The world of wrestling might be one which can lead to fame and popularity for a budding wrestler, but it really isn't that lucrative financially for everyone as the basic pay-scale in wrestling isn't that high compared to some of the other sports in the country. But while the average wrestlers do not get that much money from promotions, those who do escalate themselves into the top stars or star attractions for the audience are treated pretty lavishly by the company as they are not only paid a lot of money, but also get incentives on the side as well.
The hike in pay-scale and the tendency of paying some of their "top stars" ridiculous amount of money was started mainly by WCW in the 90s, as the rich promotion loaded its stars with millions of dollars which in the end ultimately caused its demise. Huge amounts of money were paid to talents who did not deserve that much at all, as this trend also caught up with the WWE once they started to rule the pro wrestling scene with an iron fist and they started to pay their stars lavishly as well.
What was started by WCW initially has now grown in strides as some stars in WWE are paid incredible amounts of money while the rest are kept on the low side, as we take a look at the 20 Shocking Wrestling Salaries You'll NEVER Believe!
20 Kevin Greene - $520,000
Kevin Greene was someone who the WCW looked towards to help get their show some mainstream attention, as the famous footballer at the time was paid big bucks for the WCW just for appearing for them once or twice a year. In 1998, Greene was paid over $500,000 just to make some appearances for them, which included him teaming up with former NFL player Goldberg in a tag team match. Greene would later have to leave WCW after getting a "no wrestling" clause to his contract, as the joke would be on WCW for hiring such a useless talent just to get some football fans watching their product as they completed wasted the money on a horrible part-timer like him rather than paying it to the talent who actually deserved it and made their product entertaining.
19 Goldust - $550,000
Goldust has been a loyal employee for the WWE for quite a long time now, as he's been here for decades (barring some years where he went to TNA) and has been portraying his bizarre, unique gimmick excellently over the years and enticing fans everywhere. But Goldust's stock has fallen over the years, as his last prominent feud was against Stardust and he has been going nowhere as part of the "Golden Truth" with R-Truth. Despite being almost forgotten by the WWE fans right now, Goldust is making quite a lot of money for hardly appearing on WWE Television as he is currently on a contract of $550,000 per year which is quite shocking for someone who isn't even used by the company. To put it in perspective, he is paid more than the likes of AJ Styles, Baron Corbin and Rusev which shows how in the WWE if you go by their orders and just manage to survive for long years, you'll be treated lavishly financially at least.
18 Buff Bagwell - $600,000
Buff Bagwell was nothing but a show-piece for the WCW, as he was like eye-candy for the lady fans and used mostly so that he could flaunt his figure in the ring. Although he did have some title reigns, he wasn't really that good as some of the others in the company and was a mid-carder at best, but even he was treated lavishly by the company financially. Bagwell started to make the big bucks once he gained some fan popularity in WCW, as he made the upwards of $600,000 in the late 90s for the company. Despite not really doing anything great for them, he made more than the cruiserweights (who carried WCW in the late 90s/early 2000s) and some of the other wrestlers who were much more talented than him, as his stunning figure helped him goad the WWE into giving him some big bucks as they would pay for spending so lavishly later on.
17 Vader - $625,000
Before WCW had gained popularity and beat the WWE in ratings during the "Monday Night Wars", they were still goaded with cash because of media tycoon Ted Turner, who loved to pay specific big superstars very well. That included the terrorizing giant at the time in Vader, who was a proper monster who could not only demolish his opponents, but was also impressive athletically. Vader was hold in high prestige by WCW, who paid him $625,000 per year from 1993 onwards which is absolutely crazy considering some of the top wrestlers don't get that much money in wrestling right now as this lavish splashing of the cash by Ted Turner was for the benefit of Vader, who made more money than some of the top stars in the WWE back then and was definitely a highly wanted individual in the wrestling scene.
