We've all the heard the analogy that wrestling is like a soap opera for boys. I recently read an article that outlined the pay scale for actors on soap operas. It broke down this:
Newcomer: $60,000 - $100,000 This is their first contract role in the industry. On average, they work two days out of the work week. They may still be too "new" to get approached about public appearances.
Hunk: $100,000 - $500,000 This is usually their first job, but they have caught on like wild-fire with the viewers. They're featured on talk shows, in non-soap magazines, and can make up to $5,000 per public appearance.
Superstar: $500,000 PLUS They've been on soaps for more than five years, and are recognizable even to non-soap viewers. They're cast in movies-of-the-week as well as commercials, and are even booked on Letterman!
It struck me that the pay scale for WWE superstars is probably very similar, with the very top guys, with a lot of leverage, earning a little more.
But when was the last time Victor from Young and the Restless performed a flying huricanrana from the top turnbuckle? When was the last time a soap star broke his neck doing a scene with Susan Lucci?
Your average professional wrestler is not only an actor, but also an athlete and a stuntman, but their salaries are nowhere near commensurate with industry standards in any of these areas. I'm talking about the top-end of these industries, and let's face it, in Wrestling, the WWE is the top.
Now that Vince has monopoly in North America, the wrestlers have no leverage with which to negotiate their contracts. With monthly PPVs about to possibly become bi-monthly PPVs, the company will be pulling more revenue than ever before. Combined with weekly programming, house shows, merchandizing, publishing, etc... that's more than any individual professional sports team, I'd wager.
When a guy like A-Rod can sign a deal for $252 Million, obviously something's seriously wrong with Baseball's salary regulations, but our boys in the ring, with their constant traveling and risk of injury and unusual talents and millions of fans...well, they deserve better than soap stars, don't they?
(edited by Stilton on 3.3.04 0143) So sayeth Randy Stilton.
Originally posted by StiltonYour average professional wrestler is not only an actor, but also an athlete and a stuntman
Actually, they're athletes with marginal acting skills, and not stuntmen at all (at least, not the ones with careers that outlast the life-span of your average fruitfly).
I also think that the pay scale you gave for soap opera stars is a *little* high for most WWE wrestlers. I remember Edge being on OTR once saying that him and Christian were making something like $35000 a year when they first started. Of course, that's without the bonuses, but really, how many "Gangrel" t-shirts were they selling back then?
The low-end guarantees (Developmental guys, Paul London, & the like) are between 52 & 75k a year.
The biggest contracts are 1 million dollars. (Mark Henry, The Big Show)
Rock & Austin's contracts are/were for about 800k a year.
Benoit initially had the biggest contract of the Radicalz at around 250k a year.
Jericho's contract was for 300k a year. He's re-signed a new one in 2003, but I don't know the particulars.
Keep in mind, these are merely the downside guarantees, not taking merchandise and house and PPV bonuses into account.
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened. - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
So it is fairly comparable with soap opera salaries, it seems. The merch money and PPV bonuses no doubt suplement the salary nicely, but I wonder about what economists call "surplus revenue", that is, how much money an employee makes for a company versus how much money that employee actually makes.
Compared to other professional "sports", wrestlers seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Or is it just that athletes in other sports are getting paid far too much?
Is it simply a matter of competition? A-Rod can get 252 million, because if the Yankees don't give it to him, another organization will? Because, at the level of WWE, there's nowhere else for the wrestlers to go. There's no way for them to say, I want more or else I'm going to the other team.
Some WWE stars get endorsments. Remember SuperSoaker DX commercials? Cena and YJ Stinger. Kurt Angle is endorsed by Maximum Human Performance (MHP). I'm sure there are lots of others as I only learned that Angle is with MHP when I randomly saw him in a page ad in a muscle magazine.
So factor that in.
And on top of that, and what soap stars are recognized by non soap fans. I certainly can't name any, but people know who Austin, the Rock, and Hogan are. Even if they have never seen a TV event.
"Huard, gonna go back to throw the ball. Sets up, looks, throws towards the corner of the endzone...it is INTERCEPTED INTERCEPTED, THE DUCKS HAVE THE BALL! Down to the 35, the 40. Kenny Wheaton's gonna score! Kenny Wheaton is gonna score! 20, the 10, Touchdown! Kenny Wheaton on the interception, the most incredible finish to the football game!"
It seems like Vince has been keeping a tight rein on his wrestlers lately. Buff and Kronik were let go immediately after their lackluster performances, if that was the only reason. I just hope this all works out for the best.