Last updated on May 8th, 2022 at 11:21 am
With larger-than-life persona’s, well-written story lines, and highly immersive fights, it is clear to see why wrestling has garnered millions of fans across the world. With such big numbers and larger market shares come lucrative TV deals and multi-million sponsorship deals.
In other fields such as the NBA, NFL, and MMA earnings are a public affair. However, in the world of pro wrestling, earnings and contracts are a well-kept secret.
Many pundits and experts attribute this lack of openness to the lack of free agency and collective agreement.
With promotions, treating wrestling as independent contractors, deals between wrestlers and promotions remain between the two parties.
Many of the data collected are through booking contracts, interviews with insiders, and pay documents. Over the years, we have seen many wrestlers make it into Forbes magazine’s highest-paid athlete’s lists.
It is simply a no-brainer that many athletes earn top dollar, considering the lavish lives that many of them live.
While wrestling does not pay as much as the NFL or the NBA does, many wrestlers such as Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns still get the big bucks.
Many of the wrestlers in this list are retired wrestlers, wrestlers who ventured into other professions, and wrestlers who hold various corporate positions within the industry. That said, these are the 10 richest wrestlers of all time.
10. Shawn Michaels: $17 million
While the debate as to whether he is the greatest wrestler of all time is still ongoing, one thing is certain; Shawn Michaels is the greatest performer of all time. A complete package, Shawn Michaels, is an actor, comedian, acrobat, and power lifter.
Although The Rock, John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin might be some of the greatest mic talkers, Shawn Michaels was equally good during his wrestling days and could easily pull memorable promos.
His unparalleled storytelling abilities and Lucha Libre-inspired maneuvers saw HBK become one of the highest-paid wrestlers during the Attitude Era. Being one of the biggest names in the company meant top-dollar earnings.
With the WWE, Shawn Michaels annual salary was an approximated $550,000 a month, which when you factor in inflation rates would amount to $1 million in 2021.
9. Mick Foley: $18 million
Mick Foley’s diversity saw him create some of the most pleasant and in some cases some of the weirdest gimmicks/faces in pro wrestling.
From Dude Love to the deranged Man Kind to Cactus Jack, all these personae not only made Mick Foley quite memorable but also one of the biggest stars in the company.
A main event wrestler, the WWE did all it could to keep one of the most entertaining wrestlers on board. Unlike most wrestlers, Mick Foley was a wrestler who was not afraid to put his body and health on the line.
This in turn made him a highly valuable asset for both WWE and WCW, considering hardcore matches were quite popular among wrestling fans. A fan favorite, Mick Foley, simply showed the generations that came after him what pure dedication meant.
Barbed wires and thumbtacks were among Mick Foley’s go-to wrestling weapons in the squared circle.
Currently, Mick Foley is one of the richest wrestlers with a net worth of $18 million. Most of his earnings coming from his wrestling days.
8. Chris Jericho: $18 million
One of the most decorated wrestlers of all time, Chris Jericho’s illustrious wrestling career, saw him not only become one of the biggest earners but also accumulate 29 titles across the board.
While working with the WWE, Chris Jericho was a main event wrestler, earning $1 million per month and impressive bonuses from PPV appearances.
In 2019, Chris Jericho announced his affiliation with the newly founded AEW. The new multi-million-dollar deal saw Chris Jericho become one of the highest-paid AEW wrestlers.
Like most of his colleagues, Chris Jericho also made television and films appearances.
His first-ever reality television appearance was at Celebrity Duet where he was eliminated during the first round. A few months later, he made an appearance during the 12th season of Dancing with Stars, where he made it to the 6th round, winning $250,000.
At the box office, Chris Jericho has also earned a significant amount, appearing in films such as Android Apocalypse, Albino Farm, Sharknado 3, and MacGruber.
Jericho also earns a significant amount from book sales and commissions, having penned three New York best-sellers. With a total net worth of $18 million, Chris Jericho is one of the richest wrestlers in the world.
7. Kurt Angle: $25 million
An accomplished professional athlete, Olympic gold medal winner, and wrestler, Kurt Angle was one of the highest-paid wrestlers in the WWE.
While he began his wrestling career back at WCW, Kurt Angle ultimately received a contract from the WWE where he ultimately rose through the ranks to become of the top dawgs.
After retiring from the squared circle, WWE absorbed Kurt Angle as a backstage producer. While he does not currently earn the same amount, he did during his wrestling days, Kurt Angle currently earns an estimated $350,000 per month.
While working as a professional wrestler with the WWE, Kurt Angle’s monthly salary was above the $1 million mark. Apart from wrestling, Kurt Angle also earned a significant amount from television and film appearances.
His first-ever film appearance was back in 2009 when he played Brad Mayfield in the critically acclaimed film, End Game.
He would later make appearances in other films such as Warrior, Pain & Gain, Not Cool, and Sharknado 2.
6. Hulk Hogan: $25 million
Grandiose claims, a memorable personality, and impressive mic skills all describe Hulk mania. A larger-than-life athlete, Hulk Hogan became a household name back during the attitude era because of his charisma, impressive wrestling ability, and ability to take down evil-doers.
It is his climb to the top of the wrestling world that made him one of the highest-paid wrestlers of his time. With a net worth of $25 million, Hulkmania remains one of the richest wrestlers to date.
