WWE Superstars’ careers are largely dependent on fan reactions and their ability to maintain a connection with audiences for as long as they are booked to appear on television.
The term ‘shelf life’ is often used when a WWE newcomer begins to gain momentum, such as when James Ellsworth suddenly became one of the most popular people on WWE programming in 2016.
At the time, WWE took advantage of his popularity by booking him in a storyline with AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose, but it was obvious to everybody that his shelf life as a WWE Superstar was going to be short-lived.
In stark contrast, there are certain people in WWE whose importance to the company is so great that they have been offered contracts for the next decade – or, in some cases, even longer.
In this article, let’s take a look at three WWE Superstars who signed 10-year contracts, as well as two Superstars who agreed to deals lasting at least 15 years.
#5 Mark Henry (10-year WWE contract)
Henry, a passionate wrestling fan, had considered joining an NFL team after representing the USA as a powerlifter at the 1996 Olympics, but he was persuaded to join WWE following a meeting with McMahon at his office in Stamford, Connecticut.
McMahon agreed to pay Henry $250,000 per year for the next 10 years – a deal which, according to former WWE talent relations executive Jim Ross – caused a lot of problems for the WWE newcomer backstage.
“Well, there’s always jealousy. That’s what we’re talking about here, is basic jealousy. Insecurity and jealousy. So, I don’t know how you run your business, Conrad [Jim Ross’ podcast host, Conrad Thompson]. I know it’s successful, but I got a feeling you don’t put up with a lot of bull****. I didn’t have time for [talent’s] insecurities and your jealousy. Go to catering and get a table together, I don’t give a s***. You know, be an adult.” [H/T 411mania, quotes from Grilling JR]
In the end, Henry overcame the early animosity that his long-term WWE contract created for him. The Olympian continued to extend his deal with the company until officially retiring as an in-ring competitor in 2017.
Since then, the former World Heavyweight Champion has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, while he has also worked as a backstage mentor.