The WWE has grown into an entertainment business juggernaut. Year after year millions of dollars are made and spent on wrestling events. These events have grown equal in size to other professional sports as well as the top touring rock concerts. With this growth comes bigger and bigger paychecks for the top performers in the wrestling industry. The WWE doesn't pay these large salaries to just anybody. Professional wrestlers have one of the hardest jobs in the entertainment market. They are expected to create enthralling characters that will entertain the crowd, but they also need a level of athletic ability that should not go unnoticed. This makes the professional wrestler a rare combination of performer and athlete, that is worthy of this type of salaries. The WWE is fully aware of the fact that without these wrestlers their would be no business. With this understanding, the company is not shy in paying out large sums of money to their employees who excel to make the WWE one of the best entertainment values in the market today.
At first glance pro-wrestling may seem like a dream job. To the young prospective wrestler the thought of getting dressed up in cool costumes while showing off your talent and athletic abilities in front of throngs of screaming fans would feel like a dream come true. Now throw in the possibility of a million dollar salary and young people around the world are daydreaming of their wrestling careers. The hard reality is, of all these prospective wrestlers few will end up with successful wrestling careers, even the ones that do will sacrifice more along the way than most fans are aware. Getting started in the WWE means wrestling for a low salary until you've made a name for yourself. Most feel that the risk is worth taking because if successful you will be paid very well. For a select few, the hard work will prove to be worth it in the end.
In this article, we will be looking at the highest paid WWE wrestlers and executives from 2015. This past year was an exciting year in wrestling and the payouts going to some of the top earners may be surprising.
Here are the top 15 highest current salaries in WWE. To be clear, this list will include 11 wrestlers and four top executives in order to provide a comparison of what one could make as a top star and as a backstage official.
Here are the Top 15 Highest WWE Salaries of Wrestlers And Executives
21 Michael Luisi - $700,000
The president of WWE Studios pulls in quite a decent haul at $700,000 a year. WWE Studios has yet to produce any real box office smashes, so you wounder why the WWE keeps the department running. Some of WWE Studios' releases in 2015 included The Marine 4: Moving Target and Santa's Little Helper. Michael Luisi has been in charge of WWE Studios for a while now, so perhaps the salary is that of a reward for loyalty.
19 George Barrios - $800,000
George Barrios's job may not sound as glamorous as that of a professional wrestler, but a lot of what he does is vital to WWE's standing as a company. Barrios is WWE's Chief Financial and Strategic Officer so he is of great value to the company. George Barrios is often with Vince McMahon on conference calls to investors. You won't see him anywhere near a ring, but his presence helps the company grow and influences things in more ways than you'd think.
17 Kevin Dunn - $800,000
Kevin Dunn has been the WWE's executive producer for the better part of the last two decades and is basically Vince's right hand man. Nothing that you see on TV goes without his supervision and his fingerprints are all over the product. Opinions on Kevin Dunn are very polarizing. Many blame him for the absence of 'professional wrestling' in favor of 'sports entertainment'. Nevertheless, his presence is felt backstage and he seems to have a job as long as Vince will have him.
15 Sheamus - $1.1 Million
Considering Sheamus hasn't really been a relevant figure in WWE for a while, it's surprising that he would find himself among WWE's top earners. He did have some highlights in 2015, including a Money in the Bank ladder match win and a title reign. While he only held the title for a month, Sheamus sure cashed in on that to bring his salary into the seven figure range.
13 Dean Ambrose - $1.1 Million
Dean Ambrose is quickly becoming one of the faces of the WWE, and his bank account will continue to show his progress. Even though the WWE doesn't seem very interested in pushing Ambrose to be "the man" of the company, it doesn't change the fact that he still made a seven digit salary last year, maxing out at $1.1 Million in 2015. This number is likely to rise this year, considering he will be getting more attention and bigger matches as he is becoming one of the favorites of WWE fans around the world.
11 Vince McMahon - $1.2 Million
Now, $1.2 million may seem like a lot of money but when you consider Vince McMahon basically works every waking minute of his life, it's a little surprising his salary wasn't higher. McMahon earns his money mostly from stocks and of course, is able to write off many company expenses. For the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, perhaps McMahon could give himself a raise, but perhaps sharing the wealth is what keeps his cohorts happy.
