionize the superstars together only to see it fail, time and time again. The company has made it clear, they do not want a union.
As you will see in this article, the WWE likes to reward loyal wrestlers more so than young, popular WWE superstars. It’s quite bizarre to think that the likes of Big Show and Goldust are making nearly double than New Day members Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, despite their on-again, off-again type of schedule with the company. This list will feature some of the most ridiculous and underpaid contracts in the WWE today. So, here are 7 of the most overpaid and 7 of the most underpaid wrestlers on the WWE’s roster. Enjoy!
14 Overpaid: Sheamus - $1.3 million
With a net worth of $7 million, it’s safe to say that Sheamus has made more than a living during his time as a WWE superstar. Although he is making the big bucks now, Sheamus was a late bloomer in the ranks of the WWE. The Irishman made his debut on the main roster in 2009, he was already 31 years of age at the time. Despite his slow upbringing which required 3 years of developmental training, Sheamus was able to blossom into an upper-card heel for several years. Wrestling fans however, knock the 38 year old claiming he only rose to fame because of his relationship with Triple H. Even if that would be the case, Sheamus is one of the only wrestlers to generate some actual heel heat on the roster which is certainly valuable, especially at a time like this with few legitimate heels in the company. With all this being said, his current salary, which includes travel and accommodations, doesn’t reflect his current role with the WWE. Sheamus is flopping around the mid-card at the moment and hasn’t been able to generate any type of momentum since dropping the WWE Championship. His current salary is quite steep if you ask me.
13 Underpaid: Sami Zayn - $7,000 (NXT)
As you can see, performing down in NXT certainly does not pay very well. On the bright side, with Zayn’s call up to the main roster you can expect that salary to shoot up rather quickly, even if he is considered a rookie. The Montreal native signed his first deal with the company back in 2013; he would reinvent himself using his real name Sami Zayn, giving up his old gimmick of El Generico. Fast forward three years later, Sami is one of the most popular and talented wrestlers on the main roster. His mid-card storyline with Kevin Owens is currently regarded as the best feud in all of the company. He is regarded as a gem for the future (keep in mind despite all his experience, he is still only 31). This guy's going to be around for a long time, so expect his salary to be atop of the company one day.
12 Overpaid: Ryback - $655,500
Pretty ironic that Ryback’s complaining about how much money he’s getting, yet he somehow lands on our overpaid list. The WWE superstar recently made headlines expressing his displeasure for the recent contract negotiations. Ryback is baffled on how upper-card wrestlers make so much more than lower-card guys in a sport that is pre-determined. In his statement, Ryback expressed his interest to promote pay equality in the WWE ranks.... Good luck with that, big guy. Laughable to think that wrestlers like Roman Reigns and John Cena would take a pay cut in order to satisfy the needs of a lower-card wrestler. At the end of the day, the Las Vegas native is living in a dream world if he thinks that’s an actual possibility. Given his pushing time and time again, it’s rather apparent that the WWE Universe just isn’t fully sold on this guy.
Losing Ryback might be the company’s best option at this point.
11 Underpaid: Bray Wyatt - $254,200
Like in any other line of work, the WWE has a strict policy when it comes to salary in regards to experience. Despite being an obvious upper-card talent, Bray Wyatt is paid like a lower-card wrestler because of his experience. Tough to think that Goldust makes more than Wyatt when comparing their current body of work for the company at the moment. At the age of 28, Rotunda is entering his fourth year under his Wyatt family gimmick. If this wrestler can stay healthy, expect him to make some big bucks throughout his 30s.
10 Overpaid: Dolph Ziggler - $900,000
Ziggler is the most talented wrestler to make the overpaid list, but it just seems like the 35 year old has run his course as a WWE superstar as of late. Creatively, Ziggler just looks like a pushover putting over young talent every PPV, it seems. This may also be due to the fact that the former World Heavyweight Champion has other interests such as a career as an actor or comedian. Dolph’s a great worker, but making close to a million per year, along with travel and accommodation bonuses, just doesn’t seem to fit his current role with the company as a mid to lower card guy. It’ll be interesting to see what the next 2 years will look like for the Ohio native.
9 Underpaid: Cesaro - $80,145
Thankfully, Cesaro is currently in his final year of this brutal deal. Although he is 35, keep in mind that the Swiss Superman has only been on the main roster for a little more than 4 years. Despite the WWE’s inability to give this guy any type of sustained push, the crowd seems to love him because of his obvious in-ring talents that feature a unique blend of power and finesse. It seems like his stock just continues to grow; even with his recent injury it seems like the guy has just picked up right where he left off. The company will have no choice but to give him a huge raise once his contract is up.
