During his recent interview with Ariel Helwani, Seth Rollins was asked a timely question: would he like a do over on his 2019 feud with Bray Wyatt?
This is interesting, of course, because it certainly seems like Rollins and Wyatt will be working for the same company again very soon. Seth’s answer gets at an issue wrestling fans have been talking about throughout Bray’s career, and that we might be grappling with again very soon — while Wyatt’s characters have intriguing introductions that lead to uniquely compelling material, do they work in traditional pro wrestling stories?
“Yeah, I mean — another crack at that one might be nice. I mean, look, the Bray Wyatt character is just difficult. If you look at anybody that worked with the Bray Wyatt character for an extended period of time, they didn’t come out of it better than they went in. It was very difficult to have a story with him where — aside from Randy, obviously, who killed him — it was difficult for anyone. I think maybe Daniel Bryan? Bryan might have escaped a little unscathed.
“But everyone else pretty much met a dire end for their character. That was the end for the Seth Rollins character as you knew it, the Beast Slayer character. It was tough figuring out how to tell a good wrestling story with that character... I just wasn’t good at it. That’s one thing I was not, I was not good at the phenomenology stuff. I wasn’t able to interweave that with reality enough to make what I felt was a captivating story.
“At the end of the day, probably would have been better if he just mauled me in that Cell and put the Claw on me and called it a day. I could have moved on to something else, and he could have had his run as champion. But that wasn’t the case, and we played the hand we were dealt and that was not our call, and I know he would tell you the same thing. That did not go the way we wanted it to. We tried, and we tried, and we tried, and the boss at the time would not budge. And so we ended up — like I said before, it’s not our sandbox. We are actors on a stage sometimes, and we read the lines. That was one of those nights, we didn’t have the liberty to ad lib. We didn’t have the liberty to take things into our own hands.
“I would love to have another crack at working with Windham Rotunda. He’s an incredible talent. Just a mind for the industry, and for stories and characters that’s very unique, that not a lot of people in our business — past, present, or future — that think about things on the level that he does. So I would love to have another crack at working with him, because I think we could do something extremely special, whether that’s with The Fiend character or not? Who knows. He’s a master of reinventing himself, so if he does, if our paths cross and he does find his way back here, I would definitely love to have another go ‘round. There’s certainly magic to be made there. In what capacity? I don’t know.”
This is understandably a sore spot for Rollins, as the disastrous feud with The Fiend is a big reason his chance at being WWE’s top guy fell apart. He takes ownership for the program’s failings. But pointing out that almost everyone who worked with Bray — without specifying whether he was just talking about his last incarnation or including the cult leader gimmick that preceded it — saw their character meet “a dire end” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of Wyatt’s characters.
It’s the rest of the quote that led to a spirited debate in the Cageside offices. Clearly, the booking of the much reviled Hell in a Cell match is laid at Vince McMahon’s feet. In their own ways, both Seth & Bray have covered that before.
But is Rollins’ interest in working with Windham Rotunda in the future more because he believes he’ll be facing Rotunda’s next reinvention rather than The Fiend? Or because they’re no longer playing in Vince’s “sandbox”? And are the pre-Hell in a Cell difficulties Seth talked about mostly attributable to Wyatt’s previous characters, or the vision for those characters that was dictated by the guy who was writing & directing the play Bray and his co-stars were acting in?
We should get more clarity on this when we see how whatever Wyatt’s next character is is handled on shows booked by Triple H & his team.
In the meantime, let us know what you think, Cagesiders.