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Wrestling Doesn't Pay

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Professional Wrestling, as a vocation, apparently doesn't pay very well. How else can one explain the various wrestlers who apparently work a second job in their downtime? Stranger still, they bring the attire and mannerisms of their second job to the wrestling ring.

This trope has long been a part of the wrestling landscape as it makes for easy gimmicks. In the days of Catch Wrestling, most of the non-carnie practitioners were miners who used wrestling as a quick income supplement or way of relieving boredom, but the gimmick was especially common in the WWF in the early-to-mid-'90s. Some fans think it was a twisted sort of Lampshade Hanging, as the WWF was in the process of going bankrupt at the time.

These wrestlers are more likely than any others to be a Steven Ulysses Perhero.

This is a case of Truth in Television, as any indie wrestler will tell you. It can take years to reach five-figure income on the independent circuit and decades for six figures, which usually only comes with semi-regular appearances in an entrenched regional powerhouse like WWC. Some independent circuit wrestlers do reach seven-figure income, but this is almost always the result of notoriety and endorsement deals gained from a stint in a national promotion like CMLL or New Japan Pro-Wrestling in between indie dates.

In the case of amateur wrestlers, they have limited opportunities after leaving college (or rather, limited athletic opportunities) such as attempting to:

  • Join a military wrestling team (like UFC fighters Randy Couture, who wrestled in the U.S. Army; or Brandon Vera, who wrestled for the U.S. Air Force).
  • Make the Olympic level team (like WWE/TNA star and gold medalist Kurt Angle, gold medalist Rulon Gardner, and Olympic team member and former StrikeForce fighter Dan Henderson).
  • Make the transition to either professional wrestling or mixed martial arts.
  • Do several of the above, in the cases of Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley.

Conversely, within the landscape of the WWE, wrestlers earn in the six-figure range for even low-level performances, while top-tier stars are expected to reach high seven figures, plus perks. WWE wrestlers also tend to work too busy a schedule for a second job to be logistically possible... except the ones whose second job both pays more than what WWE is willing and potentially gives WWE more publicity, such as a movie actor, in which case conveniently-timed kayfabe injuries will allow them time to film.

On the other hand is AEW, which allows wrestlers to work as backstage talent. One example is Michael Nakazawa, who wrestled only seven matches in 2021. While he's on the AEW roster of wrestlers, he's more useful to the company as a Japanese/English translator who knows the wrestling business than for his occasional in-ring appearances. Other AEW personnel with backstage jobs include Brandon Cutler (executive producer), Captain Shawn Dean (talent booker for AEW Dark), and referee Aubrey Edwards (project coordinator and podcast host).

A job-themed gimmick can remain even after the wrestler becomes successful enough not to need to work a second job anymore. Shane Douglas really was the dean of an elementary school, and Duke "The Dumpster" Droese was a garbage mannote . Not to mention Dr. Britt Baker DMD, who really is a practicing dentist.

This trope can apply to situations well outside of wrestling too, such as when a Gang of Hats actually have a line of work that requires them to wear their silly costumes.


