Before one becomes a millionaire through professional wrestling, there are a lot of challenges to go through, unless you're born into the business. Apart from the numerous bumps in training, you've got the prospect of living in cheap motels, eating rather infrequently, and having to save up for gas money to drive from town to town. But if you can survive such a difficult lifestyle, the rewards are often manifold for those who make it to the top of the business. However, you've also got the all-too-common pitfalls of drugs and alcohol, as well as ring rats (or sometimes, colleagues) who could ruin marriages and cost you a chunk of your fortune when settlement time comes along.
Three years ago, we put together a list of the top 20 wealthiest wrestlers of all-time. But since a lot has changed in those years, we've decided not only to update the list, but also expand it to 40. And since we want to add tons of value to your reading experience, we've also got some facts, mostly obscure, but sometimes well-known yet interesting, about the things these wrestlers did (or could have done) to make a living in and out of the ring, or how they spent the money they earned in the business.
As usual, we've got some important notes before we continue. First off, we shall be limiting this list to people who have worked prominently as actual wrestlers. This means the likes of Vince, Stephanie, and Shane McMahon, all of whom have been in the ring quite a few times but mainly appeared on-air as authority figures, won't be in here. Managers and announcers who didn't wrestle (or didn't wrestle much) won't be included either, and neither will dead wrestlers who had amassed an impressive fortune while still alive.
Some Honorable Mentions (Net Worth: $5 Million): Rob Van Dam, Sid Vicious, Matt Hardy
Our first entry may come as a big surprise, given how he's been in the wrestling business practically since the time of horseless carriages and Abe Lincoln. But let's face it – many of us would kill to be as wealthy as Ric Flair is. This stylin', profilin', jet flyin', limousine ridin' (you know how the rest of it goes) son of a gun, however, would probably have been much higher up in the list had he not lived his catchphrase for most of his career, and had he not been taken to the cleaners repeatedly in a series of messy divorces.
Fun Financial Fact: No, I don't think I want to buy a used car from Ric Flair, if you remember last year's hilarious commercial. But as he wrote in his autobiography To Be the Man, he did make a living selling stuff after dropping out of college. His first real job was as an insurance salesman, and he made $30,000 in his first year on the job. If you adjust that for inflation, that's close to $200,000 (!) in today's money. No wonder he said he could have possibly made a career out of it, had he not gotten into pro wrestling.
We don't think Paige fell for Alberto El Patron (formerly Del Rio) for his money, but the kayfabe Mexican aristocrat sure has a lot of it, having built a net worth of $6 million through almost two decades in the professional wrestling business. El Patron has competed in a myriad of promotions, and has since moved on to Impact Wrestling after a bitter exit from WWE. He also owns the San Antonio restaurant La Cantinita, which was infamously the site of one of Alberto's recent drunken anti-WWE rants.
Fun Financial Fact: Had El Patron not decided to enter the family business, there's a chance he could have been working the profession that lends its name to one of Seth Rollins' nicknames. Alberto has an architecture degree from the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi, a Jesuit school which is one of Mexico's oldest (founded in 1624) and most prestigious universities.
Oh, if he had only joined WWE much earlier in his career. AJ Styles would probably be in the upper half of this list if that was the case, but since he spent his 20s and most of his 30s in the indies, as well as the oftentimes-in-financial-jeopardy TNA/Impact Wrestling, it's only now that Styles is seeing some, or hoping to see some phenomenal paydays. Now that he's just turned 40, the clock is ticking on his wrestling career, so here's hoping he keeps making the most out of his time with the self-proclaimed "worldwide leader in sports entertainment."
Fun Financial Fact: Going back to how we never got to see AJ in WWE in his true physical prime, that has something to do with his decision to turn down a WWE developmental deal in 2001. At that time, he was newly-married and sending his wife to college, which made him decide to turn WWE's offer down, knowing that he might not be able to provide for his wife with whatever he'd be making as a developmental talent.
Even in the ongoing Women's Revolution, there's still a lot of inequality when it comes to how much the men and women of pro wrestling make. With that said, Trish Stratus is wrestling's wealthiest woman (and the only female in this list), and a true WWE success story who went from inexperienced fitness model to skilled and decorated competitor in an amazingly short period of time. She's also done well in business, having run the yoga studio Stratusphere in her hometown of Toronto since 2008.
