There are many difficult decisions that Vince McMahon needs to make over the course of his year. But nothing that he does may have quite as big an impact as when he looks over the WWE roster and decides that things need to be shaken up. And while Vince may look at many superstars and realize he's getting a great bargain, there are some contracts on the roster that he may be wondering if he was under the influence of something when he offered them. A decision that while may be causing him some pain in the wallet at the moment, should at least make it a lot easier when he's deciding where he needs to trim the fat going forward. Below we have 8 contracts that Vince shouldn't have to think twice about when it comes to exchanging their paperwork for a pink slip.
Which is something that he'll definitely have to do if the other 8 superstars on our list come and ask for the raises that many of them surely deserve. If the WWE is going to be a stronger company in 2019, it's going to be with the vital help of the 8 superstars who have contracts that Vince has to renew with deals that make everyone happy. Included throughout our list in many entries are surprising details about many of these superstars' paydays that makes it abundantly clear why some superstars have landed where they have, as well as insider opinions on who it is in the company that Vince McMahon has his eyes on.
16 Won't Renew: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar has clearly earned the good graces of Vince McMahon. You don't get to be a champion for as long as he has, especially a top-tier belt like the Universal Championship, for as long as he has without making sure he has good relationships with the people calling the shots. But if Vince wants to keep moving the company forward, he may need to do it without Brock on the roster. There were rumours that Lesnar was going to leave the company to return to the UFC after WrestleMania, but he ended up retaining the belt. When Dana White was asked about Lesnar returning to the Octagon he replied that the chances were "very very good", along with “Yeah, Brock Lesnar’s coming back. I don’t know when, but yes he is".
Lesnar is currently the highest paid wrestler on the roster with an annual salary of $10 million. Along with this, he makes $500,000 when he competes in the main event and $100,000 for merchandise. Which means that Brock may end up sticking around the WWE long after his passion for the business has disappeared if it means cashing a cheque. There are reports that Lesnar's contract may allow him to compete in the UFC, but then the question becomes couldn't Vince use that $10 million+ on wrestlers who are passionate to the sport that he cares about? (Source: MMAJunkie, SportsKeeda).
15 Absolutely Must: Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the most exciting wrestlers in the entire world. He made his impact on the company known in an immediate way and has already put on some unbelievable matches. Though perhaps that isn't too surprising to big fans of Nakamura who have seen him dazzle fans in New Japan Pro Wrestling for the last several years. It was reported that Nakamura's salary is also only $400,000, something that we're sure Vince would agree is an underpayment. Especially in comparison to how overpaid some of the stars are on the negative side of our list. Which means that Nakamura should feel pretty confident that if he wants it, that he'll be offered a longer contract the next time he sets down at the table with Vince.
We hope it's also a contract that can be flexible enough in terms of scheduling that it allows Nakamura to continue taking care of his body.
Something that may be even more important when you consider that Nakamura's experience outside of the WWE means fans may be surprised to learn that he is already 38 years old. If Nakamura gets the opportunity to be one of the top title holders in the company, such as dethroning AJ Styles at the upcoming MITB PPV, it may also help his potential future contract talks and his goals of getting a nice little bump up in pay.
14 Won't Renew: Dana Brooke
At only $200,000 a year, Dana Brooke's salary may not be the biggest source of frustration for Vince McMahon. But he may not be thrilled with how Brooke has conducted herself on social media in the past. This includes openly complaining about her lack of inclusion in the women's elimination chamber match, stating on Twitter "HELLO! ACCORDING 2 MY NUMBERS, the men have 7 superstars in their chamber; therefore I should be included! 7 WOMEN! Oh wait, invisible woman again?, or just overlooking PURE TALENT!?" Which along with ragging on the women who were chosen for the match, makes her just look like a bad sport.
That frustration has seemingly continued, as she took to Twitter back in April saying "I wanna wrestle! according to my numbers it’s TIME! My time.." Sorry, Brooke, it doesn't seem like your "time" is going to be coming any time soon and asking for it on social media probably isn't going to help. Especially with new women appearing on the roster like Ronda Rousey who will be a bigger draw. But if her time does come, she better make the most of it if she doesn't want to find herself unemployed by the time 2019 rolls around.(Source: Twitter, WrestlingForum).