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  • Mike "Irwin R. Schyster" Rotunda, the wrestling IRS tax agent, who was originally brought in as the IRS consultant to Ted DiBiase. Of course, it led to him "auditing" random people backstage, or wrestlers he faced, including one rather disrespectful instance where he repossessed a ceremonial headdress gifted to Tatanka from an actual Native American tribe. When Mike Rotunda was in WCW, he was given a gimmick where he suddenly inherited a lot of money and changed his name to Michael (later V.K.) Wallstreet. When he moved back to WWE, the "money persona" went with him, before he later reassumed the I.R.S. gimmick.
  • Henry O. and Phineas I. Godwinn, wrestling hog farmers. Notice the way the WWE put acronyms to good use.
  • Scott Hall said in interviews that Vince's original pitch for him was an army gimmick, playing off of Hall's past military service. Off the top of his head, he started quoting Tony Montana to show he could play a range of characters, and the rest is history...
  • The Undertaker started out as a wrestling... well, undertaker, but eventually evolved into a wrestling Anthropomorphic Personification of death, going through phases as a zombie, a cult leader, and, rather idiosyncratically, a biker along the way. This last was an example of Real Life Writes the Plot, as Mark "Undertaker" Calaway is an avid biker in real life. He last used the zombie gimmick before retiring.
  • Val Venis, a wrestling porn star, and his brief tag team partner, The Godfather, a wrestling pimp.note 
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley as a gimmick was originally a Connecticut Blueblood who was obviously rich before he ever entered a wrestling ring. Eventually, he averted this trope when he joined Shawn Michaels to form DX and shortened his name to the well-known Triple H.
  • The Hurricane, a wrestling Superhero.
  • The Honky Tonk Man, a wrestling singer/Elvis Impersonator.
  • The Big Bossman, a wrestling prison guard. Nailz, his one-time rival, was a wrestling former prisoner, complete with an orange jumpsuit, who claimed that The Boss Man and other guards abused him. Nailz (Kevin Wacholz) had never been in prison, but the Boss Man (Ray Traylor) actually was a prison guard in Georgia before becoming a pro wrestler. During later runs with the company, Bossman was dressed more like police S.W.A.T. personnel but still the same character.
  • Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. He inherited a gimmick of making every match he had a hair-vs-hair match, but only the ones he won (he mostly fought and defeated "jobbers", but did beat the occasional "superstar" every now and then, and often clipped at least a lock or two of their hair). He was originally a male stripper (hence the name Beefcake) but that was eventually dropped around the time he joined Johnny V's Dream Team.
  • Repo Man, a, well, wrestling repo man, complete with skits in which he "repossessed" a kid's bike (he originally wanted his father's car but he was late so he took the kid's bicycle).
  • Before he was Kane, Glenn Jacobs went through a string of these: Isaac Yankem, DDS, a wrestling dentist; Diesel (after Kevin Nash jumped to WCW); and "the Christmas Creature". When being the cartoonishly evil brother of a wrestling zombie makes your character less ridiculous, you really should look at your contract. And while it's never been part of his gimmick, in real life Jacobs is the owner of an insurance agency. He was also elected Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee in 2018, and briefly won the 24/7 Title while mayor, making him a wrestling politician. And even as Kane, he sometimes was this, having his stint as Corporate Kane, and at one point he got kayfabe fired and had to work at the concessions stand.
  • Tony Anthony was TL Hopper, the wrestling plumber who stuck a plunger on the head of his jobber victims. And when that didn't work out, he became a hog farmer as Uncle Cletus, manager of the heel version of the Godwinns.
  • Jeff Jarrett, in his early days in WWF, was a wrestling country singer who planned to use wrestling as a stepping stone to break into Nashville. His guitar still featured prominently for most of the rest of his career, usually by way of cracking it over the head of his opponents.
    • "Road Dogg" Jesse James debuted in WWF as Jarrett's roadie, and became a wrestling country singer himself as "The Real Double J" Jesse Jammes after being revealed as the real voice behind Jarrett's song "With My Baby Tonight".
    • This gimmick actually dates back to the 80s and was pitched to Bret Hart, who turned it down because he hates country music and felt he wouldn't be a good fit for the role, and because he thought it was a stupid gimmick that wouldn't get over. Vince put the gimmick on the back burner until Jarrett came along, who actually is from the Nashville area and would have a much better idea of how to make it work.
  • The Body Donnas, Skip and Sunny, were wrestling fitness trainers. Evil wrestling fitness trainers.
  • The Boogeyman actually used Wrestling Doesn't Pay as a Lampshade Hanging for his "monster" character; his backstory states that he was originally an actor who was going to be the star/villain of a horror series titled "Boogeyman", but suffered a psychotic break during the shooting of the pilot and started believing he really was the character. (Kayfabe) UPN executive Palmer Cannon figured that since they couldn't use him for acting anymore, and he was still under contract, they might as well throw him WWE's way and see what happens. Beyond that, his motives/goals were never explained and, leading up to his official TV in-ring debut on the December 2, 2005, SmackDown!. He would show up randomly in unlikely places to scare/confuse people. However, while Kane and the original heel Doink the Clown (there's another possibility for this page) also met this description, in that they would randomly attack people and explain it later, it was absolutely necessary for the Boogeyman to be presented this way since the last thing Boogey should have been expected to do was "explain" himself.