16 Rey Mysterio - $985,000
Rey Mysterio was a marvel in the WWE about a decade ago, when he was a huge fan-favorite because of his underdog gimmick and had a lot of people cheering for him. But the master of the 619 fell in terms of popularity when his character got boring in the eyes of fans a few years ago, as Mysterio would actually be booed by some during his final run in the WWE in 2014. But despite not being used regularly and not being a "top star" in the WWE anymore, Rey was still paid a shockingly hefty amount of $985,000 in his final year with the company. On top of that, he'd also get a 4% bonus of merchandise sales, as he made close to a $1 million in that year where he barely did anything in the company, as compared to some of the harder working individuals who got barely 1/4th of what he did and this shows just how much WWE held Mysterio in high regard for everything he did for them.
15 Rick Steiner - $621,263
Rick Steiner was quite the under-rated wrestler back in the 90s, but his wrestling standards fell after he joined WCW and later was forced to transition into a singles wrestler. Rick was known for his amazing tag-team knowledge with brother Scott, as he'd have to become a singles competitor after Scott became a top star in WCW and made sure that his brother would get the share of the spoils as well. Despite however he was treated on WCW TV, he was always financially well settled and made $621,263 in 2000 which is shocking for someone like him. Not that he was mediocre or anything(he was excellent in the ring), but getting so much money after getting like 1/4th of it the year before that shows you how Scott definitely had a part in giving his big brother a pay-raise after attaining some influence over management himself. Rick wouldn't become a top star like his brother, but atleast he had his future sorted with that kind of crazy money which shows just how profitable having backstage influence in WCW in those days could be.
14 Sheamus - $1,100,000
Sheamus has grown in strides in the WWE over the past few years, as he has designed himself into a superstar who got the extra kick when he got a chance in Hollywood and starred in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film last year. That seems to have to have given a massive boost to his WWE status, as he's been booked pretty strongly ever since and is also making a lot of money on the side as well. Sheamus has a salary of around $1.1 million, on top of which he gets his travel and accommodation for free as well. This is definitely crazy money as compared to what his Cesaro gets probably is half of what he gets, as this bias from the WWE for treating someone who got mainstream attention lavishly rather than the other equally hard-working personal is just wrong and this shocking amount Sheamus gets shows how you're prestige immediately goes up after you get some mainstream recognition.
13 Horace Hogan - $221,887
Everyone in the wrestling business knows just how powerful Hulk Hogan is, as the "Immortal" one rode on some amazing popularity in the 80s which made him extremely influential in the 90s when he joined WCW. Hulk would use that power to give many of his friends some jobs, as he also helped to appoint his nephew Horace into WCW in 1998. Despite doing absolutely nothing at all when it came to wrestling and making a handful of appearances on WCW, Horace Hogan made $221,887 in total in 1999 when his uncle made millions of dollar alone. This shows exactly how backstage influence worked in WCW back in the days, as Hogan would use his power to try to enhance his family's name by bringing in his nephew to WCW, as these useless signings would make for the end of WCW.
12 The Great Khali - $974,000
The Great Khali showed great potential in his first year with the WWE, but his lack of mic skills and improvement in the ring forced the WWE to turn him into a comic act later on, which also surprisingly got him a role in the movie "Get Smart". Khali's stock started to rise after he got a chance in that movie, as he would be paid more than half the roster despite being a glorified jobber and hardly working any matches in the company. The Great Khali was on a contract of $974,000 in 2014 which is absolutely shocking as compared to what the "main eventers" in the likes of Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio received was less than his amount. This shows the perks of a WWE wrestler getting a movie opportunity and how it can change up his WWE stint financially, and even if he was having to job to random opponents at the time, The Great Khali was making money which many wrestlers can only dream of.
11 Dennis Rodman - $1,174,814
Dennis Rodman was originally a high-profile basket-ball player in the NBA during the 90s, but when he got suspended from it, he sought to get some money off wrestling. Although he had no knowledge of wrestling and didn't provide anything to it, he was signed to WCW thanks to Hulk Hogan and wrestled some matches in it as well. He barely wrestled like 1-2 matches a year, but was paid lavishly nonetheless as he was actually paid $1,174,814 in the year of 1999 which is absolutely shocking money to give to someone who isn't even a full-time wrestler. Thanks to his buddy Hogan, Rodman would become the 15th richest man in WCW and this was a serious insult to the much of the hard-working, full-time talent who worked their butts off but didn't even get half of what Rodman did for working a number of shows per year, as this type of shocking foolishness by the WCW is what rightfully sank their ship in the end.
