Wrestling is a sport that has numerous fans across the world, especially because of its tough and entertaining quality. The WWE used to be called the World Wrestling Federation, though it changed its name in 2002 following several acquisitions and mergers with other wrestling promotions. The WWE is currently the largest and most popular wrestling promotion in America and across the globe, and it is home to the most famous and highest paid wrestlers in the world. The WWE holds over 300 events every year, with the televised events reaching over 36 million viewers in over 150 countries worldwide.
The best of the fighters receive belts when they win a championship, and they have to defend their belts in a fight or lose it and have to fight for it again. There are different types of belts up for contention, with some of the most sought after being the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, The WWE Intercontinental Championship, The WWE United States Championship, and the WWE Tag Team Championship. The best competitors become very popular, and the more popular a wrestler is, the better his or her chances are to win a belt and remain a champion for a very long time.
The WWE has a well-defined pay structure for all its employees though there are some that the organization has no problem paying over and above what the structure stipulates. The very popular wrestlers among the fans and the celebrities among the wrestlers always get great pay, with some settling for occasional appearances as opposed to fighting regularly in the ring. Here is a list of the highest paid wrestlers in the WWE.
15 Honourable Mention: Titus O'Neil - $335,000 per year
Thaddeus Michael goes by the stage name Titus O'Neil, and is a former professional football player and a current professional wrestler. Today O'Neil is a wrestler for the WWE, and he uses the experience and physical stamina he developed when he was in football. Titus started his wrestling career by participating in Florida Championship Wrestling between from 2009 to 2011. He participated in season two of WWE NXT, and was part of The Prime Time Players tag team. Titus O'Neil has not won any major championships yet, but he was an FCW Florida Tag Team Champion at one time. Titus receives approximately $335,000 every year from WWE.
14 Kofi Kingston - $354,200 per year
Kofi Kingston is a Ghanaian-American whose real name is Kofi Sarkodie-Mensah. Kofi is a professional wrestler with the WWE and is part of a Tag Team called New Day with Xavier Woods and Big E that are currently the WWE Tag Team Champions. Kofi has a great record of 11 championship wins, four of them as the Intercontinental Champion, three as the WWE United States Champion, and four as the WWE Tag Team Champion with different teams. Kofi is a wonderful fighter with an amazing talent for avoiding eliminations, especially in the battle royal matches. Kofi makes at least $354,200 every year from the WWE.
13 Sin Cara - $650,000 per year
Sin Cara, unlike all other wrestlers on this list, is a character that is not exclusive to a particular individual. The original Sin Cara was a Mexican called Luis Urive, but Jorge Arias who is a Mexican-American wrestler, now uses this identity. Sin Cara technically has no face, and these days wears a mask that covers his face completely. The Sin Cara speaks Spanish and at times English, though the original Urive required an English translator when he had to do promos in English. Urive has had great success in his wrestling career and can today take home a $650,000 salary every year.
18. Ryback - $655,000 per year
Ryan Allen Reeves is a professional wrestler in the WWE who goes by the name Ryback. Ryback signed up for Tough Enough 4 and made the final eight proving just how good he is. His success in every fight led to his inclusion in the WWE and his participation in the developmental Ohio Valley wrestling, Florida Championship Wrestling, and Deep South Wrestling. Ryback was part of the first NXT season in 2010 and headlined in five WWE pay-per-view events in early 2010s. Ryback was the OVW Heavyweight champion one time and seems to have a very bright future in the WWE. The Big Guy makes at least $655,500 annually from the WWE.
17. Rob Van Dam - $665,000 per year
Rob Van Dam's real name is Robert Alex Szatkowski. He is an occasional actor and a full-time wrestler associated with the WWE. In the late 90s, RVD made numerous appearances in Extreme Championship Wrestling, in the mid-2000s he wrestled in the WWE, and also made appearances in early 2010 in the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. RVD is the only wrestler in history to ever hold the WWE Championship, the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, and the ECW Championship. RVD has won 21 championships so far in his career and he makes at least $665,000 annually from the WWE.
16. Daniel Bryan - $700,000 per year
Bryan Lloyd Danielson aka Daniel Bryan is a professional wrestler in the WWE who has had a lot of wrestling experience outside the organization. Bryan likes using his real name in wrestling, though at times he also uses his nickname the 'American Dragon'. For instance, Bryan was the Ring of Honor's Champion in the mid-2000s, and was also the Pure Wrestling Champion. In the WWE, Bryan was the WWE World Heavyweight Champion three times and was the World Heavyweight champion once. Furthermore, he was the United States champion one time, the WWE Tag Team Champion with his 'Team Hell No', and an Intercontinental Champion once. The above, together with other achievements allow Bryan to take home a minimum of $700,000 from the WWE.
15. Goldust - $725,000 per year
Dustin Patrick Runnels goes by the stage name 'Goldust', and he has been a professional wrestler for a very long time. Goldust has a mysterious sexual gimmick that is ambiguous and makes him a weird but central figure of the WWE. Goldust has moved from WWF, to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, to World Championship Wrestling and back several times. The Bizarre One has won at least 19 championships where he was a WWF Intercontinental champion three times, a WWF Hardcore champion one time and a WWE Tag Team Champion two times. Goldust is one of the most familiar faces in wrestling and is a resilient fighter. For his wrestling skills, the WWE pays him at least $725,000 annually.
14. Dean Ambrose - $850,000 per year
Dean Ambrose is an actor and a professional wrestler whose real name is actually Jonathan Good. Ambrose holds the record of being the longest reigning WWE United States Champion since the title's reactivation, a reign that spanned 351 days, just two weeks short of a year. His length of time with the title is the longest that the WWE has seen in history. Outside the WWE, Jonathan Good under the name Jon Moxley worked in Combat Zone Wrestling, Full Impact Pro, and Dragon Gate USA. At one time, he also won the FIP World Heavyweight Championship and the CZW World Heavyweight Championship two times. For his responsibility at WWE, he takes home not less than $850,000.
