How much money do WWE wrestlers get for participating in Wrestlemania 39?
Find out the professional wrestlers’ financial compensation for this weekend’s upcoming WWE Wrestlemania 39 “Goes to Hollywood” spectacle.
Before discussing the money circulating between the WWE and the professional wrestlers, we must examine their unique business relationship. Wrestlers are self-employed contractors who sign exclusive obligational contracts with the World Wrestling Entertainment corporation. While under contract, the wrestlers are not allowed to be involved with other market promotions, something WWE is very strict about and does not hesitate to initiate a legal battle against it.
WWE holds the rights to a wrestler’s ring name, likeness, personality, character, caricatures, costumes, gestures, and even legal name during the term of a booking contract. If the wrestler wishes to use either Wrestler or New impersonation in a separate endeavor, they must be granted those rights in a sub-license arrangement.
The prevalence of contracts also distinguishes between Wrestler IP and New IP. The former includes rights that will revert to the performer upon fulfilling their agreement (or, if necessary, the stated sell-off period). Though those rights return to the performer, WWE and its sub-licensees maintain the rights to use footage from a wrestler’s tenure. New IPs, or trademarks and other properties developed by WWE during a wrestler’s term of employment, are retained by WWE in perpetuity. The main exceptions are when a wrestler’s legal and ring names are identical (think Brock Lesnar or John Cena).
Booking contracts typically grant performers a base salary plus a share of other revenue streams like merchandise sales and gate receipts. Wrestlers on WWE’s main roster make an average of $500,000 annually, while top performers are well into the seven figures. But specifying an individual wrestler’s pay is far more challenging. Internet gossip fixed one of Lesnar’s former contracts at $5 million for a single year, while other rumors indicate the new one is a three-year deal worth $3 million.
During the time, some contracts acquired by the press as part of the legal documents in some of the WWE court cases illustrated that wrestlers are paid a base salary plus shares of WWE revenue streams like merchandise and gate receipts. However, that bonus money is nearly impossible to discern because the wrestlers’ revenue share is allocated as a portion of sales costs in WWE’s financial filings. In the available contracts, annual base salaries range from $52,000 to $1 million per year, though based on a small sample.
The only wrestler we have an absolute number is Triple H (Paul Levesque), who also serves as WWE VP of talent, live events, and creative director - a company executive who filed his payroll earlier this month. Levesque made $1.1 million in executive pay, including incentives, plus another $1.65 million from in-ring performances. His total take-home of some $2.8 million made him WWE’s highest-paid executive last year; chairman Vince McMahon made $2.4 million.