The WWE has a lot of wrestlers on their rosters in 2016 with varying looks and abilities. While the roster is far removed from the days of most competitors resembling body builders, the roster now has personnel with plenty of wrestling ability. 2016 has been disappointing from a storyline and character standpoint, but the wrestling matches have been better than ever thanks to some of the different wrestlers under the WWE’s employ. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t been using some wrestlers as many fans and people in the business think they should be used. Booking alone would show how this is a bit of a problem, but the contracts some wrestlers are signed to are an even bigger indication of their view of certain stars.
Some wrestlers like Brock Lesnar and Triple H are paid handsomely for all they bring to the table and for the fans they attract whenever they are placed on the marquee. While other Superstars, who are also very important to the show, are given contracts for a lot less money.
With that being said, in this article we'll take a look at some of the more notable Superstars on the roster and seeing who has the better contracts and who have some of the worst for the year 2016.
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15 Worst - Alberto Del Rio
Though he recently signed in October of 2015, Alberto Del Rio was under contract until his release in September 2016 and was paid a lot of money for nothing to come of it. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Del Rio made $1.45 million from 2015 to 2016 only to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
He won the United States Championship by defeating John Cena at the Hell in a Cell 2015 and played a part in the decline of the title that Cena took an entire year to make special. His lackluster feuds and his game of hot potato with Kalisto only dragged the US Championship down further, but joining The League of Nations was worse. In that stable, he was booked into irrelevancy and was so far removed from his win against Cena that he seemed like nothing more than a high-paid enhancement talent. Though he made a lot of money, it was clear he was even more unhappy then when he left the first time.
Then again, he ended up getting engaged to Paige and left on his own terms, so it’s safe to say he got all he needed out of the WWE.
14 Best - Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns isn’t a good guy, he’s not a bad guy, he’s just the guy making $2.1 million every year. Since the 2015 Royal Rumble, fans have been split about their opinions of The Big Dog, as some view him as a good talent being mishandled while others view him as a waste of time who’s being pushed too hard, too soon.
Whatever your view of Reigns is, the fact remains that he is one of the most discussed Superstars on the roster. When his name is brought up, everyone has something to say and everyone reacts to him. Now this is obviously the same treatment that John Cena got for most of his career, but the fact remains that Cena is one of the biggest stars the company has, so it’s not like the formula doesn’t work the way the WWE wants it too.
As a member of The Shield and a two-time WrestleMania main eventer, Reigns is a big star and his pay makes sense.
13 Worst - The Miz
Since the Brand Split, The Miz has proved that him allegedly making $700K isn’t just right, it may be doing him a disservice. Though he hasn’t held the WWE Championship in a long time, The Miz is one of the few wrestlers who can say they main evented WrestleMania with the company’s biggest title against John Cena and came out the victor.
His work in the mid-card since then has been consistent, as he doesn’t get cheers while working as a heel and maintains his character both on and off camera. His mic skills have always been good, but his promo against Daniel Bryan showed that he had a lot more passion and ability than people gave him credit for. He’s had some great segments, good matches, and even has some people convinced he should become the WWE Champion again at some point. The Miz has proved himself as a much-needed asset and should be rewarded for his work in 2017 with a better deal.
12 Best - Seth Rollins
As the biggest babyface on the Raw roster, Seth Rollins rumored salary of $2.4 million makes a lot of sense. Since their debut in 2013, The Shield have been a major factor on WWE television. They’ve had some of the best tag team matches of the modern era and their feud with The Wyatt Family and Evolution were some of the best matches of the year.
Since breaking up The Shield and joining The Authority, Rollins was one of the biggest cowardly heels on the show and continued to have some great matches with the likes of Dean Ambrose, John Cena, and Randy Orton. After having an epic Money in the Bank cash-in at WrestleMania, a long reign with the title, and returning from injury with a massive reaction at Extreme Rules, Rollins has made the transition from a heel everyone wanted beaten to a face that many would like to see take on Triple H in the near future. Rollins is The Man on Raw and his contract reflects that.
