The Monday Night Wars marked one of the most thrilling periods in the history of professional wrestling, as Ted Turner's WCW and Vince McMahon's WWE fought tooth and nail for ratings' supremacy.
In order to get ahead of the other, both companies had to hand out big dollars to their top superstars. You have to pay for premium, after all.
Shawn Michaels just missed the cut; Jim Ross claimed that The Heartbreak Kid was earning $750,000 a year before a back injury forced him to retire for four years in 1998. Diamond Dallas Page also just missed the top 10, having made a bit over $3.274 million from 1996 to 2000.
Note: Salaries for WCW stars are courtesy of this report from Chris Harrington.
10 Scott Hall
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were influential members of The Kliq in WCW, but they couldn't pass on life-changing offers from Eric Bischoff. The two WWE greats later formed the villainous New World Order stable with Hulk Hogan.
When 1998 rolled around, Hall was paid a bit over $1.423 million, though it dropped down to $848,127 and $858,344 in 1999 and mid-2000, respectively. From 1996 to 2000, at the peak of the wars, Hall reportedly took home approx. $4.178 million.
9 Big Show
Before he arrived in WWE 20 years ago, Big Show competed in WCW as "The Giant." He was a two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and he briefly joined the nWo. On top of that, Giant won three World Tag Team Championships with the company.
When he left WCW, Big Show landed a lucrative 10-year deal with the WWE, which reportedly paid him $950,000 a year. It turned out to be money well spent by Vince McMahon. Big show emerged as one of the company's top main event talents - and WWE started to pull away from WCW shortly after his arrival.
8 Lex Luger
When Hulk Hogan left WWE, Vince McMahon tried pushing Luger as the next face of his company. However, Luger wasn't able to get over with the fans the way Hulkamania did, and Vince was forced to go in another direction.
Luger made a surprise appearance at the WCW Monday Nitro premiere on Sept. 4, 1995, thus revealing that he had left WWE. Well, Luger took home a nice payday during his time with WCW, receiving over $1.3 million a year in both 1999 and 2000
All told, Luger took home a bit over $4.753 million from 1996 to 2000.
7 Kevin Nash
Along with Scott Hall, Kevin Nash was one of WCW's first blockbuster signings prior to the Monday Night Wars. Nash quickly moved up the rankings in WCW, even becoming a lead booker during the wars.
With plenty of power and responsibility, coupled with his main event status, Nash was unsurprisingly a top money maker in WCW. His pay jumped up to about $1.518 million in 1998, and it peaked at approximately $1.864 million in 2000.
In all, Nash took home about $5.96 million during the wars from 1996 to 2000.
Even before the Monday Night Wars, Sting was often regarded as the "face of WCW", and for good reason. He was one of the only big-named superstars that constantly fought back against the nWo, rather than simply sell out to them.
Sting was the No. 1 babyface in WCW during its war with WWE, and Eric Bischoff rightfully gave him a shiny payday. In 1997, Sting made $960, 147, but it jumped all the way up to just over $1.96 million in 1999 and 2000.
When all was said and done, Sting earned slightly more than $6.045 million during the Monday Night Wars. Not bad at all.
5 Randy Savage
The 'Macho Man' transitioned from a career in the ring to the WWE announce team with Vince McMahon. But when the chairman wouldn't meet Savage's request to go back into wrestling, the latter decided to leave and thus join WCW.
Being one of the top money draws in the wrestling world during the '80s, Savage was paid handsomely by Bischoff and WCW. His pay peaked at just under $1.928 million in 1997, and Savage took home seven figures in 1998 and 1999.
In all, Savage earned about $6.102 million from 1996 to 2000, the fourth-most among WCW superstars over that span.
4 Bret Hart
One year before the infamous Montreal Screwjob incident, Bret Hart had inked a 20-year contract with WWE, which seemingly ensured that he would finish his career with Vince McMahon's company.
But with Vince struggling financially, he encouraged Hart to go to WCW. And when he arrived, the wrestling icon took home a giant payday right off the bat. His pay in both 1998 and 1999 was north of $2.6 million, and approx. $1.415 million in 2000.
Hart unfortunately had to retire in 2000 due to concussions. Despite a short and disappointing run with the promotion, he still came away with roughly $6.754 million in WCW. Only two superstars from Ted Turner's company topped that.
The former professional football player took up wrestling and joined WCW in 1997, quickly becoming a fan favorite while asserting himself as a dominant and virtually indestructible force.
Goldberg embarked on a streak that was billed at 173-0, as he developed a habit of "squashing" his opponents in a matter of seconds. With a giant surge in popularity, the WCW homegrown star received a whopping pay.
His salary went from $511,148 million in 1998 all the way up to just over $5.191 million in 1999. When all was said and done, Goldberg had earned a tad under $8.9 million in WCW. Only one of the company's superstars topped that total during the Monday Night Wars.
2 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was the biggest name in professional wrestling during the '80s and early to mid '90s. WCW probably wouldn't have managed to go toe to toe with WWE if they hadn't landed Hogan in 1994.
WCW basically gave the world to Hogan, as evidenced by the contract he signed in 1998. It included a $2 million signing bonus, $20,000 monthly just for wearing nWo merchandise and 15 percent of pay-per-view sales that he participated in. Plus, Hogan had the final say in the outcome of every match he wrestled in.
And to the surprise of nobody, Hogan earned the most money for WCW from 1996 to 2000. The total? Just your casual amount of just over $13.171 million.
1 Steve Austin ($12 million)
The Texas Rattlesnake saved Vince McMahon and WWE during the Monday Night Wars. Just when it looked like WCW was going to run away with the ratings battle, the rebellious Steve Austin helped launch the Attitude Era - and it marked the ultimate turning point in the war.
As such, Austin was deservedly paid a ridiculous amount of cash during his run as the face of WWE. It's been reported that Austin made around $12 million annually during the wars. This is according to Austin's ex-wife, Debra Marshall.
Giving Austin all that money turned out to be one of the smartest business decisions of Vince McMahon's career. All Austin did was save WWE and help them put away WCW in the wars for good.