13 Absolutely Must: Nia Jax
While many people wanted Alexa Bliss to come out on top at Backlash 2018, that wasn't the case as Nia Jax was victorious. Reports surfaced shortly after that Bliss had suffered an injury, which would have made the contract status of her opponent - Nia Jax, all the more important. Jax does receive some hate at times for being an unsafe worker, but when allegations were made against her following Bliss' injury, she was quick to shoot them down "Haha!! If you haven’t heard. Alexa is perfectly fine. She couldn’t beat me in the ring, so she blamed it on a fake injury. Trust me, she is perfectly fine. She’s scheduled to be on tour, so you and all your troll friends can come worship your coward goddess."
Jax is at the top of her game at the moment as the current Raw champion and regardless of her status as a champion, probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon. Jax is also significantly underpaid at the moment with her contract being a reported $100,000. You can hope for her sake that this title reign will be able to work as a nice bargaining chip the next time she sits down for a negotiation. (Source: WrestlingInc).
12 Won't Renew: Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox had a spell of bad luck when back in 2018 she was on the receiving end of a broken tailbone. The injury has kept Fox out for a significant period of time. But one thing that may keep her out even longer is her attitude behind the scenes. It was reported that Fox would have been able to compete in the women's Royal Rumble match back at WrestleMania. At least until Fox was caught on camera getting into a heated argument with Travis Browne that also ended with Fox slapping the camera away. Browne is a name that you may also recognize as along with his career in the UFC, he is also the husband of Ronda Rousey.
It's not surprising to see which of those two people the WWE needed to work harder to keep happy.
While it's not clear if it was medical issues or related to the argument that put her on the sidelines at WrestleMania, if Fox continues to cross the Rousey-Browne family, her future in the company may be a short one. And considering the last time the company put a belt on her was in 2010, it may only be a pink slip that she is handed before a winning storyline comes her way. (Source: TheSportster).
11 Absolutely Must: Braun Strowman
One of the most respected 'voices' in the wrestling industry is the Wrestling Observation Newsletter. Every year they come out with their annual list of various award winners. And back in 2017, when it came to the area of the most improved wrestler in the entire world, they chose Braun Strowman. Which is definitely something that Vince needs to keep in mind when considering future contract negotiations. Strowman has definitely been given some opportunities to shine in the WWE as of late, including knocking out 13 competitors back at the Greatest Royal Rumble event on his way to winning the match.
Strowman is also a contender for the Money in the Bank match and if you're a betting man, you may want to consider his name as among the most viable to come out on top. And if it does, it should only lead to a prolonged stay in the spotlight. An insider was also quoted as saying, "Vince is very high on Braun and I was told Vince has taken a personal interest in Braun’s success." When you consider Vince is one of the most influential voices in deciding who gets pushed, him feeling attached to the success of Strowman's career should only work as a positive for Strowman. (Source: RingsideNews, Wiki).
10 Won't Renew: Zack Ryder
If you're a big fan of Zack Ryder, then you may be ecstatic at his recent news about the status of his health. Taking to Twitter, Ryder stated "MCL/ACL/Calf muscle strains…nothing completely torn… no surgery will be needed. Thanks to everyone who reached out. It’s time for #Raw to get
#Zacked! It would have perhaps been inevitable that if Ryder had required surgery that his time impressing you in the WWE were coming to an end. But at least with this news, he'll be able to still compete.
With a contract that also pays Ryder $400,000, it's clear the company at the very least had some faith in him at one point. But Ryder's performances prior to leaving the ring were also not something that may have instilled Vince with confidence. This includes coming out on the losing end in several bouts against Rawley. Ryder may hope to have his influence be heard in an even bigger way on Raw, but it's also very possible that he finds himself get swallowed up by some of the other bigger names on the brand and once he flames out there, he may find himself not have any excuse as to why he's worth close to half a million. (Source: ProWrestlingSheet, Wiki).
9 Absolutely Must: Daniel Bryan
There was a long time when it looked like Daniel Bryan would never be able to enter the ring and compete again after suffering from medical setbacks. But after 2 years spent on the sidelines, Bryan returned to the ring back on March 20th. His return to the ring has definitely lived up to the expectations with several prominent moments including lasting 76 minutes in the Greatest Royal Rumble. This is clearly proof that the company and Bryan, at the very least, are comfortable putting his body through the stressors of a match. Bryan also looked strong in his match against Big Cass that was featured at Backlash.
