It’s true the storylines are scripted, but the performance artists that fake fight in the WWE feel real pain.
Hurling oneself out of the ring to smash through a table, smarts. Getting body-slammed by an extremely muscular 300-ish pound giant, hurts. No amount of modified set pieces or choreographed moves can protect wrestlers from physical punishment — they are mortal.
They're also larger-than-life entertainers, and some of them are getting paid seriously big bucks.
The top dog for 2016 is Brock Lesner. A wrestling champ in college, the brutality of the pro-sport isn’t enough for him; he’s also an ultimate fighter. His earnings pushed the great John Cena to the number two slot (who lost a lot of ring time due to shoulder surgery).
There’s also The Undertaker, a formidable 52-year-old, who continued to compete in 2016 despite his age, coming in at 8th highest earner.
Tune in to this episode of The Forbes List to hear from Chris Smith, Forbes writer, about how and why these massive showmen earn what they earn and the dues they pay for their glory.