Fun Financial Fact: High school sweethearts Trish Stratus and Ron Fisico had been dating for 14 years when they finally tied the knot in 2006. But what does this Mr. Fisico do for a living, and how did he accumulate his impressive-in-its-own-right net worth of $2.5 million? Ron is a builder in the Toronto area, but by that we mean someone in the construction business, and NOT bodybuilder, as some sources have erroneously stated.
He and Cesaro just won the RAW Tag Team Championships back from The Hardy Boyz, so things are still looking up for the Celtic Warrior, Sheamus, as far as his WWE run is concerned. For about a decade now, Sheamus has been chugging along in the main event and upper midcard, but he's also kept himself busy away from the wrestling ring, acting on-and-off in minor roles, and also playing the evil mutant half-man/half-rhino Rocksteady in last year's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Fun Financial Fact: With his size, Sheamus' most notable pre-wrestling odd job was, not surprisingly, that of a bodyguard to singer Bono and drummer Larry Mullen of U2. But he was also a rather large and intimidating IT technician right before he began his wrestling training. Hopefully he didn't deal with nasty viruses and malware by Brogue Kicking people's computers after they reached him at 1-800-FELLA.
Considering he never got beyond the upper midcard in his brief and disappointing (through no fault of his) WWE run, it may be a surprise to some to see Wade Barrett rank as one of the top 40 wealthiest pro wrestlers of all time. But the numbers don't lie, as the former "King of Bad News" may have made some wise career moves and investments along the way. He's currently lying low and only wrestling occasionally, as he hopes to further his acting career with more roles.
Fun Financial Fact: WWE's announce team often referred to Barrett's past as a bare-knuckle fighter during his matches, and being that he's 6'7" and a muscular 250-260 pounds, that shouldn't come as a surprise. But he did graduate from the University of Liverpool with a degree in marine biology, and had paid the bills and paid his way through wrestling training by working in a lab.
As far as WWE is concerned, Jerry Lawler is far more on-air personality than wrestler, but that's mainly because he signed with the company in his mid-40s, just as his full-time wrestling career was winding down. But he's nonetheless been around the wrestling business for nearly five decades, and is – are you ready for this – a FIFTY-TWO-TIME AWA Southern Heavyweight Champion. He's also acted in a few films, including the 1998 Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon alongside Jim Carrey.
Fun Financial Fact: The real-life cousin of wrestling Elvis impersonator Honky Tonk Man actually tried his hand at being a recording artist in the 1970s, back during the height of his popularity in the Memphis area. Aside from recording a couple singles, "The King" also was instrumental in getting Jimmy Hart involved in the wrestling business, as the former Gentrys co-lead vocalist sang with Lawler in his late-'70s singles, with the two having known each other back in high school.
One day, you may be calling him Mayor Glenn Jacobs of Knox County, Tennessee. But since the early-'90s, he's gone by many other names – The Christmas Creature, Unabomb, Isaac Yankem, Fake Diesel, and of course, Kane. The Devil's Favorite Demon might not be as rich as his kayfabe half-brother The Undertaker, but after all those years wrestling in the main event, you shouldn't be shocked to learn that he's made a great living playing some gimmicks that might not have worked if used by another wrestler. He and his wife also own an Allstate insurance agency, and he's appeared in several films, including WWE Studios' 2006 horror thriller, See No Evil.
Fun Financial Fact: We already told you about how Kane makes more money outside the ring, but what about what he could have done to make a living, had he not entered the wrestling business? The 6'8" Kane was a standout basketball player at Truman State University, where he holds the school's season field goal percentage record, having shot 62.1 percent (105-for-169) in the 1988-89 season. That, we'd say, could have at least earned him a shot at playing in Europe or in the U.S. minor leagues.
The guy's worth seven million smackeroos and he still dresses like your average blue-collar worker dropping by the local bar for a few beers...and a few punches thrown if somebody tries getting in his face. Dean Ambrose may be the "poorest" of the three Shield "brothers" in this list, but thanks to his success in his brief-thus-far (if inconsistent as of late) WWE career, the Lunatic Fringe has made it as one of several rags-to-riches stories among wrestling's 40 wealthiest. And it goes without saying he's also a lucky guy in love, having recently married his longtime girlfriend Renee Young.
Fun Financial Fact: Dean Ambrose, a.k.a. Jon Good in real life, has made it no secret in interviews that he grew up poor in a bad Cincinnati neighborhood. And with his mother doing most of the parenting in the Good household, Ambrose made sure to pay it forward when he earned his WWE fortune, buying her a nice house far away from the rough neighborhood of his youth.