And while that may make it an easy decision for Vince to try and make sure Bryan doesn't go anywhere anytime soon, Bryan's career may not be as clear-cut as Vince would want. Reports back in March state that his contract is currently set to expire in September. There is no question that Vince will want to (and should) sign Bryan, but it may be even more interesting if Bryan chooses to take his talents elsewhere and the potential contract that he'd be able to earn. Though being able to compete in the same company as his wife, Brie Bella, is probably a pretty big perk that'll help keep him in a WWE ring. (Source: Wiki, SportsKeeda).
8 Won't Renew: Sin Cara
Now we aren't saying that Sin Cara didn't exactly have a great turnout at the WWE Greatest Royal Rumble. But if you found yourself taking a little too long grabbing some snacks in the kitchen, you may have forgotten that he was in the match entirely. Cara was the 3rd entrant, but Ziggler quickly made sure his night of work was a short one as he was bounced after only a minute. When you learn that Cara earns $700,000 a year, perhaps you won't find yourself feeling too bad for him though. Because while he's far from the most talented wrestler on the roster, he's probably not complaining about how much he has been paid over the course of his career.
And if he does start complaining, something tells us those complaints would be replaced by Vince's words telling him that he's fired.
Cara has failed to find success in the ring, far more than he's won as of late and if you had completely forgotten he was on the roster, we're sure the WWE would be okay with that. Though we're sure Vince feels a lot worse when he has to pull out his cheque book and give Cara a paycheque for the amount of "work" he's putting in. (Source: Wiki).
7 Absolutely Must: Ronda Rousey
When Nia Jax was asked to name who she wanted to challenge her for her belt, she picked perhaps the biggest female name on the WWE roster. Even if Rousey's reputation was one that was earned from accomplishments in the MMA world. Does Rousey have a shot to dethrone Jax at MITB in June? You better believe it. Especially as the WWE is going to do everything they can to cash in on the momentum that they're riding from Rousey's decision to try and make a name for herself as a wrestler. But the WWE may also use this as a huge opportunity for Rousey to show her skills. Look good, and perhaps the belt comes her way at a following PPV.
Because the last thing they may want to do is decide ahead of time that they want to give her the win, and then have her stink up the joint during the actual match. Even Rousey admitted that she was a bit shocked by the opportunity, saying on Twitter "This challenge came earlier than expected... but I was born ready...I’ll see you at
#MITB, @NiaJaxWWE." So perhaps she won't be too crestfallen if she loses. Either way, Rousey is a contract that Vince should be sure to be happy he signed. (Source: Twitter).
6 Won't Renew: Kane
It was reported that Kane is being paid $900,000 a year. Which can make sense when you consider that Kane has been one of the most recognizable members of the company since his debut in the 90s. But Kane's passion as of late definitely hasn't been centred around the ring. Kane was recently announced as the Republican candidate in the upcoming mayoral race for Knox County, Tennessee. Which means that if Vince calls up the Big Red Machine and says it may be time to re-evaluate his contract, he may be more than willing to understand why he can't be bringing in close to 7 figures. And if he doesn't understand, then it may be an unfortunate end to his career. Though you can imagine if he did become mayor that it would probably have a pretty significant hindrance on his wrestling time!
You also just have to hope that the voters in Tennessee don't come across some of the more controversial things that Kane has done during his time in the company; such as his participation in the infamous Katie Vick storyline. Kane was apart of the Battle Royale at WrestleMania and was allegedly pulled from the Greatest Royal Rumble. (Source: SportsKeeda).
5 Absolutely Must: Baron Corbin
When Baron Corbin got the transfer from Smackdown to Raw, he hopefully saw it as an opportunity to put his name in the headlines in a positive way. One person who is seemingly very excited about Corbin's future, and is the reason that Corbin falls on this side of the list, is Vince himself. A report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter stated that Corbin should be expected to be a major player in some of the best storylines over the rest of the year.
Regardless of if that means the opportunity to compete (and win) a championship or not, an insider was also quoted as saying, "[Vince] is highest on Corbin as a future major player" when compared to any other talent on the roster. While we don't know if you would be quite that emphatic with Corbin's potential, because let's be honest, he probably isn't going to become the biggest star in the company. But regardless of your opinion on what Corbin's peak is, it's clear from this report that the big boss feels he has all the tools needed to help succeed. Which is definitely going to be the most important factor when it comes to deciding how his next contract negotiations go. (Source: RingsideNews).