10 Eddie Guerrero - $372,000
Eddie Guerrero was definitely one of the greatest exports from WWE made by WWE, as Latino Heat was easily one of the most entertaining, talented people to ever step foot in the WWE ring and was on top of the world from 2004 onwards. But despite being elevated to the main event, Guerrero's salary wasn't really hiked at all as he only got paid $372,000 while the other main eventers got paid beyond the million mark. This compared to what he got paid in his final year in WCW(over $500,000 at the time) is especially shocking as the WWE took him for granted and his love for wrestling didn't allow him to rebel against it either, as this shows just how WWE can manipulate those wrestlers who can't stand up for themselves and just take whatever they give them to wrestle in front of the millions of fans.
9 Lex Luger - $1,380,139
It's no real surprise that Lex Luger joined the WCW for the money, as he wasn't being given that much by the WWE and therefore made the shock move to their rivals, where he spent the next years trying to fight the NWO and teaming up with the good guys(mostly). But come the turn of the century, Luger was out of stem or popularity in 2000 and wasn't really utilized that often by the company either. One would think this was a move to lower his pay, which had been over $1 million in 1999 but that wasn't the case at all. Luger would be given $1,380,139 in the year of 2000 for doing not really anything profitable for the company, as he absolutely sucked everything up from WCW to make a profitable future for himself as this shocking amount of money paid for an aging, barely used wrestler like Luger shows just how he ripped off millions of dollars from WCW during his time and was in this business for making the cash only.
8 Charlotte - $290,000
Charlotte has truly ascended herself to become the "Queen" of the WWE over the past few years, as the multiple time Women's Champion is looking at the prime of her life right now and couldn't do a single thing wrong in the WWE. But unlike the male talent, the female talent shockingly get paid a lot less as the "Women's Revolution" doesn't seem to have kick-started that well in the core of the company at all. Charlotte only gets paid around $290,000 per year despite being the most hard-working talent among the female talent and to put things into perspective, her salary is even lesser than Primo's ($300,000) who is barely on television and a jobber right now. She might be called the "Queen" but isn't being treated like one at all, as this shocking low pay she and the other females get in the WWE show a major flaw in the "Women's Revolution" they love to boast about.
7 Kevin Nash - $1,864,062
Kevin Nash made a very intelligent move to WCW from WWE, as he has a lot of hidden intentions of making WCW his own in a few years time and he did accomplish that, but much to the demise of the company itself. Nash would reap up a lot of popularity to become a very powerful man in WCW and once Eric Bischoff left the company, Nash would get a lot of creative control to himself allowing him to break Goldberg's undefeated streak amongst other things. Nash would also loot the company of its last penny before it sunk in 2001, as he got an incredible $1,864,062 in the year 2000 from then which is absolutely shocking. That's almost 2 million dollars at a time when the company was barely putting on matches every week, as Nash is credited heavily with the death of WCW as he entered the company not to put on a better product but to make everything about himself and reap up as much as money as possible from them before leaving them sinking.
6 The Dudley Boyz - $600 per match
The Dudley Boyz might be world-wide sensations right now, but they were created by the extreme environment of ECW where they formed their destructive partnership. The Dudley's loved to wrestle for ECW and were a reason for its success at first, but things started to go horribly wrong for ECW from 1999 onwards. They could barely put on shows and pay wrestlers, as the Dudley's allegedly got paid $600 per appearance for ECW in their final few months with the promotion. This shocking pay for someone as big as the Dudley's shows just how much of a horrible situation Paul Heyman's promotion was towards the end. Bubba Ray and D-Von would later be forced to join WWE after seeing how badly ECW's ship was sinking, as their shocking salaries towards the end is a prime example of how terrible the death of the land of extreme really was.
