The recently concluded Wrestlemania 32 made the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.) $17 million in a night, reminding the world again how beloved an eclectic display of spandex, soap opera, brutality, athleticism and extravagant wrestler entrances can be. Here are some financial curiosities in the world of professional wrestling.
Who makes the most money?
Wrestling fans will likely be familiar with The Rock – more formally known as Dwayne Johnson. They will also know that his days of wrestling full-time as a main attraction in the ring are long over, with his earlier foray into Hollywood blossoming into a full-fledged career. However, The Rock, with his part-time contract – whereby he appears only on select events such as Wrestlemania as opposed to every weekly show – still draws the highest salary. His $3.5 million per annum is 28% higher than John Cena’s $2.75 million, and he makes a tiny fraction of the appearances John Cena does. Such is the strength and draw of legacy.
What about the boss?
Vince McMahon, the founder of the company, is worth $1.2 billion – dwarfing the net worth of any of his employees. To put things in perspective, this is 28 times the net worth of the next wealthiest full-time member of the organisation, John Cena, who has a net worth of $36 million. Underpinning all the testosterone-filled mat action is a business after all; WWF, as it was then known, went public and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 1999. Vince McMahon owns approximately 50% of the company. As such, his net worth comprises $600 million of shares given the company’s market capitalisation of $1.2 billion. It pays to be the boss.
Why aren’t Triple H and Brock Lesnar featured on Forbes like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James?
Professional wrestlers, with their colourful personalities and ring artistry, regularly draw favourable reactions from audiences. On the surface, wrestling superstars are revered and idolised just as much as, if not more than their contemporaries in other realms of sports. This, however, highlights the business behind sports. Ticket sales and television viewership (cable rights contracts) bring in revenue, and professional wrestling as a sport simply does not pull in the same viewership as a sport such as football or basketball. The economics are simple – if more people watch wrestling, wrestlers make more money. As it stands now, however, a fresh 20 year old rookie in the NBA stands to make upwards of $500,000 per annum, while the WWE’s rising star Seth Rollins, 29, made $310,000 last year (2015).
Can I be a wrestler too?
The career of a professional wrestler, naturally, is not typically a long-lasting one – as with most other sports. While your wrestling attire can likely be constructed on the cheap, and your stage personality a product of your creativity and not your wallet, you would likely have to enrol in wrestling school. While professional wrestling is fake in the sense that moves and sequences are pre-meditated, there is nothing fake about the execution of the wrestling manoeuvres, and the athleticism required to pull them off. As a proxy, Singapore Pro Wrestling charges a membership fee of $150 per month for its school. The ‘career progression’ of an aspiring professional wrestler, however, is anything but stable and clear-cut. One might certainly strive and train to be a professional wrestler, but fixed expectations of a monetarily-fulfilling career out of any such endeavor likely merits reassessment.