Will they, or won’t they?
That was the question on everyone’s mind over the past couple of years; people who were eager to find out if WWE super couple John Cena and Nikki Bella will tie the knot and cement their relationship. That speculation has now been put to bed, and fans were thrilled – as was Nikki of course – when John got down on one knee in front of a packed arena at WrestleMania 33 and popped the question everyone has been anticipating.
It was an awesome occasion, and the fans in attendance, as well as the millions watching around the world, got the treat of seeing Nikki’s face light up and be overcome with emotion as John placed that almighty rock on her finger. No wonder she was speechless, Cena put a lot of effort in designing the ring and making it perfect. He did not just walk into the store and say, “Give me that one.” The 4.5-carat round brilliant cut Tiffany diamond certainly helped though, and helped make the entire ring one seriously pricy piece of jewelry – not that it would have dented John’s bank balance. Reportedly to be in the region of $150,000, it makes you think that for some of his fellow wrestlers, paying that much for a ring would make them broke. For some in the roster, that is their entire annual salary and then some.
John Cena did not have to think twice about spending that kind of cash on such a special gift, but here are 15 wrestlers who are essentially, in monetary terms, worth less than the rock on Nikki Bella’s finger.
17 Summer Rae: $65,000
Summer Rae is currently on hiatus due to a number of injuries sustained to her neck, back, and elbow – injuries that have kept her out of the ring for a hell of a long time. When she returns is anybody’s guess. But one thing is for sure: she has missed out on plenty of great opportunities. If she was around the whole time she was out, her bank balance would have definitely been given a boost.
WWE began putting a greater emphasis on women’s wrestling, and the brand expansion would have meant Summer Rae would have the opportunity to thrive and prosper because of the thinning of the herd, so to speak. It will be tricky for her to fit back into the mix if and when she eventually returns, but she will certainly be ruing what could have been had she not been plagued by injuries.
16 Naomi: $65,500
Naomi has plenty of strings to her bow: acting, modeling, dancing, and singing. The fact that she is not a high earner in the world of wrestling is most likely not that significant in the grand scheme of things. She earns her corn doing plenty of stuff, and she is hitched to Jimmy Uso, who receives a pretty decent salary himself (estimated to be in the region of $255,000), so Naomi is not going to fall on hard times anytime soon.
Having said that, Naomi has been a part of the main roster for many years, has won the WWE SmackDown Women's championship twice, and is more than just a decent performer, so she should deserve a whole lot more than what she is currently getting paid for.
14 Primo: $75,000
Having established himself as a prominent star outside of the WWE, Primo must be wondering if it was all worth the effort to trade that for the WWE and earn a salary of $75,000 per annum. Coming from a prominent wrestling family, money is not supposed to be an issue for Primo, but not right now.
Sure, he is in the tag team division, but Primo is not your run-of-the-mill wrestler nor is he a new kid on the block. He has won the WWE Tag Team championship twice and the World Tag Team championship one time, so he should be getting more for what he has offered to the business.
13 Xavier Woods - $75,000
If you were judging salaries based on how much people have been featured in the news as of late, you would think that Xavier Woods would be earning megabucks. If people did not know about Xavier before, they certainly do now, as a result of his part in the whole leaked sex tape scandal with Paige.
Aside from his extracurricular activities that we now know all about, Xavier has been in the industry since 2005, becoming a member of WWE in 2010. He has achieved popularity for being a part of The New Day, helping decimate opponents as they went about becoming the longest reigning Tag Team champions in the promotion’s history.
It is safe to say that Woods earns more than $75,000 through bonuses and endorsements, but not a whole lot more. And that sex tape scandal would not have helped matters. Or would it?
12 Curtis Axel: $75,000
Curtis Axel comes from a prominent wrestling family, with his dad being none other than the late great Curt Hennig. Curtis was always going to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a wrestler. Like his dad, he has had a decent time on it, winning a couple of titles at the WWE (Intercontinental championship and Tag Team championship).
Nevertheless, he is not one of the more popular wrestlers on the roster, and this is reflected in his pay packet. In 2016, at the WWE Draft, Axel was drafted to Raw as the last pick, and this led to Axel acquiring the rather unfortunate nickname of "Mr Irrelevant". If you are deemed to be irrelevant, you are not going to be earning megabucks, which is something Axel knows all too well.
11 Emma: $75,500
Emma is super hot, still young at the age of 28, and is flying the flag for Australia at the WWE. Despite that, you would not say she has given people a whole lot to talk about. It sounds harsh, but she is just another woman on the roster, another warm body to fill up the roster.
She has a few memorable matches under her belt, several moments that some of you might be able to dig out of your memories and recollect. But she has won zilch and has not really made an impression. Hence, she keeps getting shifted around – one minute she is on the main roster, the next she is back on NXT. It is, therefore, not really surprising she is only worth around $75,000. Nikki’s engagement ring is probably more popular than Emma at the moment!
