You can make good money in the professional wrestling business. It’s not easy - when is it ever? - but those with the right amount of talent, the right amount of luck, and the right amount of work ethic can realistically make their fortunes in one of the strangest corners of sports and entertainment. The problem is that the wrestling business often demands a lot of its performers. There are road expenses, medical bills, and the crushing pressure of performing night after night. Before long, even the richest wrestlers begin to realize that their fortune can easily slip through the cracks.
Now, many wrestlers are smart enough to set aside a little something when they can and live within their means like the rest of us. Others...others take more extreme financial measures. Some let their cash flow freely believing that they’re going to be rich forever. Over time, they learn that being rich now doesn’t mean that you’ll always have money. Other wrestlers go the opposite route. They hold on to every dime they’ve ever earned like their lives depended on it. Given how successful some of these stars turned out to be, they might just have been on to something. These are 10 wrestlers who blew way too much of their money, and five who were insanely cheap.
15 Blew Their Money - Vader
Big Van Vader didn’t enjoy the kind of long-term, high-profile career run that Ric Flair did, but there was a time when the guy was one of the top wrestlers in the world. In fact, Vader’s early WCW days were so successful that most people figured that Vader was destined to become one of the highest paid stars of his era. Apparently, Vader himself was one of those people.
According to Mick Foley, Vader lived the most lavish on-the-road lifestyle that he’d ever seen. Vader would regularly eat steak and lobster, stay in the finest hotels, and travel around in limos. While he had the money to do that for a time, Vader’s eventual career decline caught up with him rather fast. He’s still taking gigs to this day to pay the bills.
14 Blew Their Money - Ric Flair
Estimates regarding Ric Flair’s income during the ‘80s boom period vary pretty wildly, but Flair himself has said that it wasn’t uncommon for him to take home $25,000+ from the gates of big shows. Mind you, that was in the ‘80s and 25 grand got you a lot further. Even past Flair’s golden age, you have to believe that the man was paid fairly well.
Unfortunately, Flair just never learned how to stop living the Ric Flair lifestyle in his personal life. That means lots of drinks, lots of lavish purchases, some messy divorces, and too many years of not really caring about creating a nest egg. His spending habits were chronicled on Celebrity Wife Swap a few years ago, when it was revealed him and his fiancee go out practically every night and rarely have a home-cooked meal. And you know Flair is paying for other people's drink at the bar too.
Flair’s exact financial status is unknown, but it seems that he still can’t practically afford to retire even after years of in the wrestling business.
13 Insanely Cheap - CM Punk
This one might catch some of you by surprise. After all, CM Punk always dresses pretty well (for his style anyway), rode around in a luxury bus during his last days in WWE, and happens to own a very, very nice home in Chicago (seriously, you’ve got to check it out). However, Punk has stated many times that he’s actually a really frugal guy who only “splurges” on things that matter. Other stars have talked about Punk’s money-saving ways in the past. In fact, while he was still a top WWE guy, Punk would split hotel rooms with several other superstars in order to save a little money. He’s even got a great story about staying in a room with some other WWE stars and spending all night messing with Hornswoggle.
12 Blew Their Money - Perry Saturn
“Money” is a relative term here when we’re comparing Saturn to guys like Ric Flair. Saturn was never a top guy for any company (even ECW) and spent quite a few years making low-grade indie pay. However, you have to believe that both WCW and WWE paid the guy reasonably well during his time in those companies. WCW is practically famous for overpaying their workers just so they wouldn’t leave. Unfortunately, Saturn’s substance abuse issues and mental health problems pretty much drained his bank account during “retirement.”
In fact, Saturn took to Facebook earlier this year to beg fans for money as he was only a couple of weeks away from being homeless. Even though Saturn has gotten his life together in recent years, videos of the wrestler make it clear that he’ll never fully recover.
11 Blew Their Money - Virgil
We’d never mock a former wrestling star over their financial troubles, unless we’re talking about Virgil. That’s because Virgil has practically spent the last several years of his life turning his downfall into his new persona. We’ve all seen those photos of Virgil hanging out by himself at autograph conventions, but that’s actually Virgil at his most respectable. The man is absolutely shameless when it comes to capitalizing off his past as a WWE superst...well, wrestler. From hanging around the subways selling memorabilia and autographs to telling promoters that Ted DiBiase is going to show up with him (he doesn’t) Virgil is doing everything in his power to avoid getting an actual job. The man has even gone to social media to beg for money for no reason in particular.
10 Insanely Cheap - Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is very, very rich. Even if you put aside his modern WWE contract (which is just an absurd agreement) Lesnar has been making great money in WWE and UFC for almost 20 years now. For what it’s worth, it’s believed that he’s worth over $20 million. Yet, you never see Lesnar do anything extravagant with his money. He doesn’t live extravagantly in any way that the public sees. Even his home is pretty modest. He lives out on a wheat farm in Saskatchewan when he can easily be living in a Malibu mansion by a beach or an upscale penthouse in a big city. But Lesnar prefers being secluded.
So far as we can figure, Lesnar’s money-saving secret is that he’s a man who enjoys simple pleasures. We’re sure that he owns quite a bit of land and some nice vehicles, but Lesnar is still a good ole’ country boy at heart who never really developed a taste for the “finer” things in life.
9 Blew Their Money - Scott Hall
Oh boy, here’s a rough one. Looking back, one of the worst things that ever happened to Scott Hall was going to WCW. Granted, he made a lot of money because of the jump (in 1998 alone, he reportedly made almost $1.5 million) but WCW wasn’t as concerned with Hall’s well-being as Vince McMahon might have been. They let him become a drunken wreck and even portrayed him as a drunken wreck on TV on several occasions.
