WWE talent is expected to perform through most days out of the year, and spend very little time at home. With so much time on the road in-between live events, television, and pay-per-views, wrestlers are some of the most hard-working athletes in all of professional sports. There is no off-season in WWE, their wrestlers are expected to perform throughout all points of the year. Thankfully, those that perform at the highest level and most frequently are compensated accordingly for their work. Wrestlers like John Cena who have become the face of WWE are bringing in salaries akin to other professional athletes.
However, just like in every sports industry there are those that are making far too much for the work they are doing, or are not making enough despite being performing beyond expectations. If a wrestler is over-paid, they are likely a highly-tenured employee that has earned that salary over a long period of time, but their career is winding down so it does not seem worthwhile. Or if a wrestler is not making enough, they are seen as undervalued by the company. However, there are also cases where even spending a dollar on a wrestler would be considered too much money!
WWE should be looking at how they compensate their talent very closely. There is some impending competition growing on the independent circuit, they could be forced to make adjustments so they do not lose them when new opportunities arise.
20 Overpaid: The Undertaker ($2.5 Million)
While The Undertaker has earned his status as one of the most legendary performers in WWE history, it is difficult to justify his high price tag considering how many matches he participates in, a year.
By his recent standards, 2018 has been a busier year than usual for The Deadman as he had four televised matches. This is a drastic increase from the past when he averaged two matches a year. Given his high salary, this means that he earned over six-hundred thousand dollars per match. If that salary were put towards several other talents, WWE would be getting more of their money's worth in the ring.
The Undertaker's retirement has been looming for several years now. While it will be a sad day for wrestling when he finally hangs up his boots, it will be a significant savings for Vince McMahon.
19 Underpaid: Braun Strowman ($300K)
The Monster Among Men has become one of the best success stories in the past year for WWE. After seemingly being brought in only due to his size, he was paired alongside the Wyatt Family as a muscle-headed goon that did not seem to have a viable future with the company. However, when he was repacked as an unstoppable monster, fans took to him in a very unexpected way. Since his increase in popularity, he has become a big draw for the company and is a staple on the RAW main event scene.
However, despite Strowman's increase in popularity, his salary did not rise accordingly.
Strowman should be compensated by the company for all the work he has done lately. He is arguably one of the most popular wrestlers on the RAW brand, but is not being paid as such. While other giants around him are paid giant salaries, he is paid more like a Cruiserweight.
18 Overpaid: Ronda Rousey ($1.5 Million)
While a big argument could be made for Ronda Rousey's high salary based on her prior credentials and name value, she has still yet to prove that she justifies it. Her in-ring and microphone performance has improved since her first appearances, and she has had a decent run as WWE Women's Champion, but fans are still not 100% buying into her as a wrestler yet.
Rousey's legitimate toughness has served her well, but it is going to take more time before fans are convinced that she belongs in WWE. With so many women around her not making nearly as much - Rousey is the only woman to be making seven figures a year as a performer - it is a tough pill to swallow. While WWE likely would not have been able to hire her without this high salary, she has yet to justify it.
17 Underpaid: Becky Lynch ($200K)
On the other hand, there has been one woman who has proved her drawing power in 2018, and that is The Man herself. Becky Lynch finally rose to the occasion in 2018, and has reached levels of popularity that no one thought possible. Becky has always been a steady performer, but her recent rise has been a breath of fresh air.
Doesn't it make the most sense that The Man should be the most well-paid wrestler in her division?
With 2018 coming to a close, hopefully, Becky's compensation will be reviewed. Considering that arena crowds around the world have been chanting her name instead of Ronda Rousey's or Charlotte's, it is a tell-tale sign that she is much more popular, and therefore more deserving of a higher salary.
16 Overpaid: Brock Lesnar ($10 Million)
While much has been written about Brock Lesnar's performance calendar with WWE, it is even harder to justify when his incredibly large salary is looked at. Not including WWE executives, Lesnar is the highest paid wrestler on the WWE roster. While his return to WWE in 2012 was a very big draw, his part-time wrestler status has made him very unpopular with fans.
His recent runs as WWE Universal Champion have been particularly upsetting, and fans are not sure if his performances and appearances are justifying his high price tag. The WWE has embraced their use of part-time attractions over the past several years, but their fans are not as accepting. They are looking for a fighting champion on each brand, not one that will just sit back and collect a giant paycheque.
15 Underpaid: The Usos ($200K)
Jimmy and Jey may have been down since day one-ish, but their bank accounts shouldn't be this down. In fact, they should be in consideration for a much higher salary considering what they have done for WWE's tag team division over the years. The brothers have been a staple in WWE for close to ten years, but they do not seem to be raking in the benefits of that yet.
