Money is what makes the pro wrestling world go round. High-profile performers can have all the passion in the world for competing in the squared circle but few, if any, would ever dare to work for free.
It’s the wrestling ‘business’ after all. Their bodies and peak years have an expiry date, and all of them care to make as much money as they can in major promotions before calling it quits.
A lot of issues behind the scenes can be directly traced back to money, or lack of it. Many of CM Punk’s gripes with WWE came down to him believing the company should have been paying him much more for his PPV matches that would often steal the show. Mark ‘The Undertaker’ Calaway has claimed he only left WCW for the WWF in 1990 after being turned down a pay rise request, and being told by WCW officials “no one is ever going to pay money to see you wrestle.”
The Ultimate Warrior and Vince McMahon famously clashed around SummerSlam ’91 over cash, when Warrior threatened the no-show the PPV unless he was paid equal to Hulk Hogan.
Performers and promotions frequently don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to money and negotiating. Here we’ll look at 10 workers major promotions tried to force pay cuts on, to mixed results.