The WWE is certainly like any other form of entertainment or sport. Unlike the NHL, NBA or NFL, contract terms are kept on the down low. The employees of the company are regarded as independent contractors; another difference compared to other pro sports.
For the first time ever in recent years, Forbes has gotten access to WWE contracts and unveiled how much certain performers are making nowadays. Salary isn’t the be all end all when it comes to making money. Merchandise sales and card status also play a huge role when it comes to making money. Experience is also a huge part as you’ll see in this article with certain veterans making a hefty amount of money despite their limited usage.
From a frustrated Neville to an overpaid Brock Lesnar, we highlight both the best and the worst contracts currently floating around in the WWE Universe. How The Shield combined make less than Brock Lesnar, we’ll never understand! Enough of the talk and let’s get to the article. Here are eight of the most overpaid contracts on the WWE roster and seven of the best bargains. Be sure to share the article with a friend and let us know your take on the best and worst WWE deals from the list. Let’s begin with none other than Shane-O-Mac!
15 Overpaid – Shane McMahon ($2.2 million)
Yes, we here at The Richest love Shane-O-Mac just as much as you do, but his contract terms might be a little too high considering his role in the company. Granted, jumping off a cell twice in a year is no easy task, so we still applaud Shane for his efforts in the ring at the age of 47. In the ring, he truly hasn’t missed a beat, however when assessing his overall role in the company, the price tag is just way too high.
Unlike the other Superstars that wrestle night in and night out, Shane appearances are very rare. So yeah, although he does put his body on the line, he gets the proper amount of time to recover after the said match, unlike other WWE Superstars like Kevin Owens who are back to work two days later. We love Shane but his contract might be a little too high, especially when you compare it to the others, making Shane one of the highest paid talents in the entire company.
14 Bargain – Triple H ($3.8 million)
Don’t spit out your water just yet. Some might feel like Triple H makes more than enough nowadays and although that might be true on the surface, when you dig a little deeper and really assess all his titles within the company, the money is actually quite reasonable (on the contrary).
From his role as Executive Vice President of Talent, to still being a huge draw in the ring when he appears from time to time, Hunter has big time value in these positions. However, his most prominent role is down in NXT as the creator and senior producer of the developmental brand (working countless hours both at the Performance Center and at the WWE HQ). He’s rejuvenated the WWE with his vision and that alone merits the near 4-million-dollar contract. Putting things into perspective, John Cena makes double Triple H’s salary at $8 million. Take nothing away from Cena who deserves the money as the face of the franchise, but it really goes to show that Triple H’s salary for all his work really isn’t all that much. What do you guys think?
13 Overpaid – The Undertaker ($2 million)
Since his WrestleMania XXX defeat to Brock Lesnar, The Deadman hasn’t been the same inside of the squared circle. In the last couple of years, his performances have suffered mightily (his most recent was a pretty accurate example as Roman Reigns basically carried Taker from start to finish). Wrestling since the mid 80s and at the age of 52, it doesn’t take a genius to understand why Taker’s been slowing down in the last couple of years.
The harsh reality is that he’s severely overpaid given his role with the company nowadays. However, the money is warranted given his body of work and loyalty to the company. The WWE loves rewarding loyal Superstars, and that’s the biggest reason why Undertaker still has such a hefty contract nowadays. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds; with WrestleMania season looming in, will his next stop be another WrestleMania or the WWE Hall of Fame?
12 Bargain – Neville (Rumored: Less Than $500K)
Things between Neville and the WWE are on the rocks at the moment. Ironically, Neville was included as a part of the list even before the news broke out that he walked out of the company during a recent edition of Raw. An infuriated Neville stormed out when it was revealed that he was supposed to lose to Amore once again in the main event of Raw in a Lumberjack match. Given his talent as a top tier performer in the company, you can understand Neville’s frustrations.
Looking at the Cruiserweights, not a single Superstar has come close to Neville since the start of the division. His work has been monumental both in the ring and on the microphone. Heck, it’s been so good that you can even argue that the guy could get pushed for the Universal Title at the moment given his awesome character work. That hasn’t happened and instead, the WWE has gotten one hell of a deal with his contract. Looking at how rocky things are at the moment, the company needs to do whatever it takes to retain his services or they’ll be in serious trouble.
