Forbes once again published their estimated list of the ten highest paid WWE superstars. The estimates are for the 2016 year, and use data compiled from "WWE's public filings, booking contracts and pay documents as well as interviews with industry insiders." It was noted that wrestler pay is comprised of base salary, as well as bonus payments from merchandise and live events.
Most of the names on the list may not surprise you, but the order and amounts came as a total surprise for us. Most shocking is that for the first time in a long time, John Cena has lost his spot on top of the list.
The 16 time WWE Champion has long been WWE's torch bearer in merchandise sales and considered the biggest draw for tv ratings and pay per view buys (which are now less relevant thanks to the WWE Network). This year, however, the Cenation leader's STFU like grip on the top of the list has been loosened and one has to wonder if his new career in films will ever allow for him to get back to the top spot.
Many New Era stars have mixed into this list with some very familiar veterans.
Click start slideshow to see which WWE stars made the most Money In The Bank last year.
Considering how long The Viper has been sitting near the top of the WWE, it's surprising to find the 13 time World Champion at the bottom of this list. But then again, when is the last time you saw someone in a Randy Orton shirt?
The Kingslayer was out of action for large parts of 2016, and missed WrestleMania, which is the biggest payday of the year. So, while 2 mil may seem low, it's skewed. Look for Seth to freakin jump up this list in a big way in 2017.
Not a bad living for a guy who only had to work two matches and make a few appearances on RAW. But considering how many people watch WrestleMania just to see The Undertaker, $2 million feels like a steal for the WWE.
Speaking of only having to work two matches, here comes the money! 2.2 seems a little high for Shane. Then again, he is also the on-screen Commissioner of Smackdown, which is a fairly prominent position. Believe it or not, Shane is still a big draw, but he is definitely the lowest paid McMahon (if we're not counting Vince's illegitimate son, Hornswoggle).
I'm pleasantly surprised to see AJ Styles so high on this list. He's consistently been the best wrestler in the WWE since debuting at last year's Royal Rumble, but I would have guessed that Vince was able to get him in for a much lower price tag considering he already had nearly 20 years on him. $2.4 seems like a Phenomenal start to AJ's WWE career as I would imagine that price will only go up in the years to come.
The Lunatic Fringe was a World and Intercontinental Champion in 2016 and continues to be one of the most popular superstars on the roster. While some believe his character has gotten a little stale, the numbers likely say otherwise. Merchandise talks in the WWE and Ambrose is still moving quite a lot of it.
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I know that's what you're doing right now so I figured I'd type if out for you. If it makes you angry to see Roman so high on this list, just know it's probably the lowest on the list he'll ever be. His place on top of the roster is set. He is the New Era's biggest star whether you or anyone else disagrees with it. Vince has selected him and Vince will keep pushing until we all tap out and come around on Roman. He did it with the next guy ...
We found out that Triple H was making bank several weeks back when all of the McMahon family's salaries were revealed. As the head of talent and the face of the company and still one of the biggest in-ring draws in the game, on one could possibly begrudge The Game for sitting so high on this list.
In 2015 John Cena was the highest paid WWE superstar at 9.5 mil. For the first time in a while Cena now slips down to number 2. He did miss WrestleMania in 2016 with an injury and took more time off to work on various film projects, so 8 million is nothing to sneeze at. Still, seeing Cena at number 2 on this list makes his comments late last year about part timers getting paid more than him start to make sense. Which leads us to the highest paid WWE star of 2016.
Lesnar's pay doubled to $12 million in 2016 after The Beast made more appearances than on the front end of his schedule and was involved in arguably the highest profile feud of the fall with returning WCW icon, Goldberg. You could make the case that Lesnar also wrestled less time than any other superstar on the roster, but that is part of his appeal.
Now the Universal Champion, Lesnar is set to go back to being more of an attraction that doesn't show up for every RAW or every pay per view, just as he was in 2015. That may seem like a negative, but having Brock Lesnar carry the strap gives the belt a legitimacy that no other superstar is capable of. If Brock wants 12 million, you give it to him and step out of the way!
No word on how much Paul Heyman gets paid to do ALL of Lesnar's talking for him.