He may have gotten his start as a pro wrestler at a time when most others are in the last few years of their prime, but Diamond Dallas Page learned fast, and achieved a lot. Yes, we can ignore his underwhelming WWE run and the whole "Sara's stalker" storyline with Undertaker, but he was one of WCW's most successful and popular homegrown stars till the very end. And you can bet this recent WWE Hall of Fame inductee is still raking it in, thanks to his DDP Yoga business that's helped wrestlers such as Scott Hall and Jake Roberts get their lives back on track.
Fun Financial Fact: Originally a manager in the old AWA and WCW, DDP also had a nice money-making operation away from the squared circle. In the late-'80s and early-'90s, he ran a bar called Norma Jeans in Fort Myers, Florida, where, as Mick Foley recalled in Have a Nice Day, he proved to his wrestling colleagues that his on-air persona was simply who he was, only turned up to 11. Now can we have a self-high-five for that factoid?
Daniel Bryan may have often been maligned in storyline (and arguably backstage too) as a mere "B+ player," but he was an A+ earner in his brief, yet eventful WWE career. A+, that is, in comparison to average guys like you and me. And while injuries brought his in-ring career to an untimely end, he remains employed by WWE as SmackDown Live's General Manager, while also having made the transition to reality television, appearing on Total Divas and Total Bellas alongside his wife, Brie.
Fun Financial Fact: Since he graduated high school in 1999, pro wrestling has been his bread and butter, but D-Bry has had one particularly interesting side project not too many fans may be aware of. In 2011, Bryan (credited under his real name Bryan Danielson) contributed guest vocals to the Lou Albano tribute song "Captain Lou," which appeared in Kimya Dawson's (of Juno soundtrack fame) 2011 album, Thunder Thighs.
Kevin Nash wasn't the greatest worker of all time, but he did enjoy great success in both WWE and WCW, even if he had to suffer through some bad gimmicks in WCW (Oz, Vinnie Vegas) on his path to eventual greatness. As we pointed out in the original list, Nash could arguably credit his political, um, expertise behind the scenes for a good chunk of his $8 million net worth, and even if he was, to many, one of the worst-drawing WWE Champions of all-time, he was a champion nonetheless, and knew how to take good care of his earnings.
Fun Financial Fact: Nash worked a series of jobs before his wrestling debut at age 30, but his job as an European basketball journeyman center . A legit 6'10", Nash averaged just 6.5 points and 4.9 rebounds as a Tennessee Volunteers junior, but since he left school early with pedestrian stats, he was off to Europe instead of the NBA. He would retire from pro basketball at 22 after suffering a torn ACL while playing in Germany. Hopefully he didn't tear it while walking back to the bench.
It may be a bit surprising to see former top 20 wealthiest wrestler Sting rank so low on the list, given the tons of merchandise he sold as the Icon of WCW, but he's been away from the ring for almost a couple years now, and $8 million isn't too bad at all by anybody's standards. In 2014, 55-year-old Sting became probably the oldest WWE "rookie" in the company's history, and while one can argue his brief run should have been MUCH better, he's got a legendary three-decade career to look back on now that he's finally retired from the ring.
Fun Financial Fact: Like Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, both of whom you'll see much later on in this list, Sting wasn't much of a pro wrestling fan growing up. In fact, he was already in his mid-20s when he became a fan for the first time, but he was so inspired by what he saw that he switched careers from bodybuilding, and began pro wrestling training, en route to said three-decade career in the sport.
He'd probably make a sarcastic jibe at you and block you on Twitter if you as much as suggested he's still a wrestler, but let's call a spade a spade – before switching careers to MMA, CM Punk WAS a wrestler, and a pretty accomplished one at that. No, he didn't get those ice cream bars he demanded in his 2011 "pipe bomb" promo, but he did move a lot of merchandise in his eight-year-plus WWE, while, of course, becoming the longest-reigning post-Hulkamania WWE Champion. That's got to count for something, you know.
Fun Financial Fact: Back when he was reigning as WWE Champion for well over a year, CM Punk was banking about a million-plus per year, and that's no piddling amount of money by WWE main eventer standards. But for getting submitted by Mickey Gall in just 2 minutes and 14 seconds at UFC 203, Punk bagged a cool $500,000 for one of the worst UFC debuts in the company's modern history. Hey, at least he was MUCH better than those "make your own martial art" guys who got squashed in the earliest days of UFC.
