Having reached its height of popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s, the wrestling world has become a booming, multi-million dollar industry. With many wrestlers taking on roles in TV and films, making cameos and producing a variety of merchandise, there is a constant stream of well-earned fan dollars, pounds, euro’s, and magic beans entered into the industry.
What this also means is that the professional wrestling world is inundated with professional wrestlers in a variety of leagues, tables, matches and levels of ability, from the independent wrestling leagues to the European wrestling leagues. Wrestlers come from all walks of life to make their name (or rather a name, it is rarely their birth name, and rarely the same for very long) in the industry.
Whilst they will not all rise to the prominence of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan, there is still a strong living to be made in the right circles. For those that manage to forge a path, there is an amount of financial security, as well as fame, reputation and sporting prowess that can be gained. This top 10 list looks at those within the WWE who have brought in the most monetary gain in 2015.
12 12. The Miz - $712,000
The Miz came to prominence as a cast member on MTV’s The Real World: Back to New York and its spin off series Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Having just missed out on a WWE contract on the fourth season of Tough Enough, he began wrestling in Ultimate Pro Wrestling, Deep South Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. Having hosted the annual WWE Diva Search in 2006, The Miz made his wrestling debut in September of the same year. When he was moved from Smackdown! to ECW, he formed a partnership with John Morrison and as a team they won the WWE Tag Team Championship and World Tag Team Championship.
11 Mark Henry - $877,000
Mark Henry began as a weightlifter prior to becoming a wrestler. He was a two-time Olympian and a WDFPF World Champion. In 1996, Henry joined the WWE/F and has since become a two-time World Champion (ECW Championship in 2008, World Heavyweight Championship in 2011). He is also a one-time WWF European Champion. Having previously teased his retirement in an episode of Raw where he slammed John Cena once he finished his retirement speech, Henry returned from a hiatus on the March 2015 episode of SmackDown.
10 Kane - $905,000
Kane began his wrestling career in the independent circuit in 1992. Having wrestled in promotions such as Smoky Mountain Wrestling and the United States Wrestling Association, he joined the WWE (then WWF) in 1995. His name Kane came into use in 1997. Since then, Kane has won 18 championships during his WWE/F career including being a three-time world champion (WWF Championship, ECW Championship, World Heavyweight Championship). Kane also holds 12 tag team championship titles including WWF/E Tag Team Championship, WCW Tag Team Championship and WWE Tag Team Championship. In 2010, he became a Money in the Bank winner.
9 The Great Khali - $974,000
The Great Khali began his wrestling career under the name of Giant Singh for All Pro Wrestling in the US in 2000. In 2001 he was moved to New Japan Pro Wrestling and formed one half of the tallest tag team in professional wrestling history along with Giant Silva with an average height of 7 feet 2.5 inches tall. In 2006, Singh signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), making him the first Indian professional wrestler contracted to WWE.
8 Rey Mysterio - $985, 000
Rey Mysterio began his career in 1992 working for Asistencia Asesoria Administracion (AAA) in Mexico. In 1995, Rey made the move to Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) for a year until 1996 when he made the move to WCW until 2001. In 2002, Rey moved again, this time to WWE. Rey is often credited with assisting in the revolution of the cruiserweight wrestling division in the late 1990’s. In the WCW, he won the WCW World Tag Team Championship 3 times and the WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship once with Billy Kidman.
7 Sheamus - $1,000,000
Sheamus began his wrestling career on the European circuit. He became a two-time International Heavyweight Champion during his time with Irish Whip Wrestling (IWW). Sheamus became part of the main WWE roster in 2009 where he eventually became a three-time champion, twice holding the WWE Championship and once holding the World Heavyweight Championship. Sheamus has also won the 2010 King of the Ring tournament and the 2012 Royal Rumble.
6 Big Show - $1,050,000
Previously known as The Giant in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the wrestler joined the WWE in 1999 and became known as Big Show. He has held a number of titles during his career including the ECW, WWF/E, World and WCW World Heavyweight Championships as well as holding 11 tag team championship titles including WWF/World, WWE and WCW World Championship. Between the WWE and WCW, Big Show has held 23 total championships.
5 Brock Lesnar - 1 Year, $5-Million Deal
4 CM Punk - $1,220,500
CM Punk is now retired from the WWE, however he is still one of the highest earners of the WWE for the year 2015. Punk began his career on the independent circuit working his way from the Ring of Honour roster to the WWE in 2005. He made his WWE televised debut in 2006. During his career, he won the ROH World Championship once, the ECW World Championship once, WWE Heavyweight World Championship three times and the WWE Championship once.
3 Triple H - $1,550,000
In 1992, after competing as a bodybuilder, Triple H joined the International Wrestling Federation under the name Terra Ryzing. Two years later, he was repackaged as Jean-Paul Levesque and joined WCW. In 1995, he then moved to WWF/E where his name was changed to Hunter Hearst Helmsley, which was then abbreviated to Triple H. In 1997, he co-founded the influential D-Generation X stable which went on to become a major part of WWF’s ‘Attitude Era’.
2 Randy Orton - $1,600,500
1 John Cena - $2,750,000
John Cena is one of the highest paid wrestlers of the WWE, and the highest paid in 2015. Born John Felix Anthony Cena in 1977, he started his pro wrestling career with Ultimate Pro Wrestling in 1999. In 2001, he made the move to WWE and debuted on the main roster in 2002. To date, Cena has won 24 championships with 15 reigns as world champion. According to Wikipedia, Cena has also racked up 12 reigns as WWE (World Heavyweight) Champion and 3 reigns as World Heavyweight Champion, 5 reigns as WWE United States Champion, and 4 reigns as world tag team champion. He also is a 2012 Money in the Bank ladder match winner, a two-time Royal Rumble winner (2008, 2013), and a three-time Superstar of the Year. Away from wrestling, Cena has released a rap album and starred in a number of films, notably this year’s Trainwreck. Is it any wonder he is ranked as the top earner of 2015?
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