It took a little while, but someone within WWE has gone on the record with regards to Jon Moxley’s interviews with Chris Jericho and others where the former Dean Ambrose criticized Vince McMahon’s creative process. That that person is Moxley’s former Shield “brother” Seth Rollins isn’t terribly surprising. He is the Universal champ and a face of WWE, and we’ve just recently (probably not coincidentally, in retrospect) seen him use social media to hype up the company.
The comments come from Seth’s appearance on the latest Sports Illustrated Media podcast. In a conversation with host Jimmy Traina which starts similarly to Rollins’ tweets from Sunday:
“You can only sit back and read people bashing something you love for so long and sit there and take it and try to take the high road, so to speak. I’m real proud of what I do every single week, not just Mondays, but every single Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, really. I’m real proud of what I do and what our crew does and the effort they put forward. I’m not just talking about the wrestlers, the guys and girls who you see out in the ring, I’m talking about everybody, from creative all the way up to Vince McMahon.
We put a ton of effort into making a product that I think it pretty darn good considering the amount of content we put out there. The fact that people wanna sit on their little soapboxes and their little stupid social media machines and talk down about it really speaks volumes about the generation and where they’re at and so I figured if somebody’s is gonna fight back, it might as well be me since I’m the champ and I consider myself the top guy in our company.”
When asked about Moxley/Ambrose and his comments, Rollins similarly pulls no punches:
“Ambrose can do what he wants. He’s a big boy. He’s got his big boy pants on, he can go out there and say whatever he wants, but the bottom line is not everyone is equipped to handle the rigors of the WWE and the schedule and how it affects you mentally and emotionally. Ambrose gave everything he had to the company for the entire time he was here. He put his heart and soul into the travel and the schedule and the injuries and the work in the ring and all that stuff, but at the end of the day, he took his ball and he went home or he went elsewhere, at least.
I think it’s a little presumptuous of him to get on a podcast and talk down about the company that gave him such opportunities, and he referenced some of those, he did talk about how he was thankful for the time he spent here and the fact that he was able to learn, meet his wife and all that good stuff. Like I said, I love the guy. I love him, I’ll always love him, but at the end of the day, we share differing perspectives about what we want out of life and where we’re at in our own lives. I hope he does well, I’ve kept enough tabs on him to know he’s doing super well for himself right now and I’m happy for that, but I don’t think there’s any reason to hop on a soapbox and complain after the fact. You need to take the first step and that’s looking in the mirror and asking yourself, did you do every single thing you possibly could to make yourself and your situation what you want it to be. If the answer is yes you did, then you can go elsewhere and complain, and if you feel good about it if that’s where he’s at mentally, then go right ahead, but if he hasn’t done that and looked in the mirror and made that decision, maybe he should look think about that and that goes for any other disgruntled talent, past or present.”
Seth also reveals that he hasn’t discussed his thoughts and comments one-on-one with Mox, despite again professing his affection for him:
“No [I haven’t had had a conversation with Ambrose about his comments]. And I don’t need to. Like I said, he’s grown man. He’s got his big boy pants on. He can do whatever he wants do. He can say whatever he wants to say. He filled his contractual obligations here and there’s nothing but mutual love and respect for him. He’s one of my favorite people in the entire word.”
With regards to Moxley’s specific issues with Vince McMahon’s approach to creating a show, Seth says he’s satisfied with his own role in the process:
“Absolutely I’m satisfied with it, because I make a point to be satisfied with it. I make a point to contribute my ideas and my thoughts, and if I feel strongly about something the way it should be or the way it should be portrayed, then I will make my voice heard. And look, not everybody gets that leeway. And also, not everybody should get that leeway, okay? That’s just not how it works. You have to build equity with your audience, with your boss, with your co-workers. You have to build equity over time, and then you can get the leeway to have that kind of say in your story, if that’s your complaint. Or you can just stand up for yourself and do it, instead of going on somewhere else and bitching about it.
I’m very satisfied with the amount of input that I have. Do I do things that I don’t always want to do? Yes, but you know what, sometimes that stuff works because I can’t see things perfectly every single time. I don’t have the perspective that other people around me have. Vince McMahon has been doing this 20 years longer than I’ve been alive, okay? So he’s got some ideas and he knows things that I just don’t know - that I have to learn. So sometimes, being your best is about taking advice from other people. So what we do is work together, in a group, in a community, and we take advice from everywhere, from each and every person that we respect in our little circle, and we try to make things better.”
This recent effort by the Universal champion to act as WWE’s public defender is an interesting move. On the one hand, it’s a level of passion you want to see from your top star. If it were coming from The Young Bucks about All Elite, their fans wouldn’t bat an eye. Fans who’ve responded to the possibility of competition by pledging allegiance to The ‘E will love it.
Alternatively, coming from someone making millions from the biggest wrestling company the world’s ever known, it feels a little like punching down. And attacking a current fan favorite like Mox - not to mention fans themselves, some of whom will troll anything WWE-related, but others who just might not like some things about the current product - isn’t going to endear him to anyone who was on the fence.