From DiBiase to Del Rio ...
On July 15, two Superstars will walk out of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view with guaranteed contracts for World Championship matches, which in the context of WWE competition, is the equivalent of hitting pay dirt. As handsome as that prize may be, history shows that many a money-hungry Superstar has prioritized “accumulating cash” just below “winning a championship” on his to-do list.
With that in mind, WWE.com presents this rich list of the most money Superstars in history. They say money is the root of all evil, but in this case of the squared circle, it’s also been the root of some truly captivating characters.
10. Hot Commodity
A short-lived stable that existed toward the tail end of the original ECW, Hot Commodity was a three-Superstar faction consisting of EZ Money (pictured above), Chris Hamrick and Julio Dinero. Formed in 2000, the group started with just Money and occasional tag partner Hamrick, a longtime mainstay on the Southern independent circuit upon whom the nickname “Confederate Currency” was bestowed by ECW announcer Joey Styles. The duo rumbled briefly with Dinero – a former regular on WWE Shotgun Saturday Night who failed to rise above local-athlete level – before he adopted a “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach and expanded the pair to a trio. No member of Hot Commodity ever found championship gold in ECW, detracting somewhat from their supposedly high value. Lest the monetary tie-ins appear too tenuous, let it not be forgotten that Money’s first rivalry in ECW was against none other than future WWE Cruiserweight Champion, and fellow dollar devotee, Kid Kash.
9. Tiger Ali Singh
Among the Attitude Era’s most crass and controversial personalities, Tiger Ali Singh was born into the lap of luxury. A second-generation grappler (his father, Tiger Jeet Singh, is considered wrestling royalty in Japan), Singh was a highly touted prospect best remembered for his out-of-ring antics aimed at debasing the American population of the WWE Universe. Backed by his man servant, Babu, Singh gleefully disparaged the U.S. as home of the unsophisticated and infirm. Always dressed in lavish robes or tailored suits, Singh regularly offered members of the WWE audiences cold, hard cash to perform embarrassing acts. Among his many affronts was doling out $500 to a fan who agreed to eat dog food during a live Raw broadcast. Rare are the conversations, perhaps tellingly, that extol Singh’s in-ring accomplishments.
8. The York Foundation
Led by the laptop-toting finance wiz Miss Alexandra York (better known to the WWE Universe as former Diva Terri “Marlena” Runnels), the York Foundation was a powerful stable in early ’90s WCW whose members always seemed destined for Wall Street Journal hedcuts. At various points, the group comprised ring vets Mike Rotunda, Ricky Morton, Terry Taylor, Tommy Rich and the suspendered and shades-wearing muscle, Mr. Hughes. (All but Hughes took on more business-formal names upon entering the mix: Ricky turned into Richard, Terry went by Terrance, Tommy changed to Thomas and Rotunda became Michael Wallstreet.)
An imposing enough collective sans manager, the Superstars owed a technological edge to York and her computer: She claimed her laptop compiled data on York Foundation opponents and produced sure-fire strategies for attaining victory. What says “money” more than using leading-edge technology to gain a competitive advantage?
7. The Prime Time Players
As painful as it may be to admit, given their boisterous ways, Titus O’Neil and Darren Young have come a long way from their humble beginnings on WWE NXT. Now among WWE’s premier tag teams, the duo oozes charisma, and their names appear destined for bright lights. Though O’Neil and Young aren’t walking around with fistfuls of cash like Singh had done, their now-familiar chant of “millions of dollars” makes clear their top priority is to rake in the cash. Further, by hooking up with power agent A.W., the hard-hitting team seemingly has a business-first mentality when it comes to their in-ring pursuits. Prime-time programming isn’t cheap, as O’Neil and Young are all too happy to remind people.
6. CM Punk
The Second City Saint’s inclusion on this list might seem initally like a mistake. Though one could reasonably assume the reigning WWE Champion earns a fat paycheck, CM Punk has never been one to flaunt his riches. In fact, his T-shirt heavy wardrobe and everyman demeanor give the immediate impression that Punk bucks the upper-crust, even if he shares their tax bracket. Yet, there’s a very sound reason for Punk to be considered among history’s most “money” Superstars: He’s the only two-time Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner. Though “The Ultimate Opportunist” Edge equals Punk in contract cash-ins, Edge only has one Money in the Bank Ladder Match win to his name. (The Rated-R Superstar’s second cash-in came at the expense of Mr. Kennedy, whom Edge beat to win the contract.) Punk, on the other hand, took home the guaranteed contract at back-to-back WrestleManias, in 2008 and 2009.
5. Mike Rotunda
Whether grappling as a member of the aforementioned York Foundation or nickel-and-diming in WWE as audit-hungry taxman Irwin R. Schyster (IRS), finances always appeared to be foremost on the mind of Mike Rotunda (save, perhaps, his brief run as boatman Capt. Mike). As the bespectacled IRS, Rotunda put on the tie and dress pants and began crunching numbers in addition to wrenching arms.