No, not $6.19 million, if we're to get the obvious joke/pun out of the way. Having been in the wrestling business since his teens, Rey Mysterio is still going strong at 42, years removed from his WWE glory days, yet still doing pretty good for himself in Lucha Underground. Given his popularity with fans, especially younger audiences, he was a big-time merchandise seller back in the day, and even up to now; his mask is one of the very few ones in the world of pro wrestling that's instantly recognizable to casuals, and even to non-fans on occasion.
Fun Financial Fact: As we mentioned, Rey Mysterio's merchandise was very popular with WWE Shop customers. But Rey-Rey was clearly in the doghouse in 2012, after he incurred his second Wellness Policy violation, to say little of his increasingly brittle body. That was when WWE had temporarily placed his merch on sale, with discounts as big as 75 percent on some items! In the end, that was just a small bump in the road for a man who's still among the top 30 wealthiest wrestlers of all-time.
Can you imagine how high up Roman Reigns would be in this list if WWE keeps on insisting on his God-push as a babyface? Fans may object vehemently to how WWE pushes The Big Dog as a conquering hero and the next "face of the company" after John Cena, but the statistics suggest WWE has good financial justification for this push. He's WWE's number one merchandise seller, he's well-known, and apparently loved, among casual fans, and he is, in terms of physical appearance, just the kind of wrestler Vince McMahon likes to see dominate opponents.
Fun Financial Fact: Despite being born into a prominent wrestling family, while earning some money after college as a CFL defensive lineman, Joe Anoa'i had to pay his dues working odd jobs before embarking on his wrestling career. On a recent episode of Talk is Jericho, Reigns talked about his time working for his older sister in a furniture store alongside his cousins The Usos. And it was all to support his newly-born daughter and his girlfriend (now wife), who was still in college. You may hate how WWE pushes him, but you've got to love that commitment.
We've covered one Shield "brother," now let's move on to another. Seth Rollins has had a successful, if rough last two years in the WWE, dealing with injuries, a leaked photo scandal, and a face turn which some people still can't believe is a face turn. But he's sitting pretty financially, as like Reigns, he's worth almost $10 million despite his relative youth. And he's even ventured out into acting as of late, notably debuting last year on the fourth Sharknado film, with an upcoming film, Armed Response, billing him alongside big-in-the-'90s stars Wesley Snipes and Anne Heche.
Fun Financial Fact: One other money-making venture Rollins has is his wrestling school, The Black and Brave Wrestling Academy. The school was co-founded by Rollins and his former indie tag team partner Marek Brave, and it takes part of its name from Seth's old ROH and PWG ring name, Tyler Black. According to Rollins, it's all his way of giving back to the Midwest independent wrestling community where he first made his name over a decade ago.
You'd think John Bradshaw Layfield would be worth a whole lot more money, given his longtime WWE employment and second career as a financial expert. Heck, he's even written a book, Have More Money Now, which showcases said financial expertise through some helpful planning and investment tips. But no, JBL is "only" worth $9 million, and that may be because he spent most of his WWE career in the midcard and didn't get the endorsement opportunities or movie/TV roles many of his main event peers got when he became JBL. He's no J.R. Ewing, but there's no doubt that JBL has earned a big fortune in the wrestling business.
Fun Financial Fact: We would have liked to include some tidbits on John Layfield the financial analyst, but we'd rather go back to a much younger, less financially-secure time for the future APA member and kayfabe/real-life rich Texan. JBL was an offensive lineman at Abilene Christian University, and after going undrafted and failing to make the then-Los Angeles Raiders' regular season lineup, he played one season in the World League of American Football, playing alongside future Dallas Cowboys backup QB/head coach Jason Garrett as the San Antonio Riders' starting right tackle.
Younger fans might only know him for his role as one of Vince McMahon's bumbling "stooges." But Pat Patterson has been in the wrestling business for all of his adult life, and part of his teens, having debuted in 1958 at the tender age of 17. He's also recognized as the first-ever Intercontinental Champion in WWE history, having won the belt in 1979. And with almost six decades in the wrestling business, it would seem that Patterson has saved and invested his money wisely through the years.
Fun Financial Fact: As Patterson told it in an ECW Press video promoting his autobiography Accepted, he grew up poor in Montreal, and first caught the wrestling bug in his teens, selling hot dogs at shows, but apparently not doing a very good job at it, as he was too busy watching the matches. But the real catalyst for his wrestling career in the U.S., as it turned out, was the moment he innocently told his parents that he had fallen in love with another man. Still in his early-20s at that time, he was kicked out of the house, and took a Greyhound bus to Boston, never to turn back in his chosen career path.
