With WrestleMania 37 just around the corner, we’ve been looking back on almost forty years of the most anticipated night in professional wrestling. It’s no secret that the WWE is big business, and with big business comes big money. Just how big? Let’s find out.
WWE wrestlers are heavily compensated for the physical risk their bodies are subjected to. They earn a base salary, a portion of merchandising sales, and sizable bonuses for headlining pay-per-view events such as Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. The headlining stars of WrestleMania are usually the company’s most popular performers and many have used their fame to create supplementary sources of income.
For some, the WWE paycheck is enough. For others, there’s more than enough money to be made outside of the wrestling industry—here are the top 5 richest WrestleMania winners of all time:
5. Brock Lesnar
- Net Worth: $28 million
With a glowing, two-decade career in the WWE, a brief stint in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, and five years in the UFC, there is very little in the field of sports entertainment that Brock Lesnar hasn’t done. While Lesnar is rumored to no longer be under contract with the WWE, this has yet to be confirmed by the organization. The vast majority of Lesnar’s wealth comes from his sporting success.
Lesnar has headlined three WrestleManias and won two. At WrestleMania XIX, he beat Kurt Angle for the Championship title, despite suffering a concussion during a botched move. Following WrestleMania XX where Lesnar was paid $250,000 for his non-headlining match against Goldberg, he left the WWE to pursue his NFL career.
The heavyweight was reportedly livid with the amount received, though rumors of his departure had been circulating long before the match. In any case, he later returned to wrestling and headlined WrestleMania 31, where he lost a triple threat match featuring Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.
At Wrestlemania 34, Lesnar successfully defended the WWE title against Roman Reigns.
4. Stone Cold Steve Austin
- Net Worth: $40 million
Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009, there is no denying that the Texan Rattlesnake is one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time. At the peak of his career, Stone Cold was reportedly making around $12 million a year. While his income has undoubtedly depleted since his retirement, Austin has branched out into other industries such as film and TV, podcasting and beer-making.
Stone Cold headlined three WrestleManias, all for the WWF Championship (later changed to WWE). In 1998 at WrestleMania XIV he faced Shawn Michaels. One year later at WrestleMania XV he took on The Rock, and in 2001 (WrestleMania X-Seven) the pair faced off once more. Austin won all three matches.
3. John Cena
- Net Worth: $60 million
While he’s dabbled in acting, starred in a viral internet meme, and has even delivered a platinum rap album, Cena is best known for having dominated professional wrestling since 2001. His WWE salary per annum is thought to be around $8.5 million.
Cena currently holds the record for winning the most WWE Championships with his 13 reigns. He successfully defended the title from Triple H at WrestleMania 22, and then put down a challenge from Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 23. Following two headlining losses at WrestleMania XXVII & XXVIII, Cena won back the Championship from the Rock at WrestleMania 29.
2. Triple H
- Net Worth: $150 million
A WWE staple since 1995, Triple H rose to fame as the co-founder of stable, and later tag team, D-Generation X. Triple H married the daughter of Vince and Linda McMahon (who are majority shareholders in the WWE), Stephanie McMahon, and has been heavily involved in the management of the company ever since. His net worth comes not only from his $730,000 per annum salary, but from stocks and compensation pay. He is also the founder and executive producer of the NXT brand.
The Hall of Famer headlined many pay-per-view events for the organization and won almost everything there is to win. He has headlined WrestleMania seven times in total between 2000 and 2016. At WrestleMania 2000, he defeated Mick Foley, The Big Show and The Rock in a four-way elimination match.
Two years later, Triple H beat out Chris Jericho at WrestleMania X8 and won the championship. His third and final win came at WrestleMania XXV, where he went up against Randy Orton.
1. Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson
- Net Worth: $320 million
Are you surprised? After topping the Forbes list of highest paid actors for two years in a row, it should be no surprise that Johnson takes the top spot of highest earning Wrestlemania winners. The Rock wrestled in the WWE for eight years (1996-2004) before pursuing his wildly successful acting career.
He has made appearances in the years since to induct both his father Ricky Johnson, and his grandfather Peter Maivia to the WWE Hall of Fame, and to continue various feuds. In 2012, The Rock returned to make his fourth WrestleMania appearance. He faced off against John Cena and won, vowing to become the WWE Champion once more.
At the 26th Royal Rumble in 2013, Johnson won the Championship from CM Punk, only to lose it again to Cena in a rematch at WrestleMania 29. Johnson had to undergo surgery following the performance having suffered torn tendons in his pelvis.
While The Rock has stayed close to his roots and continues to appear in the WWE sporadically, he announced his official retirement from professional wrestling in 2019. He is widely regarded as one of the best wrestlers ever. It’s only a matter of time before he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, though he’ll have to find a slot in his busy acting schedule first.
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