How Much Does It Cost To Become a Professional Wrestler? The Economics of The Squared Circle

“What am I doing here? What did I sign up for?”

That’s all I could ask myself prior to my first pro wrestling match. I really had no clue how I had ended up where I was. Watching it live was fun, but to actually participate was a different animal.

How did I get into professional wrestling? How does one become a professional wrestler? Keep on reading…

How do you get into pro wrestling?

I grew up a fan of pro wrestling. I followed it forever and couldn’t get enough. I even flew down to WrestleMania in Miami in 2012. When I was a kid, I would beg my parents to take me to shows. When I became an adult, I dragged my youngest brother to shows so that it would look like I was taking him.

Now I was finally in a training program. I begrudgingly sold five tickets to the show. I didn’t want to make an ass of myself in front of my family and friends, but I had to sell the tickets to get on the show and to support the gym.

Selling tickets and training was all fun and games. Then the show day came. My nerves were through the roof. I couldn’t even breathe or focus on anything.

Why was I even bothering with this?

I had no clue what I had gotten myself into. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I was very nervous.

And guess what? Now I self-promote harder than anyone in class to bring fans to the shows so that there’s more people in the crowd! I love performing in front of crowds and I live for that rush.

I’m going to give you a behind the scenes look at the economics of becoming a pro wrestler and the crazy journey that I’ve gotten myself involved in. Please keep in mind that this is a wild dream of mine. I earned my Bachelors of Commerce and was supposed to find a safe job. Instead I decide to travel, start Studenomics, and take on multiple adventures.

Below is a talk that I did about my journey at an Ignite event. Enjoy!

The upfront investment is a huge chunk of your time, money, energy and emotions.

The guarantee: NONE.

In September of 2013, I finally got into pro wrestling. A bit later than I expected (25  years old), but I still started! I’ve learned a bit about breaking in and chasing goals since then and wanted to share some experiences here.

[Must read: How-to avoid being another heartbreaking statistic.]

What’s the financial commitment to wrestling?

The first financial commitment is the money you have to spend on training. Getting trained in wrestling isn’t like going to school for any other trade. It’s difficult to find training. You have to hope there’s a school around you or you’re going to have to move to get trained. The cost of that is simply insane.

Luckily for me, the school opened a five minute drive from my place. Well, I had to move back home. I was able to sell my rental property. I now live beside the school where I train in BJJ, pro wrestling, kettlebells, olympic wrestling, and the other classes that are offered.

For the sake of this article I Googled wrestling schools. I found a credible one up in Calgary, Alberta that costs $4,250 for three months worth of training.

That’s only the cost of tuition. You have to fly yourself out there and pay for a place to stay. Not cheap. Then you need to figure out your food situation. Luckily for me, my school charges a very fair monthly rate and I have access to all of the classes and the entire facility.

Pro wrestling training

Then comes the other financial commitments. This is the money that you have to spend on looking like a wrestler.

Common expenses are:

  • Eating more protein to gain size or eating better to lose weight. I’ve always spent a lot of money on food so I can’t really answer this one. I find myself buying tubs of protein and chicken breasts non-stop.
  • Supplements to get in shape. I take a few supplements. I take vitamin D, fish oil, and Zinc. It doesn’t break the bank or anything but the costs add up.
  • Gear. You want to look professional right? I bought elbow pads, knee pads, custom tights, and boots.
  • Tanning. I spend $40 a month on tanning. Yes, I know the risks of cancer.

To be fair, I always tried to eat well and took the same supplements. Wrestling topless in front of people sort of forces you to watch what you eat.

Of course, you don’t have to do any of this. You could look like an average guy/girl and rely on talent. However, if you turn on wrestling on your television, you don’t see too many average folks, do you? You want to stand out and look like a star. Why bother doing something if you won’t even do it right?

Looking like a star isn’t cheap when you’re not a star.

Oh, and you also need to pay for slick professional photos like the one below (yes I tried to look like a complete jerk).

Should you get into pro wrestling?

What about time?

You have to invest a serious chunk of your time into this venture. Actually, you have to invest every spare second that you have into this.

