Rulon Gardner would be offered a standard performers contract with something called a downside guarantee. The downside would be the least possible amount of money he would be paid had his income throughout the year not exceeded the given number.
For example say his downside was $250k (which is on high side in todays market with someone with no track record of drawing in the business or even any experience). Had he earned say $200k after all merch, house shows, television, PPV payouts, media appearances, etc. than at the end of the year he would receive a balloon payment that makes up the difference. In this case it would be a payout for the remaining $50k.
Now if Rulon were NOT earning more than his downside...don't expect for him to resigned once his contract runs out at the same rate. He'd either be offered much less money or released outright. As in any business the goal is for someone to produce beyond expectations not below them. Upon release he would get a 60 day roll over where he would be paid the remainder of his contract provided he abided by his no compete clause.
I'd say to start a Rulon Gardner would probably get a generous developmental deal at $125k. He'd be told to train full time in OVW will little in the way of travel or stress. Then when/if he was ready they'd renegotiate with the above $250k being along the lines of his downside. This would be a safe number for you to use for your paper.
Note that this downside number is really just the worst case scenario. People are expected to (and normally do) earn much more than that. The problem in giving a precise number as to how much he would make is that the sources behind that (house show gates, PPV buys, merchandising) can't be tangiably predicted. He could break through and main event several PPV's and bring home a million plus. Or he could be a ratings flop and wind up lost in the mid card slightly above/below is downside. There's really no teling.
As for Kurt Angle's contract...you'd be comparing apples to oranges. The contract Kurt Angle was signed his first year in was at a time when the pro wrestling as a whole was doing much stronger business than it is today. So the projections of the industry 'downside' were much high. Just the fact that a full time competitor (WCW) was in existence drove up wages and the size of the downsides that was being offered.
It's safe to say that Kurt (with his positioning on the card at the houses and PPV's, the volume of business at the time and various merch) blew away his downside the first year in.