Equity: Always in your corner
Equity believes that professional wrestlers and other workers in wrestling should have the right to organise and to be part of a union so that they can protect their rights as workers.
Wrestler's Pay Audit Survey
This is the first survey of the UK Professional Wrestling Industry conducted by Equity’s newly founded Wrestler Network.
The purpose was to gather a quantitative data sample from those working in the industry which could then be used by the Network to inform its priorities.
This data is being made public with the idea that performers working in the industry might use it as reference to be better informed of current practice.
One longstanding issue has been a lack of pay transparency and shared understanding of industry norms. The findings of this survey will be the first step in addressing this knowledge deficit. You can help by downloading and sharing our handy infographics with key findings from our survey here.
As is typical of the UK entertainment industry, the survey appears to show low pay and precarious work to be endemic to the sector, with the majority of respondents earning less than £50 per show. And with only 9% of respondents working full time in the wrestling industry.
This is further evidenced by 55% of respondents reporting loss of income through cancellation of shows within the previous 12 months. Considering the high number of cancellations, it is also of note that only 2% of those surveyed took deposits in order to protect themselves.
There is also a fairly high number of respondents owed late fees (22%), though perhaps not as high as we might have anticipated.
Another finding of interest is the apparent correlation showing those who claimed expenses were on average also being paid a higher performance fee than those who did not claim for expenses. This warrants further investigation. It may indicate those confident or experienced enough to negotiate expenses also benefit from better pay overall.
The surveys findings should be of interest to all performers working in the sector and the Wrestler Network will be hosting an in person and online meeting to discuss the survey’s findings as well as next steps.
All the key findings from the survey can be read below, and our shareable infographics are available to download here.
Survey Key Findings
The survey of performers working in the independent wrestling industry in the UK found the average pay for wrestlers responding was £65 per show.
The median pay was £40.
The average pay amongst respondents working in other roles including referees, commentators and announcers was £44 per show.
From amongst the respondents the lowest show fee for wrestlers was £15, the highest was £500.
For other roles the lowest fee was £20, the highest was £160.
For the significant majority of respondents pay was below £100 per show. 56% of whom earned less than £50 per show. Only 9% of respondents said that work from wrestling was their sole source of income.
Only 38% of respondents were paid for their first show, and the majority of these were paid £20 or less.
16% of respondents do not charge for expenses when they work.
64% claim for fuel expenses, 39% claim for public transport expenses and 31% claim for parking in addition to their show fee.
We found that, in general, those who usually charge expenses are also paid a higher fee than those who do not.
Only 2% of respondents ask for an advance deposit.
Looking at the previous 12 months 44% of respondents said that they were normally paid on the day of the show. 46% of respondents said they were normally paid within a week after the show.
Gender & Pay
The median pay for male respondents was £40, whilst the median pay for women respondents was actually higher at £50.
Amongst wrestlers this was more pronounced with median pay for male wrestlers being £40 per show and for women wrestlers £50. However, when you look at the mean pay per show, men earnt on average £68.82 whilst women wrestlers average pay was £55.17.
Based on our limited sample this likely reflects the best paid male wrestlers are paid more than any other group. However, the typical female wrestler may be paid slightly more than the typical male wrestler.
The average respondent had worked 7 ½ years in the wrestling industry.
The average respondent had worked for 8 different wrestling promotions in the past 12 months. A small number reported working for more than 25 promotions within that same period.
The average respondent had worked 38 shows in the past 12 months. The most shows worked was reported as 200 within a 12-month period!
22% of respondents reported being owed fees from booking in the last twelve months.
55% of respondents reported having lost fees as a result of shows being cancelled in the same period.
Help spread our findings from the survey and increase pay transparency by downloading and sharing our Wrestler's Pay Audit Survey infographics:
Join the network
If you are a Wrestler come along to a Network meeting and meet some of your fellow Wrestlers. Get in touch using firstname.lastname@example.org
The Equity Wrestlers' Network meets every three month, and is an informal group of wrestling talent (including wresters, refs, commentators / announcers and other roles) who come together to improve the industry and ensure that it is free from exploitation. You don't have to be a member to attend.
Members of the union have access to member benefits. These include:
- Insurance. Accident Insurance which covers you for injury at work, Public Liability Insurance which protects you against claims for damage or injury to a third party, and cover for your personal items backstage.
- Legal protection. If you aren't paid for a job or a booking is cancelled the union's officials or solicitors will take on the issue for you.
- Tax & Social Security advice. Including access to our helpline providing advice on tax, national insurance, all welfare benefits and related areas.
Your membership is confidential (so nobody knows unless you choose to tell them).
Being a member of Equity is not just about the personal benefits of membership, it is also about making the industry a better one for you and your co-workers.