  • The Mountie combined this trope with Foreign Wrestling Heel, much to the disgust of the real-life RCMP, who threatened to sue the WWF and in fact prevented the character from being used in Canada. Eventually, they teamed him with Pierre Carl Ouelette and named the team "The Quebecers", and changed their theme song to sing "We're not the Mounties" even though they still dressed as mounties.
    • Ouelette later became the wrestling pirate, Jean Pierre Lafitte.
  • Abe "Knuckleball" Schwartz, a wrestling baseball star sometimes known as MVP (possibly a rib at Randy Savage who both wrestled (as The Spider) and played baseball in his early days). He was also a big Take That! against Major League Baseball, as his character debuted about a month after the baseball strike cancelled the 1994 World Series. He eventually went on strike from wrestling, too, and started walking around with a picket sign during other people's matches. He quietly disappeared from the WWF soon after.
  • Bob "Spark Plug" Holly (né Thurman "Sparky" Plugg), a wrestling racecar driver. He eventually evolved into Hardcore Holly. However, he did continue to race in Real Life even after changing gimmicks.
  • Ted DiBiase's entire "Million Dollar Man" character is an Aversion. Ted was (Kayfabe) wealthy before wrestling and didn't need the money. He just liked to show off his wealth, be a jerk, and satisfy a desire for violence.
  • Single storyline example: In December 2008, JBL offered Shawn Michaels a job at his company to make up for Michaels's recent stock market losses. Not a completely impossible storyline, but still fairly unbelievable due to Michaels's undoubtedly astronomical salary as a WWE veteran. JBL himself has done this three times: first as Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw (later Blackjack Bradshaw, while teaming with Barry Windham as the New Blackjacks), a wrestling cowboy; then as one of the Acolytes/APA (with Faarooq, who were Undertaker cultists at first and then mercenaries after the Ministry of Darkness broke up; and then as JBL, a wrestling stock analyst - which is an example of the best gimmicks being those where you take the real man and turn the volume up. JBL wisely saved his money and invested it, instead of blowing it like too many others in his profession, and made himself a legitimate multi-millionaire.
  • Rico, the wrestling stylist, who combined this trope with Gorgeous George and Camp Gay.
  • There was an entirely too meta example where Paul Burchill, in tracing his family tree, discovered that an ancestor served as Blackbeard's first mate, and decided to become a wrestling pirate. He came up with the idea after the aforementioned UPN exec, Palmer Cannon, showed up and basically asked how he could make himself more interesting to viewers. Burchill pitched it as "Swashbuckling on SmackDown!" and Cannon was crazy about the idea. This led to a whole storyline where his former mentor, William Regal, tried to convince him to give up the gimmick and just focus on wrestling, while Burchill retorted that he was having fun and the fans loved it. Vince had never even heard of Pirates of the Caribbean and didn't think that pirates were marketable anymore. The gimmick was scrapped and Burchill was (temporarily) fired for becoming too popular.
  • Inverted in the case of William "Paul Bearer" Moody, who actually was a certified real-life mortician. He had retired from the wrestling business by the 2000s, (though he made occasional appearances to participate in various Undertaker/Kane feuds) and ran a funeral home in Mobile, AL until his death.
  • Also inverted in the case of Ken "Slick" Johnson during his "Reverend Slick" days, as he actually is an ordained minister.
  • Phantasio, a wrestling magician, who performed tricks such as stealing the opponent's (and referee Earl Hebner's referee striped) underwear.
  • Steve Regal, the 'Real Man's Man'. He was a construction worker or a lumberjack or something, it was kind of vague. Later, Regal changed his name to "Lord Steven Regal" and later "William Regal" and became 'the United Kingdom's Goodwill Ambassador'.
  • Papa Shango, a wrestling Voodoo priest who would often put curses on his opponents prior to the match, resulting in a no-contest when their shoes caught fire and they started projectile vomiting in the ring. Bonus points for the fact that the same wrestler was recycled into the above-mentioned Godfather.
  • The Goon, a wrestler-slash-hockey player. Came to the ring in hockey gear, and when the bell rang, he'd throw off his gloves and attack his opponent!
  • Jeff Hardy, to a fan's extrapolation, is a wrestling rave dancer.
  • Matt Striker, as a heel, embraced his teaching background and held "panels" to educate the viewers. He had previously used his sick days while working on campus to train in wrestling.
  • Michelle McCool was first a personal trainer, a sexy teachernote , an All-American Face, a badass powerhouse and then finally an Ambiguously Gay Valley Girl. She actually was a teacher before her time in WWE but hated the gimmick, terrified her old co-workers would see it. A rare case of a female wrestler not only having a gimmick but evolving as a character a great deal over time.
