Sami Zayn Reveals He Took A Pay Cut To Join WWE
Sami Zayn took a major pay cut when he signed with WWE
While Sami Zayn will be on a much-higher amount now, the three-time Intercontinental Champion revealed he took a pay cut to sign with WWE back in 2013, dropping from $100,000 a year on the independents to $39,000 a year in NXT.
"I used to write down all the money I would make. It wasn't like a bookkeeping, for tax purposes type thing. It was just, 'I did this match on this date for this company and I got paid (this much).' I remember then that pay went from $20 to $50. 'Woah.' The first time I got offered $100, I was like, 'I'm getting $100 to go to the States? To wrestle?!?!?' The first year, I think it was 2008, I'm six years into the business, and I'm making $20,000 a year. 'That's it. I don't need another job. This is my living now.' I've been very lucky in a lot of ways. 20, 30, 40 the next year. Over time, it's just gone up, which is great. It continues to go up, thankfully," Zayn stated on Whiskey Ginger.
"When I signed for WWE, I actually took a pay cut. You're signing for WWE, it's like the opportunity to make money, in a sense. I think my last year on the independents, I'm throwing all these numbers out willy-nilly, but whatever. I think it was, at the time, right after I left the independents, the independents kind of blew up where guys are suddenly making six figures who are just starting to make good names for themselves. There was a big indie boom right after I left. I think my last year on the independents, I made somewhere around $100,000. I signed my first WWE contract for $39,000. It's developmental now, but eventually, you'll make good money, which is what happened," he continued.
"I wasn't too near-sighted about it, thinking, 'Oh, I'm worth so much more.' You kind of understand when to take it on the chin and when you'll make it up. All this to say, I got pretty lucky in wrestling, even when I signed with WWE, even though I had already been working for 10 or 11 years, they put me through the developmental program, and I did very well, very quickly. Within about eight months, which was unheard of at the time because they usually take two or three years before they start sending you to do stuff. Within about eight months, they started sending me on the road to do road loops. At that point, maybe it is 50 grand a year. That first cheque came in for that road loop, it was like six or seven grand. I had this lightbulb moment, 'Oh my God, that's right, I'm here to make money.' I know it sounds cliche, 'When you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life.' Money is not why I do it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy having it versus not having it."
Sami Zayn, of course, never wrestled on the independents but his mentor El Generico looks to have given every penny he earned to Zayn. The Generic One was a mainstay in the likes of Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and CHIKARA. He is a former PWG World Champion and ROH World Tag Team Champion with Kevin Steen.
El Generico retired from pro wrestling shortly before Sami Zayn signed with WWE. He is believed to have retired to work with orphans but rumours in recent years have suggested the popular luchador passed away in mysterious circumstances.
H/T to Fightful