9 Kane - $1.3 Million
At 49 years old, Kane is still working for the WWE and is being paid pretty handsomely for it as well. Working as either his demon character or as his corporate member character, Kane is cherished by the company that made him a star. Kane is recognized as a legend in the eyes of the WWE and fans a like. He made $1.3 Million last year, even though he wrestlers less frequently than some of the younger faces on the roster. His salary is just a testament to how respected he is by the WWE.
8 Big Show - $1.5 Million
Like Kane, Big Show is a WWE veteran who continues to be paid very well, because of what he has done for the company for almost two decades. The Big Show has been an important attraction for fans, as people love seeing "The World's Largest Athlete" annihilate his competition. He is now 44 years old, so his esteemed career will soon come to an end. He did make $1.5 Million last year, so maybe the Big Show will stick around a little longer considering the money he is making.
7 The Undertaker - $2 Million
Possibly the greatest wrestler of all-time, The Undertaker continues to work part time for the WWE. He will go down in history as one of the most impactful wrestlers in the current era. He earned $2 Million in 2015, after he participated in four pay per view matches; true to form the WWE pays big name legendary wrestlers premium salaries. Fewer matches don't always result in less money. Hopefully The Undertaker doesn't hang up his hat just yet, because he has been thrilling audiences old and young for his entire career, and we don't want it to end anytime soon.
6 Roman Reigns - $2.1 Million
Although there has been some backlash from the fans, Vince McMahon has pushed Roman Reigns as the new face of the WWE with him earning $2.1 million last year. Highlights of his year included competing in the main event at WrestleMania 31, winning his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the 2015 Survivor Series event, along with competing in other high profile matches. With his pay and status definitely on the rise, his salary of over two million dollars in 2015 demonstrates the potential of his future earnings.
5 Seth Rollins - $2.4 Million
The Shield, even though disbanded now, has produced three superstars that are important figures in the WWE. Seth Rollins topped the trio money wise, earning a hefty $2.4 million salary in 2015. Rollins had a successful year, winning the WWE World Championship along with competing in several other top rated matches. If Seth can continue to win in 2016 after recovering from injury, his salary should continue to rise along with his successes.
4 Randy Orton - $2.7 Million
Randy Orton has secured himself as a WWE star over the last decade, and has been earning a substantial amount of money for his work in the ring. In September of 2015, he injured his shoulder, taking him out of action for months. This didn't stop him from making a nice $2.7 million dollar salary last year. Randy Orton is looking to return from his injury better than ever. Orton, undoubtedly enjoys taking home this kind of paycheck and must hope he can build on his already impressive 2015 accomplishments.
3 Triple H - $2.8 Million
Triple H has become more than one of the most respected wrestlers in history. He is now an integral part of the decision making for the WWE, along with Vince McMahon. With his WWE Championship win at WrestleMania 32, his 2015 salary reached a whopping $2.8 million dollars. As he continues with his hard work and dedication to the company, this salary although incredibly large, seems fair when you think about how popular and powerful Triple H really is.
2 Brock Lesnar - $6 Million
The WWE, faced with the prospect of Brock Lesnar leaving for the MMA, offered him a massive deal that resulted in him making $6 million dollars in 2015. Who wouldn't stick around for that kind of money? Brock Lesnar is definitely a fan favorite, and losing him to mixed martial arts would hurt the company greatly. Brock doesn't appear at wrestling events as often as he used to, but his powerful presence for the company still allowed him to achieve a impressive $6 million dollars.
1 John Cena - $9.5 Million
Did you really think anybody else would top this list? John Cena has had a stranglehold over every other wrestler for the past decade and he intends to keep it that way. Now, $9.5 million may sound like a lot, but it's a drop in the bucket for the WWE. The merchandise alone that is sold from Cena's all-American image could pay that salary a few times over. Cena is the highest paid wrestler in the WWE and worth every penny. Vince McMahon may have similar plans for Roman Reigns, but you can bet John Cena will have something to say about that!