I hadn’t really thought about the ebb and flow of professional wrestling until I read an article by Phillip Martinez on Newsweek.com. Seth Rollins, the current Intercontinental Champion and arguably the best performer on Monday Night Raw, has been to the mountain top and back twice.
As the former WWE World Champion and someone who has been on both sides of the fence – as a babyface and heel champion – the connection with fans has been one Rollins has had to build back up.
For the past four months, it has been the former Shield member who has made Monday nights his own personal playground. Unlike Roman Reigns, who has had to fight for every accolade and cheer from WWE’s universe of fans, the connection with the outside world – those who root for him ngihtly – has become natural once again.
“After he turned his back on the SHIELD and aligned himself with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon to become “the guy” in the company, capturing the WWE Championship in the process, everything was looking up for the WWE Superstar,” Hernandez wrote. “And then Rollins suffered a massive knee injury at a house show in 2015 that shelved him for months and cut his WWE Championship reign short.”
After coming back to the ring, his knee and his in-ring career went through a rehab process together. The result has become one of the better stories in WWE the past year. Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, The Miz and Finn Balor will all compete in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Title at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia on Friday. The champion has come full circle, now at ease with his adjustment to a rebirth with the company’s fan base.
Winning the Universal Title in a Triple Threat Match meant Rollins was a Grand Slam Champion – a rarity in the business and proof WWE is solid on Rollins’ ability in the ring and his capacity to carry a brand on his back.
“It’s pretty cool, it’s a small group that we have,” Rollins said. “Obviously, it’s growing now that Jeff Hardy won the U.S. title and Randy Orton did it a couple of months back. But even then, it’s an elite number of superstars. I feel very privileged to be among that group and to carry on the lineage of the great Intercontinental Championship.”
The problem brand extension presents for WWE and wrestlers like Seth Rollins, Balor and The Miz, is a lack of programming and booking that give fans a chance to see new rivalries and feuds. The recent Superstar Shakeup will help create new paths for performers who wouldn’t necessarily have a chance to reinvent their characters.
Rollins is a prime example.
The match with Balor and The Miz to kick off WrestleMania 34 was everything WWE and fans thought it would be – arguably the best match of the night. Seth Rollins knew it, and was excited for what he and his opponents had accomplished on the company’s grandest stage.
“Starting the show off is a lot of pressure. You want to kick WrestleMania off the right way. This was Finn’s first WrestleMania, Miz and I are WrestleMania veterans, and we all went out there with the same mentality to go and steal the show.
“We wanted to put out the best match we possibly could, put our best foot forward for WrestleMania. I think when you have three guys on the top of their game, pushing each other to be the best, you have a recipe for success.”
The Greatest Royal Rumble should be as prolific as the show in New Orleans earlier this month. Two brand titles could change hands with the Universal Title and WWE Title on the line. Rollins hopes he can still electrify the crowds with high-octane performances, making sure he continues to rise above his colleagues as the best WWE has to offer.
“This is my first IC title defense and you put me in a ladder match with three other guys over at Saudi Arabia in front of a hot crowd. It’s going to be insane,” Seth Rollins said. “It’s unprecedented, this is the first time we’ve done anything like this. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity, but a lot can happen in a fatal four-way ladder match.”