The time that it takes to get trained will eat up most of your free time. Then once you’re trained, you have to figure out a way to get better. You should try to get on shows (almost impossible).

There’s also plenty of time where you’re networking. It’s advised that you attend as many shows as possible to network, help out, and hope to get yourself a match on the card for experience.

Then you have to spend time on watching/studying matches to get better. At least YouTube has made it easy to find matches.

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” — Frank Zappa

How about your emotions?

starting pro wrestling

You have to give it your all. You have to risk complete failure every single time you step out there. You risk injury. You risk making a fool out of yourself. You risk it all.

You also can’t be a weak person to get into wrestling. You’re going to get tested. You’ll be taken off shows. You’ll be put in spots you can’t handle. The pressure will get to you. And this is all before you even step out in front of a crowd.

The crowd could hate you. They could love you and cheer you.

Then there’s the worst thing that they could possibly do…

The crowd could not give a crap about you. I believe that indifference is the opposite of love. Indifference is the worst feeling in the world. I would much rather be loved or hated. Either one of those are fine.

To become a pro wrestler, you have to risk your emotions every single day. Not easy for everyone.

“The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself…That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.” — Neil Gaiman

Is it worth it?

Is anything worth it? Is it worth writing about personal finance? Is it worth chasing any dream? Is it worth trying anything?

I would much rather say that I tried and failed. The worst feeling in the world is regret.

If you love something, then go for it. Just don’t think you can slack off. You have to be willing to give it your all.

As always, you should be fairly responsible when chasing a dream. Try not to go into debt, don’t hurt others around you, and stay hungry.

How do you make money as a professional wrestler?

To tie everything in together, I wanted to address a few key questions about wrestling.

How do you move up the ranks? What’s the ultimate goal?

It doesn’t matter what country you live in, the goal is to end up in WWE at WrestleMania.

How do you get there? You have to get scouted and invited down for a tryout. Then they sign you to their training program, where you’ll train until they feel that you’re ready for the main show. Then one day, you might just show up on Monday Night Raw. You’re not even guaranteed to move up from the minor leagues to the main show.

I live in Canada and WWE often tours here. Everyone wants to end up in the big time. There are other companies like TNA and ROH that get TV and some national exposure. They also tour.

WWE is the ultimate goal. Until you get there, you have to work for any minor company that will accept you. You should respect your time with a small company, but never forget that nobody ever grows up wanting to play minor league sports for a living.

How much do you get paid while moving up the ranks?

This all depends. When you’re first starting out, getting a match or even getting on the card is pretty impossible. You have to struggle to work for free and to get that experience. Nobody’s in a hurry to hire you or give you work unless you’ve built up a name. This is similar to any type of freelance work or business that you may try to start.

I’m lucky because my gym/training centre puts on shows. So they put us in the ring. Normally, I wouldn’t have even had a match yet at the point in my training that I’m at.

You’re supposed to pay your dues in wrestling first by working for free and getting the experience. You don’t get paid until you get paid. It’s like starting your own business or any other entrepreneurial venture. You’re essentially a freelancer. You have to go out looking for experience. Once you get experience, you have to build a name for yourself. From there, you have to get noticed. Then, you have to make the right friends and get seen by the right people. You also have to become exceptional at your craft so that if the right person sees you, they like what they see. Talent and connections are a winning formula just like in any other field.

So you won’t get paid until you make it. Since I’m just starting, I can’t speak on getting paid yet since I haven’t earned a penny.

Before we part ways today, I urge you to take on a bold challenge.

I’m calling you out. Are you going to keep on complaining or will you follow up on your goals? Your move.

“Lacking an external focus, the mind turns inward on itself and creates problems to solve, even if the problems are undefined or unimportant. If you find a focus, an ambitious goal that seems impossible and forces you to grow, these doubts disappear.” — Tim Ferriss

81 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost To Become a Professional Wrestler? The Economics of The Squared Circle”

  1. Hani Abou Fadel

    Thank you for these advises. I am living in Lebanon, and I am like you I also wanted to be a pro wrestler and play a villain. Would they accept someone no matter what country you’re from? Also is there age limits?

        1. To be a pro wrestler, you must take risks. If you can’t even do a forwards roll on the ground, any wrestling schools or organizations will not want you, especially the ones that love high flying like lucha underground or new japan.