11 Overpaid – Enzo Amore (Merchandise Bonuses)
Some WWE Superstars just find ways to make money despite their card status, and Enzo Amore is one of those people. Despite being an afterthought inside of the ring, his microphone skills have put him on the map as one of the very best in the entire company when it comes to his verbal jousting. For that reason, his merchandise has sold like hot cakes and his contract wages have gone way up.
Despite that, he’s wildly unpopular backstage. The current locker room leader Roman Reigns, recently kicked him off a tour bus for bragging on the phone about how much he’s making nowadays. With the WWE being more professional than ever before backstage, Amore’s antics really aren’t welcomed any longer; maybe if he was there in the 90s such an attitude would have been acceptable. When it comes down to it, the chances of Amore being a part of the WWE three years from now are very slim. Look for the WWE Superstar to likely chase more money elsewhere, likely in another entertainment field (he claims to have a future in rap).
10 Bargain – Charlotte Flair ($300K)
The Women’s Division is a beautiful thing nowadays. For the first time ever, the WWE has three full divisions of in-ring female performers; on Raw, SmackDown and NXT. As great as that is, one problem still looms large and that’s the payments given to the female talents. Still, to this day, the women are vastly underpaid compared to the men. Let’s compare for a second, shall we? Roman Reigns, the highest active earner makes $3.5 million a year, while Charlotte, who’s one of the most paid female performers, makes $300K a year. Yep, still one hell of a bargain.
It remains to be seen if the WWE will change this pay system, especially when you consider that most females put in as much work as the men. Perhaps with Ronda Rousey stepping into the company sooner rather than later, she can kick-start the payment transition among female talents.
9 Overpaid – Big Show ($2 million & Private Bus Accommodations)
Like The Undertaker, the 45 year old veteran is getting paid for his loyalty towards McMahon and his empire. Big Show has been in the business since 1995 when he first made his debut with WCW. Eventually, he took his talent over to the WWE and since 1999, he’s been a part of the company.
From babyface to heel, back to babyface and back to heel, Big Show has changed personas one too many times throughout his WWE run. A couple of years ago, things got so bad that chants of “please retire” loomed large during his matches and appearances. However, let’s give props to the big man, as he decided to conform with the times and changed his physical appearance drastically. Even his last match on Raw against Braun Strowman in a cage was arguably the best of his entire career. For that reason, we applaud Big Show and his recent efforts. However, it doesn’t take much to realize his wages are unreasonable for what he does nowadays.
8 Bargain – Randy Orton ($1.9 Million)
Orton has seen his salary drop a little bit in the past couple of years. The reason for it is simple, Randy was inactive for quite some time nursing various injuries. For that reason, he failed to hit various bonuses which ultimately resulted in a lower pay wage.
Orton is now back and he just adds so much more value to anything he’s on. Following the draft, Randy’s name-power helped SmackDown Live in more ways than one, and it looks like the same can be said nowadays. Even if he is a little more complacent in the ring today as a seasoned veteran, the truth is that Randy draws wherever he goes. Fans love him and for that reason, his deal is still a huge bargain. They will remain loyal to The Viper till he hangs them up, which doesn't appear to be anytime soon.
7 Overpaid – Sheamus ($1.3 million & Travel Accommodations)
With the WWE for over a decade, Sheamus has enjoyed one hell of a run with the company. Some disregard his in-ring work and make the claim that he achieved so much success due to his friendship with Triple H, but truth be told, the guy is a polished performer in the ring and that remains true to this day as he nears his 40s in just a couple of months.
Wrestling in a tag team with Cesaro, Sheamus remains consistent with not only his work but his body as well, as the guy still appears to be in tremendous physical shape. Though, the truth is, more than a million for a tag wrestler, along with full flight and accommodations, seems like a little too much. Once again, Sheamus has earned such a deal through his dedication and loyalty towards the WWE.
6 Bargain – Braun Strowman (Unknown)
Last we checked, Strowman was making around $300K per year, but given his card status and merchandise sales, we assume the number shot up to somewhere near half a million, which is still quite the steal given his draw value with the company and his tremendous work rate as the big fellow is featured on the norm.
