The life of a wrestler after WWE can be a tough place to survive in. Wrestlers go from making good money with a stable lifestyle into the unknown world of being a free agent. Some stars continue their careers in other noteworthy promotions such as New Japan and Ring of Honor. Others work for various independent promotions to make a living. A few will leave the ring altogether to find a new career. One common ground is the vast majority of wrestlers will appear at conventions, autograph signings and other platforms that allow them to get paid in return for autographs, memorabilia and pictures.
Not all wrestlers will experience the same results when it comes to making money at fan interaction events. You will only make as much money as the fan market dictates. Some wrestlers make huge money both for appearance fees and for the autographs they sign for each fan. These are the bigger stars that people will go out of their way to meet. The negative side sees wrestlers that once held fame struggling to get a market for their pictures or autographs. Smaller lines will typically follow these wrestlers. We'll look at both sides with eight former WWE stars that make good money meeting fans along with seven that don’t have the same success.
15 Does: Sting
The end of Sting’s career following just a couple of matches in WWE was a huge disappointment to wrestling fans that wanted to see him square off with The Undertaker. However, you can’t argue that the short run in WWE didn’t help the legend see his popularity grow. Following the end of his WWE career, Sting started making more appearances at conventions with more fans wanting to meet him.
Sting often charges a lot more than the average wrestler for the meet and greets that allow fans to get a picture with him and/or autographs. A few of his appearances have only been for him with no other wrestlers appearing and he still brings in a big crowd. Fans at bigger conventions will form a larger line than the other wrestlers when it comes to Sting’s area. The legend ended his career on the biggest stage and fans still love meeting him.
14 Does Not: Brutus Beefcake
Hulk Hogan may get attention at the wrestling conventions, but that doesn’t mean his friends experience the same success. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake essentially experienced a long career of success all due to being the best friend of Hogan. WWE hired him and gave him the gimmick he’d be remembered for thanks to Hogan petitioning for him.
WCW brought him on as part of Hogan’s contract negotiations to get Beefcake a great contract that would see him overpaid for many years. The gravy train has ended with both men aging and Beefcake unable to capitalize off of Hogan’s name. Fans have very little reason to meet Brutus at the wrestling conventions he appears at. “The Barber” sometimes brings the scissors that was part of his act as a prop for pictures but it still doesn’t help garner interest at his tables.
13 Does: Ric Flair
The iconic Ric Flair is one of the top wrestling stars in the history of the business and he may very well be the biggest name that frequently meets fans. It's no secret that Flair has had his fair share of financial issues through the years thanks to poor financial decisions and multiple ugly divorces. Following the end of his WWE in-ring career back in 2008, Flair started making more appearances at conventions to make extra money.
The high command of fan interest convinced Flair to make it a regular thing. You can find him at many big wrestling conventions, other various comic-con type events and sometimes on his own. Flair makes it very accessible to meet fans because they end up paying a lot of money to spend some time with one of their wrestling heroes. The fact that he’s so animated likely makes meeting him an even bigger draw.
12 Does Not: Bull James
Many released WWE stars will find short term success with fans wanting to meet them after their time on television. It's a horrible sign when that doesn’t come for a released wrestler. Bull James is the classic example of the latter situation of how difficult it can be after leaving WWE. The lackluster NXT wrestler was released and instantly started trying to get booked for every independent show or convention that would book him.
James did not have much of a fan base looking to meet him. The lines for the former NXT star at conventions are usually among the shortest. Various fan stories have implied he even shows up to local New York shows as a fan ranging from Evolve Wrestling to WWE PPVs hoping fans would recognize him outside of the venue. It rarely works out in his favor when he wants to meet people for free, let alone when he's charging for it.
11 Does: Billy Gunn
One wrestler that fans hold a strong attachment to following his peak era two decades ago is Billy Gunn. The D-Generation X star is not struggling as many expected him to following his WWE release from his role as a trainer. Gunn continued his career wrestling on the independent circuit and meeting fans at wrestling conventions.
Fans apparently have a good time meeting Gunn as he has a great reputation for always being in great spirits at these appearances. You can look up videos of fans meeting wrestlers at WrestleCon during WrestleMania weekend and Billy is always shown smiling. A wrestler having fun meeting fans will always ensure fans will want to meet said wrestler. Gunn wrestling in New Japan at his age is rather impressive but still having a strong fan base is even more noteworthy.
10 Does Not: Ashley Massaro
The market for former female wrestlers works the same way it does for the men. Some names have strong value and others just don’t have the luster. Ashley Massaro may be a surprising choice but her lines are usually quite short for a former WWE star. The fact that Ashley won the Diva Search, posed for Playboy and even had a WrestleMania match should have improved her value for many years.
Massaro’s abrupt exit from the wrestling business and the fact that she never returned likely made her a distant memory to fans. Ashley does not have a line as long as the majority of her peers at wrestling conventions. In fact, she has appeared at a few adult conventions to sell her wrestling 8x10s because it was her only option at the time.
9 Does: Kelly Kelly
One former WWE Diva that commands a high interest from fans attending her appearances is Kelly Kelly. The fact that her appearances are few and far between likely helps, but fans form large lines at conventions looking to meet Kelly. As a former Divas Champion, Kelly was highly featured on WWE television for years before getting released.
