In the past week, WWE has parted ways with 20 wrestlers as well as 300 staff in a bid to save money while the coronavirus continues ravage society as we know it.
Kurt Angle, Rusev and Zack Ryder were along those to go and with no live events and their merchandise taking a significant hit, the company felt the need to make this move in order to appease shareholders and remain as close to their original targets as possible.
They still have big stars on big contracts, though.
Forbes has looked at the top earners – still on the WWE roster – which features chairman Vince McMahon’s son and daughter, who make the list due more to their executive roles.
Forbes says it tallies gross pay before taxes using WWE filings, an analysis of individual wrestler performance and sales metrics, and interviews with industry experts and analysts.
According to the magazine, WWE pays each wrestler a baseline income—called a ‘downside guarantee’, which is negotiated with each performer, plus additional payouts when events do well and a cut of merchandise sales that use their image.
Since the emergence of rival promotion, AEW, guarantees have surged past the $1m barrier.
10. Braun Strowman – $1.9m (£1.5m)
The Monster Among Men signed a new contract last year with a $1.2 million guarantee in it, but given his use at major events, he came close to breaking the $2m mark.
9. Stephanie McMahon – $2m (£1.6m)
Similar to husband Triple H, McMahon makes money based on being on TV and her real-life role as chief brand officer. Her primary income comes from the latter as she’s rarely been on TV in the past year, but was involved in a high-profile angle with Ronda Rousey before that.
8. Shane McMahon – $2.1 (£1.7m)
Brother to Stephanie and the boss’ son, Shane McMahon only wrestled 15 times in 2019, but he competed at high profile events – Royal Rumble and WrestleMania included – and had his longest in-ring stretch in decades. He holds no stock in WWE any longer, but was working behind the scenes at the 2020 Royal Rumble.
7. Goldberg – $3m (£2.4m)
The WCW icon received a $2m payoff for his Saudi Arabia disaster with The Undertaker and then went on to wrestle Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam. For what he does, that’s a hell of a lot of money.
6. Becky Lynch – $3.1m (£2.5m)
The Man has kayfabed everyone about a new deal on social media, but in reality she signed it after main eventing WrestleMania 35. Having also headlined TLC and Survivor Series at the end of 2019, she made a pretty penny.
5. Triple H – $3.3m (£2.6m)
Just like his wife, Triple H has an executive salary of $706,019, but he also earned $502,146 in stock awards and $102,950 in incentive plan compensation. Of course, he is also paid as a performer and that made him around $2m in 2019. He retired Batista at WrestleMania 35, wrestled Randy Orton in Saudi Arabia and featured on TV leading NXT in the weeks before Survivor Series.
4. Seth Rollins – $4m (£3m)
Rollins was the Universal champion for a good half of 2019 and faced Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania and SummerSlam. He’s been a main event player for a while and his Monday Night gimmick has shifted T-shirts, too. 2019 was a good year for the former Shield man.
3. Randy Orton – $4.1m (£3.3m)
Orton signed a new deal in November and openly talked about how he used AEW and their interest for leverage, something that AEW owner Tony Khan didn’t appreciate. It’s understood the 18-year veteran could make upwards of $6m in 2020 as he works a reduced schedule.
2. Roman Reigns – $5m (£4m)
Reigns has been anointed as the heir to John Cena’s poster boy throne for a while now and the new deal he signed in August of last year has the biggest guarantee of a full-timer in the company. His return from battling leukaemia last year saw him get major match-ups alongside The Shield before getting some mid-card programmes to tie himself over for the rest of the year. Considering he didn’t do much in the way of world title angles, he did well financially.
1. Brock Lesnar – $10m (£8m)
Easily WWE’s biggest earner, Lesnar only wrestled nine times in the past 12 months. He is a huge draw and will be negotiating a new deal in the near future after signing his last three-year deal at the close of 2018. He reportedly appears for a flat rate and pay-per-view buys or Network subscriptions do not effect his pay like it does other talent. Lesnar has only appeared more since Paul Heyman took control of Monday Night Raw, so 2020 is set to be a huge earner for the 42-year-old.