  • After a gimmick switch, David Otunga went from celebrity hanger-on to a wrestling lawyer. The former is based on being engaged to Jennifer Hudson (they were together for eight years, but split in 2017 without ever formally marrying); the latter is due to graduating from Harvard Law School and working at a firm before becoming a wrestler.
  • Jillian Hall was initially a "fixer" publicist brought in to help MNM out and later worked as JBL's image consultant before becoming a Hollywood Tone-Deaf Dreadful Musician. Ironically, she got a real-life album that sold well.
  • Simon Dean was a wrestling infomercial salesman who was in several straight televised ads before being brought up to the Raw roster selling the weight loss "Simon System". His brief tag team partner Maven later became a real-life wrestling infomercial salesman. He combined this trope with No Celebrities Were Harmed, as the character was based in part on real-life fitness guru Richard Simmons.
  • Lest anyone assume this trope went out of fashion with the end of the Rock & Wrestling era, 2013 saw the introduction of Fandango, a wrestling flamenco dancer whose gimmick revolved around refusing to fight unless the ring personnel could pronounce his name correctly - it's "Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan-DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN-goooooooooooooooooo".
  • Bray Wyatt was a wrestling leader of a rural cult based in a commune. And after that went kaput, he took up hosting a kids' show called the "Firefly Fun House".
  • Primo and Epico Colón were once positioned as Los Matadores, wrestling bullfighters. Now they're using their usual ring names again, and competing as The Shining Stars, wrestling timeshare salesmen.
  • On top of being the most patriotic American wrestler in existence, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan downplayed this trope, as he spent almost his entire career as a wrestling carpenter... minus the carpenter. His nickname is "Hacksaw" and his weapon of choice was a 2x4. He wasn't afraid to use that 2x4 on his opponents. Beyond those two connections to woodworking, he didn't really have a job gimmick, though, during his brief time with the WCW, he was told by the Powers That Be that he wasn't marketable, and was demoted to a janitor.
  • Sgt. Slaughter's entire gimmick was a wrestling Drill Sergeant Nasty.
  • Despite not being Japanese, Yokozuna's gimmick was a former champion Sumo Wrestler— a respectable career in and of itself (one in which John "Earthquake" Tenta actually competed).
  • After breaking up The Dudley Boys, D-Von became "Reverend Devon", a wrestling minister. This one really didn't pay because he often appeared with his deacon, who would attempt to collect "offerings" from the ringside audience.
  • The animated version of The Junkyard Dog in Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling ran his own junkyard outside of the ring.
  • KENNY! JOHNNY! MITCH! NICKY! MIKEY! They're the Spirit Squad, and they were a stable of male cheerleaders.
    • Before that, the future Dolph Ziggler was plain old Nick Nemeth (his real name), golf caddy to Kerwin White.
  • What about the midcard male models? From the late '80s to the early '90s, it was Rick "The Model" Martel. Now, it's Tyler Breeze. Resurrected in 2022 with the "Maximum Male Models."
  • Southpaw Regional Wrestling pokes fun at this, with Big Bartholomew the farmer, Mr. Mackelroy the bankernote , and The Butchers, a tag team made up of "Dry Rub" Doug and Frantic Frank, who are butchers both in terms of personality and in terms of secondary occupation (their promo is recorded in the backroom of a butcher shop, with the belts hung up on meat hooks, and they wear the proper uniforms). Apparently, this isn't just a gimmick, as they end up having to vacate the tag titles after being linked to an E. Coli outbreak.
  • Dawn Marie was introduced to WWE as "Dawn Marie Rinaldi", Vince McMahon's "paralegal." This was abandoned after a month or so and the gimmick and the last name were never revisited. During the first round, "Tiny Teddy," of the Divas Undressed competition, Jerry Lawler made the obvious joke about how he'd "like to see her briefs." Given Vince McMahon's sense of humor, this may have been the entire reason for the gimmick. Harsher in Hindsight when in real life, it got out that he paid a WWE paralegal $3 million in hush money using company funds to cover up an affair with her.
  • There is a persistent urban legend that André the Giant was once a defensive end for the Washington Redskins (The Washington Commanders as of 2022). The truth is an aversion - what actually happened was that the 'skins invited him to go to training camp in 1975, but apart from a short visit which was little more than a publicity stunt, he did not attend the camp or play for them. As one of the first true superstars of professional wrestling, he was making twice what a star football player was making in those days, and his busy schedule didn't allow for him the opportunity to seriously try out even if he'd been willing to take a 50% pay cut to give up wrestling for football.
  • As "wrestling authority figure" is technically a job, Vince McMahon has had occasional in-ring appearances as a wrestling billionaire wrestling promoter. (Apparently promoting wrestling does pay.) This extends to his family, as Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Shane McMahon have had stints as wrestling wrestling executives.
  • Gene Okerlund had a one-match stint as a wrestling wrestling interviewer.
  • In 2021, Baron Corbin became a wrestling panhandler. Apparently, after losing his King Corbin crown to Shinsuke Nakamura, he lost all his money and has been reduced to begging. Eventually, he won big in Vegas and became "Happy Corbin."
  • Averted when Cody Rhodes and Austin Aries revealed how much more money they make outside WWE.