Kelly is one of the stars of the WAGS reality show looking at the wives and girlfriends of sports stars. A scene from the show featured her appearance at a prior WrestleCon event with many fans lining up to meet her. That happened again this past year at the same event. Kelly is clearly a draw at the few conventions she shows up to each year. The reports of her WWE contract falling through was likely bad news to many of those paying customers wanting her back on television.
8 Does Not: Nasty Boys
The tag team of the Nasty Boys achieved success in WWE and WCW through the late 80s and early 90s. An unorthodox style of hard hitting hardcore wrestling was rare at the time helping them stand out. Neither Brian Knobbs nor Jerry Sags had the most talent or athleticism. It caught up to them when fans figured out they had the same match every show.
The Nasty Boys are still desperately trying to hold on to their careers wrestling at smaller independent wrestling shows along with convention appearances. Knobbs and Sags are very vocal and loud looking to attract attention at these autograph signings with hundreds of other wrestlers. It still doesn’t work and they struggle to get many fans that still hold them in a high regard.
7 Does: Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash has remained relevant enough to draw strong interest from fans at autograph appearances for many years now. The full-time wrestling career of Nash ended about six years ago when he stopped working for TNA. Still, Nash makes great money as an independent contractor with the rare match on the indie circuit along with many meet and greets events.
You'll likely see Nash at any top tier wrestling event with the bigger names of the business getting together to sign autographs and take pictures. Nash even runs his own “party” events during WrestleMania weekend that features fans paying hundreds of dollars to spend the night with him and other wrestlers. The business skills and marketing of Nash is good enough to earn him a spot as one of the few wrestlers raking it in at the merchandise table.
6 Does Not: Jillian Hall
As mentioned before, many former WWE Divas do great when it comes to making money at meet and greets. Torrie Wilson, Melina and Victoria are three others that always have long lines. One of their peers that struggle to do the same is Jillian Hall. Most remembered for her gimmick as the bad singer that would sing horrible original songs before matches and maybe they worry she’ll continue it if meeting them.
There’s just zero interest in Jillian from the wrestling fans attending conventions. You have to pick and choose which wrestlers you’ll go out of your way to meet since each wrestler charges a fee. Hall is clearly someone that is often bumped from the agenda of fans budgeting. The fact that her career is less memorable than the other names at these events is the main reason that she is not as successful.
5 Does: Shawn Michaels
The legendary Shawn Michaels has recently started branching out over the past few years by becoming a regular at the bigger wrestling conventions. Michaels is often the name on the poster or the person the event is marketed around when he's one of the many wrestlers. Every wrestling fan loves Michaels from the older fan that appreciated his 90s work to the younger generation that caught the tail end in the 2000s.
Michaels usually charges a few hundred bucks for his meet and greets making him one of the more expensive wrestlers on the market. Fans don’t regret the high price as he's usually the biggest name available. The success has led to Michaels having his own events once in a while specifically just meeting fans of his own with no other wrestlers joining him.
4 Does Not: Eugene
Eugene achieved a lot more success than anyone could have predicted with a ridiculous character. The great wrestler portrayed a mentally challenged wrestling fan that would mark out over meeting other wrestlers and his handicap allowed heels to take advantage of him. Eugene added charm and comedic timing to the act to make it work at the time.
However, time has changed and he still attempts to portray Eugene at various meet and greets. That makes for an odd experience trying to take a picture with someone playing a now offensive character. It's a lose-lose for Eugene as no one really cares for him without the gimmick since that was his entire WWE career. You can’t be surprised to find out he rarely has lines and struggles to get an interest in his appearances.
3 Does: Ted DiBiase
An older wrestler that has seen his value remain consistently high through the years is Ted DiBiase. “The Million Dollar Man” still gets fans wanting to meet him thanks to his great work as a heel in the 80s. Diehard wrestling fans tend to appreciate the heels more than the faces and the fact that DiBiase was one of the first great WWE heels gave him a great legacy.
Another huge bonus DiBiase has for fans meeting him is the memorable Million Dollar Championship. DiBiase brings it with him to all of his meet and greets and allows the fans to hold it when taking a picture. No one can pass up a photo opportunity with such a rare item. It helps DiBiase become one of the most successful wrestlers at conventions every time he's booked for one.
2 Does Not: Virgil
The former manservant of Ted DiBiase during the Million Dollar Man character era does not find the same success at conventions. Virgil finds a way to appear at every single wrestling convention within his area and the result is always the same. Fans don’t care about paying big bucks to meet one of the most forgettable wrestlers of all time.
Fans do however take pictures of Virgil’s table at these conventions with a lack of a line and him looking "lonely" sitting alone. Don’t feel bad for Virgil being on the negative side of a meme. Virgil has the reputation of bullying fans into taking pictures with him and charging double what he originally told them. It isn’t stopping him from his hustle as Virgil has set up tables of his merchandise at every wrestling meet and greet event and once did it in a New York City Subway.
1 Does: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio requesting his release from WWE turned out to be a great choice for his life. The term injury prone was given to Mysterio due to his various knee injuries hurting him during the end of his WWE career. Rey has continued wrestling on the independent circuit and Lucha Underground with his health in perfect form.
The fact that he does so well at meet and greets helps him take on a part-time wrestling schedule. Mysterio has the reputation of treating his fans with nothing but love and respect. Other wrestlers used to complain about Rey making them wait for him to take pictures with fans before they could leave shows. You can only imagine how much more time he has for fans at conventions today. Mysterio’s mask also makes a really cool picture for the average fan having to pick and choose. It all makes Rey a tremendous success at conventions and fan events.