The Usos have remained as a solid tag team despite some very volatile times in the division. While other teams have been thrown together to little success, they stuck together to turn themselves into a very established team. They have also turned in some star-making performances over the years. Now imagine if the team was being compensated according to the quality of matches they would be putting out?
14 Overpaid: Dana Brooke ($200K)
It may seem strange that someone with a lower-than-average salary is considered overpaid, but when their talent levels are so low it is difficult to justify even this level of salary. Dana Brooke has done very little to impress anyone since transitioning to the main roster. In fact, some of her performances in the ring have been relatively embarrassing given the caliber of the athletes in her division.
With other wrestlers on this list coming out as very underpaid, Dana Brooke's salary would be better used to give them a well-needed boost.
With WWE's "future-endeavor" season coming up soon, Dana Brooke may be a victim soon. While this is upsetting for her livelihood, it will ensure that this payroll is better spent on another Superstar.
13 Underpaid: Nia Jax ($100K)
The best time for a WWE Superstar to negotiate their salary is when they are brought up from NXT to the main roster. While Nia Jax's time in NXT was not substantial, she had a lot of promise coming in from developmental. Since her time in NXT, she has become WWE Women's Champion and had a big WrestleMania moment. Unfortunately, that one WrestleMania moment did not receive a big payout.
Jax has proved that she belongs at the top of the division and looks at home in the ring alongside stars like Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Also, given her lineage with professional wrestling she will likely be in the business for a long time. Isn't it about time that she is compensated for it?
12 Overpaid: Jinder Mahal ($900K)
Looking back in time at his 170-day reign as WWE Champion, the jury is still very mixed on whether he is successful or not. On one hand, his reign did win the Gooker Award, but it was also one of the most unexpected moments of 2017. At the time of his reign, Jinder Mahal was the face of Smackdown Live and was featured every week. Given this, his increased salary was certainly justified.
However, since dropping the WWE Championship he has had a very reduced role on WWE programming. Other than winning the United States Championship briefly, he has become a shell of a former main-eventer. To put things in perspective, he was main-eventing pay-per-views in 2017 but is now losing the finals of the Mixed Match Challenge to R-Truth. Given that change, his very high salary is not entirely justified anymore.
11 Underpaid: Xavier Woods ($350K)
Despite initially being thrown together in 2014 as a team, The New Day have become one of WWE's most popular acts of all time. Instead of Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods being wasted in the mid-card, their endeavors as a group have made them incredibly popular. While they each contribute equally to the success of the team, they are not compensated in the same way.
Kofi Kingston has accomplished the most prior to the group being put together, and Big E was poised for the main event scene at one time. Meanwhile Xavier Woods only really found success as a part of The New Day. Since then, all three men have reached the pinnacle of their popularity as a group, so the pay differences between them make little sense. Why would Kofi still continue to make $150,000 more a year than Xavier?
10 Overpaid: Lana ($200K)
It goes without saying that Lana is a popular valet and occasional wrestler for WWE. Chants of "We Want Lana" were not uncommon during the earlier part of her stint. While Lana has tried to transition to an in-ring career lately, she has mostly been utilized as a Manager to her real-life husband, Rusev. Her duties are completed at ringside, and she has not been a part of a large-scale program in some time now.
Despite Lana remaining a ring-side talent, she is currently making more than some full-time wrestlers on the roster.
By comparison, Nia Jax is a former WWE Women's Champion and is currently making 50% of her salary. Unless Lana's in-ring role is going to be increased or she is going to contribute to the company in a different way, she should be considered overpaid.
9 Underpaid: Carmella ($120K)
When unexpected wrestlers get a shot as the Champion of a division, it is usually a toss-in. The experiment could either have a great outcome or it could blow up in everyone's faces. Carmella's 130-day reign as Smackdown Women's Champion should certainly be considered a success for her career as she exceeded everyone's expectations.
Despite performing admirably at the top of the division, Carmella's bank account was not adjusted. When a wrestler proves their worth to the company, they should be compensated accordingly. While Carmella is not in the title picture at the moment, she raised her stock enough that she can be considered a viable contender in the future. In order to maintain her status, WWE should consider transferring funds from an overpaid wrestler to the Princess of Staten Island.
8 Overpaid: The Big Show ($850K)
Despite being one of the longest-tenured wrestlers on the WWE roster, The Big Show has not gotten very much better with age. In fact, his role in WWE has drastically decreased in the past several years that some have considered him partially retired. His 2018 schedule has consisted of four matches, but his pay scale was not adjusted accordingly.
