The August 2011 issue of the UK based wrestling magazine Power Slam reports that there is a sizable pay discrepancy among the female performers of TNA Wrestling.
The magazine states that Christy Hemme and Mickie James are the highest-paid female talent in the organization: each earn more than $100,000 per year. Meanwhile, the rest of TNA’s female wrestlers and personalities (Angelina Love, Brooke Tessmacher, Cookie, Jackie, Madison Rayne, ODB, Rosita, Sarita, SoCal Val, Tara, Traci Brooks, Velvet Sky and Winter) earn far less: $600 per appearance at most.
Karen Jarrett’s salary is not stated, but the magazine indicates that she commands an above average appearance fee. Hemme and James command the highest salaries because both were high-profile performers in WWE and thus are more valuable than the other women due to their name recognition. Though the magazine does not indicate which female talent earns more, it is noted that both make a similar low six-figure amount per year. Hemme, however, solely works televised events whereas James additionally appears on the company’s live event tour.
Hemme’s reported salary has drawn criticism from fans and colleagues as they feel it’s exorbitant for a non-wrestling female personality. The Honky Tonk Man claimed last year that her contract renewal with TNA last year was for three years at an annual rate of $175,000. He also said that Eric Bischoff, a huge supporter of the former WWE Diva and Playboy cover girl, helped Hemme obtain the high-end deal. Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer would not confirm the veracity of the former WWE star’s claim but did say the deal made her the highest paid female performer in the company.
Reports of Hemme’s salary last year reportedly upset some of her female co-workers. At the maximum second-tier rate, a TNA Knockout who appeared on every single television and pay-per-view event over the course of a calender year, 64 in all, would garner $38,400 at most. TNA solely covers airfare, leaving talent to cover all other expenses including lodging, wardrobe and medical. There is also no downside guarantee, thus meaning talent only get paid when they are used. And while the company holds numerous non-televised events, each tour features a rotation of two to five female performers.
Velvet Sky, who is arguably the organization’s top homegrown female star, is believed to be earning the maximum rate of the second-tier salary cap. Her contract renewal with TNA last year reportedly called for her salary to be bumped from $300 per appearance to $600. However, she is an exception to the rule on salary hikes for female talent. Gail Kim, Awesome Kong and Shelly Martinez (a/k/a Salinas) have all publicly stated that they left TNA because organization officials denied their requests for a pay raise.