Seth Rollins, the Judas of the 2014 WWE landscape. After going through countless hard fought battles with his Shield brethren, something changed. He’s turned on his brothers, and has aligned himself with the uber-heel, Triple H. But why?
Well, one of our podcast listeners had some thoughts on the way we handled the subject on this week’s show, and I can’t really disagree.
People keep claiming that Seth made this colossal heel turn and are already calling the move nonsensical, and on this week’s podcast, you were already predicting Rollins’ run as a villainous jerk whose move set is diluted by a new character.
Why are we jumping to these conclusions based on literally minutes of action, and how did you guys go over an hour and a half without asking why Rollins may have done it? You literally fantasy booked months of storyline without even caring what a character’s motivation is (ignoring the fact that Rollins didn’t exactly look happy to attack his teammates & stared a hole into Orton as he handed Randy the chair).
Come on, fellas. I was hoping for a little more insight, especially from Billi, who claims to have such a profound understanding of storytelling.
– Elton, North Carolina
To figure out what’s happening now, it seems appropriate that we go back to the beginning of Seth Rollins’ career in WWE.
Seth Rollins was one of those guys known as an “indie darling” – moving up the ranks of such institutions as PWG and ROH, he eventually found his way to Florida at NXT. He quickly gained notoriety there, winning the first ever NXT Championship, which he would hold for just a few months. Being known as the first ever NXT Champion is a distinction that carries over to today, where he seems to be positioning himself for bigger and better things. He would more or less sacrifice that championship to Big E as focus turned to his actions with The Shield on the main roster.
Not long after his championship victory down in Florida, Seth Rollins joined forces with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns to infiltrate the WWE. They had an agenda of “justice” – seeking out what they felt was unjust and putting and end to it. After some time of various six man tags against top tier talent (including Cena, Ryback, Kane, Daniel Bryan), it was revealed that they were ultimately just vigilantes. Though they seemingly wouldn’t work for just anybody, they were goons for hire – doing the dirty work of men like Paul Heyman and yes – Triple H.
Tag Team Champions
Through 2013, The Shield continued to roll through opponents, and more top tier talent continued to fall – the list would extend to include Jericho, Sheamus, Orton, and Big Show. Arguably, they signaled the beginning of the end of The Undertaker’s career when they triple powerbombed him through a table.
The Shield wouldn’t have been able to take down that list of opponents without amazing teamwork – both within the construct of in ring rules and as a back stage unit hunting down their prey. It was only a matter of time before Rollins and Reigns found tag team gold by defeating Team Hell No at Extreme Rules. For some time, they became the de facto champions – no one would stand a chance, until Big Show helped to give The Rhodes Brothers the win on an episode of Raw. Rollins had his taste of WWE gold, and surely was proud of it. He hasn’t been a champion since then, though.
Mercenaries for hire
At the end of 2013, The Shield more or less did Triple H’s dirty work. At the same time, they started to falter, and began matches on a pretty regular basis. It seemed inevitable that The Shield may end up splitting, but they found common ground in the build to WrestleMania XXX as they feuded with Kane. Seth Rollins, for a short while known as “The Architect”, helped to mediate any problems in the group, and brought them together stronger than ever. This led to a match where they more or less squashed the Director of Operations and Triple H’s buddies – the New Age Outlaws, in New Orleans. It was the perfect set up for what was to happen the next night on Raw…
Back to Justice
The Shield had officially revolted against Triple H’s goons, and they triumphed in dominant fashion on the biggest stage of them all. When Daniel Bryan faced insurmountable odds at the end of “Raw after WrestleMania”, The Shield stood up to Triple H and once and for all – FINALLY stood for justice above all else. Seth Rollins was a fan favorite, though Roman Reigns began to truly break away from the pack. For the moment, though, it didn’t really matter. They were prepping for a fight.
Feuding with Triple H inevitably meant that back up would be called in – and it happened in dramatic fashion. Evolution re-formed, joining Triple H with Batista and Randy Orton once more to fight off The Shield. Through this feud, The Shield became as hot as Daniel Bryan and nicely filled a void left when the champ had to leave for neck surgery. The match at Payback was brutal and told the story of just how bad ass The Shield had become. They overcame the odds – kendo sticks and steel steps and a sledgehammer notwithstanding – and stood tall in the name of justice. These guys seemed unstoppable, and after all they’d been through – it seemed like they’d continue dishing out their brand of justice for a long time to come. A potential underlying problem, though, came in the way Seth Rollins had been putting his body on the line – without any literal payoff – would the satisfaction be enough?
At the beginning of Raw on June 2, 2014, Batista walked out on Triple H. Triple H had become obsessed with eradicating The Shield, and it became clear that the desires of even his friends wouldn’t get in the way of doing what he had to do. To that end, “Plan B” was revealed. Assuming “Plan A” was taking them out in a physical sense, “Plan B” was destruction from within.
Now the question is, though, why did Seth Rollins agree to it? What sort of deal did he make with Triple H? Clearly, someone like Seth Rollins could have more patience than the veteran Batista – so any promises made regarding his position in the company are likely to play out over the coming months. It’s going to be an interesting time.
Seth Rollins has fought alongside Reigns and Ambrose for over a year and a half with little to show for it. The tag team championship reign was not insignificant, but he always seemed lost in the mix of The Shield as a unit. He was never really a threat for the midcard titles, as Ambrose was. There was a glass ceiling which he probably felt he wouldn’t break through as long as he pursued “justice” with his Shield brothers. That’s where Triple H’s sledgehammer came in, to crash through that glass ceiling and give Rollins limitless opportunity.
Over a decade ago, when Randy Orton was elevated from within Evolution, it set up a career of top tier booking and multiple championship reigns. Rollins knows that putting himself with The Authority of WWE is a surefire way to ensure he’ll have his opportunity to win it all. No longer does he have to keep Reigns and Ambrose from fighting each other. No longer does he have to put his body on the line with no championship opportunities in sight. Now, if he does what Triple H has sought out to do – destroy The Shield once and for all – he’ll get those opportunities. Just like Judas Iscariot, he did it for the gold. For Seth Rollins, it’s time to look out for number one.
As for his moveset… If done right, he can be a brutal heel and still defy gravity. Does it really get much more heelish than a curb stomp? If you disagree, go watch American History X.