Earn, Owens, Earn! Despite only being on WWE's main roster for two years, Kevin Owens has raked in a lot of dough, with his net worth estimated to be at around $10 million. Apart from his quick rise to main event status, we're guessing a lot of his riches are related to his consistently high merchandise sales, which includes the money he earned as one of the greatest, most recognizable ROH wrestlers of all time. It may be unusual for a heel to earn so much through merch, but such has always been the appeal of KO.
Fun Financial Fact: Truth be told, wrestling is pretty much the only thing Kevin Owens has done to make a living. But even with his relative newness in the WWE, he has some long-term plans for his future in the company, having said in a 2016 interview that he's fascinated with what goes on at Gorilla position, and wouldn't mind working backstage for WWE once his time as a wrestler is done.
David Otunga had a highly-forgettable career as a WWE wrestler, and now that he does commentary for Monday Night RAW, many fans wish they could forget his contributions to the red brand's announce team, if they could remember them at all. But while we may make jibes at the former Nexus member's lack of competence at anything pro wrestling-related, his net worth of $10 million is no laughing matter. He's pretty much got it made, and that isn't counting the fact that he's Jennifer Hudson's fiancee, and father to their 7-year-old son, David Jr.
Fun Financial Fact: Otunga also has a budding career as a Hollywood actor, and one of his films was the 2013 WWE Studios vehicle, The Call. With a take of almost $70 million at the box office, it was easily WWE's highest-grossing film ever, and that's despite the fact Otunga was the only WWE wrestler in the cast! (And in a minor role at that.) It did help that The Call had Halle Berry as the female lead, and that (at least for this writer), Abigail Breslin was the film's true MVP for her excellent performance as a teenage girl kidnapped by a serial killer.
He's been wrestling on WWE television since the age of 22, and in the 15 years since then, he's won numerous titles, including 13 World Championships. He's also acted in and out of WWE Studios movies, though none of those vehicles include any one of the five The Marine films. As such, Randy Orton is worth a cool $11 million at this point in his career, and he's got no reason outside of kayfabe to be disappointed at losing his WWE Championship to Jinder Mahal at this year's Backlash PPV.
Fun Financial Fact: Three of the four movies in Orton's filmography were produced by WWE Studios, but his (non-WWE) film debut got a very limited release and earned just $6,400 in its first three days. The 2011 coming-of-age period piece That's What I Am starred the Viper as the father of a school bully circa mid-'60s. What's interesting is the fact that Orton was 31 at the time of the film's release, while the actor playing his school bully son (Cameron Deane Stewart) was only 11 years younger.
In the honorable mention section, we briefly saw how much the formerly (and hopefully soon-to-be) "Broken" one is worth. But since the man once called "Brother Nero" had much greater singles success in WWE than Matt Hardy did, it's no surprise that baby brother Jeff is worth more than twice as much money. He was also the more successful singles wrestler among the Hardys in TNA, and has his own musical side project PeroxWhy?Gen, which recently released their third studio album, Precession of the Equinoxes.
Fun Financial Fact: PeroxWhy?Gen may not be the money-maker Fozzy is for Chris Jericho, but they're notable for the fact that they once had another wrestler – Shannon Moore – as one of the members. Moore is no longer with the band, but you may also recognize their rhythm guitarist, Dale Oliver, who is better-known for his work as Impact Wrestling's chief ring music songwriter and performer.
Now that he's making his living in Hollywood and not inside the squared circle, it may surprise you that Batista ranks this low. But the man now billing himself by his real name, Dave Bautista, may very well be higher up in this list in the coming years, should he continue to make big money from films such as Guardians of the Galaxy and its successful 2017 sequel. Of course, we all know what he achieved as "The Animal," as he's a six-time World Champion and a two-time member of one of the WWE's most dominant factions of all time in Evolution.
Fun Financial Fact: Batista expressed great regret for openly cheating on his now-ex-wife Angie as she battled ovarian cancer. Despite the divorce, they remained close friends, and he made amends big-time in 2010, when he released a video where the proceeds went to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, also dedicating the video to his ex-wife.
No, that Japanese shampoo endorsement he supposedly got ahead of WrestleMania X8 (while pissing off Booker T in the process) doesn't count toward Edge's $14 million net worth. Instead, the Rated-R Superstar has a 15-year WWE career, appearances in TV shows and movies, and an autobiography, Adam Copeland On Edge, to his name, all contributing to his rags-to-riches rise from growing up poor in Ontario to becoming one of WWE's most decorated Superstars of all time.
