WWE is a dream destination for anyone with the slightest prospects of entertaining the wrestling business. The company has the biggest stage and inspired us all into watching the sport but the most important factor is it pays the best money. WWE is the only place you can make seven figures as a main eventer and should be guaranteed six figures if you're on regular television. The company runs so many shows with fans consuming content in various ways. There are the televised shows, the weekend house show loops, merchandise, the WWE Network and many other forums that allow a performer to make a happy living.
The money is well deserved since wrestlers have one of the more difficult jobs in all of entertainment. It combines the athletic risks of sports with the pressure of performing on the level of an actor in front of a live audience waiting to eat you alive if you make a mistake. The wrestlers absolutely earn their salaries with the travel, work ethic and sacrifice that are required to put into the job. Talents barely get to see their friends and family due to television dates on Monday and Tuesday along with house shows typically on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
While most of the WWE wrestlers are well taken care of, only a select few make the money they dream of when entering the company. The hopes of becoming a millionaire is what everyone wants but it takes a lot of success and time to happen. As you’ll see, the top paid talents are typically the main event players and stars that have been in the main event picture in the past for quite some time. The bonuses of title reigns, PPV main events and merchandise sales add to the overall numbers in addition to the salary. We’re going to dig deep into the company’s numbers to find out the top fifteen highest paid wrestlers in the WWE.
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15 Goldust - $725,000
Not many would expect the rarely seen Goldust to show up on this list considering his only television appearances are in comedic segments with R-Truth. The highly respected veteran is paid very well for his services with an annual salary of $725,000 per year on his contract. Not only does Goldust wrestle when called upon but he provides a voice of experience to help the younger talent in the early stages of their WWE careers. Goldust was forced out with an injury for the majority of 2015 but should see more frequent action in 2016 with the company paying him that much money for a reason.
14 The Miz - $870,000
Between his past success as a former WWE Champion that main evented WrestleMania 27 to the out of the ring roles he provides such as starring in WWE Studios films and doing promotional work for the company, The Miz will always be taken care of. WWE doesn’t push him to the top of the card these days but they pay him like a top quality superstar. The Miz makes approximately $870,000 per year and is treated very well for the work he gives to WWE. Considering how much he gets paid and his position in the company, Miz appears to be a WWE lifer and should see his impressive pay continue for quite some time.
13 Dolph Ziggler - $900,000
The rise of Dolph Ziggler may have jumped the shark of the athletic talent ever becoming a top main event star but he is still one of the most exciting midcard performers. Ziggler adds much needed depth to the roster and is a safe bet for an entertaining match. WWE pays Ziggler $900,000 per year so he doesn’t leave the company for the competition and it’s one of the best contracts in the wrestling business. This goes to show that when we complain about WWE not liking a wrestler due to their pushes not being where we want them to be, their paychecks by the company may say otherwise.
12 Mark Henry - $965,000
Mark Henry is another respected veteran that gets taken care of for his loyalty to the company. WWE has employed Henry in their system in some form since the mid-90s and he’s nearing the end of the line but not without some great money. Henry gets paid $965,000 per year and doesn’t have to push his body to the limit in fast paced matches for the most part like the rest of the roster does. It’s a sweet gig but Henry has declared we’re witnessing the final stage of his career. The pay of Henry has been a combination of tenure and respect for all he has done for WWE.
11 Sheamus - ~$1 Million
WWE has viewed Sheamus as one of the more valuable talents in the company since his initial push in 2010. The former WWE Champion does not connect on a level that allows him to be an effective main event star when pushed hard but he does a fine job in the tier right below the top as an upper midcarder. Sheamus works very hard and leaves it all in the ring. WWE rewards him with an estimation of a little over $1 million per year and he will likely be employed with a great paycheck until he no longer wants to be there.
10 Dean Ambrose - $1.1 Million
The Shield created three new top superstars for WWE and they are all paid handsomely. Dean Ambrose made the least money of the defunct trio but still raked in over seven figures with $1.1 million accumulated in 2015. That will likely grow this year with Ambrose moving up the card and having big singles matches against the likes of Triple H and Brock Lesnar. Ambrose’s popularity manages to rise and his bank account follows with that upwards trend. WWE is literally banking on new stars being elevated for the future with many of the current legends reaching the end of their careers and Ambrose is one of the more valuable assets.