    1. Hey, great article. I love pro wrestling it’s the only thing I found passion in because of my creative, athletic and nomadic nature. Unfortunately, I’m already 30ish…and well, I’m gay and now I have a permanent condition that I treat… that is dormant however, is taboo. Do you think there is room to make a living as something else if I can’t wrestle? I mean, I CAN wrestle, but due to the nature of my condition, I doubt many people would want to wrestle me, not to mention on a bigger scale like WWE or other big promotions. Your sincere advice would be appreciated. Thanks and best wishes on your career brother.

      1. Hey there. I wish that I could answer more but I’m not a medical professional. Are you cleared to train? Some gyms require that you provide a physical clearance.

  2. Christian Cotter

    I’m 16 and live in Arkansas. I’m a junior in high school and have a cut body. I want to get into wrestling. Any advice?

  3. Great article. Loved your talk too.

    I have a question about how your age affects how you are treated as a hopeful wrestler.

    I’m not an old man, but at 28, I feel a bit different dreaming of making a name in the wrestling world with no experience. I have always loved the art form and find the business interesting, but had an early career as a software developer. Now I’m working on bulking (I’m 6’2 and only 190) and considering trying a beginner class at a wrestling school like ROH or OVW.

    is it common for people in my position, shedding their old lives, making this transition a bit later than others? What sort of struggles would be unique to that position?

    I’d like to train just for the hell of it and to see how far I could push myself, but interested to see what others think.

    1. Hey Byron. Thanks for the message. It’s technically never really too late. I started at 25 and felt old. Here’s the thing: if you’re going to do it, then do it right now. Try immediately. Get into shape and get trained. My coach Anthony (who ended up becoming Santino Marella) took his first pro wrestling class at 28.

  4. Thanks for your inspiring article. I used to wrestle here in Virginia but had to stop because of financial problems. Is there any advice on the financial side?

  5. Loved reading your article. Some really helpfull tips in this. Thanks for sharing these experiences also. My current situation is that I’m currently 28 years old. I feel like time has passed me by. Howeve, I refuse to accept this as I’m currently from the UK and the scene is red hot right now. WWE are taking so much notice as well which is good but like I said, I feel like time has passed by.

    I’m at a crossroads where I don’t know if I should give up on an unattempted dream or roll the dice.

    1. Could you live with the regret of not trying? The UK scene is exploding. Drive to the gym right now and hit the weights. Then go get trained. Start getting on shows. By 30 you’ll have a fan base. What’s the worst case scenario?

  6. thanks for the words of advice but was wondering if you could give me more about what schools are the right to join im currently in arizona and there’s a wrestling promotion called Arizona Wrestling Federation and thought about starting there

    1. also wondered hey what are the chances of me being noticed or standing out you know? is the federation even known for pushing wrestlers out into the big league

  7. I’m a big fan of pro wrestling. I’m currently 15 and i’m not in the best shape but i’m getting there i don’t exercise as much as i should. I also have about 2 years of traditional wrestling experience but i also wanted to learn lucha as well because its part of my ethnicity so i’m not sure if you know where i can learn.

  8. I live in Greece and we don’t have wrestling schools here. Also another question. Will I become a good wrestler if I don’t speak English very well? I mean..will they hire me?

  9. Hey Martin great article!
    I’m a 17 year old in great physical and cardiovascular shape from participating in other sports, although little to no experience in wreslting. I live in Melbourne Australia and there are a few local professional wreslting companies such as Professional Championship Wrestling (PCW) and Melbourne city wreslting (MCW). I am greatly determined and hard working, altough i would like your advice, what would you suggest for me? Do u believe it’s worth giving it a genuine try to ultimately attempt to make it into the WWE development. There’s been multiple Australian wrestlers recently joining the WWE development territory and WWE main roster. I’m not sure how big the wreslting scene is in Australia, partially Melbourne, if you could give me any advice it would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Thanks for the comment Bisa. You have nothing to lose by trying. You owe it to yourself to take a stab at this stuff. I have some Australian friends on my Facebook who have moved to Canada to pursue pro wrestling. I will ask them for advice. You might have to move out of Australia once you’re trained.