11 Worst - Braun Strowman
Though a more recent addition to the roster, Braun Strowman is a freak of nature from both his stature and his strength. His look and power is truly a breath of fresh air when looking at the rest of the roster, as he brings a different dynamic to the table.
Unfortunately, his salary doesn’t reflect that as Strowman allegedly receives low tier dollars because of his experience. In a lot of ways, this can be viewed as a good thing and a bad thing. While he does have a different look and presence than his fellow wrestlers, the jury is still out as to whether or not he will be a big star in the future. On the other hand, Strowman’s salary has increased dramatically following his stint with NXT, making an entry level salary at the time which really isn't much. Since joining the main roster, his numbers have climbed up significantly.
10 Best - Randy Orton
When looking at big time stars of the WWE, Randy Orton is definitely on that list of names. Orton’s salary is reportedly $2.7 million and that more than makes sense considering how consistent of a performer he is and the list of people he’s faced.
From his time in Evolution to the present, The Viper has faced countless legends like Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and Hulk Hogan. He's even defeated several big names including Edge, John Cena, Batista, and Triple H. He’s a wrestler who can go from a main eventer to a mid-card guy and no one would even question it. He’s a multi-time WWE Champion, been in multiple big feuds and main events, and has the mic skills and wrestling ability that the WWE looks for. In the words of JBL, if you built a wrestler from the ground up, it would look like Randy Orton.
9 Worst - Sheamus
Sheamus has been with the company since 2006 and has endured a few memorable moments as a member of the WWE, but his star power doesn’t justify being paid an alleged figure close to $1.3 million, along with first class travel accommodations.
Nothing about Sheamus’s push has felt like a natural progression, especially since he won the WWE Championship in what many people thought was a terrible storyline. He then kept winning championships and feuds throughout the course of his career, but it never got him anymore over with the crowd. His latest championship reign was a complete dud and ultimately reminded fans why he wasn’t being treated as a main eventer anymore. There’s been a clear decline in his status as an upper echelon guy, so the fact the he allegedly receives so much more than his fellow tag team partner Cesaro, and other wrestlers, is disappointing to say the least.
8 Best - The Undertaker
According to Forbes, The Undertaker makes $2 million every year and this is one of the best contracts that a wrestler could have. He may make a lot less than John Cena, but his contract is easy money for The Phenom. Since 2010, The Undertaker has been a part-time wrestler with a similar annual salary, but has made more than a fortune in the wrestling business with a net worth of $16 million.
His main selling points have been his legendary status that he's earned for being there so long and having a plethora of memorable moments and feuds on route to his WrestleMania appearances each year. Unlike Big Show and Kane, the fans still have a strong desire to see him have a couple more matches with guys like John Cena and A.J. Styles.
Though his retirement may be imminent, the fact remains that The Undertaker is still a huge star with a fan base that wants to see him wrestle a few more times before he ends his career.
7 Worst - Big Show & Kane
These men probably could’ve been presented as two separate entities in regards to their contracts, but because their reported salaries are so high at this stage of their careers, they’ll be discussed as one.
Big Show and Kane have both been with the WWE for more than 20 years now and both have seen a fall in their star power and importance to the shows. Overall, both men aren’t necessarily needed like they were in previous years, so the fact that both men bring in more than $1 million each is a bit problematic. In 2016, these two wrestlers have made sporadic appearances and have been working live events more than anything else, aiding the next generation of stars.
Passing the torch and imparting their knowledge of the big man style is critical for the new crop of stars, but certainly not worthy of nearly $3 million collectively.
6 Best - Triple H
As an NXT Senior Producer, minority owner of the WWE, and a part-time wrestler, Triple H’s annual income surpasses even The Undertaker's, with $2.8 million per year.
Though not as big of a name as John Cena or Brock Lesnar, Triple H is definitely a star that has helped to make other wrestlers into big names. In fact, John Cena’s dubbing as the face of the company became official in the eyes of fans once Cena defeated Triple H at WrestleMania 22. Cena, Batista, Chris Benoit, and many other wrestlers had their careers elevated by beating Triple H, but that doesn’t compare to some of his memorable programs and feuds.