10 Cesaro: $80,000
Cesaro has gained quite a fan following during his years in the industry, especially since he made the move to WWE in 2011 after over a decade of doing his thing in indie promotions. He is regarded to be one of WWE’s best, not only by the fans, but by various wrestling aficionados, too. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has rated Cesaro as the Most Underrated wrestler in the world four times since he came to the WWE, which goes to show he is an exceptional in-ring performer, but at the same time, is not getting the credit he deserves. His measly pay packet reflects this, and assuming he really does earn in the region of $80,000, it really is a travesty. Cesaro definitely deserves better.
9 Darren Young - $80,145
Darren Young has been doing his thing on the pro circuit for quite some time now. He had several years of wrestling experience under his belt before officially signing to the WWE in 2009.
Prior to formally making it to the WWE, he was making appearances in the promotion every now and then to fight in dark matches. Nevertheless, his perseverance paid off – not literally if you look at his salary – and he ended up getting a gig in WWE’s developmental territory.
Darren has been injured a lot throughout his career, missing plenty of action because of it – possibly explaining why his salary might not be as large as some would expect. He missed time back in 2014 and now, he is currently recovering from an arm injury.
8 Erick Rowan: $80,145
This guy is a beast and his salary probably does not even come close to funding his food costs for the year. But luckily for him, he has gained prominence and quite a fan following as a member of one of the biggest onscreen wrestling factions in recent years: The Wyatt Family. So, it is safe to say he probably has earned quite a bit more with the merchandise sales.
Perhaps one of the reasons for his current pay is because Rowan has been absent from TV for quite some time. He had a torn rotator cuff, so he had to go under the knife to repair the damage, spending a significant amount of time on the sidelines. Now that he is back, we are looking forward to seeing how Erick would fit back into the fold.
7 Alicia Fox: $85,000
Alicia Fox is a pretty well-known name in the industry. She is experienced, having been around doing her thing in the ring for over a decade. She also has won the coveted WWE Divas championship to boot. So, Alicia might feel slightly aggrieved that Nikki Bella’s piece of jewelry is worth more than her annual pay because Fox has been making great strides in the business ever since she started.
Her salary might not be anything to shout about, but Fox certainly makes way more than her keep through TV appearances, acting commitments, and other public endeavors. All of these would, no doubt, are giving her bank balance a significant boost.
6 Paige: $86,450
This is definitely one of the more surprising ones. By now, you'd have thought Paige would be among the WWE's highest earners in the women's division, but injuries and suspensions have likely brought down Paige's annual pay in the last couple of years. Remember, WWE Superstars are not considered employees by WWE, but independent contractors. A lot of their salary depends on their availability. When/if Paige does return to the ring, you have to wonder if she will once again climb the ranks of the women's division or if she is going to be lost in the shuffle and eventually released. Her relationship with Alberto Del Rio has not done her WWE career any favors but ultimately, her personal happiness is what matters most.
5 Dana Brooke: $90,500
Dana Brooke has only been a part of the main roster of the WWE for about a year. Being new to the business is reflected on her salary, which is pretty meager, although if proven to be accurate, is still significantly more than a lot of the other women's wrestlers on the roster. Perhaps Dana is earning slightly more because of the fan following she brought with her to the WWE. After all starting salaries have probably grown from what they used to be. Before getting involved in wrestling, she was a big deal in the world of bodybuilding and fitness, making quite a name for herself there. She has also done some modeling and gymnastics, so WWE saw something in her and liked the package she brought to the ring.
3 Lana: $100,000
Lana transferred to SmackDown Live as part of the 2017 WWE Superstar Shake-up, and is being gradually eased in as a singles competitor while real life husband Rusev recuperates from injury. Perhaps going out on her own might further her career prospects since the women's division has been on the rise.
Real name CJ Perry, Lana entered the wrestling business in 2013. For majority of the time, she is performing as a valet or manager and not a lot of in-ring action was on her plate. She, therefore, can be considered as someone green on the ring, and her salary shows this.
Nevertheless, Lana is not solely relying on wrestling to make money. Aside from accompanying Rusev to the ring, she is also an actress, dancer, and model.
2 Nia Jax: $109,000
It is a well known fact that female wrestlers do not get paid anywhere near the same as their male counterparts. Even mediocre guys on the ring can expect to pocket far more than the majority of the women’s roster. It is just how things work, not only in wrestling, but in sports in general.
Nia made her pro wrestling debut a couple of years ago, a late starter at the age of 30. Perhaps that is one reason why she is not amongst the promotion’s top earners because she is just starting out. Having said that, she still has aspirations to climb the ladder and get to the top. After all, she is related to Roman Reigns and The Rock. Connections in wrestling, like in any other industry, can mean a lot.
1 Big E: $145,000
It is important to note that these salaries are ballpark figures, and that these superstars are likely to have earned slightly more or less depending on performances, outside activities, merchandise sales, appearances, and other factors. Big E is one guy you can safely say deserves every penny of that $145,000, if not more.
Big E’s involvement in American football and powerlifting has certainly helped him stand in good stead in his chosen career. He brings a powerful, imposing package to the ring; and along with New Day buddies Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, he comes out as a pretty dominant force on WWE’s SmackDown Live brand. For his work Big E certainly is worth a lot more. And if WWE has any sense in them, he will get his just desserts in the future.