According to Forbes, the average WWE wrestler on the main roster is making half a million per year in salary. Compare that to the $1.9 million of the NFL, $3.2 million of the MLB or even the $5.15 million of the NBA. There are probably 200 NFL players on active rosters that you have never heard of right now, but they are still making more than some of the biggest names in the WWE that you see multiple times every single week of the year.
Sure, there are some large salaries in the WWE. Big Show is still making $1 million up front, Brock Lesnar is getting around $3.5 million for part-time appearances, John Cena is making $5 million, Randy Orton gets $2 million and even The Rock is one of the highest paid wrestlers in WWE, despite only making a couple of appearances each year.
It has to be frustrating for guys on the main roster that have to travel upwards of 300 days per year to put on performances every night and have climbed up the ladder for years. Even some of the top performers in the company today are making a fraction of what Brock Lesnar and The Rock are making.
Let’s take a look at some of the wrestlers on WWE’s main roster that are getting the shaft when it comes to their paychecks. There is only one guy on the list that is making a $1 million salary, while the rest are making $750,000 or less. We are only taking salary considerations into this list, as some wrestlers are making quite a bit from merchandise. Here are the 13 wrestlers that are the most ridiculously underpaid in the WWE.
14 Sami Zayn (Starter Package)
When Sami Zayn (formerly known as El Generico) first signed on with the WWE, he was reportedly just making around $7,000 per month until the WWE decided whether or not they wanted to keep him. Zayn already had a large cult following around the world and they really latched on when he made his main roster debut. These days, Zayn is making a reported $400,000 per year, which is definitely on the low end for a guy who has been wrestling professionally since 2002. Guys like Curtis Axel, Heath Slater, Luke Harper and Sin Cara are currently making more than Zayn to put it in perspective.
13 A.J. Styles ($650,000)
In late 2015, it was known by a lot of different organizations that A.J. Styles was the hottest free agent in all of professional wrestling and reports came out that Styles received a “blow-away” deal from the WWE, making his debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble. Reports are now saying that Styles is making $650,000 per year. For someone that has become an established global brand and has been wrestling professionally since 1998, that number seems fairly low, especially when you consider that he has been a main eventer in his WWE tenure thus far.
12 Neville ($200,000)
In March 2016, Neville suffered an injury while facing off against Chris Jericho that would fracture his ankle and leave him on the shelf. It was devastating for Neville, as he was starting to gain a lot of momentum, and was already very popular from his days as NXT Champion. Neville is one of the most exciting wrestlers that the WWE has on the roster and he has more than a decade of experience, despite not even being 30 years old. Hopefully the WWE doesn’t pull the “injury prone” card when his next contract negotiations come up, since he’s only making a reported $200,000.
11 Summer Rae ($120,000)
Our first female wrestler on the list, Summer Rae has either been a part of WWE’s developmental program or main roster for five years now, but still isn’t pulling in much money. It has been very clear that Summer Rae has not only improved on the microphone, but also in the ring, quickly becoming one of the fan favorites in the women's division. Her $120,000 salary is pretty low, even compared to some of the newer talent that WWE has only had around for a year or two (although she makes some extra cash from Total Divas).
10 Zack Ryder ($320,000)
Even though the WWE doesn’t seem to understand it or care very much, the fans really want to see Zack Ryder. Ryder has gotten himself over time after time despite not getting many opportunities to have matches on Raw, SmackDown or Pay-Per-Views. Ryder has been a part of the WWE (including developmental) for a bit more than a decade now and has certainly paid his dues to the company. In turn, the WWE has rewarded him with one of the lowest contracts for a full-time wrestler at a reported $300,000 per year. Thankfully, he still sells merchandise.
9 Lana ($70,000)
The other female on our list, has only competed in one match, but has still received the adoration of the WWE Universe. Of all the females on the main roster, Lana makes far and away the least amount of money, as she's the only Divas who fails to crack the $100,000 barrier. Although she's technically only a valet, she brings plenty of value to the company and the fact that she makes $110,000 less than Tamina is pretty surprising.
8 Roman Reigns ($2.1 Million)
Yes, there are a lot of people that hate Roman Reigns and don’t think that he should be making $100,000, let alone $2 million. The fact of the matter is that Reigns is extremely popular outside of the internet wrestling community, he sells a lot of merchandise and brings in viewers from demographics that are hard to grab. Reigns is the top guy in WWE right now and figures to be the franchise player after John Cena is done. As for now, Reigns is only making a fraction of what Cena is getting from WWE right now, but expect that to change.
7 Bray Wyatt ($750,000)
A year or two ago, Bray Wyatt could have easily made a case to be number one on this list as he was only making around $300,000 per year. Now, Wyatt is making a reported $750,000 salary, but that still seems rather low. Wyatt draws a lot of interest from crowds, even if they aren’t engaged in wrestling itself. He has a unique look and skill set that you aren’t able to find in many places and has played a big part in a lot of main event storylines in his short career.
6 Big E ($350,000)
The first member of The New Day on our list, the 30 year old Big E was a powerlifting champion before signing with WWE in 2009. Big E was massively over while in NXT and then had a mild entrance onto the main roster when he aligned himself with Dolph Ziggler and A.J. Lee. It makes sense that his salary was so low then, since he was not being used all that often. Things changed when Big E became part of The New Day and now the salary seems like a massive underpayment at $350,000, which you can expect to raise if the group sticks around.
5 Xavier Woods (200,000)
The next New Day member is the lowest paid of the three, making $200,000 per year. Although he could fall back on his education or host his own video game show (which he already does), pro wrestling is the first love for Xavier Woods. Woods has been a big part in getting New Day over with crowds across the world and is getting more air-time than a lot of guys that are making multiples times as much money as he is, but merchandise is selling pretty well for The New Day right now.
4 Kofi Kingston ($400,000)
We conclude our cavalcade of New Day members with the most underpaid of them all, Kofi Kingston. While Kingston is making more than both Big E and Xavier Woods, he really should be bumped up in salary. After all, Kingston has been signed to the WWE for a decade now, putting in years of hard work on the main roster. In his career, Kingston has won a total of 12 championships and has been involved in some of the most memorable ladder and Royal Rumble match spots ever. Thankfully, being the elder statesman of The New Day should keep him around and increase his pay.
3 Cesaro ($400,000)
Cesaro is still one of the most underpaid wrestlers on the WWE roster. Cesaro spent time in Chikara Pro, CZW, Ring of Honor and PWG before finally making it to the WWE in 2011, meaning that he’s really cut his teeth around the world. Though he hasn’t been considered a main event talent by the powers that be in WWE, he is still very popular with the fans (and on the internet in particular) that want to see him get a title run at some point. A man with his own section should be making much more.
2 Kevin Owens ($400,000)
A.J. Styles was in a similar situation to Kevin Owens, but Styles got $250,000 more per year salary wise than Owens was able to pull in. They have a lot of things in common, as Owens has spent a very long time grinding in other promotions before finally signing with WWE. Unlike Styles, Owens didn’t get to go straight to the main roster, starting out in NXT for an extended period of time. Owens is now in the upper part of the card for the main roster, but is certainly not being paid like it at just a reported $400,000 per year.