Professional wrestlers in the United States are the stars of multiple live and televised shows, such as "Raw" and "Smackdown" and are part of organisations, like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). These performers and athletes not only engage in competition but are also known for putting on a show, each with his own wrestling style and public personality. Professional wrestlers make salaries based on different qualifications.
The Card System
Professional wrestlers typically make wages based on the card system of payment. The lowest paid are those who only wrestle on television and according to ProWrestling.com, they earn between £32,500 and £64,350 a year. In the next bracket, wrestlers earned £65,000 to £161,850 a year, followed by mid-card performers who make £162,500 to £324,999 annually. This is the salary range that most WWE wrestlers fall into. At the high-card level, pro wrestlers can expect to make from £325,000 to £649,999 a year, but the biggest celebrities in the world of wrestling are known to be paid far beyond £0.6 million dollars a year.
Known Salaries of Real Wrestlers
WrestleSchoop.com followed the salaries of a few dozen WWE wrestlers from 2004 to 2006 and found a very large range of wages. Matt Striker and Trevor Murdoch were two of the lowest paid in the report, earning £27,950 and £31,200 a year respectively. Wrestlers in the mid-card range included Shelton Benjamin with a salary of £237,900 a year, Rey Mysterio at £269,100 and Chris Benoit with £317,200 in wages. The biggest earners were wrestlers like John Cena, who made £1,132,950 in a year and the "Undertaker" who made £1,177,150. However, the highest salary reported was that of "Triple H," earning £1,308,450 in a 365-day period.
Sponsorships and Other Sources of Income
The salary figures from the WWE were only payroll reports and did not include other forms of income that may contribute to a wrestler's total earnings. Some of the more well-known wrestlers have the opportunity to endorse products, appear in commercials or movies, or be hired to speak or work with organisations. For example, according to ProWrestling.com, "The Rock" was paid in the upper-card bracket and made £390,000 until 2005, but he actually brought in more than £1.3 million dollars in 1999.
In addition to base salaries, some wrestlers receive high-end perks. Several WWE wrestlers, including Chris Benoit and Batista, flew first class every week, and John Layfield enjoyed five-star hotels on a weekly basis. Triple H, the highest paid WWE wrestler as of 2006, was allowed to personally use a company jet 10 times a year.