In his illustrious wrestling career, Hulk Hogan amassed various titles, including the World Heavyweight Championship an impressive 12 times and the WWF Championship six times.
Because of his massive popularity back in the ’90s, Hulk Hogan got into the film business appearing in various films such as Rocky III, Mr. Nanny, Gremlins 2, Spy Hard, and Thunder in Paradise.
In 2013, Hulk Hogan received a $140 million settlement from Gawker, after the company was found guilty for invasion of privacy and infringement of personal rights.
5. Steve Austin: $30 million
Even though it is close to 20 years since the Texas Rattlesnake retired from the squared circle, the WWE has never been successful in replicating Stone Cold’s success. Regarded as the greatest wrestler of all time, Stone Cold Steve Austin has a net worth of $30 million.
As a wrestler, Stone Cold got paid the big bucks mainly because of his success in the ring and the role he played in ushering in the Attitude Era.
The Attitude Era not only helped put the WWE on the map but also ensured that WWE became the most successful wrestling promotion. All these factors contributed to a great flow of cash into the company and it’s safe to say that Austin received his fair share because of his contribution.
Apart from his base salary, Steve Austin also received a huge check from merch sales commissions and film appearances. With a total net worth of $30 million, Stone Cold Steve Austin is arguably one of the richest wrestlers of all time.
By the end of his illustrious wrestling career, Stone Cold Steve Austin held 19 Championship titles, including 6 WWF World Championships, 4 tag team titles, and 2 WCW heavyweight championship titles.
4. John Cena: $60 million
One of the richest wrestlers in the world, John Cena, is a household name both in the wrestling and movie world. Currently, John Cena has a net worth of $60 million making him one of the richest wrestlers of all time.
Most of his earnings come from on-screen appearances and the film business.
While John Cena’s acting career is yet to match that of Dwayne Johnson, he is still one of the few wrestlers to have successfully transitioned from wrestling into the movie business.
As an actor, John Cena was featured in various films such as Trainwreck, 12 Rounds, Daddy’s Home, and most recently Suicide Squad 2 and Fast and Furious 9.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that Cena began his acting career when he was still in his early years in the WWE. During that period, John Cena appeared in several successful films, such as The Marine, which grossed more than $30 million on the box office.
As a professional wrestler, John Cena was quite successful in the squared circle, holding the coveted World Championship title a record 17 times, making him one of the greatest WWE champions of all time.
3. Triple H/Stephanie McMahon: $150 million
Triple H’s in-ring dominance saw him become a household name and one of the highest-paid wrestlers of all time. After taking a break from his wrestling career, Triple H decided to focus more on the management of the company.
Apart from serving as an executive vice president of talent, Triple H also founded NXT, an affiliate of WWE that focuses more on the upcoming talent.
In his illustrious wrestling career, Triple H is a 14-time world champion, 3-time tag team champion, and 5-time intercontinental champion. In 2003, Triple H tied the knot with Stephanie McMahon, a professional wrestler and the daughter of WWE chair, Vince McMahon.
Apart from her contribution as a pro wrestler, Stephanie McMahon also played a crucial role in reviving the women’s division into what it is today. Her role and contribution to the world of sports entertainment saw her become one of the most influential women in the world.
In 2020, Forbes magazine named Stephanie McMahon as the 2nd most influential CMO. With the WWE, Stephanie McMahon receives two different salaries. One for her onscreen contribution and the other as the co-owner of WWE.
Together with his wife, Stephanie McMahon, the couple has a combined net worth of $150 million. It’s safe to say that they are the richest couple in pro-wrestling.
2. Dwayne Johnson: $400 million
Popularly known by his gimmick “The Rock”, Dwayne Johnson graced our screens for several years as one of the brightest and greatest wrestlers of all time. His trash-talking jibe made him a fan favorite and, in some cases, made him clash with other wrestlers.
Apart from his illustrious wrestling career, Dwayne Johnson has also shown that he has what it takes to take on some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
In 2020, Forbes magazine named him the highest-paid actor surpassing the likes of Will Smith, Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds, and Vin Diesel. Critically acclaimed film, Red Notice by Netflix saw the actor cash in a whopping $23.5 million.
Apart from his film earnings, Dwayne Johnson also generates a sizeable income from deals and endorsements with renowned brands such as Under Armor, Apple, and Ford.
Dwayne Johnson’s Under Armor line includes clothes, shoes, and headphones as well. Let’s just say, Dwayne Johnson is on track to become the wealthiest wrestler of all time.
1. Vince McMahon: $1.6 billion
With a total net worth of $1.6 billion, Vincent McMahon Jr. is the richest wrestler of all time. Currently, Vince McMahon serves as the CEO and Chairman of the world’s biggest wrestling promotion, WWE. Forbes magazine ranks Vince McMahon at number 1517 on the world’s billionaires list.
After joining his father, Vincent McMahon Sr. in the management of his small wrestling promotion, Vince McMahon Jr. ultimately purchased the company from his father 10 years later.
At the time, the company was a regional promotion, but with his ingenious and marketing brilliance, Vince McMahon transformed it into a global phenomenon.
In 1999, the WWE went public and today, the company broadcasts its programs to more than 150 countries. Loved and hated in equal proportions, Vince McMahon always played his gimmick to perfection and never broke character.
Even though he rarely makes an appearance in the squared circle, Vince McMahon was a solid wrestler back in the days and was never afraid of taking some of the biggest names in the company.