Fun Financial Fact: As mentioned, the young Adam Copeland didn't have it easy, being raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to make ends meet. That's why he can count himself lucky to have received his initial wrestling training for free, having won an essay contest organized by his local gym. He also worked several odd jobs in his late teens and early-20s, both to help his mother and further his wrestling dream.
He's the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be.. and one of the richest that currently are in the world of professional wrestling. Thanks to a pro wrestling career that spanned over two decades, a best-selling autobiography, and occasional acting roles, Bret Hart has earned his place as one of the richest wrestlers in the world, but even as he's comfortably retired (and at peace with WWE), he's keeping busy in the financing business, as he runs Sharpshooter Funding with his sons Dallas and Blade.
Fun Financial Fact: In 1996, Bret Hart inked an unprecedented 20-year deal to re-sign with WWE, but only lasted a year before the Montreal Screwjob, and his move to WCW, left him estranged from Vince McMahon and company for almost 15 years. His three-year WCW deal offered him more money per year for less dates, though this lighter schedule didn't save him from the career-ending concussion he suffered late in 1999 at the hands of Goldberg.
Speaking of Da Man, Bill Goldberg moved up a few notches and added a couple million to his net worth since we last made this list. That's largely on account of his brief October 2016-April 2017 comeback, which even included a brief run with the Universal Championship. Apart from his time in WCW and WWE, Goldberg made a nice living as an NFL defensive tackle, and also appeared in some movies, such as the hilarious remake of The Longest Yard, and the absurd Christmas-themed black comedy Santa's Slay. Goldberg as an evil Santa Claus? You better see it to believe it.
Fun Financial Fact: Although Goldberg was working at the tender age of 16 as a bouncer, he did have a very comfortable, upper-middle class upbringing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father Jed was a successful OB-GYNE doctor who graduated from Harvard, while his mother Ethel was a classical violinist and award-winning orchid breeder. Not exactly the background that you'd expect from a future world champion, but he certainly was no 98-pound weakling growing up.
Being a wrestling veteran of the past three decades and the man who co-founded TNA Wrestling with his father, Tennessee promoter Jerry Jarrett, "Double J" Jeff Jarrett has been a rather wealthy individual for quite some time. While many may argue with his business practices through the years, he's clearly had an affinity for the monetary side of wrestling since he was a young man, and that, along with his numerous titles across different companies, helped him amass his fortune through the years.
Fun Financial Fact: It had to be this or GFW Gold. Both are well-known to wrestling fans, but we're going with this nonetheless. Contract disputes have long been Jarrett's forte, but none were more bitter than the one that essentially blacklisted him from the WWE. As WWE wasn't aware his contract would already be up by No Mercy 1999, Jarrett demanded that the company pay him a whopping $300,000 so he could wrestle for one more night and put Chyna over for the Intercontinental Championship.
It was a great 27-year run while it lasted, but The Undertaker's wrestling career may have ended at WrestleMania 33, where, much to the chagrin of fans, he was defeated by Roman Reigns. But he's earned quite a fortune in those 27 years, and you can say he's made more than enough money to retire comfortably. And he can partially credit those big WrestleMania paydays, including the last few years when 'Mania would practically be the only time you'd see him in a wrestling match.
Fun Financial Fact: Because he's a man who is notoriously adamant about remaining in character, it's easy to think that all The Undertaker has done to make a living is wrestle. But he's done some acting too, beyond the unlikely-as-it-is appearances he's made voicing himself in WWE-themed animated films. In 1991, a young (26-year-old) Mark Calaway was credited under his real name, playing a character named Hutch in the god-awful (as are most of his films) Hulk Hogan sci-fi comedy Suburban Commando.
Not surprisingly, "Mr. WrestleMania" is tied with the man whom he had his most iconic 'Mania matches against. Shawn Michaels had two remarkable runs in the WWE, with a three-year retirement period in between them, and even if he's tried to downplay his wealth, you certainly can't call yourself poor if you spent most of your time in the main event in about two decades in the WWE. That said, we'd think HBK would have been a little richer today, had he not wasted a good chunk of his earnings on drugs and booze back in the 1990s.
Fun Financial Fact: According to Michaels, he was offered an opportunity to compete on SmackDown during the 2000s brand split era, but he refused the potentially lucrative deal, and what could have been some interesting rivalries against the likes of Eddie Guerrero. As he tells it, he decided to stay on RAW and settle for lower pay, as a move to SmackDown, and taping on Tuesday nights, would have interfered with the Bible study sessions he and his wife were involved in.