  • Arachnaman, another wrestling Superhero (and Captain Ersatz of Spider-Man, which Marvel didn't take kindly to).
  • The Maestro, a wrestling pianist.
  • V. K. Wallstreet, a wrestling stock trader. Played, amusingly enough, by Mike Rotunda, who's also on this list as Irwin R. Schyster. The "V.K." initials were a sideways dig at Vincent Kennedy McMahon, owner of the WWF, though he debuted under this name in late 1995, about four years before WWE's IPO. He also was Captain Mike Rotundo, a wrestling varsity-team coach who became a wrestling ship captain after leaving The Varsity Club, a Jerk Jock Power Stable, just so they didn't have to change his name.
  • Bob Holly would probably have gotten along well with Dale Torborg, the wrestling member of the WCW Racing Team's pit crew, and later on the KISS Demon. (For those baseball fans in the audience, yes, this is the same Dale Torborg who is the current strength and conditioning trainer for the White Sox (and son of Jeff Torborg, their former manager) — and this day job was taken advantage of in an appearance with TNA.)
  • The Gambler (not to be confused with The Gambler), a wrestling poker player. Probably justified, as he wasn't making too many trips to the pay window.
    • Kevin Nash was Vinnie Vegas for a short stint in WCW.
  • Kwee Wee was a wrestling stylist, much like Rico mentioned above. Except he had a split-personality called 'Awesome Angry Alan'.
  • Crowbar was a gas station attendant, although that was forgotten after about a month or so.
  • MI Smooth was a wrestling limo driver.
  • Trucker Norm was a wrestling trucker. Mike Shaw, the real guy, also wrestled as Friar Ferguson, a wrestling monk who danced.
  • Sgt. Craig Pittman was a wrestling soldier. At one point, another soldier that he left for dead in Vietnam came back for revenge under the name Cobra.
  • Three Count was a wrestling Boy Band that consisted of Shane Helms (better known to WWE fans as Gregory Helms aka The Hurricane), Shannon Moore (later known as the Prince of Punk), and Evan Karagias. Notably, they sang their own theme song. Future UFC fighter Tank Abbott, for some time, worked as their enforcer/groupie. Abbott later admitted to having really enjoyed the gimmick and stated that WCW offered him singing and dancing lessons, which he turned down because he didn't feel like he had good musical talent.
  • There was also the West Texas Rednecks, three wrestlers, led by Curt Hennig, who decided to form a country band and record anti-rap songs when Master P started coming around WCW. The WTR were supposed to be heels, but because country music was way more popular with WCW's audience than rap, and the WTR were rather badly outnumbered by Master P's No Limit Soldiers, and they were just genuinely charismatic and funny, the crowd treated them like faces anyway. And, like Three Count, they performed their own song, "Rap is Crap".
  • Prince Iaukea was repackaged as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Iaukea, a wrestling musician parodying Prince.
  • When Barry Darsow (aka "Smash" of Demolition and the WWF's Repo Man) joined WCW, he became wrestling golfer Stewart Pain. Due to the untimely death of real-life golfer Payne Stewart, where the name was taken, he became Barry "Hole in One" Darsow not long after. He was also the Blacktop Bully, a wrestling truck driver.

