The Ultimate Warrior earned in excess of $2 million per year as a WWF headlinerin 1990-1991 (he specifically received a one-night payoff in excess of $650,000 for his match with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI, and a one-night payoff of $550,000 for his bout with Randy Savage at Wrestlemania VII). In order to lure him out of retirement in 1998, WCW had to pay Warrior $1 million upfront.
The Iron Sheik was reputedly offered $100,000 by AWA promoter Verne Gagne to double-cross and legitimately injure Hulk Hogan in thier WWF title match on January 23, 1984 at Madison Square Garden. To preserve his relationship with Vince Mcmahon jr. and Hogan, Sheik declined Gagne’s alleged offer.
Sid ‘Vicious’ Eudy was offered a three-year contract by WCW, worth $400,000 per annum, in early 1991. Eudy rejected the deal and signed a contract with the WWF.
Rick Steamboat turned down a $225,000-per-annum offer from WCW in summer of 1989 and left the company. A man of principle, ‘The Dragon’ felt he was worth closer to $300,000 per year and would not work for less then his asking price.
Leon ‘(Big Van) Vader’ White was one of the top 3 earners in pro wrestling in 1993. That year, he signed a four-year contract with WCW, worth $625,000 per annum, and an eight-match deal with Japan’s wroked shoot UWFI, which paid him a not inconsiderable $25,000 per match.
Lex Luger, another muscle-bound star of the 1980’s, earned $500,000 per year as WCW champion in 1991-Feb 1992. As c0-host of Vince Mcmahon’s short lived World Bodybuilding Federation bodystars programme, also in 1992, Luger earned $350,000 per year. As a wrestler Luger made more then $350,000 per year for most of his 1993-1994 run in the WWF – and earned in the $500,000-a-year range from WCW when he returned to the league on his first episode of Monday Nitro on September 4, 1995. Luger’s annual WCW salary rose to $750,000 a few years later and then leapt to somewhere in the region of 1.25 million by 2000.
David Arquette recieved $20,000 from WCW to perform a suprise run-in on the Buff Bagwell vs. Kanyon match at the New Blood Rising pay-per-view on August 13, 2000. No one cared….
Paul ”Big Show” Wight, earnt in the region of $1 million as a WWF/WWE wrestler. Mcmahon offered him a ten-year-contract in Feb 1999, with a $950,000-per-annum downside guarantee. The WWE renegotiated the terms of his contract earlier this decade after trimming two years off the deal.
Randy Savage earned approx $1 million during his first reign as WWF champion (March 27, 1988 to April 2, 1989). ‘The Macho Man’ would pocket a similar salary as an aging WCW headliner in 1998-1999.
Paul Heyman signed a five-year contract with the WWF/WWE in spring 2001. Which him a basic salary of $250,000 per annum. When he acted as the on-screen manager of Brock Lesnar and Big Show, Heyman was paid a talent salary ($60-$80,000) in addition to his basic.
After Brock Lesnar won the 2000 NCAA heacyweight wrestling title, lesnar became somewhat of a bidding war between the WWF, WCW and New Japan. With three seperate parties competing for his services, Lesnar was able to to drive his price tag up to $250,000 per annum: the deal he inked with the WWF remains the largest developmental contract ever offered by the company. When he split from the WWE in 2004 to pursue an NFL career, Lesnar walked away from a $1 million contract.
WCW then-Chicago Bull’s superstar Dennis Rodman took in $1.5 million in 1997 to make several appearances and wrestle in one tag team match (with Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant and Lex Luger) at the year’s Bash At The Beach PPV.
Mike Tyson received the princely sum of $3.5 million for his handful of appearances and his enforcer role at Wrestlemania XIV.
Clueless weightlifter Mark Henry was resented by WWF wrestlers when he signed a ten-year, $250,000-per-annum guaranteed with the federation in 1996. Only a handful of wrestlers had been offered guaranteed /downside contracts by the WWF at that point.
Marcus ”Buff” Bagwell was paid $600,000 per year by WCW in 1999-2000.
Torrie Wilson earned £250,000 per year when she worked for WCW (1999-2001). Throwing in her Playboy appearances, Wilson should have banked more then that during her peak years as a WWE diva (2003-2004).
Steve ‘Sting’ Borden has became a very rich man from pro wrestling. In 1992-1993, he was earning $750,000 per annum as WCW’s star babyface. By the end of the decade, WCW was lining his pockets to the tune of $1.25 million per year. TNA had to rustle up a $500,000-per-annum deal in order to lure Sting out of retirement in December 2005.
Juventud Guererra made $200,000 per year as a WCW wrestler from autumn 1998 to October 2000 (when he was fired by WCW, following his infamous drug fuelled rampage and arrest in the Marriott Hotel in Brisbane, Australia).
Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque testified that he had a $400,000-per-annum downside guarantee (minimum salary) in his contract. Given his top wrestler/booker status, it’s suprising that his downside contract was that low. Triple now earns nearly $2 million (basic salary) as a WWE wrestler and booker between his wrestling appearances and other royalties.
Ric Flair earned $700,000 per year as Jim Crockett promotions’ top star and NWA world Champion in 1987-1988. As WCW’S premier player in 1990-1991, he made in the region of $730,000 per year. Back in WCW, he made $750,000 per year at the end of the 1990’s. During a divorce hearing (from second wife Beth) in 2005, Flair claimed that he earned $500,000 per year in WWE.