Mrs. Foley's baby boy has grown up to be a very rich man in his own right. Though Mick Foley grew up comfortably, he ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, drove a lot of miles in a beater, and wrestled in a lot of high school gyms before making it big as a pro wrestler. And he gladly told those tales and many others as he added "best-selling author" to his resume, with 1999's Have a Nice Day being the first of several autobiographies. Always a funny guy by nature, he's enjoyed success as a stand-up comedian, while also playing the dad (i.e. himself) on the WWE Network show Holy Foley.
Fun Financial Fact: Throughout the years, Foley has developed a reputation as a tightwad of sorts when it comes to his own personal expenses. He'd often rent cheaper cars, limit his visits to expensive restaurants, and do whatever he could to save the money he made as a pro wrestler. And while he and Vader have been longtime friends (and legendary in-ring foes), Mick was so shocked to see how extravagantly the Mastodon spent what he made, that he decided to stop rooming with the super-heavyweight for a while.
Chris Jericho makes the list at a very respectable number 8, though as you know, this isn't the List of Jericho we're talking about here. In a wrestling career that's spanned about two and a half decades, including 18 on-and-off years with the WWE, Jericho has become one of the sport's most recognizable and decorated stars. He's also made waves outside of the wrestling biz as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and as a game show host, but most notably as lead singer of the heavy metal band Fozzy. Unlike most wrestlers who take to the mic to sing a song or two, we wouldn't tell Chris to give up his day job.
Fun Financial Fact: Although Jericho has attained certified rock stardom with Fozzy, the band wasn't that serious an endeavor to begin with. The band was originally a heavy metal cover band led by Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich Ward, and their first two albums were mostly composed of covers from Judas Priest, Dio, Iron Maiden, and other heavy metal legends. They even had a goofy back story and stage names! Those would all be gone in 2005, when, energized by their surprising success, they started writing their own songs in earnest, and released an all-original third album.
The World's Largest Athlete is also one of the business' richest performers of all-time. Paul Wight had the size, but not the skills to make it big in basketball, but he was certainly skillful enough to make a giant-sized impact in wrestling, first as The Giant in WCW, then as the Big Show in WWE. His natural sense of humor has also landed him a few film roles, though the less said about films such as Knucklehead, the better.
Fun Financial Fact: Instead of facing up against Shaquille O'Neal at WrestleMania 33, Big Show was shuttled back to his usual 'Mania role (as of his later years) as a competitor in his onetime kayfabe father Andre the Giant's battle royal. The Shaq match could have meant a nicer payday for Show, but as the NBA legend said in his podcast, the match fell through because WWE "kept playing," changing the match plans numerous times before O'Neal had enough and made other plans for WrestleMania weekend.
Brock Lesnar must be screaming like a happy pterodactyl during the few times each year he cashes in his paychecks from the WWE. Sure, he's barely on television, and that could make one say he's one of those guys who make so much yet do so little. But the "Beast Incarnate" has rightfully earned his fortune through massively successful careers in both the UFC and WWE, winning titles for both companies and establishing himself as an all-time great in unscripted and scripted fighting alike.
Fun Financial Fact: Bork write book? Book good? Yes, Bork book good! We may kid about how Brock Lesnar is probably the least likely wrestler to have his own autobiography, but he has one called Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival. It's a surprisingly solid book and a quick and easy read, but since it was released in 2011, he does skim over a lot of WWE details, instead focusing on the struggles and triumphs in his MMA career.
Seeing as he's tied as the sixth-richest wrestler in the world, Kurt Angle certainly doesn't need the money a new WWE deal could get him. But he's back in circulation as RAW General Manager, while also freshly inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, which only shows that it's oftentimes possible to get back into Vince McMahon's good graces. Angle can credit this to an earnest desire to turn his life around and beat his personal demons, and if he could come back to the ring for a big match or two, who knows if he could move up this list in the future?
Fun Financial Fact: Kurt Angle's last major job before finally signing with the WWE was that of an ostrich meat product shill. It's true, it's damn true, as he'd say – the Olympic gold medalist initially turned down an offer from WWE in 1996, and was soon off to Protos Foods, where he worked as a marketing representative. While uninterested at first, the wrestling bug bit Angle soon enough, and we can certainly say he made the right career move when he did ink his WWE deal in 1998.