Never long on sympathy, Rotunda repossessed other Superstars’ belongings and routinely accused the WWE Universe of being full of tax cheats. He’d also offer up “helpful” tax tips such as “Stop hiding those tips under the mattress” and “Having your daughter’s bucked teeth fixed doesn’t constitute a proper medical claim.” Rotunda further solidified his spot among wrestling’s most notorious money grubbers when he teamed with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase to form Money Inc. and, later, rejoined WCW as a stock-broker-turned-bruiser named V.K. Wallstreet.
4. Alberto Del Rio
With his own personal ring announcer, a large assortment of cashmere white scarves and a fleet of luxury cars that puts Jay Leno’s collection to shame, it’s no wonder that Alberto Del Rio finds his way near the top of this list. Never mind the fact he’s a past Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner; The Mexican Aristocrat prides himself on his affluence, as he’s made clear since before even stepping into a WWE ring. Prior to making his debut, the impeccably dressed Del Rio irritated fans for weeks with haughty video vignettes shot at his palatial estate.
The WWE Universe has since grown accustomed to his braggadocio. Del Rio’s silver-spoon upbringing has allowed him to study at the world’s finest universities, and his nose is purportedly sophisticated enough to detect even the most subtle of buttery notes in an aged chardonnay. Life isn’t always so sweet for the former WWE Champion, however: On a recent webisode of “Superstar Toyz,” Del Rio passed on buying a 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG because it lacked a mini-bar. Talk about champagne problems!
3. The McMahons
The McMahon dynasty has always had a close association with greenbacks. From Mr. McMahon’s million-dollar giveaway on Raw (McMahon’s Million Dollar Mania, anyone?) to Stephanie’s Billionaire Princess moniker to Shane’s “Here Comes the Money” entrance theme, McMahons and money just seem to go hand-in-hand. The family’s financial feats are many, and a prime example was the McMahons’ buyout of one-time WWE competitors WCW and ECW. The WWE Chairman has picked fights with fellow one-percenters Donald Trump and Ted Turner.
Perhaps the McMahons’ most dollar-and-cent conscious stint occurred in the late 1990s, when patriarch Vince formed the diabolical Corporation stable. A sub-group of that faction included Shane’s Mean Street Posse, a trio of sweater-wearing, bumbling buds from the younger McMahon’s past. Like Shane and Stephanie, the Mean Street Posse honed their fighting prowess in the hard ’hoods of Greenwich, Conn., which is home to one of the U.S.’s richest ZIP codes.
2. John “Bradshaw” Layfield
JBL’s transformation from a roughneck, cheap-beer-guzzling security detail to a suited, finance-savvy WWE Champion ranks among the most stunning metamorphoses in squared-circle history. Eyebrow-raising though it was, the change was completely organic for the former Bradshaw, who began riding to the ring in a white stretch limo for much of his nearly yearlong title reign in 2004-2005. Since retiring from competition, JBL has become a renowned financial analyst, appearing on business programs on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. (He’s also married to one of the earliest prognosticators of the subprime mortgage crisis, banking analyst Meredith Whitney.)
With the swagger of a rich oil tycoon but the background of a self-made millionaire, JBL penned a guide to financial management titled “Have More Money Now” in 2005. A far cry from Clotheslines from Hell, JBL’s book details mutual fund strategies and stock diversification, as well as explores the debate of whether Mick Foley is cheap or frugal. JBL is most definitely a “money” Superstar.
1. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
“I have no aspirations,” WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase told WWE Magazine in a January 1988 interview. “Everything I want I get. So I don’t have to hope like the poor slobs out there who dream about getting a new TV or some junky car, or wish their wives didn’t sleep with hair curlers on their fat heads.”
The quintessential well-heeled baddy by which all other snooty Superstars are measured,"The Million Dollar Man" never passed up an opportunity to condescend more blue-collar grapplers or humiliate members of the WWE Universe. A less-raunchy precursor to Tiger Ali Singh, DiBiase teased fans with promises to pay them cash in exchange for performing embarrassing or tedious acts. He threw around hundred-dollar bills as though they were confetti. In one instance, DiBiase – having suffered a paper cut while counting his money – bribed a hospital employee to jump to the front of the line in the emergency room.
As far as gratuitous spending goes, few purchases can match DiBiase’s custom-made Million Dollar Championship – a solid gold, diamond-encrusted title that "The Million Dollar Man" commissioned after his plan to win the WWE Championship faltered. Though DiBiase never won the WWE Title, he was a three-time WWE Tag Team Champion alongside Money Inc. partner IRS. After he stepped away from the ring, DiBiase formed The Million Dollar Corporation – a high-power unit whose lucrative contracts Superstars rarely refused. After all, as DiBiase’s own entrance music acknowledges, “Everybody’s got a price for 'The Million Dollar Man.'”