     Other Wrestling 
  • During the catch as catch can days, when most practitioners were miners or carnies, being a field worker, like Farmer Burns, was an easy way to stand out from the circus folk, carnival folk, and miners. Although farmer gimmicks quickly became cliche, they never really went away.
  • Then there were catch wrestlers whose second job wasn't just a gimmick, like Stanislaus Zbyszko the lawyer.
  • Dr. Big Bill Miller, who was a wrestling veterinarian. He did in fact run a veterinary clinic of his own full time after retiring from wrestling.
  • Inverted for catch wrestler Dr. Benjamin Roller, who used wrestling to fund his international medical education.
  • CHIKARA Pro has one of the funnier examples of this trope: Lance Steel, a knight who got time-warped to the present day and decided to become a wrestler. He later formed a tag team with... another version of himself, who he went back in time and picked up a week before he originally went forward in time. Try not to think about the logistics of them performing a double-team move too hard.
  • Chikara also has Retail Dragon, a wrestling Walmart clerk in a dragon mask. Although he turned heel when he took a job at Kmart.
  • Sugar Dunkerton, who has also wrestled for Chikara, is a straighter example as a wrestling basketball player. WOW Women of Wrestling's Slam Dunk was an inversion though, her gimmick being a basketball player who took to wrestling after being kicked out of the league for being too violent.
  • Not really a second job, but Xtreme Pro Wrestling had Homeless Jimmy, who was living proof that Wrestling Doesn't Pay.
  • Ohio area wrestler Hobo Joe, to the point where he's interviewed at his dumpster home. Temporarily subverted in a storyline where he won $25,000, but reverted shortly afterward.
  • And in the Insane Clown Posse's Juggalo Championship Wrestling, there was a wrestling dead guy, Evil Dead, who was a case where wrestling didn't need to pay. Not an immortal being like The Undertaker, he was billed from "The Knapp Cemetery". His introduction came with copious amounts of Lampshade Hanging, as the bookers denied speculation that Evil Dead was just Violent J's brother Jumpsteady in a stupid rubber mask.
  • Inter Species Wrestling gives all sorts of examples:
    • Stinky the Homeless Guy panhandles around the ring and is billed from 'Outside'.
    • Flip D. Berger (say it out loud) worked for McDonald's, before being brainwashed by Moohammed the Terrorist Cow.
    • All the animals - Moohammed, his brother Moostafa the Misunderstood Cow, El Hijo Del Bamboo (panda), the Bear (bear), etc - and the zombies - Izzy Deadyet, Zombefied, Gorelust - are cases where wrestling doesn't need to pay.
    • Lloyd Cthulowitz, a parodic Eldritch Abomination based on Cthulhu, created by the Mad Scientist "Dr. Gene Spleissing" and billed from "Miskatonic University." Oh, and he's a lawyer.
    • There have also been numerous examples of Beef Wellington crowing about his $20 payday.
  • Truth in Television example: UWA fighter Nick Watts actually does (or did) work at a power company. And really, with a name like "Watts", how could he NOT work at a power company?
  • In its early days, TNA played host to a group called The Flying Elvises, a trio of high-risk wrestlers who were also Elvis impersonators. Mind you, the Flying Elvises used the gimmick in the indies as well.
  • El Tyrano Magnifico, lucha lawyer of the firm of Magnifico, Gomez, and El Terror.
  • Bruce Tharpe, the real-life lawyer, former president of the National Wrestling Alliance, and thorn in the side of Japanese baby faces everywhere. Veda Scott also practices law (but doesn't antagonize Joshis... as much). A more local example is Jeff G Bailey, whose similarity to a certain someone banned in multiple states for misconduct is purely incidental.
  • For one match, ECW had Mass Transit, a wrestling bus driver. Then New Jack bladed him at the November 23, 1996 show. Then it turned out he was only 17, and wasn't actually trained by Killer Kowalski as he claimed. Then it went to court. New Jack was later acquitted of all charges due to the kid lying to the promotersnote .
  • ECW briefly featured the Musketeer, who, on the September 16, 2000 episode of ECW Hardcore TV, threw out an open challenge to anyone... and got his ass kicked by "The Female Fighting Phenom" Jazz in 49 seconds. After the match, Joey Styles mocked him by saying, "Good night, d'Artagnan!"
  • AWA during its later years had "Flapjack" Scott Norton and "Yukon" John Nord wrestling lumberjacks. At the same time, they also had The Trooper, who would write tickets and stick them to his opponents' chests after pinning them.
  • EMLL veteran Blue Panther runs an acupuncture clinic when not wrestling.
  • Heartwarmingly inverted by Father Sergio Gutiérrez Benítez, who raised money for the orphanage where he worked by becoming the Masked Luchador Fray Tormenta (Friar Storm) by night.
  • Gateway Championship Wrestling and later many others including TNA, had wrestling shirt salesman Matt Sydal, who turned out to be a natural partner to wrestling seamstress Daizee Haze.
  • Storyline example from TNA. Lisa Marie Varon (WWE's Victoria, TNA's Tara) lost her career in a match and disappeared for a few months before returning as the sidekick of Madison Rayne, who retired her. The storyline explanation was that Madison pulled some strings to get Tara reinstated but had a contract that stated she would have to be Madison's right-hand woman. Madison would regularly point out that she could "fire" Tara and send her "back to the lipstick counter with minimum wage". Likely a bit of Reality Subtext since the reason Tara left TNA in the first place was low pay. Ironically, behind the scenes, she was still being paid more than Madison.
  • This trope is actually the root of the late Ring of Honor/CHIKARA wrestler "Sweet 'n' Sour" Larry Sweeney's Catchphrase "12 Large, brother." He had been on a show with the Patriot (Tom Brandi). Sweeney had asked the Patriot how much he had made selling his merchandise at his gimmick table. The Patriot told him, "I'm up 12 Large, brother," which meant that he had made $12.
  • Diana La Cazadora (de Noticias) was on TV for both CMLL and for traffic reporting.
  • Smash has Kana, a wrestling video game journalist who makes designs for mobile platforms and wears the X-box logo on her tights.
  • UWA's masked luchadora Nurse Betty.
  • Ring Of Honor/Chikara (and others) wrestler Brodie Lee was a wrestling Truck Driver. Shaka El Truckero of the Dominican Revolution (in Puerto Rican IWA) was also one, obviously.