5 Chris Jericho - $175,116
Before Chris Jericho was the Ayatollah of Rock' n' Rolla in the WWE, he was a WCW guy as well as he started off in that promotion and did some amazing work as a "cruiserweight". Jericho was one of the best things about WCW's Cruiserweight Division and one of better mid-carders in the promotion when he was there, but he wasn't rewarded like the star he was and was constantly kept under the shadows of some people he was far superior from. Y2J was paid only $175,116 in 1999, which is an awful downgrade as compared to what he got the year before(over 240k). Jericho's salary was actually downgraded despite the fact that he was one of WCW's more improving wrestlers, as this horrible treatment forced Jericho to jump ship to the WWE where he would be treated like the star he was, as WCW's loss was WWE's profit as they'd make that profit gigantic as the years wore on.
4 CM Punk - $1,700,000
CM Punk was held back by the WWE for many years before he cut that infamous pipebomb and then went onto become their top star for a long time, as the Straight Edge Superstar not only got escalated to main event status on TV but also benefitted financially from that outburst. Punk didn't only got what he wanted from Vince McMahon on TV, but also in reality he got an incredible financial package which would compel him to stay in the company. Punk would be paid $1.7 million dollars in 2013 and was paid around that mark till the rest of his WWE career, as his revealing pipebomb might have shaken up Vince McMahon in real life as he did everything he could for his star to remain in the company, as Punk's hard work over all these years would finally change as his staggering change in his salary which would set him for life.
3 The Rock - $3,500,000
The Rock is one of WWE's most treasured alumni right now, as they love to boast about the star they created has now become one of the most successful actors in the world right now and in order to keep him with them, they pay him A LOT of money. Despite the fact that The Rock barely makes appearances in the WWE due to his hectic work schedule in making movies, the WWE aren't hesitant at paying him whatever he wants just so that they could be associated to being "his home". The Rock makes a shocking amount of money from WWE at the moment, as his current contract gives him $3.5 million dollars every year which is absolutely jaw-dropping as no full-timer gets that much of money. The Most electrifying man's ability to make WWE mainstream when he makes appearances is what makes them pay him so much to keep appearing, as this shocking amount is ironically something he never made in his original stint with the company.
2 Hulk Hogan - $4,610,062
Hulk Hogan was the man who helped WCW get an edge over WWE in the Monday Night Wars, as Hogan's creation of the "New World Order" helped to star this intense war between these two promotions. Hogan would not only be the top star for the WWE in front of the TV, but was also one of the highest paid wrestlers in WCW as he was paid a lot in all his years in the company. He was paid over $13 million dollars in his 5 years in the company and his peak was in 1999 when he was paid an unbelievable $4,610,062. He single-handedly robbed the company off nearly $5 million in that year when the downfall of the promotion really began, and guys like Hogan robbing it off financially by taking all the revenue for themselves is the main reason for why WCW became bankrupt in the end. Hogan became cunning when he started to see the cash WCW loves to give its talent and his shocking salary shows just how rich he is right now because of the sunken ship.
1 Brock Lesnar - $6,00,000
"The Beast Incarnate" Brock Lesnar has to be one of the most insane athlete in sports right now and even at the age of 39 is doing stuff wrestlers 10 years younger than him cannot do. The Universal Champion is not only in a comfortable position in the WWE ladder, but the amount of money he makes is absolutely insane. In 2016, Lesnar returned to UFC where despite all the controversy he allegedly made 6.5 million dollars for his one fight against Mark Hunt. But if that wasn't enough, he has been loaded with cash by the WWE who paid him an unreal $6 million last year, as he also gets a part of the merchandise sale, PPV revenue, free travelling and accommodation and can also use WWE's private jet. For someone who is a part-timer and barely makes 15 appearances a year, this is absolutely crazy money as the WWE can do anything to keep Lesnar aligned with them as the Beast Incarnate is enjoying quite the success financially and professionally as well.