Jeff Jarrett demanded and received a one-night payoff in the region of $175,000 from Vince to drop the WWF IC title as scheduled to Joanie ‘Chyna’ Laurer at No Mercy on October 17, 1999. Jarrett would return to WCW the next night on Monday Night Nitro after signing a contract worth $425,000 per year.
Booker T/King Booker made somewhere in the region of $750,000 per annum in WCW in 2000-2001.
Roddy Piper signed a two-year deal with WCW in October 1996 which was worth at least $1.1 million per annum.
Bam Bam Bigelow earned in the region of $500,000 as a WWF wrestler in 1995 (the year of his famous Wrestlemania XI match with Lawrence Taylor), $2,0000 per week in ECW from 1997-1998, and $450,000 per year in WCW from 1998-2001.
Kurt Angle had a $1 million-per-annum downside guarantee when he was employed by the WWE in 2006. It’s been reported he made atleast $3 million in the year 2000. We believe he earns slightly less then seven-figures from TNA. However, on a per-appearance basis, he earns more as a TNA wrestler then he did in the WWF/WWE.
Trish Stratus earned more than $400,000 per year at her peak in the WWE.
Joanie ‘Chyna’ Laurer certainly earned a lot more then $400,000 in 2000-2001. Wrestling, merchandise and royalties, TV apperances, her autobiography (If They Only Knew), workout video (Chyna Fitness) and her Playboy cover (November 2000) pushed her earnings close or above the $1 million mark.
Kevin Nash earned an incredible $1.625 million per year as a WCW wrestler in 2000-2001. When he returned to the WWF/WWE in 2002, Nash was paid a yearly $700,000 downside by the company.
Taz secured himself a $250,000-per-annum downside when he signed with the WWF in 1999.
Vince Russo made $350,000 per year as a member of the WWF booking team in 1999.
Radicals Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn all left WCW in January 2000 and signed three-year contracts with the WWF. Benoit, whom WWF management believed had the most potential of the four, was signed to a $400,000 annual downside guarantee. Benoit certainly earned more then that in 2004 when he held the WWE World Title for five months. At the time of his death, his downside had risen to $500,000 per year. Guerrero, Malenko and Saturn each recieved $250,000-per-annum downsides when they signed with the WWF in January 2000.
Bill Goldberg was WCW’s top earner when the company was bought out by the WWF in March 2001. Golderg’s contract paid him $2 million per year. When he signed with the WWE two years later, Goldberg’s contract had a $1 million downside guarantee.
Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley were earning $600 per match apeice when they made thier last appearance for ECW in August 1999. Bubba and D-Von, who made thier WWF debut the following month became stars in January 2000 following thier memorable tables match with The Hardy Boyz at Royal Rumble. A few weeks later, Edge and Christian joined the fray and made it a three-way fued, which all six men were rewarded creatively and financially over the next year. The Dudleyz and Edge & Christian must have made in excess of $300,000 each in 2000-2001. As big-time merchandise-sellers, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy should have earned quite a bit more.
Bret Hart made approx $250,000 per year as a WWF mid-carder in 1990-1991. His earnings steadily increased as he climbed the ladder and exceeded $400,000 per year by the time he captured his second WWF title in 1994. Two-and-a-half years later, Hart became the subject of a bidding war between the WWF and WCW. Hart, whose WWF contract had just expired, was offered $2.8 million per year by WCW. The WWF countered with a 20-year contract, which would pay him $1.5 million per annum for the first three years and a low six-figure amount for the last 17 years. Hart accepted that offer, and signed the deal in October 1996. It was a decision he would regret. In September 1997, Vince informed Hart that cash-strapped WWF was unable to continue paying his $1.5 million salary, and advised him to strike a deal with powerhouse WCW. Hart reluctantly did so – for $2.5 million per year.
Diamond Dallas Page was earning a staggering $1.25 million per year when WCW folded in 2001. Page always denied that his friendship with WCW boss Eric Bischoff had any bearing on his advancement in WCW: Page insisted that his headline status, seven-figure-salary and three WCW World title reigns were the product of good, old fashioned hard work. Who was he kidding?
Randy Savage was offered a guaranteed $500,000-per-annum deal by WCW to jump ship in 1991. Savage turned WCW down because he had no wish to take a pay cut.
WWE offered Mike Goldberg a three-year contract, worth $500,000 per annum, in October 2005 to become the lead announcer on Raw. Though the figures exceeded his combined UFC and Fox Sports Network salary, Goldberg, citing a desire to remain in the sports world, declined WWE’s offer.
Bob Sapp was offered a $1 million annual contract by the WWE in 2006. Sapp was unable to accept the deal because he was under contract to K-1.
According to Hulk Hogan’s unofficial biography, he pocketed $10m per year at his peak in the 1980’s. Similarly, according to Powerslam magazine, Hogan signed with WCW on a deal that saw him pocket $300,000 per appearance + 25% of every PPV live gate/merchandise sale + a further percentage of the actual PPV gross. Furthermore, the highest one match pay off ever seen in wrestling at that time, Hogan and Sting pocketed $1.5m each for their Starrcade 1997 match.
Steve Austin’s first WCW contract, which he signed in May 1991, paid him $75,000 per year. In 1994, Austin inked a two-year contract extension with WCW, worth $275,000 per annum. It is estimated that ”Stone Cold’ earned over $5 miilion per year in 1998 and 1999 when he was riding high as the WWF’s premier babyface. Debra Marshall, Austin’s ex-wife, claimed that he earned ”as much as $12 million per year” from 1998-2001. If that figure is accurate, it would make Austin the highest paid wrestler on a yearly basis ever.