We all know that the best wrestlers in the world, in the biggest promotions, can make a great deal of money; money most of us can only dream of. A great many of these wrestlers have a rags to riches story to tell, where they needed to beg and borrow their way to prominence. So many have stories of when they slept in the back of their cold, broken down car just to make it to their next indy show, because they couldn’t afford anything else. All this while hoping for that first big break.
But, for every one of these types, there is the occasional wrestler who has had the good fortune of growing up in a more affluent household. For them, they weren’t eating Ramen while wondering how they were going to pay for their next week of wrestling school. They weren’t sleeping in the back seat of their rusted-out Volkswagen. Comparatively, these wrestlers had things easier, though I am not holding that against them. Some of those who made the list will come off as fairly obvious, though I suspect a few will end up as surprises. So, without any further delay, let’s get into the countdown, shall we?
In fairness, he wasn’t personally and independently wealthy, he was just born to the son of a son of a plumber, The American Dream, Dusty Rhodes. Being the son of a major wrestling superstar has its perks and money clearly was one of them. Though, Goldust has certainly done well for himself in his own WWE career, no doubt earning as much, and probably more, than his father ever did or ever dreamed of being possible.
Growing up the son of the immensely famous American Dream allowed young Goldust to enjoy his childhood and it also helped set him on the path to his own career success. His best years were no doubt his first run in WWE, but after much time away, he’s enjoyed a bit of a rebirth that many wrestlers only wish they had.
14 Cody Rhodes
If Goldust was on this list, then it feels natural to include Cody as well. While only half-brothers, he was still born in to a fortunate situation where he was pretty well-off. Dusty may have been just a “common man,” but he was uncommonly great in the ring and uncommonly successful in terms of drawing power. And, when you draw, you make money. Dusty did both.
And, like his older brother Dustin (Goldust), he too has enjoyed a pretty impressive career following in his father’s footsteps. Even though Cody has taken his talents to TNA, his own earning power remains high and his lineage is undeniable. If’ I am around in 30 years to write another one of these, I’d bet dollars to donuts that we have another Rhodes on the list.
13 Jimmy and Jey Uso
Okay, folks. Are you detecting a theme here yet? Thus far, all of the entrants on this list have one thing in common: a famous father who made a fortune working for WWE or other major promotions of their time (yes, folks, there used to be a lot more promotions, and WWE actually had some strong competition at one point). Jimmy and Jey land here, together, in large part thanks to their famous (and proud) father, the man also known as Rikishi. Having a successful wrestling dad sure makes the childhood experience a whole lot more pleasant, at least from a material goods perspective. And, the other benefit to growing up well-off as children of a wrestling star? They got started early on their career training, which is setting them up nicely.
12 Bret Hart
Here’s one where I will include the most popular member of The Hart Family in this group, due to two reasons. First, there are so many Harts, I could almost fill the rest of the list. And second, because Bret was the most prominent of them (with all due respect to his late brother).
And, how were these Harts in good shape? The father, Stu, was a wee bit famous as a promoter in Calgary, among other things. Though, I will say, if you read Bret’s memoirs, the money might have been there, but you don’t exactly get the sense any of the Harts had a silver spoon in their mouth. Stu ran a tough house and made sure the kids worked hard, a mindset that served Bret well in his career.
11 John Cena
Here’s one where I was mildly surprised. Cena does not have a famous wrestling father or even a famous athlete father. But, Cena grew up in an area of Massachusetts that is very well off and his father was a successful promoter in his own right. Maybe John wasn’t the son of a millionaire or billionaire, but he was in a lot better shape than many. He did admit at one point he was homeless, but going to a private boarding school, we'll assume it's because he didn't want to go back home. And, just look at him now! Now, whenever we see John Cena Jr. (if we ever see a John Cena Jr.), he’s making this list easily. Or, it could be a daughter of Cena, too. I mean, does anyone think that a Cena offspring wouldn’t have a fast track to WWE fame? And, with it, a fast track to a new generation of “Cena sucks” chants.
10 Bo Dallas
Stop me if you heard this one…but Bo Dallas also had a fairly well-to-do father, someone made famous in large part due to wrestling, but, more specifically, Vince McMahon. And before Bo Dallas was ever Bo Dallas, he was just someone’s son. Okay, not just anyone. Nope, Bo’s dad is Mike Rotunda. Better know to a few of you as Irwin R. Schyster.
And, with a name like IRS, money was managed tightly in the Rotunda household, but in a good way. IRS was bringing the money in, thanks to a long and profitable career spanning several personas and, because of his in-ring success, his family enjoyed life. And, just like his father, Bo is pursuing a career in the squared circle, hoping to set his family up the same way his father did.
9 Bray Wyatt
Another ranking, another son of a famous wrestler who grew up well-off and, more than likely, wanting for nothing. I promise folks, there are people on this list who are not children of famous pro wrestlers from earlier generations. Honest. Well, probably…but hey, read on and find out.