        1. do a Few years Training And do Some Indy Shows with a melborn Promotions If Your Aiming for wwe Than forget it wwe Requires 4 to 5 years experience on top of that If they Like you Than YOu are Required TO sign a wwe Development contract In witch Thay will stick you into thare development braND (NXT) and you be with nxt for a few more years unless big v or triple h thinks that your good enuff to sign onto the main roster ie raw/smackdown And Yes The WWE Will Require YOu TO MOve To thare Location Of thare DEvelopment SChool ie wwe performance center (nxt) And You will Miss your family Because You will Always be away From Your family nonestop

  10. I’m also in Ontario, but I am 37, and its something i have thought about my entire life. I’m in a position to finally maybe give it ago. Just working on getting in a bit of shape. Like you said, if you try and fail. At least you tried! Regret is the worst thing! Good article! Excellent read!

  11. My name is onkar and I am 17. I have a dream and want to pursue a career in professional wrestling and I am from India. The great Khali you may have listened of him runs a wrestling school and it’s the only wrestling school we have (costs 5000$ per year). I’m so determined and ready to take everything. Any tips for me? Nowadays WWE is focusing on India for talents.

    1. Hey Onkar. My friend Darryl was a trainer at that gym. You should give it a shot. WWE is signing talent from India these days. Get into shape and take it seriously!

  12. hey Mr. Martin I’m writing a essay about how to become a pro wrestler for my college English class. I was going to use this article on your website as a source. ill make extra sure cite it so i dont plagiarize your work but i also wanted to ask a few questions about the school and business itself if thats okay with you

  13. Hey Martin, Im also writing a college paper on wrestling and was wondering if you knew the price of travel for most wrestlers on the road.

  14. Now I’m 12. From Bulgaria. I’m finishing school in 6 years and I’m training my biceps 3-5 times a week. Sometimes I go to the gym and train my body. My big dream is-Fighting with Chris Jericho in New Japan. I even made my gimmick. My ring name is Jadon Seven.

    I want to ask you some things:

    How much money do you give for your ring attire and what is the biggest moment of your career?

    1. Good luck my friend! Keep on training. Try to join the high school wrestling team. Take classes that are in the weight room. Learn about training so that you’re body is ready for wrestling.

      Ring attire: About $200.
      Biggest moment: Hasn’t happened yet.

      1. Thanks you!Btw your the first wrestler who have ever answer me.Would you tell me which promotion are you wrestling for now?

  15. Can I make you an interview with 10 questions for my youtube chanel Wrestling Bulgaria Official.By the way:I think you have an awesome gimmick.The Latino lover is a variation of Eddie Guerrero’s,,Latino Heat”.

  16. Hi, I am a senior in high school and I am going into active duty in the Marines. After this, I was planning on doing pro wrestling. The problem is that aren’t any schools near me, but there is one that I am very interested in. The school is called The Wild Samoan Training Center. I plan on moving close to there. My question is, do you think they will except me?

  17. Daniel De Gruchy

    Hi Martin

    Just wanted to express how useful this article was and ask for a few pointers before I start on my own journey with professional wrestling.
    I graduated with a degree from University (college) last year and I thought getting it would at least be my backup plan if worse comes to worse I didn’t earn what I needed from wrestling. Now I’m about to apply to do office work to effectively pay for my training over here in the UK. I haven’t started yet but I did what you said and got into the best shape I could off my student loans.

    So my question is do/did you have a job you work 9-5 to pay for wrestling and do you think I made a good choice? Also how did your parents react to you telling them you wanted to pursue this full-time?

    Thanks

    Dan

    1. Hey Dan. Feel free to shoot me an email to go over any personal questions. The reality is that most wrestlers work until they get signed by WWE and move to Orlando to be with NXT at the performance centre. The good news is that you can train in the evenings and on the weekends. Wrestling shows usually happen on the weekends. The goal is to save up your money so that you can invest into your wrestling career (buy new gear, travel to shows, etc.).

      My parents? They think it’s weird. They enjoy coming to shows, but they certainly don’t think that I can go full-time with it. Honestly, I’m not sure that I can go full-time with it.