  • In FMW Jadō & Gedō tried to end Chocoball Mukai's second career by targeting his groin with a ladder. He was a wrestling porn star.
  • Also played for drama in FMW when Kodo Fuyuki stole the Hayabusa gimmick, gave it to Mr. Gannosuke, and then cast Gannosuke in several pornographic films in order to taint the Hayabusa's name.
  • While Jacqueline had long since accused them of being whores, dialog from Angelina Love on an episode of Impact implied The Beautiful People had the second job of being porn stars. Unlike with Val Venis, this led to all sorts of fridge horror and TNA decided to live up to its acronym and prove those fears with bullied recruit Madison Rayne being whored out to referee Slick Johnson. Ironically, this was more obvious when they were still the baby face tag team Velvet-Love Entertainment.
  • RPW, AWS, TNA, and Ring of Honor star Kenny King, a wrestling erotic dancer who toured with the Chippendale troupe. Eric Young wanted to make jokes about his second job but said he couldn't tell them on television.
  • As stated earlier, Elijah Burke became "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero in TNA, who was another swing at the "wrestling minister" gimmick. However, his kind of made sense since he was played up as an inner-city street preacher, meaning his place in the wrestling business was just another venue for him to expand his flock for all the evils and debauchery that made up the wrestling industry.
  • The Wrestling Football player is pretty common, going back to Big Daddy Lipscomb and "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd, who incidentally really did play both sports, wrestling during the National Football League's offseason. In fact, the trope is Older Than Television; Pro Football Hall of Famer Bronko Nagurski launched a successful wrestling career while playing in the NFL in the '30s. Modern successors include the tag team D-line. The All-Stars Chandler McClure and Cru Jones took it a step further, bringing their "Waterboy" Mike Horning and "Cheerleader" Bryce Benjamin along with them.
  • Lucha Underground has El Mariachi Loco a Mariachi player who works in a Mexican restaurant.
  • Played completely straight, with a twist, by ECW mainstay the Sandman, who can and has competed in events for next to nothing. He owns a successful contracting firm, and is quite well off because of it -he just loves wrestling.
  • Very much Truth in Television for old-time wrestling stars: only a relative minority could make a living at the game as their only form of income. Even the UK wrestling circuit superstar Big Daddy, at least in his early days, had to do shifts as a coal miner and as a part-time player for his local Rugby League club to guarantee himself a living wage.
    • This caused a lot of hullabaloo when Taylor Wilde of TNA was discovered working at a Sunglasses Hut just to pay the bills since, despite being a personality on a primetime TV series and holding (at the time) the TNA Knockouts Championship, TNA didn't cover her living expenses. Wrestling these days, especially at that level (being nationally televised), is usually regarded as a genuine occupation, and having to pull odd jobs like that is seen as fairly shady on TNA's part (other wrestlers on TNA's roster also said they weren't making a solid income from wrestling either and had to do other work to get by; Jesse Neal in particular kicked up a shitstorm on social media when he tweeted that he qualified for food stamps despite working for TNA).
  • Ryu Gouma of Dramatic Dream Team offshoot BASARA is a wrestling lawyer who wrestles in his dress shirt and tie. FUMA is a wrestling heavy metal guitarist.
  • YouTube personality and indie wrestler Milo Beasley has used the persona of a wrestling bum.
  • Reality of wrestling has Rockelle Vaughn, their much despised wrestling baseball player. Used and subverted with Dasher Hatfield of Chikara, who was a wrestling baseball player but eventually retired from his other sport to wrestle more.
  • All Elite Wrestling has Britt Baker, who was originally introduced as "Dr. Britt Baker, DMD"—which is exactly what she is outside the ring. She worked in the indies while attending dental school at the University of Pittsburgh, and has a dental practice on the side.
    • They also have the kayfabe examples of The Librarians (Leva Bates and Peter Avalon), a deliberately bad call back to when this trope was everywhere in the early 90s, done in response to a comment by Dave Meltzer that the only gimmick that couldn't get over in wrestling was a librarian.
  • Paige Turner, the wrestling librarian.
  • Shane Storm, wrestling unionized traffic regulator.
  • Magnum Tokyo, the wrestling stripper. In Fighting Opera Hustle he went undercover as a wrestling detective, which was later recycled in Lucha Underground for Joey Ryan, and about half of The Crew.
  • George Ringo, the wrestling Beatle from the territory era.
  • WOW Women of Wrestling is absolutely LITTERED with them
    • Hammerin' Heather Steele, wrestling carpenter
    • Wendi Wheels, wrestling car mechanic
    • The Beach Patrol, wrestling lifeguards
    • The Disciplinarian, wrestling teacher
    • Bronco Billie, wrestling cowgirl
    • Team Spirit (Patti Pep and the original Randi Rah Rah), wrestling cheerleaders
    • The 2022 Randi Rah Rah, still a wrestling cheerleader
    • Sophia Lopez, wrestling lawyer
    • Slam Dunk, wrestling basketball player
    • Coach Campanelli, wrestling coach
    • The Mother Truckers (Big Rig Betty and Holly Swag), wrestling truckers/tow truck drivers
  • The Argentine TV show 100% Lucha featured many examples of this:
    • Arturo Mardalis, a wrestling doctor.
    • Brian Sánchez, a wrestling pizza delivery guy.
    • Mario and Tito Morán, wrestling bus drivers
    • Johnny Wave, a wrestling surfer.
    • Hip Hop Man, a wrestling rapper.
    • Ron Doxon, a wrestling secret agent.
    • Fabrizzio Delmónico, a wrestling model.
  • AAA has Los Payasos Tricolor and Psycho Circus, luchadores clowns.
  • TNA had The Menagerie, circus performers consisting of Crazy Steve The Clown, strongman The Freak, contortionist Rebel and ring leader Knux. Inverted in that the circus was struggling and Knux taking them to TNA was his attempt to turn things around.
  • Vita VonStarr, a circus acrobat who took to professional wrestling because she wanted more danger in her life.
  • Cam Stewart, the Only Fans model using professional wrestling to boost his subscriber count.