8 Overpaid: Big Show - $1.2 million
With a net worth of over $20 million, it’s pretty safe to assume that Big Show can happily enjoy his retirement. The 44 year old is enjoying the final years of his wrestling career which spanned over two decades with the WWE and WCW. At this point, it seems rather likely that Big Show will call it a career, as he has been MIA from television for a while now and his gimmick seems to be changing from heel to face, every month. His commitment is certainly admirable, but it may be time for the big man to hang them up for good and take on a different backstage role with the company.
7 Underpaid: Paige - $65,000
While the Divas revolution appears to be in full effect on the main roster, Paige started the movement several years ago. Kind of puzzling to think that the likes of Naomi, Summer Rae and Cameron, make the same (if not more) as the popular WWE Diva. With her star rising to newer heights outside of the wrestling business, you’d expect the company to give Paige a huge salary increase when her contract reaches its expiration date. At the age of 23, Paige still has one heck of a future with the company. We look forward to seeing her back in the ring sooner rather than later.
6 Overpaid: Goldust - $ 725,000
I hate to put such a well experienced wrestler like Goldust on this list, but with such a salary for a wrestler whose main role is for comedic relief, I really didn’t have a choice. Since 1990, Goldust has bounced in and out of the WWE. In 2013, Runnels made his 5th return to the company Tag Teaming with his brother Cody. At the age of 47, the Texas native is playing a comedic role as a lower-card, so he’s lucky to get some on-screen time during episodes of RAW (never mind a match). He is still used quite frequently on live events. It remains to be seen how much Goldust has left in the tank, but with a salary as such, I’d say still quite a bit.
5 Underpaid: Roman Reigns - $2.1 million
I’m a firm believer that if you’re regarded as the face of the company and doing all the heavy lifting, you should be paid as such. Look, I get that people aren’t sold on the guy, but he’s a hell of a worker and the current face of the “New Era”. Despite this factor, Roman isn’t paid as “the guy”. Reigns is actually out of the top 5 in terms of yearly salary. It's hard to believe that part-timers are getting paid more than Roman who is literally working four shows a week as of late. Some won’t agree and that’s fine, but I truly believe that if you are considered “the guy”, you should be getting compensated properly.
4 Overpaid: Mark Henry - $877,000
I can’t think of any other professional sport where you can announce your retirement, only to come back and be irrelevant while still making almost a million per year. Henry’s commitment to the company has kept him alive for several years now. At the moment, Mark is off WWE television because of a lack of creative for his gimmick. The company is focused on pushing younger talent at the moment, so the likes of Kane, Big Show and Henry have been forced to watch from the sidelines. It remains to be seen if Henry has one final run left in the tank.
3 Underpaid: Kevin Owens - $ 400,000
It just seems more and more evident that the 31 year old will be one of the most prominent heels in the WWE for years and years to come. Kevin can be paired with just about anyone in the ring; his current feud with Sami Zayn is currently the best thing the product has to offer as of late. Owens just seems to be the only legitimate heel the company has at the moment. What does this mean in the long run, you ask? Well, some serious dollar signs. You can expect that salary to nearly double in the very near future. It seems like the Quebec native is going to be around for a long time.
2 Overpaid: Brock Lesnar - $6 million
Not surprising Brock left UFC, as he admitted the offer put on the table from the WWE was one he could not refuse. Lesnar signed a ridiculous 3 year deal worth $6 million per year. What makes matters so much more disastrous is the fact that Brock is working on a part-time schedule. To put things into perspective, we still haven’t seen Lesnar since WrestleMania, which took place early April. The guy's a draw, yes, absolutely, but with the money mixed in with his schedule, the deal just seems like an absolute joke. Don’t be surprised to see Lesnar ride off into the sunset with his $16 million net worth following the expiration of his WWE contract.
1 Underpaid: The New Day - $574,200
Making their debut in July of 2014, nobody could have predicted the success that this stable would gather two years later. The group is considered one of the most over-acts in all of the company at the moment. These guys even have their own cereal selling, “Booty-O’s”. With all of this success, it’s hard to believe that the group makes a little over half a million combined. When you look at which wrestlers make this salary alone, it’s kind of hard to digest. Xavier Woods is currently in the midst of a starter’s contract package, while Kofi makes the majority of the money at a little more than $350,000 per year. With this group being one of the only positives to come out of the PG Era, look for their salaries to increase rather quickly, especially with some tremendous merchandise numbers. And also, because.... NEW DAY ROCKS (Big E dancing with a deranged look in his face)!