What the hell is going on with Seth Rollins?
I’m not talking about his phone mishaps, his injury mishaps, his injuring-other-people mishaps, or his empty arena promo mishaps. Sorry, just a little joke. Truthfully, despite what Bret Hart might say, there’s not a damn thing wrong with this guy. He’s an outstanding worker, a pretty good promo (and he’s come a long way in a short time), and a dedicated performer.
Seth Rollins has everything you could possibly want in a future star.
So, why is it that WWE seems to have even less of a clue what to do with “Seth Freaking Rollins” than they do with the ruler of the “Roman Empire?”
This entire debacle was such a no brainer. Seth Rollins was tailor made to become Triple H in 2002 at Madison Square Garden. I wrote about it, as did many others, long before the time came where WWE struck out with the return. No doubt you thought about it, talked to your friends about it, and maybe even blogged or commented on it yourself.
How anyone could have missed what was staring them in the face is entirely beyond me, but the stubborn nature of Vince McMahon knows no boundaries. Regardless, Seth Rollins came back as a heel, still wanting to reside in the good graces of the Authority. What could have been wasn’t, and what was...kind of stunk. It wasn’t terrible, but it never grew past mediocre.
As you read this today, WWE has positioned Seth Rollins as a babyface.
That’s a legitimate question to ask, because despite his work changing slightly, incorporating a few more high spots and a few less sneers, Seth is still Seth. The biggest problem, however, is glaring in a way reminiscent of the sun in your eyes on a drive home. The visor isn’t quite long enough to get to it, and you can’t see the stoplight in front of you.
Seth Rollins is STILL a heel, even though WWE thinks they’ve flipped the magic switch. This guy is exactly the same, except he’s outside the system. The way to create a babyface is either for someone to be presented as pure from the get go, or to learn from mistakes and figure out what’s truly important. In the case of Seth, even after the screw-up in June, he still could have pulled this off, but the script didn’t allow for it.
Had Rollins emerged after Triple H pulled the rug out from underneath him and handed Kevin Owens the championship, saying he finally understands what an asshole he was, it all would have fallen into place. Seth cheated, he thrived because of his affiliation to the suits, and he undercut everyone in his path. Redemption is one of the easiest stories to tell in fiction. Think of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. He went from the antagonist to the true hero in one selfless act, and completed his babyface turn with a simple explanation as to who he truly was.
This is not a difficult thing to accomplish.
Anybody can become sympathetic, provided they show contrition and remorse. Seth Rollins has done none of this. He says he’s going to burn down the system, destroy the machine, but his motives are filled with hatred, revenge, and whiny rage. Rollins hasn’t embraced the fans, hasn’t thanked them for get well cards or their support, even when he didn’t deserve it. He hasn’t really made up with those he wronged, and although he did do a run-in as Roman Reigns was being attacked in a cage by Rusev and Kevin Owens, he wasn’t there to save his former Shield brethren. He was there to thwart Owens.
But Kevin Owens is a heel? What’s wrong with going after him?
Two things. First, Kevin Owens isn’t really a heel. As a matter of fact, neither WWE Champion right now is a true heel. They might say ugly things, but they’re both also associated in comedy angles. KO works with Jericho in some incredibly entertaining segments, but I’m laughing more often than anything else, because the dialogue is so clever and well-timed. AJ Styles is working with JAMES ELLSWORTH on back to back SmackDown episodes, while Dean Ambrose is a special guest referee taking selfies with women in the front row who aren’t Renee Young.
It’s possible the best singles heel in all of WWE is Braun damn Strowman, because he’s a monster who hurts no names and looks like a terrifying bully. Overall, Charlotte is the best heel in the entire company, because she lacks any redeeming qualities, and goes out of her way in promos to be as irritating as humanly possible.
The second reason it’s wrong for Seth to go after Kevin is because the rationale for doing so is so ridiculous...unless Rollins is still a heel. This man is angry with Owens because the new WWE Universal Champion stole his spot. It isn’t the spot at the top of the card. It’s his seat inside Stephanie McMahon’s pocket. His gripe is that he’s no longer the beneficiary of office chicanery. He doesn’t get the perks and no longer has someone who can bail him out.
In what universe is that a babyface? Seth Rollins is pouting because he can’t cheat without consequences and can’t just step on the peons around him anymore. That might actually be MORE heelish than anything else he’s ever done.
Because of all of this, some fans are confused as to how to react to him, and if I was a younger fan, I wouldn’t understand who that character was and on what side of the good and evil spectrum he lived. That’s really bad news for WWE, because although they might think they’ve hit that button and he’s officially a babyface, they forgot to actually tell the audience through an explanation that makes sense.
Unfortunately for Rollins, it means he’s nothing more than a wishy-washy character who gets a smattering of cheers and boos, but nothing passionate, except from hardcore fans who appreciate what he is outside of the fictional role he’s portraying on television.
Fortunately for WWE, the company can fix this instantly, by allowing Seth Rollins to grow a heart and recognize his own soul. One promo can do it, and if it’s accompanied by a few smart segments, the job is done. Then comes the secondary issue of pushing a credible, piece of shit heel to be his foil. There’s no Austin without McMahon, no Dusty without Flair, no Magnum without Tully or Nikita. But, that’s an issue for another day...or for two weeks ago on this very website.
For Seth Rollins, if things continue to stay as they are today, his short-term destiny is to be a great in-ring performer, whose peak fan reaction is continually lost in the ether of creative mismanagement.
Fix it, Vince. It’s jacked up, and it’s impossible to believe you can’t see that.