  18. I’m 16 and I live in a small town in Kentucky. I’m poor and I have a speech impediment. I was wanting to know if there are any drills or exercises I can do now to help me be prepared.

    1. I would suggest joining the gym at your school. Maybe you can see if there’s an amateur wrestling program or a weight lifting class. Try to get one of the gym teachers to show you how to use the equipment. Many wrestlers have made it with a speech impediment. Do not let this hold you back Blake. Get in the gym!

      1. Thank you for responding back to me. My school does not have a wrestling and i tried to get in weight lifting at the beginning of the school year and it was already full. Is there anything i can do at home to help. Do you know any workout routine I can do that don’t involve weights and thank you for your advise.

  19. Hey Martin, I am 22 years old. 6’5″ and weigh 270. I played college baseball. Working on toning and getting in shape right now. I am currently in search for a wrestling school that can help me get to the next level. I live in Bloomington IL, I work at State Farm until 4 pm Monday through Friday. So I would like to keep my day job while going to wrestling school and getting in the ring for promotions, at least until I start getting paid. I am in search of a wrestling school if you could help me, I am also looking for any advice you may have for me. You can reply here, or email me. Great read.

    1. Thanks for the message Colten. I’ve been on the road and a bit behind on comments. Have you Googled local schools? Have you considered relocating? It’s important that you get trained by the best.

  20. Hey I thirteen and have wanted to be a wrestler since I was 2 years old I From Northern Indiana and would like to know if you know any good schools and what exercises I can do to be in tip top shape. Also I am currently in wrestling at my school so I should learn somethings form that. Also what do be like a Batista and Mark Henry type of wrestler since I am bigger and taller

  21. Hi plz tell that my sister want to go in wwe she is 14 yrs old and have a weight of 62 kg. But a gym trainer said that she have to eat a lot and it cost a lot. We are not much rich plz tell what she do

  22. Thank you so much for writing this article. It really helped me a lot with what to expect in this crazy business 🙂

  23. Hi Martin,

    I live in Toronto, as well. I’m currently in school but It’s my last semester and the plan is to train at Battle Arts after cause with school it’s quite difficult to cause it’s still far. I would love nothing but to devote my time to Pro Wrestling. My concern is what kind of job could I do to support myself and be able to have a lot of time to train?

    Thanks,

    Waheed

      1. My step son is 16 and interested in becoming a pro wrestler. He’s a straight A student and in good physical shape. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area and the cost of living is high here. How can he start off after he graduates fresh from high school with no help from us?

        1. Thanks for the comment.

          Here are my best tips:

          1. Research schools in the area and check them all out in the next few months/years.
          2. Get a part-time job to have a source of income and to build good habits.
          3. Try to get a deal at the wrestling school. Offer to clean the place or work part-time to pay for the membership.

  24. Hi! I am currently 14 years old and ive wanted to be a prof wrestler since around 11. The problem though.. im not really in shape at all. I wanted to know, what training should i start with? Strength, endurance or should i just try to do whatever and try to drop a few pounds? Thank you!

    1. You’re 14 so you have plenty in time. Try to join the amateur wrestling team at school. Play some sports. Then slowly start to ask around about lifting weights. Find a coach or a program at school to help you get started.

  25. I love your article!

    I want to become a pro wrestler and I am at the age of 23 (24 in a couple of days).
    I never had any patience to train or even conditioning myself. What would you suggest for someone like me to keep going foward?

    I am from Montreal btw.

  26. Yeah I am but I keep procrastinating on doing it regularly. I googled and found Torture Chamber not far from where I live.

  27. Hello. I really am motivated by reading this article. My name is Jeet and I am 22 years old. I live in Scarborough, Toronto. I always wanted to be a pro wrestle and reading this article tells me it’s never too late. I want to join pro wrestling school and learn how to be a pro wrestle. Tell me what to do and please give me some guidance.