     Anime and Manga 
  • Done with a twist in Tiger Mask: Tiger Mask's wrestling career does pay (even when he had to pay Tiger's Cave half his wages he made a lot of money), it's just that it's never enough to help children, leading to him using the money he owed Tiger's Cave to pay an orphanage's debt to the Yakuza (and thus getting Tiger's Cave on his case for this rebellion), entering the Maskmen World Tournament (actually a Tiger's Cave trap with all other contestants being Tiger's Cave wrestlers) to pay for a little girl's operation while spending as little as possible on himself.


     Live-Action TV 
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia takes it pretty literally with Da'Maniac, a mentally unstable former pro-wrestler (played by the late, great Roddy Piper) who is evidently so broke that he lives out of his car and subsists on foraged chestnuts. His last appearance sees his situation change for the better when he gets roped into a multi-level marketing scheme, but then turns out to be a wizard at selling the product.
  • In one The Man Show skit, Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel tried their hand at pro wrestling. At one point, Adam appears as a character called "The Calligrapher," complete with a Renaissance-themed costume. Other gimmicks demonstrated included "The Rabbi", "The Alcoholic Step-Father", and "The Pope".
  • In one episode of Night Court Bull tried to start a career in professional wrestling. His character was "Bull the Battling Bailiff", wearing an outfit loosely based on his bailiff uniform.


     Web Original 
  • Over Like Olav has a pair of wrestlers who work part-time as dishwashers at a diner just to keep their wrestling ring going.
  • Homestar Runner parodied this phenomenon in the Strong Bad Email "yes, wrestling", with characters like Il Cartographer (a wrestling explorer) and Gardenboy (a wrestling farmer).
  • This trope is discussed in Chip Cheezum and General Ironicus' Let's Play of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. When the UAA starts setting up, of all things, a Battle Royale-type event between its members, Ironicus notes how the UAA has essentially turned from the organization of assassins it was in the first game to a more fatal knockoff of the WWE, and as such assumes that actual assassination has gone from the primary purpose of the organization to just the "second job" all of its members pretend they do when they're not fighting and killing each other to climb the ranks.
  • Something*Positive introduces uWuigal Simpington IV, an "old money E-girl" created as a gimmick for a fantasy fed.

     Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe: In "Tiger Millionaire", Steven cooks up the wrestling persona "Tiger Millionaire", an anthropomorphic cat businessman and later philanthropist.