9 Kane - $1.3 Million
One of the more common things on the WWE salary list is seeing how much the company takes care of their legends. Kane has been a relevant member of the roster since 1998 and is one of the rare legacy stars to still work a full-time, active house show schedule despite nearing the age of 49. WWE values Kane for his years of service and the overall reputation of being very helpful to the younger stars coming up. Kane makes $1.3 million per year as a bit of a role player. You’ll see him play both the intimidating demon character and the humorous corporate role without the mask in roles varying from the random title program to opening segment fodder.
8 Big Show - $1.5 Million
You can’t talk about Kane without mentioning Big Show as they are both in the same tier of highly paid WWE veterans. Both men are nearing the end of their careers but will do whatever is needed from the company while utilizing their past history of decades of success in the business. Big Show earned an impressive $1.5 million in 2015 with his size as “the world’s largest athlete” always making him an attraction. Diehard fans in specific cities may chant “please retire” at the big man but families at house shows always are in awe of Big Show and for good reason.
7 The Undertaker - $2 Million
The Undertaker will only appear a handful of times per year with very few matches but you can’t put what he represents into a fair financial number. WWE tries their best as they paid Undertaker $2 million in 2015 for four PPV matches which were more than he has worked in recent years. The rare matches against Brock Lesnar on Summerslam and Hell in a Cell added more intrigue to those shows than we’ve seen in a long time. The Undertaker has become the biggest part-time star that longtime fans pay to see in the final appearances of their childhood hero and new fans are captivated by the mystique he brings to the show.
6 Roman Reigns - $2.1 Million
WWE’s golden boy Roman Reigns has been the most heavily pushed star in recent years and it showed with an estimated $2.1 million earned last year. Reigns main evented his first WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar and was in quite a few high profile matches throughout the year. John Cena is still the standard bearer for the promotion but WWE is trying their best to elevate Reigns into that position with Cena growing older. Reigns will likely be the highest paid wrestler in the next few years despite fans trying to resist his push. Vince McMahon sees the next huge superstar in Reigns and is paying him as such.
5 Seth Rollins - $2.4 Million
Roman Reigns’ former Shield teammate Seth Rollins comes in next with one of the biggest rises in pay in quite some time. Rollins wasn’t even on the radar of the highest paid wrestlers in 2014 but jumped into the top five in 2015. Between winning the WWE World Championship at WrestleMania 31 and holding the title for the majority of the years, Rollins earned a total of $2.4 million in the calendar year. The champion typically main events all the shows and gets more bonuses due to that. The combination of his already impressive salary and the perks that came along with the position make Rollins a very wealthy man.
4 Randy Orton - $2.7 Million
Randy Orton's career has seen various ups and downs but the only thing certain has been that he loves the money. Despite being a second generation wrestler, Orton has showed his desire to make money more than express his artistic side in the wrestling ring. WWE pays him very well in return with an average of $2.7 million per year for The Viper. Orton established himself as one of the top stars in the WWE over the last decade and he’s enjoying a great paycheck as he enters the latter end of his prime. An injury is currently preventing him from working but having one of the best contracts in the industry means he is still making bank.
3 Triple H - $2.8 Million
Triple H may be the most powerful man in the wrestling business. The legend won the WWE World Championship at the 2016 Royal Rumble, is the second in command to Vince McMahon and is basically responsible for the future of WWE with the existence of NXT. The Game was paid for all of his hard work and dedication with $2.8 million in 2015. That number will likely grow this year with his title run, WrestleMania main event and the potential of more attraction matches going forward. Triple H can still perform at a very high level in the ring and WWE benefits very much from his rare in-ring outings.
2 Brock Lesnar - $6 Million
The WWE paid massive money to convince Brock Lesnar to return and stay in the pro wrestling world. Lesnar had the option to return to MMA but instead negotiated a new WWE contract for arguably the sweetest deal in wrestling history. The beast works very limited dates and few matches but earned $6 million in 2015. Lesnar is the definition of an attraction and every time he is on WWE television, it feels like a rare and special deal. WWE had no choice but to pay Lesnar unbelievable money since they invested in him to end The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak in 2014. A decision that drastic meant Brock needed to stay in WWE for a long time and he is getting paid very well thanks to it.
1 John Cena - $9.5 Million
It would only be fitting that the face of the WWE is the highest paid performer in the promotion. John Cena has been the biggest star in WWE since 2005 and no one has been able to top him despite over a decade passing. WWE paid Cena $9.5 million in 2016 and he didn’t even main event a single PPV. The bonuses would have made that salary even sweeter but Cena isn’t struggling for the extra money at all. WWE makes a great deal of money off of Cena’s merchandise, image and overall presence in the company. As the most polarizing and valuable wrestler in the WWE, Cena is also the richest earning nearly $10 million per year.
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