The WWE World Heavyweight champion tore his ACL during a live event in Dublin, Ireland, and must vacate the title. Rollins’ injury adds to a number of big names that are now on the shelf, which includes Randy Orton and John Cena. Suddenly, WWE virtually has no choice but to push its young talent, and Roman Reigns’ time is now.
Rollins’ injury will cost him six to nine months of his career. WWE Superstars are independent contractors who get paid based on their spot on the card, meaning the most money goes to the WWE World Heavyweight champion.
With Rollins stepping down, he will lose out on significant pay-per-view and live-event pay increases that come with main eventing as a world champion. Figuring out individual wrestler salaries is a complex task based on WWE’s ambiguous pay structure. It was recently reported that the lowest-level main roster talents make $125,000. In March, Forbes Staff Writer Chris Smith reported that top performers earn seven figures annually, which means Rollins will have to lean on a six-figure downside (guaranteed money)—and hopefully a personal insurance policy—for income.
Rollins has been WWE champion for most of 2015. His time atop the WWE has been a mixed bag with brilliant in-ring performances mixed with questionable character development and miserable ratings. Through the first eight months in 2015, Raw’s average rating was 2.79, down 8.5 percent. Raw’s ratings reached year-lows multiple times in recent weeks. The October 19 episode drew a record-low of 2.21, but numbers are beginning to trend upward as Raw drew a 2.46 for the October 26 show before settling down to 2.32 for the November 2 broadcast.