Sami Zayn likes having the money, but isn't chasing the money.
Sami Zayn has reached the near pinnacle of WWE and is coming off a WrestleMania 39 main event where he successfully teamed with Kevin Owens to defeat The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) to win the Undisputed Tag Team Championships.
Sami is in a comfortable position in WWE, and he took a pay cut from the independent scene to get there.
"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 said on Whiskey Ginger.
Zayn noted that he was not paid for his first match, and the first time he made money was for $20. He made $240 in his first year in wrestling.
Zayn would eventually become one of the top names on the independent scene thanks to his work in PWG and ROH before he signed with WWE in 2013.
"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," he said.
Zayn would go on to say that he is satisfied with his career, but is still hungry for more.
Zayn is set to team with Owens & Matt Riddle at WWE Backlash as they take on The Usos & Solo Sikoa. Fans can check out the lineup for WWE Backlash by clicking here.
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