But, regardless of that, if I have the lesser of the two siblings, then I would be a horrible person if I don’t also include the more-established one as well, right? So, here we are with Bray, Bo’s older and, thus far, more successful sibling. And the irony here? Well, if Bray plays his cards right, there’s a pretty good chance he ends up with a more profitable career than his old man had. And that’s saying something.
8 Curtis Axel
Okay, I get it. I took too much of a break away from the theme of “his or her father was a major wrestling star.” Forgive me. So, let’s get back into that rhythm with the son of Mr. Perfect. Now, unlike some of the earlier mentions, it’s no sure thing that Axel will have a better career than his late father. Wherever he goes, he brings the legacy with him, but it’s a shadow that he will be hard-pressed to get out from under. And, at this point of his still-young career, he has not enjoyed much great success. Perhaps things will change, but he did enjoy the spoils of his father’s success while a child and he’s certainly earning a decent living now, too.
While often called The Queen of Harts, and touted as the only female graduate of the famed Hart Dungeon, she’s not a Hart by blood. She might as well be, however, because her father is, of course, Jim Neidhart (one half of The Hart Foundation with Bret). And while The Anvil did not achieve the same levels of fame and fortune as Bret did when he became a singles star, The Hart Foundation was one of the best tag teams in the world, during a period of time where WWE took tag team wrestling more seriously than at any other point in their history. They made a good living and Natty benefitted from that. And now it’s her turn to earn well and set up future generations.
This might be my most favorite curve on the list. I grew up in suburban Philadelphia. When I rediscovered pro wrestling as a teen, it was ECW that sucked me back in more than anything else. And one of the stars in the mid 90s was Sabu. Sabu made a name for himself, no doubt, but he’s got a famous wrestling lineage too; he’s the nephew of The Original Sheik. So it might not have been Sabu’s parents that were well-heeled, but he grew up in a family where they knew more about wealth than not. The downer footnote to this one is that Sabu, while being over with fans, never quite achieved the financial success his talents deserved.
5 Randy Orton
This one is as obvious as so many others who’ve come before him. Randy is following in his father’s footsteps and it’s because of his father, Bob, that Randy grew up without wanting for too much (maybe seeing dad more, but financially, he was in good shape). Papa Orton had himself a rather successful career and when you were successful in those days, you were a top earner. And being a top earner meant life was good in the Orton home.
Whether Randy liked the life his father provided, or the career his father had which allowed him to provide that life, Orton followed in his father’s career path and is doing even better than his old man, allowing Randy to make sure that life for his kids is even better than he had it.
If I have Natty on the list (and I do), then how could I not have Charlotte? Her father, as we all know, is the two-time WWE Hall of Famer, The Nature Boy Ric Flair. Much of his persona was built on living a lifestyle of the rich and famous, something he had no issue doing. And who benefitted, outside of Ric? Why, his family of course. And naturally, that included young Charlotte. She’s not exactly emulating the full Ric Flair experience, but she is channeling her best Flair heel persona and she’s been quite successful in her own caree (and it’s only just begun!). And, of course, with her rise to prominence comes an improved personal wealth, meaning that if and when she has children, they too will be able to land on a future version of this very list.
3 David Otunga
If you wanted the poster boy for someone who probably never needed a career in pro wrestling, look no further than David Otunga. He has a degree from Harvard Law, which means two things. One, he’s incredibly smart. Two, his family was in pretty good shape in order to afford the schooling. And, with his degree, he was able to land some pretty good jobs (read: well paying) before he ever ventured into a WWE ring. Or married his megastar wife. Now, some would argue that his pedigree made him less hungry in-ring, perhaps realizing that he didn’t need to sacrifice his body to make his money. Others would say that shows off just how smart he was, since instead of beating himself up on a nightly basis, he’s “just” on commentary. Either way, he’s in a really good spot.
2 Dolph Ziggler
You know he’s The Show-off. He likes to steal the show, too. But, did you know he is also pretty smart outside the ring? Like, going to Law School smart. He was supposed to head there, but then his wrestling career took off, and the rest, as they say, is history. But, just getting accepted to law school doesn’t exactly mean Ziggler grew up wealthy, right? Right. But, before he was almost Dolph Ziggler, Esquire, he went to a private boys high school, followed up by a stint at Kent State. Nothing about his upbringing screams “hard life.” And, after enjoying what seems like a rather affluent upbringing, he’s had himself a very productive and profitable career thus far, so life, financially, is only getting easier.
1 Alberto Del Rio
Here’s a guy who, during his initial WWE run, screamed crazy rich, right? Every week, here comes AlbertoDel Rio to the ring in some exotic (and expensive) luxury car. Now, of course, those were loaners or rentals and it was all to fit a desired image, right? Sort of.
For Del Rio, they were an extension of his life in a way. He might not have a thirty car garage with millions of dollars invested in sports cars, but he did grow up in a fairly prominent family back in Mexico. For those who didn’t know, his father is the legendary Mexican performer Dos Caras. And, with legendary status in Mexican wrestling comes the requisite fame and fortune, so Del Rio started off in a good, if not great, spot. And, if having such a notable father wasn’t enough, his uncle is the similarly legendary Mil Mascaras. So, yes, I think Del Rio knows a thing or two about living the good life.