His accomplishments as a wrestler are more than worthy of a Hall of Fame induction, but his role backstage has proven even greater. Triple H took the developmental system of FCW, changed it it NXT, and made it a show that many fans view as superior to the main roster programs such as Raw and SmackDown. Whether as a wrestler or as a member of creative, Triple H’s salary doesn’t need to be questioned.
5 Worst - Sasha Banks
According to Heavy.com, Sasha Banks is being paid significantly less than other women’s wrestlers, with a yearly salary of $150K. This figure is dwarfed by the amount of money made by Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, two of The Four Horsewoman, who both make more than $200K per year.
Banks is easily one of the biggest names in the Raw Women’s Division, WWE, and women’s wrestling in general, so for her to be earning that much less than Lynch and Flair is a big problem. While Lynch has been a top player on SmackDown and is at the helm of their division with her feud alongside Alexa Bliss, Flair and Banks have been the focus of the Raw Women’s division since its inception. Without Banks, women’s wrestling would probably not have as many history making moments as it’s had. Looking at her body of work, Sasha's pay needs be much higher than she appears to be.
4 Best - John Cena
John Cena’s salary is said to be the highest contract for any professional wrestler in the WWE, with a deal worth $9.5 million per year. This not only comes from his guaranteed money, but from special appearances, merchandise, and other factors. Some people may think that’s too much for a man clearly on his way to part-time status, but Cena’s star power is clearly head and shoulders above most of the Superstars and that's something the WWE does not take lightly.
No matter what anyone tells you, John Cena is still the face of the WWE and is one of their biggest stars ever. On the Mount Rushmore of the WWE, there stands; Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Big Match John himself. He’s outlasted all of his predecessors and has proven his worth time and time again. $9.5 million is a lot of money, but Cena’s worth it.
3 Worst - A.J. Styles
It was reported earlier this year by Forbes that A.J. Styles signed to the WWE with a downside guarantee of $500K. While in some ways this represents an upgrade from his reported income of $400K working the independents and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Styles is in need of a pay increase.
From the Royal Rumble PPV until today, Styles has proven that his namesake as The Phenomenal One wasn’t just hype with his impressive ring work. He’s had some of the best matches and feuds with all of the WWE’s biggest stars. His mic skills have vastly improved from his time in TNA and his worth to the company was solidified by him winning the WWE Championship at Backlash. Styles has proven himself to be a huge asset to the company, so to be making that much less than a guy like Del Rio is ridiculous.
2 Best - Brock Lesnar
John Cena might be making more money than The Beast Incarnate, but considering how he's transitioning from full-time to part-timer, he had to work more dates and had to acquire more endorsements and deals to make $9.5 million. Brock Lesnar works very sporadically, won’t appear on more than maybe 15-20 Raws and five PPVs, and still manages to make $6 million per year.
Aside from not wrestling for other promotions, something he probably has no interest in doing anyway, Lesnar’s schedule pretty much allows him to do whatever he wants. Even sporadic appearances in the UFC and wearing sponsors like Jimmy Johns are just many of the freedoms that Lesnar enjoys. Some fans dislike how formulaic Lesnar matches have become, but the fact remains that he's one of the biggest draws in wrestling and his contract is proof of that.
1 Worst - Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose’s run in the WWE has been a bit of a mixed bag. While some view him as a mid-carder who was only good chasing the belt, others view him as one of WWE’s greater promo workers and characters.
Even if both of these are true, the fact of the matter is that he should be making the same as his brothers in The Shield. Ambrose currently makes $1.1 million. Not a bad sum of money at all, but when you compare that to the other part-timers and to his brothers in The Shield, Ambrose is making considerably less amounts of money than them by more than $1 million. Ambrose is one of SmackDown’s top performers and to be paid that much less than other main event Superstars is very disappointing when compared to certain lazy part-timers.
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