Sami Zayn, one-half of the WWE Undisputed Tag Team Champions with Kevin Owens and their partner Matt Riddle will tonight go up against The Bloodline, Solo Sikoa and The Usos at WWE Backlash in Puerto Rico.
During a recent interview with Andrew Santino for the Whiskey Ginger show, Zayn discussed signing with WWE in 2013 and how he took a pay cut in pay after leaving the independent scene.
“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.”
“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. 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 ten 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 check 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 currently holds the WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championships with Kevin Owens. They’ll be competing against The Bloodline team of Solo Sikoa and The Usos later tonight at WWE Backlash in Puerto Rico.
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