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By Ciaran James @TheCiaranJames
Did anyone else feel slightly sorry for Seth Rollins when the audience gave him zero reaction on Monday night? Seth then proceeded with the heartache he was feeling over his injury, it was at this point that the fans in attendance started to chant “CM Punk, CM Punk”, poor Seth. If being injured and potentially missing his second consecutive Wrestlemania wasn’t bad enough, the audience just dismissed him, if you had just tuned in not knowing who Seth was, you could be forgiven for thinking he was a lowly nobody.
The mood on Monday was lacklustre, the audience were quiet or just didn’t care what was going on inside the ring, and this only added to how cringe worthy Seth’s segment with Corey Graves was. For Seth and WWE this had to be the realisation that they’ve terribly wrong with the direction of his character, from his return at Extreme Rules to his face turn post Summerslam. For Seth the past year has been one of missed opportunities, when he returned last May the fans welcomed him back as a face, the reaction at Extreme Rules was deafening. WWE then completely flipped the script as Seth reverted back to his heel character of 2015.
Seth’s egomaniacal heel character post Shield breakup had been forgotten by the time he returned, after the WWE documentary the fans had become sympathetic to him, that was on top of the respect they had for him. WWE’s decision to stick with the heel character would be hugely detrimental months later. At Summerslam Finn Balor defeated Seth Rollins for the Universal Title, however in doing so he injured his shoulder, the next night on RAW he relinquished the title. It then dawned on WWE that they didn’t possess a likeable lead face on Monday nights. This reason alone meant a pivotal Wrestlemania 33 storyline was pulled forward months in advance to protect both Seth and Roman Reigns.
On August 29th 2016 Triple H returned to cement Kevin Owens as the Universal Champion, within the same breath he turned on Seth Rollins and Pedigreed for KO to win. This act came months earlier than expected and pushed the Rollins/Triple H feud to the top, unfortunately WWE didn’t do anything with it. Seth continued challenging Owens well into the autumn months, during this period he came across as childish heel, upset because his parent (Triple H) punished him. This did not endear Seth to the masses, reactions to him were luke-warm and the only time he seemed to get a cheer was when he flew through the air or was reunited with his former Shield partners at the Survivor Series. Rollins only six months after returning was on a road to nowhere.
After a mediocre feud with Chris Jericho that rounded off 2016 he entered the New Year without nothing to do. The Royal Rumble is the kick off on the road to Wrestlemania, Seth Rollins however would not feature at the event, and he instead shockingly appeared at NXT Takeover and called out his former mentor. These acts were orchestrated to exhibit the conspiracy against Seth, he held Stephanie and Triple H accountable for his career being stalled. WWE to get over how eager Seth was to face Triple H, had him insult Stephanie and threaten the safety of the McMahon grandchildren, was this really the words of a lead babyface on WWE’s flagship TV show? I think not.
On the same show in which he insulted the McMahon-Levesque’s, tragedy struck for poor Seth at the end of a verbal confrontation with Triple H. Seth was viciously assaulted by Samoa Joe. The show closing brawl brought back memories Rollins thought were long gone, as Joe Kayfabe choked him out the knee which he injured just over a year earlier tweaked. It was later revealed that Seth had again injured the same knee as November 2015, as several months of storyline were coming together the hopes and dreams of “The Architect” were dashed. Numerous wresting sites, podcasts and blogs discussed the new injury and how it would affect Wrestlemania, some also questioned Seth’s durability as a headline guy.
As good as Seth Rollin’s is, and he is very good has his injury and absence been a hindrance to plans? Of course changes have to be made but the debut of Samoa Joe and Owens heel turn overshadowed Rollins only a few weeks later. Seth’s injury is a talking point and a performer of his skill will be missed, but Wrestlemania survived last year without him and potentially this year it will too. Monday nights sit down interview was painful for the wrong reasons, as well as looking like a broken man the audience treated him as such. It now seems from the verbal confrontation Seth and Triple H had on Raw that some sort of well-constructed brawl on April 2nd will take place, this will protect both superstars but most importantly Seth’s injury.
The problem now is that when Seth does fully return the opportunity of being the lead guy may have passed him by again, in the next few weeks or month Finn Balor will return to no doubt be the top face on Raw. This will leave Seth as maybe the fourth of fifth top guy on the brand, not really a place he personally wants to be. In the WWE documentary filmed during his recuperation form his initial injury, Seth came across as a guy who doesn’t like second best, he strives for the top spot. Unfortunately for Seth WWE now seems a never-ending evolving company, with new guys stepping take spots yearly. Triple H spoke some harsh words on Monday night, after signing him to NXT and personally making him his protégé, was any of Triple H said personal?
In November 2015 Seth was at the top of his game, after a celebrated run as WWE Champion and consistent high levels of display his world came crashing down. Again in January 2016 on the verge of his biggest feud to date his career is put on due to an injury to the very same knee, why can only wonder what he is thinking. When Seth does return will he be the competitor he was, surely the chances of re-injuring the knee have doubled, if he is to redesign, rebuild and reclaim, then maybe he needs to restructure his approach to wrestling.