While wrestling might not be as hip with the kids as it was when it was in its heyday in the80s and late 90s, it’s still a particularly big industry. It’s estimated that the WWE has been worth over $1.25 billion after the launch of the WWE Network; the company is run by Vince McMahon, and although he can sometimes be a little stingy, he still pays his top talent an incredibly handsome salary.
The wrestlers that are able to frequently sell merchandise and fill the seats with screaming adoring fans are the ones that are paid the most. Talent that has been in the wrestling industry for longer periods also make a premium on top of their salary, and receive a generous amount of medical benefits to make sure their body stays in peak condition, since one serious injury could end their career. The highest paid wrestlers in the WWE are all getting paid at least several hundred thousand dollars each year.
But who are these super rich wrestlers, and exactly how much are these professional athletes making each year? There is a lot of part-time talent on the list, but there are plenty of familiar names: here are the top 10 highest salaries in professional wrestling today.
#10 – Mark Henry ($877,000/year)
Before he came to the WWE, Mark Henry was a champion power lifter that participated in both the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics; while setting world records for lifting in his early 20’s, he was contacted by the WWE and was propositioned to be their next imposing “big man.” In 1996, Henry made his debut on “Monday Night Raw” where he body-slammed Jerry “The King” Lawler, and received a decade long contract from Vince McMahon (I’d have offered him a contract too if I knew he could sling me around like a rag doll).
Henry has been with the WWE ever since his debut, but he has been appearing less and less as a result of his weight catching up with him, and limiting some of his abilities. Regardless of Henry’s inactivity his long-term contracts are still good money, and he makes an appearance whenever needed. Henry has won three “Slammy” Awards, a European Championship, the World Heavyweight Championship, and the ECW Championship when it was still owned by the WWE.
#9 – Dolph Ziggler ($900,000/year)
Nick Nemeth is better known by his ring name of “Dolph ZIggler.” As an amateur wrestler in college, Ziggler was incredibly popular; he had 121 career victories at Kent State , and even went on to win the MAC Conference tournament three times. Ziggler was signed by the WWE in 2004 to help expand into the developmental territory of Ohio, and he made his debut on the main roster as a member of the “Spirit Squad.” What’s interesting about the Spirit Squad is that it was a faction exclusively comprised of male cheerleaders, who would basically teach you how to spell “S-U-P-L-E-X” while driving you into the ground.
Over the course of his career that lasted for more than a decade, Ziggler won two World Heavyweight Championships, four Intercontinental Championships, a United States Championship, and a tag team title (he was filled to the brim with team spirit). Ziggler is a workhorse that seems to show up on nearly every televised program or house show, which is how he earns his padded $900,000 each year (which also includes his travel expenses).
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