Other than a short run alongside The Bar, The Big Show has not participated in a note-worthy angle since 2014. He has settled in nicely to performing mainly on the live event circuit while they focus on other talents. However, his lighter schedule and high salary bracket do not make a lot of sense. Props are deserved to Big Show for adjusting his career as it winds down, but his bank account should also be adjusted.
7 Underpaid: AJ Styles ($2 Million)
While most people in the world would be tickled-pink with a $2 million a year salary, it does not reflect all of the work that AJ Styles has done for WWE thus far. After only being in WWE for two years, he has surpassed many other wrestlers with a longer tenure than him and has earned his spot as a main-eventer. Just like he was doing for Impact, Styles has put forth more effort than most people on the roster both inside the ring and out.
Shouldn't the most valuable member of the WWE roster be compensated for everything he does for the company?
Following spending all of 2018 as WWE Champion, he has certainly lived up to his phenomenal moniker that he entered WWE with. If WWE is going to continue working him as hard as they have been, he should be paid as much as the part-timers in the company who are working far fewer dates than he is.
6 Overpaid: Stephanie McMahon ($775K)
When factoring in WWE executives who are also occasional on television, they rank amongst some of the highest paid people in WWE. While Stephanie McMahon makes an on-par salary with other executives in large companies, this $775 thousand dollar a year figure does not take in to account what she makes on a per-appearance basis.
Stephanie McMahon is not exactly a popular performer during her minimal appearances, so to think that she makes high-and-above her current salary when she does appear doesn't exactly make the most sense.
Given The McMahon's recent statement of only giving WWE fans what they want to see, Stephanie does not rank very high on the list.
If she continued to stay in the office, no one would have a problem with her salary. However, if she makes more for each appearance, she should be contributing more positively to the product.
5 Underpaid: Alexa Bliss ($350K)
Despite spending her time on the main roster at the top of both the Smackdown and RAW Women's divisions, Alexa Bliss is not compensated like her female counterparts are. With Charlotte and Ronda Rousey taking in very high salaries, the woman they were wrestling with is not on the same level salary-wise.
Alexa Bliss has proved her worth during her long reigns as Champion on both of WWE's brands, yet she has not been allowed to reach a new level of her bank account. If WWE is going to continue to push Alexa to the top of their divisions, they need to adjust what they are paying her to reflect those responsibilities.
4 Overpaid: The Colons ($200K)
Considering that WWE reviews their roster often to ensure that every star is contributing their worth, it is very surprising that The Colons are still actively employed. Furthermore, it is surprising that they are paid as much as they are to just sit at home.
While WWE does want to ensure that their wrestlers are not defecting to rival promotions, they are wasting money on The Colons.
Despite being given ample opportunities with various gimmicks, Epico and Primo were never able to get over with audiences. It would be in WWE's interest to utilize the $200 thousand dollars a year they are paying them on other wrestlers. Even if The Colons defect to another organization, they will likely not make enough of an impact to hurt WWE financially.
3 Underpaid: Shinsuke Nakamura ($400K)
When thinking about what WWE pays some of their wrestlers that they were excited to bring on to the roster, it is no wonder that rumors appear that these wrestlers may leave them.
Signing Shinsuke Nakamura in 2016 was a very big deal for WWE - he was one of New Japan's biggest stars and one of the top wrestlers in the world. Since joining WWE, his talent has not disappointed and he has had great matches with Sami Zayn, AJ Styles, and John Cena. However, despite performing to expectations his salary has reportedly not been adjusted since his time in NXT. Nakamura is the type of international superstar that WWE could build a brand around, but he should not accept that responsibility until his salary is adjusted to reflect the workload.
2 Overpaid: Tamina Snuka ($200K)
With so many wrestlers on the underpaid list, it is certainly time for WWE to take a critical review of their current talent roster. There are some wrestlers who have skated by on the WWE roster for a number of years but have not accomplished much of note. Tamina Snuka is a perfect example - she has been employed by WWE for close to ten years, and has done very little with her time there.
With so much female talent waiting in the wings to replace her on the main roster, the money spent on employing Tamina could be much better utilized.
Try as WWE may, Tamina does not have the ability to get over with fans and until they pull the trigger on her release they are wasting their money.
1 Underpaid: Asuka ($250K)
The newest Smackdown Women's Champion is another perfect example of WWE bringing in a big international superstar but skimping when it comes to their pay days. Asuka's time as Kana throughout various companies in Japan proved that she is one of the best wrestlers on the planet. When WWE signed her, fans were very excited to see some of their dream matches come to life.
However, if WWE does not adjust her salary to meet the expectations of someone at the top of her division, Asuka may not spend much more of her career in America. While she seems to be enjoying her time in WWE, Asuka can only take so much more doing so much work for little pay.