  28. Eddie Haywood

    Hello. I really enjoyed reading your article. I do have a few questions that I hope that you can answer for me (some of these are actually more-so WWE related, but I assume you still have knowledge on this topic, too)
    1. How much time will/do you get with family (I know that you aren’t in the WWE yet, but how much time do you think WWE wrestlers get, and also, how much time do you get? Heard that Wednesday and Thursday is their “weekend”
    2.I currently workout, but when I get into wrestling school (if I do), the workout style will be different. did you still have a lot of strength training with explosive training (overall, what was wrestling school sort of like, what did you do etc)
    3. Do these wrestlers (particularily WWE, but this can apply to anything) have any free time… at all? Do they have time to watch sports, and things like that?
    4. How often do WWE wrestlers/you train with the performance coaches vs training just by yourself? Is it all with performance coaches? Because I assume the performance coaches do a lot more of the actual moves and stuff while you actually train with weights and stuff…
    5. How do you actually stay in shape/ how do you still get the right nutrients while on the road?
    6. Are you able to do things in that place that you are staying at while traveling with the WWE, again, for example, going to a monument or something? Do you actually have a little bit of the free time like I mentioned earlier?
    I know a lot of these questions were sort of WWE related, but I’d have to assume that you know a good deal about this, because that is your ultimate goal. I just want to thank you for hopefully answering these questions, and that I’m sorry for all of the questions. Hell, I may have even more soon.
    I want to wish you a good luck in accomplishing your goals. I hope to possibly hear from you soon and get an update on your status. Good luck!

  29. Currently in my last year of highschool and pro wrestling is the one passion of mine that I could see myself living a life through. Already found a school to train at , joined the amateur wrestling team at my school until I left to maintain my grades and study wrestling everytime I can watch to prepare for when I’m being taught as I plan to start training when I turn 18.
    Is going to college to get a degree straight out of highschool worth the financial risks and debt it would put me in or should I continue my education as I train to have a “safety net”?

    1. That’s a tough question to answer Nigel. Everyone in wrestling suggests that you have a back-up plan. WWE also recruits folks with unique backgrounds. It’s tough to just make it as a wrestler. Many guys don’t get to turn pro until at least ten years in. I would use your youth to train and study. You can train at your college. You should try to get as fit as possible. You can do wrestling training in the summer months and then lift weights during the school year. You don’t have to go to college for 4 years either. You can do a trade or something.

  30. Myles L. Huffman

    Hi, I’m currently a freshman in High School and uncertain about what my future holds in life. I’ve always loved wrestling so I figured why not try my hand? I’ve always day dreamed about it anyways, I’m currently 5’9″ 143.9 lbs at this rate, my body is in okay shape. Am I the right size and how does one overcome bodily insecurities in this trade? That by far is what I’m most worried about.

    1. Thanks for the comment Myles. Your body is still growing and changing. I would focus on trying to do amateur wrestling or some sort of combat style training. You’re a bit too young for professional wrestling training in my opinion. I would try to use the weight room in the high school. Have someone show you how to lift properly and safely.

      Body insecurities never really go away. When you perform topless, you’re always analyzing your body. You eventually get better at training and nutrition, and you find ways to feel more confident.

  31. I’m happy that I found this, I am a wrestling fan who doesn’t have any athletic ability and due to medical reasons can’t get in a wrestling ring, but I love wrestling and would love to find a way to work and help the business in some way. I don’t know of any promotions in the Macon, GA area or how to get started, please help and tell me what I should do. My parents don’t understand, so, I can’t talk to them about this and most people around me don’t understand.

      1. I’m 28, the only school close is three hours away, but I have adrenaline induced asthma which causes problems with even the lightest workouts, I’ve been told by the doctor to not try getting in the ring, I’m not in a good situation financially either.

  32. I’m 28, nothing close NWA Anarchy is three hours at the most, and I have adrenaline induced asthma meaning that getting in the ring could cause a lot of problems, unfortunately I found all of this out after my second day of training for wrestling, I’m not good financially either.

  33. Guillermo Valadez

    Hey Martin my name is Guillermo. I am currently 15 years old and have 6 months of training. I don’t really have a good looking body, I am pretty skinny, but I do lift a a lot. While I do look like that I have a style of wrestling which is high flying. I have gotten really good at my style, using a shooting star press as my finisher when I am training. When do you think I should look to start working as a pro wrestler, should I wait a year or what.

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