As we explained in our original edition of this list, Hulk Hogan didn't make it despite being Vince McMahon's and Eric Bischoff's top money-maker in WWE and WCW respectively – his messy divorce from Linda Claridge contributed greatly to his omission. Not mentioned was the fallout from the racist leak controversy of 2015, which cost him his job as WWE ambassador, not to mention a fair share of endorsements. But the Hulkster's back in the top five, and one would think his massive Gawker settlement has a great deal to do with his return to being one of pro wrestling's richest men of all time.
Fun Financial Fact: Oh, it wasn't fun for the Hulkster at all, but you may be wondering about his divorce from Linda, and how much it cost him. In 2011, it was reported that Hogan had to turn over 40 percent ownership of his companies and over 70 percent of the couple's shared liquid assets, as part of his divorce settlement. He had also admitted to wasting "hundreds of millions" of his earnings back in his days as a top guy. All told, Hulk Hogan should be higher up on this list, if not for these misfortunes.
Ironically, this man got his feet wet in the WWE playing the role of a kayfabe blue blood. With a gimmick like that, who would have guessed that Hunter Hearst Helmsley would become one of the wealthiest pro wrestlers of all time? Of course, Hunter made it to the up-and-up when he ditched the snobby gimmick and became the raunchy, and later on sledgehammer-wielding ass-kicker Triple H, but it does help that he's married to the most powerful woman in pro wrestling (Stephanie McMahon), while also holding an executive position in his father-in-law Vince's company.
Fun Financial Fact: If Triple H wasn't so insistent in his dealings with former WWE "World's Strongest Man"/powerlifter Ted Arcidi, he probably wouldn't have made it in this business...uh. (Sorry, we couldn't help the quick Trips impersonation.) As HHH related in Triple H Making the Game, Arcidi often discouraged the teenage Paul Levesque from entering the wrestling business, but ultimately relented by referring him to Killer Kowalski, who would go on to give Triple H his formative wrestling training.
He's dropped a notch in our list, but "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is not only the toughest, but still one of the wealthiest S.O.B.s in wrestling history. Austin and Vince McMahon struck gold when they came up with the "Stone Cold" gimmick, and with the Texas Rattlesnake expertly playing the role of the pissed-off, boss-hating everyman, he earned millions through those "Austin 3:16" t-shirts and other merchandise, not to mention his successful, if abbreviated in-ring career as one of WWE's top stars of the Attitude Era. He's also acted a bit, done some podcast and TV show hosting, and has ventured out into the beer business (because why not?) with his Broken Skull IPA.
Fun Financial Fact: Austin hasn't just acted in a mix of action and comedy films; he's also hosted a couple reality shows to keep himself busy after wrestling. You may know Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge, but he also hosts another CMT reality show, fittingly called Redneck Island, where contestants fight for food and immunity and vote each other out via "beer ballots." Because with Stone Cold, you know (almost) everything has to be about beer.
Moving up to second place in this year's list is John Cena, and we all know why we can't see him (pun intended) on WWE television as much as we used to – he's now taking on a busier schedule in Hollywood. Aside from winning 16 World Championships, serving as the face of the WWE for over a decade, and earning millions extra through his countless endorsements, he now acts in a wide variety of film genres, with a number of upcoming films in 2017 and 2018. As such, expect him to catch up fast with the undisputed wealthiest wrestler in the years to come.
Fun Financial Fact: Like many wrestlers in this list, John Cena worked the odd job or two before making his name in the business. Would you believe he was a limo driver just before he debuted in UPW as "The Prototype"? It was a rather odd departure for the former NCAA Division III All-American center (in football), but since NFL scouts normally couldn't care less about Division III standouts, it was what he needed to do to pay the bills before finding his niche as a wrestler.
Should this really be any surprise at this point? It's been a long time coming for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, whose WWE debut as Rocky Maivia was met by widespread derision. As it turned out, he was hiding some natural ability on the mic, which he leveraged as he embarked on a tremendously successful acting career in the 2000s. And while wrestling fans still remember him as the People's Champ and the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment, everyone else (and wrestling fans too) know him as a Hollywood A-lister, who's now fresh off the 2017 film version of Baywatch.
Fun Financial Fact: Contrary to what you may think, The Rock was NEVER an actual member of the Calgary Stampeders. As we wrote in 2014, the future Brahma Bull was so broke as a young CFL prospect that he had to sneak free sandwiches out whenever the Stampeders' starters would meet, but he never made it past Calgary's practice squad. Soon after, he joined the family business of wrestling, and the rest, as they say, is history.