Sports

A Breakdown of How WWE Wrestlers Get Paid

Just like other sports organizations, WWE superstars like Hulk Hogan and Brock Lesnar can be paid millions. However, unlike in other sports, the lesser-known wrestlers don’t make as much. That’s because, just like the UFC, a lot of variables are at play when it comes to a WWE wrestler’s pay.

Base salary

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As Forbes reported, the main source of income for WWE wrestlers comes from their base salary. Since wrestlers don’t have a union, each one negotiates with the WWE concerning contracts and salaries. As a result, the base pay for each wrestler varies wildly. For example, one of the lowest base salaries Forbes mentioned was $52,000 a year, while one of the highest was at $5 million a year. 

That said, since the WWE considers its wrestlers as independent contractors, these salaries are not set in stone either. For example, Forbes wrote that, if a wrestler gets too injured to perform for a few weeks, then their salary can be docked for every show that they miss.

But of course, since the WWE tries to keep a tight lid about its contracts, other details are scarce when it comes to the average salary for a WWE wrestler. Forbes said that WWE claimed that the average wrestler makes $500,000 a year, but since WWE keeps things so secretive, that number may not necessarily be true.

Bonus income

WWE champion Brock Lesnar in 2019
WWE champion Brock Lesnar in 2019 | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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Like in other companies, the WWE also offers bonuses and incentives. That said, since each contract can be different, it’s not clear what the terms and conditions of these bonuses are. However, Forbes wrote that Triple H, who’s not only a part-time wrestler but also one of the company’s executives, got paid $1.6 million for his wrestling performances for a year, and $600,000 of that was from bonuses. 

One of the ways that wrestlers can get a bonus is by promoting their events well. Again, since each contract is different, the numbers aren’t set in stone. With that said, Forbes reported that the WWE offered The Ultimate Warrior 5% of his events’ net ticket sales. Getting a piece of those ticket sales is something that happens in boxing, but doesn’t happen in the UFC. 

This definitely happens with money from pay-per-view sales, too. In boxing and in the UFC, the most popular stars usually get a percentage of the pay-per-view sales. But of course, since things are different for each wrestler, it’s impossible to know who got how much when it comes to these sales. 

Royalties, merchandise, and endorsements

For the biggest stars and the retired superstars, royalties represent a significant additional source of income. But once again, as Forbes reports, it varies a lot on a case by case basis, and the lesser-known stars won’t make much from these things. 

The WWE typically pays about 25% of the net receipts in royalties to the wrestlers featured on merch. However, that’s only if one wrestler is featured on that merch. If there are multiple wrestlers, then that 25% is split evenly between them. 

Endorsements, however, are an easier way for wrestlers to get paid outside of the WWE. That said, since each wrestler and company is different, the value of endorsement deals vary a lot.

How much the best WWE wrestlers can get paid

Just like in the UFC, the most popular athletes can negotiate for a bigger piece of the pie. This is what allows men and women like The Undertaker and Ronda Rousey to make millions each year. For example, Rousey got paid $1.5 million for her work. This is significantly more than what other women made with the WWE.