As the largest wrestling promotion in the world, WWE brings in millions of viewers who want to see superstar wrestlers perform in the ring. Cheering on their favorites while booing their opponents, fans love the spectacle that is professional wrestling, and WWE provides the best escape. This type of entertainment strikes the perfect balance between violent fights that keep viewers on edge and breaking the seriousness with some comedy from their performers.
Just like any other high-profile sports player, these WWE wrestlers get paid a pretty penny for what they do. These fighters are athletes who need to keep their bodies in top shape in order to perform the stunts they do and to keep up appearances even after the fights are over. While WWE events are scripted, there is still the very real potential for entertainers to accidentally (or intentionally) stray from their script and shock viewers.
WWE has said that the average wrestler on their main roster makes around $500,000 per year while their top performers usually make well into the seven-figure range. Thanks to WWE Wrestlers basic salary packages being leaked online this year, we can get an even closer look at how much the top ten WWE wrestlers make.
10 *Ray Mysterio - $985,000
Until February of 2015, Mexican-American professional wrestler Oscar Gutierrez, also known as Rey Mysterio Jr., was making $985,000 per year on a five-year contract. In addition to his salary, the wrestler received a four percent bonus for high merchandise sales, travel, and accommodations. Mysterio has been receiving some bad press lately for the unfortunate death of his opponent Pedro AguayoRamírez, who died from an injury during a wrestling match against Mysterio. The wrestler is also rankling some fans for charging $20,000 for indie signing appearances, but at 40 years old, wrestling has to be taking quite the toll on his body.
9 Dolph Ziggler - $900,000
Nick Nemeth, otherwise known by his ring name DolphZiggler makes $900,000 a year with only a three-year contract and gets his travel and accommodations paid for. Being named Rolling Stone’s “WWE Wrestler of the Year” probably didn’t hurt his paycheck either. As one of WWE’s most popular performers, he has made it pretty clear that he isn’t particularly happy with WWE. After first signing a contract with WWE in 2004, Ziggler has gained a lot of momentum in the ring and was displeased with his recent position at the Royal Rumble, one of WWE’s premier pay-per-view events. His frustration should be taken seriously, seeing as how he has also teased fans recently about possibly quitting WWE.
8 Big Show - $1.2 million
Paul Donald Wight, otherwise known as Big Show, makes $1.2 million with only a three-year contract and gets a personal tour bus from WWE all to himself. Why would he get his own tour bus, you may ask? It might be because flying is a problem for someone as big as Big Show. Or it might be that he is the seven-time world champion and the first wrestler to hold the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, the WWF/E Championship, the ECW World Championship, and the World Heavyweight Championship all at the same time. Big Show is a big name not only in WWE, but also in television and movies. He has had roles in movies such as Star Trek: Enterprise and The Waterboy and television series like Burn Notice and Royal Pains. Clearly, this wrestler knows how to make money.
7 Sheamus - $1.3 million
Stephen Farrelly, or Sheamus as he’s known in the ring, makes $1.3 million from a five-year contract and gets his travel and accommodations paid for. Sheamus was the first Irish-born WWE wrestler to win the WWE Championship and is the villain that viewers love to hate when they tune in to watch him fight. Despite the hate he gets, Sheamus embraces the role whole-heartedly, leading to his high-figure salary. This is pretty impressive for someone who only came on WWE’s scene in 2009. Reports have stated that Sheamus and Triple H are also pretty good friends and gym buddies, making WWE want to hold on to him even tighter.
6 Randy Orton - $1.6 million
Randy Orton makes $1.6 million per year from a five-year contract and gets a percentage of merchandise sales, travel, and accommodations paid for, as well as a share of PPV revenue. Another villain of WWE, this professional wrestler is known for his blatant disrespect of veteran wrestlers and being a bit too full of himself at times. His solid performances and flair for distasteful remarks make him a hit for WWE. However, a controversy surrounding his involvement with steroid use clashed with WWE’s Talent Wellness program. If he wants to keep getting paid as highly as he does, Orton may want to back off the steroids.
5 Brock Lesnar - $2 million
Brock Lesnar makes $2 million per year from a two-year contract (which expired in March of 2015), in addition to a 3.25% bonus for high merchandise sales, free travel, and a share of revenue from PPV. This professional wrestler is also a mixed martial artist and a four-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion. In addition to this, Lesnar played in the preseason of NFL when he signed with the Minnesota Vikings, but was cut before the season started. WWE fans rejoiced when he returned to WWE in 2012 after an eight-year break and now continues to headline many WWE pay-per-view events.
4 Triple H - $2.12 million
Paul Michael Levesque, otherwise known as Triple H, makes $2.12 million per year from a five-year contract. He also acts as a WWE executive and talent contract, which brings in a lot of money. As the person who hires and fires WWE Superstars and Divas, this professional wrestler makes regular appearances in WWE programs as both a wrestler and an authority figure. He and fellow WWE executive Stephanie McMahon make a powerful duo and are so well known to fans of WWE that it is no surprise that Triple H’s salary is as high as it is.
3 The Undertaker - $2.25 million
Mark Calaway, also known as The Undertaker, makes $2.25 million per year from a five-year contract and only works part time. He also gets a seven percent bonus for high merchandise sales, his travel and accommodations paid for, and a share of revenue from PPV if it’s featured on a main event. The Undertaker has worked for WWE since 1990, making him the longest-tenured performer on the WWE roster and a big reason why he has such a large paycheck. The Undertaker isn’t expected to remain in the ring very much longer and some suspect that WrestleMania 32 in Texas may be his last match.
2 John Cena - $2.75 million
You might think that John Cena would bring in the most money as the current star of WWE, but you would be mistaken. Cena makes $2.75 million from a five-year contract, gets seven percent of merchandise sales and a hefty amount from PPV that make his earnings more than what is documented. Cena’s salary seems to be appropriate, however. According to Big Show, Cena is constantly working and doesn’t skip his workouts for anything. Big Show said that, “We’ll fly 16, 18 hours to Australia, to the Middle East, Abu Dhabi or something like that--John hits, right away he goes to the gym. No matter how little sleep he’s had, he goes to the gym every day.” Clearly, Cena takes his job seriously.
1 The Rock - $3.5 million
While John Cena is the current star of WWE and has frequent appearances in the ring, the honor of highest paid WWE wrestler goes to The Rock, who makes roughly $3.5 million a year in addition to income from merchandise sales and PPV revenue. This is particularly impressive considering that The Rock is only a part time performer with a 3-year contract. The Rock is extremely well known both in and out of the wrestling world thanks to his acting career and is a New York Times Best Selling Author. Although he is the highest paid WWE wrestler, this source of wealth seems to be pocket change compared to his other sources of income.