4 Won't Renew: Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler is involved in one of the most important storylines of his career right now as he teams up with Drew McIntyre forming what they are dubbed "The Show". Mike Johnson who works with PWInsider Elite Audio recently stated "This is either the beginning of his exit storyline or the beginning of the next generation of whatever Dolph Ziggler’s career is going to be." Which means that this show may be the final curtain for Ziggler. Ziggler didn't do much to make fans feel better about his future of the company when he recently denied rumours that he had re-signed with the company, “I would love to get into that more, but based on the internet, they told you I’d re-signed. I have not. I have a bunch of things going on and I don’t like taking days off and I don’t want to leave WWE, but it’s great to have some options. I’ve asked before to go away for a little while just so everyone can forget I lose 99 times out of 100 and it’s never really come through, so I might have to do it on my own and see what happens.”
Ziggler is one of the highest paid wrestlers on the roster with an annual earning of $1.4 million and 3.5% share on his merchandise. He also earned upwards of an additional $250,000 if he was in the main event. All factors that may make it a lot easier for Vince to just step away. (Source: FanSided, RingsideNews).
3 Absolutely Must: Ricochet
Vince McMahon is definitely someone who finds himself quite busy on a regular day. Which means that when it comes to making important decisions like on how contract negotiations should go, he may at times require the help of outsiders to influence his decision making. One person that Vince should definitely keep on speed dial if he ever needs advice is Dwayne Johnson. Who, as we're sure you know, definitely knows a thing or two about what it means to succeed in the world of professional wrestling (not to mention Hollywood).
And if Johnson was asked about Ricochet, who up until this point has only performed on NXT, he'd definitely give him a ringing endorsement.
Back in April, Johnson praised Ricochet on Twitter saying "He’s the man! Love the stuff King is doing and will no doubt be the leader in ushering in a new era of our wrestling business. Future champ." While it is important to make sure that Ricochet stays humble and works hard if he's to ever reach those expectations, hopefully reading those words can be that extra little motivation he needs to go and kick some serious ass at the gym and not allow him to get complacent with his talent. (Source: Twitter).
2 Won't Renew: R-Truth
If we had to speak the truth about R-Truth, it's probably that he is getting far too overpaid at the moment. His current reported contract sees him bring home $500,000 a year. Not to mention 5% of whatever his merchandise makes. Though are too many people really going out and buying R-Truth gear in 2018? R-Truth tweeted out back in December 2017 that injuries were what was preventing him from making an impact, "What’s up y’all! Hey if anyone is wondering where I am, please read my earlier tweets. People asking me the same question everyday, why am I not on WWE. I AM INJURED"
You can imagine it must have been incredibly frustrating for R-Truth to want to get out there and turn his public image around, but have to be stuck in rehab instead. He was drafted to Smackdown recently, but that may not be enough to turn around his career. We are sure that Vince is looking at some of the other value he could get for that $500,000 - including wrestlers on our list - and that the decision to let R-Truth go may not be a hard one. You just have to hope he's managed to save a solid portion of his income. (Source: Twitter).
1 Absolutely Must: AJ Styles
AJ Styles spent decades bouncing around various wrestling promotions before the stars finally aligned and his time in the WWE came. The company loves Styles as much as the fans do and his contract is reportedly paying him $2 million; as well as a revenue share percentage from the PPV's that he is in the main event of. And considering his run as the WWE Champion, we're sure Styles is hoping he'll be staying in the spotlight for the foreseeable future and continue raking in the dough. Vince renewing Styles contract is something that would be great news for not only for Styles but also for the WWE as it's clear that he is expected to continue to be one of the stars for the company. That is provided that he can stay healthy and free of scandals that could plague him outside of the ring.
It's impossible to say that Styles is underpaid when you consider the things he can pull off in the ring. His current feud with Nakamura is one of the best ones of the year and a recent match on SmackDown between the two was praised by fans with a "This is Awesome" chant. Though Styles may be a little bummed if Nakamura ends up coming out on top with the belt when the two clash at the upcoming Money in the Bank PPV. (Source: CagesideSeats).
Source Used For Contract Information - TotalSportek.