WWE gets a huge bargain in this specific deal due to his shortage of experience. Strowman hasn’t been on the main roster for all that long, heck his character got refreshed just recently during the new brand extension. At the age of 34 and with a plethora of main event matches on his resume, you can expect those contract wages to spike once his contract expires. It’s not everyday that a big man like Braun can get so over with the audience, and the WWE are no fools.
5 Overpaid – Dolph Ziggler (Around $1 million & Travel Accommodations)
Clearly, looking at his recent booking, the WWE wants us to hate Dolph Ziggler. The long-time WWE Superstar is colder than ever nowadays. He’s still got the talent in the ring, however his gimmicks have been catastrophic; seriously, how in the hell can you get a guy over that uses other Superstar entrances as his persona? Simple, you can’t....
Even with his wealth of experience, Ziggler’s salary is way too high. Looking at his recent work, he’s basically an upscale enhancement talent nowadays, though his recent work in putting over Bobby Roode wasn't the greatest, so one has to question his status in the company at this point. Looking to the future, many of us would be shocked if Ziggler is still around following the end of his contract. If he extends with the company, it’ll be for a lot less (one has to assume).
4 Bargain - A.J. Styles ($2.4 million)
A.J. is certainly getting the proper respect he deserves and that’s truly apparent with his wages at over $2 million at the moment. Back in the day, the WWE was not paying such indie wrestlers that much. That soon changed. So it really goes to show just how invested McMahon is with this tremendous Superstar.
Of course, Styles deserves every bit of the contract. Compared to other talent, Styles is head and shoulders above most. You can argue that the only better draw than Styles in the entire WWE is John Cena, and he works a part-time schedule nowadays. With all that in mind, his contract is a ridiculous steal and arguably the best in the entire company when you assess his raw talent. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of terms he hits for 2018 and so on, given the added bonuses of a WWE contract.
3 Overpaid – Jinder Mahal (WWE Champion Bonus)
The only thing Jinder Mahal had going for him when he signed his first WWE deal was height. The company was intrigued so they took a gamble on the Canadian. His first run was largely forgettable as he played a minor role in the lower card.
Props to Mahal for somehow making his way back into the company. He returned with a drastic change physically, though his card status remained as an enhancement talent. Then, out of nowhere, the WWE decided to push Jinder to the moon as a play towards India and before you knew it, Mahal pinned Orton at the Backlash PPV winning the WWE Championship. He’s been the title holder ever since and given the fact that he’s the champion, his contract likely increased in a dramatic manner. Given his actual talent in the ring however, he is terribly overpaid. Sorry, Jinder.
2 Bargain - The Shield ($8.2 million)
Yes, we do in fact live in a world that sees Brock Lesnar make more than all three Shield members combined. According to recent salary numbers posted by Forbes, the group makes a combined $8.2 million, which is a disturbing steal when you assess not only their draw values, but incredible work rates throughout the years.
Breaking down the numbers, Roman Reigns is obviously the top earner of the group with a contract of $3.5 million per year. Ambrose has a decent contract at $2.7 million and Rollins makes $2 million. Seth’s contract took a bit of a hit due to the time he missed from his recent injury, so you can expect his salary to go up given his numerous appearances this year along with his increased merchandise sales.
No matter how you look at it, this one is a major steal given the amount of dates they work alone. Speaking of the amount of dates worked per year.....
1 Overpaid – Brock Lesnar ($12 million & Full Accommodations)
Yes, Lesnar is an attraction. Yes, he is the champion; but compared to other salaries in the WWE, this contract is absolutely ridiculous when you assess what he actually does.
Not only does Brock work a limited schedule with a set number of dates per year, but he also has full accommodations such as flying privately in his very own jet supplied by the WWE. Just imagine, you fly private, attend a limited amount of events and make $12 million per year. That’s nearly triple what the top active performer makes in the company.
With rumors of his contract running out sooner rather than later, we suggest maybe the company should take a more in-depth look at the offered terms. What do you guys think the proper price tag for Brock should be?