Regardless, Hall’s life fell apart when his wrestling career ended. Whatever money didn’t go to booze and other substances went to Hall’s rapidly expanding medical bills. He too had to turn to the internet in order to ask fans to help him fund a much-needed surgical procedure. Thankfully, Hall seems to have turned his life around in recent years.
8 Blew Their Money - Jake Roberts
This is another one of those infamous stories that you just wish wasn’t so. How much money Jake Roberts made during his WWE days is up for debate. What we do know is that Roberts accepted a pretty lucrative WCW contract in the early ‘90s in exchange for stabbing WWE in the back. That contract didn’t last long, however, for the same reason that Roberts’ money didn’t last long. Roberts may not have lived too luxurious of a lifestyle, but his seemingly uncontrollable substance abuse issues robbed him of whatever money he may have made throughout his illustrious career. Roberts’ low-point came about ten years ago when he was taking whatever wrestling bookings he can while no longer battling his drug and alcohol habits. Much like Scott Hall, it seems he’s finally turning a corner. He now goes on tour, telling his stories from his days as a wrestler.
7 Insanely Cheap - Stone Cold Steve Austin
It’s been said that Stone Cold Steve Austin drew more money than any other superstar in wrestling history. To understand how that is possible, you first have to understand that he was the biggest star in the world during what was arguably the most lucrative period to be a professional wrestler. On top of that, Austin moved so many t-shirts that he probably could have easily lived off those profits alone.
Even if he hadn’t made so much money, Austin’s famously frugal ways probably would have ensured that he lived comfortably. Austin recalls being offended at things like being charged $45 to rent skis. He almost never spent more money than was necessary and saved as much cash on the road as possible by staying at cheap hotels and sharing rooms. This is also the guy who reportedly ate nothing but potatoes when he was coming up in the business.
6 Blew Their Money - Lex Luger
Lex Luger is another guy whose one-time net worth is a matter of debate. What we can tell you is that the dude made somewhere in the area of $4.7 million during his last WCW run alone. Now, you have to understand that there were various expenses that cut into that nest egg, but Luger’s real problems stem from his history of substance abuse issues. While he wasn’t the most prolific user during his day, Luger basically devoted his life to drugs following the closure of WCW. Unfortunately for Luger, any invite that WWE may have extended him was flushed down the toilet when the beloved Miss Elizabeth died as a result of her and Luger’s hard-partying lifestyle. Luger is quite literally a shell of his former self these days.
5 Blew Their Money - Marty Jannetty
We’ve actually heard stories that suggest that Marty Jannetty is still doing reasonably well financially-speaking, which we find kind of hard to believe. First off, how much money could Jannetty really have made during his WWE days? He wasn’t a top star during his prime and certainly could have never made enough money to last him the rest of his days. Post-WWE, Jannetty never landed a high-profile position at another wrestling company. Even WCW wouldn’t work with the guy, and that’s saying something. Finally, Jannetty has been taking indie wrestling gigs for years outside of a brief stint as a behind-the-scenes employee for WWE. Add all of it up, and our best guess is that Jannetty might not be at rock-bottom, but certainly has to be approaching broke.
4 Insanely Cheap - Owen Hart
Owen Hart was an interesting guy. As a performer, he was never properly recognized as one of the best of his era. Part of that is due to the fact that Bret overshadowed him and part of that can be traced to his unique personality and style. He just wasn’t appreciated during his time. Those that knew him personally also remember Owen as a practical joker and incredibly cheap man. Hart employed the usual money-saving tactics such as searching for the cheapest hotel room, but he took saving money a few steps further than most.
For instance, it’s been said that Hart loved to cozy up with fans so they’d give him rides from gig to gig. As funny as that is, it’s been said that Hart saved his money because he always planned on retiring early.
3 Blew Their Money - Kamala
If you first heard about Kamala during his WWE/WCW days, then you’re actually missing out on a significant part of the man’s career. There was a time when Kamala was one of the most respected big men in wrestling. The heat he drew from crowds made him one of the most in-demand stars in all of wrestling. Actually, Kamala enjoyed a surprisingly long career given that he was always limited in terms of overall skills. So what happened to Kamala’s money? Well, there’s some debate about that, but part of the problem was that Kamala never really knew to negotiate for more money during his prime. There’s also the matter of Kamala’s daunting medical bills - he’s now an amputee - and the fact that he lived years without any retirement, pension, or way to really find work.
2 Blew Their Money - Hulk Hogan
This one isn't quite as accurate as it might have been in years past - given the results of certain legal battles - but you do have to take a moment to appreciate just how close Hulk Hogan was to being flat-out broke. As you may very well know, Hogan made more money than any other superstar during a particularly lucrative era for WWE superstars. He possibly made even more money during his time in WCW and certainly made a lot of cash off his various endorsement deals and movie appearances. Despite all of that, Hogan was strapped for cash not too long ago. Part of that can be attributed to his luxurious lifestyle, but there’s no denying that Hogan’s nasty divorce robbed him of a few million.
1 Insanely Cheap - Mick Foley
It’s always been said that Mick Foley should never have been a wrestling superstar. He didn’t look like a wrestling superstar and he didn’t wrestle like a typical superstar. Maybe Foley himself secretly awaited the day his wrestling career would come to a close, because the man has always been super cheap. During his earliest days, Foley had no qualms about sleeping in cars, staying with friends, skipping meals, or showering in gyms. The man even confessed to cutting his own hair at one point.
Foley has even discussed how he and Owen Hart would actually compete over who could save more money on any given road trip.
In recent years, Foley stated that he’s put off having a pretty important hip operation because he doesn’t have insurance and doesn’t want to pay the bill out of his pocket. Despite his personal frugal ways, Foley has donated generously to various charities over the years.