13. The Miz - $870,000 per year
The Miz, whose real name is Michael Gregory Mizanin, is an American professional wrestler who is one of the best WWE has to offer. In his first year in WWE, The Miz did not lose even a single match for three months, a feat that very few wrestlers can achieve today. The Miz partnered with John Morrison and the two formed a wonderful team that would win the World Tag Team Championship as well as the WWE Tag Team Championship at the same time. With 13 WWE championships, including six Tag Team titles, four Intercontinental titles, two United States championship titles and one WWE title, The Miz is a force to reckon with. The Miz makes approximately $870,000 annually.
12 Dolph Ziggler - $900,000 per year
Dolph Ziggler, known outside the ring as Nicholas Theodore Nemeth's, is one of the most exciting professional wrestlers signed with the WWE. In addition to being part of the WWE, Dolph has competed also in the Ohio Valley Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling, where he achieved great success. In the WWE, Dolph is a two-time World Heavyweight Champion, a four-time WWE Intercontinental champion, a one-time United States Champion, and a Money in the Bank winner in 2012. Dolph Ziggler survived the 2012 and 2014 Survivor Series elimination matches, a very commendable performance that caused the Rolling Stone to name him the 2014 WWE Wrestler of the Year. Dolph Ziggler takes home approximately $900,000.
11 Mark Henry - $965,000 per year
Mark Henry is an American born in 1971, who is a professional athlete in the fields of powerlifting and professional wrestling. Many people know Mark from the WWE, where he is a great fighter with an attractive record. He has also successfully represented the United States in different global athletic events. Mark joined the WWE in 1996 when it was called the WWF, and since then has managed to become the WWF European champion one time, he has won the World championship two times, he has been the ECW champion one time, and was also the World Heavyweight Champion one time in 2011. The WWE pays Mark Henry an annual salary of not less than $965,000.
10 Kane - $1.3 million per year
9 The Big Show - $1.35 million per year
The Big Show is big, and his performance in the ring always gives the audiences value for their money. His real name is Paul Wight, and all he does professionally is beat people up in the ring. Big Show has had great success all through his career, including becoming the WWE Champion two times, the WCW Word Heavyweight Champion two times, the World Heavyweight Champion two times, and the ECW champion one time. No other wrestler before the Big Show had held all four of the above titles before, making him one of the all-time greats. The Big Show has also held the WWE Intercontinental Championship the WWE Hardcore Championship thrice and the United States Championship once. For all the above and more, the Big Show goes home with not less than $1.35 million annually.
8 Roman Reigns - $1.35 million per year
Roman Reigns' real name is Leati Joseph Anoaʻi, and he is a Samoan-American from Pensacola, Florida. Roman is a great athlete when it comes to wrestling, and his time as a defensive tackle in football must have helped to make him who he is today. Roman joined the WWE in 2010, and in 2012 formed part of a team called "The Shield" together with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. In 2014, Roman went solo and won that year's Superstar of the Year Slammy Award, and then won the Royal Rumble match in 2015. Roman enjoys an annual salary of $1.35 million from the WWE.
7 Sheamus - $1.55 million per year
Stephen Farrelly is the Irish brute many WWE wrestling fans refer to as Sheamus. Sheamus was born in Ireland began his professional wrestling career there even before moving to the United States. Back in Ireland, Farrelly was competing in Irish Whip Wrestling, a competition in which he was able to clinch the International Heavyweight Champion title two times. In America, Sheamus was the WWE Chamion two times, he was the WWE United States Champion two times, and was the World Heavyweight Champion one time. Sheamus won the King of the Ring tournament in 2010 and the Royal Rumble in 2012. For his great performance, Sheamus takes home a tidy $1.55 million annually.
6 Brock Lesnar - $2 million per year
5 The Undertaker - $2.25 million per year
4 Randy Orton - $2.45 million per year
3 Triple H - $2.7 million per year
You might not know this, but Triple H's real name is not Hunter Hearst Helmsley, it is actually Paul Michael Levesque. This American Professional Wrestler, actor and businessman is one of the highest paid in the WWE, despite marrying into the McMahon family. Triple H started out as a bodybuilder, and then ventured into wrestling in 1992. He has had many stage names over his wrestling career, but he has had most of his success under the name Triple H. Although he does not make regular competitive appearances, Triple H is an authority figure in the WWE and with all his contributions to the game, he takes home at least $2.7 million annually.
2 The Rock - $2.9 million per year
"Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?" Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock is an actor, producer, and professional wrestler, with American and Canadian roots. The Rock became famous during the period between 1996 and 2004, when he held numerous titles at different times, and became one of the best in the sport. The Rock returned to wrestling between 2011 and 2013 and still makes appearances both in the ring and outside the ring to support the company, but is now focusing most of his attention on movies. Despite this shift in his career, The Rock still manages to make a tidy $2.9 million annually from WWE. In 2014, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $52 million.
1 John Cena - $5 million per year
John Anthony Cena is an American-born actor and rapper, but we know him best as the professional wrestler he is. Cena is the reigning WWE United States Champion and his reign as World Heavyweight Champion is the fourth longest in WWE history, making him one of the best wrestlers not only in present time but also of all time. Since becoming a face in WWE in 2005, Cena has continued to rise through the ranks to become the highest paid wrestler today. Cena takes home a pay package of not less than $5 million a year, and his net worth is estimated to be approximately $35 million.
Sources: celebritiesmoney.com, totalsportek.com