Once dubbed "The future of WWE" and since has had a plethora of taglines from "the Architect" to "the Man" to "the Kingslayer" to just Seth "Freakin'" Rollins and pretty much any other piece of marketing they can slap on a shirt for the guy. Another year and another nickname later, as we approach Wrestlemania 34 and his personal plans pretty much up in the air with the recent Jason Jordan neck injury and surgery, I have to ask... Shouldn't Seth Rollins be much bigger deal in 2018?
Welcome once again to Planet Kayfabe. I'm glad you could join me and before the Rollins fans tweet me their outrage with fanboy bullshit just after reading the headline alone, I hope you stick around to read this because as a fan you should want more from the guy even though he has a rather healthy spot on the card. At least Seth isn't Dolph Ziggler. A term I use for Dolph and a few other guys in similar positions is "midcard purgatory". Seth isn't that guy, but he's almost every much as bit in limbo right now.
In his home state of Iowa, Seth Rollins came out in a shirt designed to get a cheap pop that read "Iowa's Own" and upon his arrival he got a... fine reaction. In his home f***ing state. You could say the crowd was tired and maybe the fans in that area aren't as vocal as some of your big city northeast venues or Chicago or Los Angeles, but... this is nothing new. Seth Rollins has been getting these lukewarm pops for the last year as a babyface. I can tell you how it all started too. Remember when Seth was out of action after a major knee injury that occurred in November of 2015? Of course you do. He missed Wrestlemania. I mean, goddamn, WWE did a whole mini-documentary on his f***ing return. He had the machine behind him. All this hype. People were on the edge of their seats waiting for this Seth Rollins return which was supposed to be his big breakthrough into superstardom.
AND THEN SETH ROLLINS RETURNED...
...as a heel.
What the f***?
WWE had a perfect opportunity there to really capitalize on some very real momentum Seth gained in his absence largely due to a WWE Network special WWE took the effort to make themselves and... they keep him heel. How f***ing tone deaf can you get.
Well, it's the tone deaf era after all. Seth returned to a huge pop. Pedigreed Roman Reigns to a huge pop. Shit on the fans for cheering him to a nothing reaction and entered a feud with Roman Reigns who WWE have booked with ears and eyes closed for 4 years now with Rollins, still a heel, continuing to get more cheers than Roman especially when the fans were more sympathetic for him coming back from injury.
Once WWE was done using Rollins' return heat as yet another way to try and make Roman Reigns a big star they turned him babyface and it hasn't meant the slightest bit to his career that it would of had he returned as a full-fledged babyface from the start. Since then he has gotten okay reactions. He had an okay match with Triple H that was probably supposed to mean more than it did, but it didn't. Again a lot of that had to do with poor timing. The story there was having Triple H attack Seth Rollins in f***ing August and then DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING until WrestleMania half a year later and then just have a plain ass wrestling match. Seth came off as such a GEEK! Running around whining for months calling out Triple H when it was clear we would not see him until WrestleMania. Then they had their match. Seth won, because no shit and that was that.
After what I guess WWE like to see as a launching pad for Rollins simply because he went over Triple H in a match everyone knew he was winning and few still gave a shit about once WrestleMania came, Seth has been just kind of... there. Not in a bad spot, but not really lighting the WWE on fire... or, BURNING IT DOWN if you will. Yeah, there's another one of those "kinda over-ish but not really" taglines they gave him. Earlier I mentioned Dolph Ziggler being stuck in midcard Purgatory, well Seth is in a different rough spot right now. He in a better position than most of the roster, but he's still kind of stuck in a rut. He's on TV pretty much every week. He gets promo time. He gets to rub elbows with top guys like his buddy Roman Reigns. I'm sure he's making good money and has a new t-shirt marketed like every month but... wasn't he supposed to be bigger?
It was 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin who asked "who is Seth Rollins" not because he doesn't know who he is as a wrestler, but because he doesn't know his character and even with today's fans' heightened appreciation for great in-ring work like Rollins can clearly deliver on, an clear character is essential in truly getting over. Prior to his return, Seth was perhaps his most over as a heel aligned with The Authority. It wasn't an original character, but it was something. He was a smarmy corporate ass-kiss who had all the talent in the world but opted to take shortcuts instead to get to the top. Like is said, it's not original but it's a good character and one fans can easily define. Since turning babyface who is he? They tried making him this anti-authority rebel, but it was a huge flop, mainly because most fans today remember the Steve Austin days and no anti-authority babyface will ever touch that. Another is Seth's babyface character was a liar. He came out cutting promos insulting the fans' inelegance by making remarks about how Kevin Owens is a fake champion because he needs The Authority's help while claiming he won and defended the WWE Championship all on his own without the aid of Triple H which is bullshit. A babyface should have recognized the error of his past ways and work to write his wrongs. Not re-write history to the fan's faces and try to get one over on them while the crowd sits there calling bullshit on him.
The late 2017 Shield reunion was mainly designed to, once again, get Roman Reigns over as a babyface and sell some new shirts but it also was to help Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose who were really doing a whole lot of nothing at the time. Then as fate had it the Shield reunion was simply not meant to be. Roman got sick. Dean got hurt. The reunion flopped almost worse than the 2014 Days of the New reunion that lasted like 2 months. (Look them up, kids.)
So... now what? He became Raw Tag-Team Champions with Jason Jordan where Jordan adopted a gimmick of a young, rambunctious talent who while talented has a lot to learn about etiquette and picking his battles. During this time Seth adopted a gimmick of being Jason's older brother who grinned and shook his head when the (somewhat) younger Jordan got out line. What the f***? The once rebellious anti-authority Seth Rollins is now making sure Jason Jordan doesn't play on the wrong side of the playground and always wipes his ass before dropping a gold blooded shit. This "big brother" gimmick has been the worst thing Seth Rollins has done on the main roster. I suppose the idea was that an eventual Jason Jordan turn would lead to a match a WrestleMania between the two (like anyone cares, really) but now with that off the table where does Seth go now?
They could easily keep him in this upper-card pseudo-top guy spot, but is this it? Is this all we're going to get out of Seth Rollins? Having kinda-top-guy programs with other kinda top guys and every few months give him a new nickname to give fans a false sense of freshness with the character? Please... f*** that. Seth was supposed to be the next big thing and right now he's just another guy. Compare him to other top guys in WWE, excluding part timers and Roman Reigns. Is he as big a deal as AJ Styles right now? No. He is as big as Kevin Owens? No. Is he as big as Braun Strowman? f*** no. Is he as big as big Nakamura? If he is, he's not 'bigger' than after his Rumble win. How about the New Day? They aren't even main eventers and he's not a bigger deal than they are even today well into their run together.
Right now, and perhaps it was because he never had great babyface charisma to begin with despite working a very babyface style, it feels as if the fans like Seth but they don't love Seth. They aren't totally emotionally invested in him. They pop a little bit for his entrance because he is presented as one of the top stars, but once the bell rings the fans pretty much sit on their hands and wait for a high spot or two. At 31 years old with much more to give it seems like Seth is on this endless cycle of being a kinda-big deal in kinda top programs instead of truly being a legitimate force that fans truly care about. I'm not sure if all this can be pointed at the fact that WWE blatantly dropped the ball with his return from injury angle, but it certainly didn't help his spot on this day in February of 2018. He can be grateful that he's above guys like Ziggler. Seth has a healthy base. His entrances get a decent reaction. His name means something, but by now it should mean a lot more.
There's my thoughts on the current state of Seth Rollins. What do they do? As simple as it sounds, I'd say he's due for a heel turn but how he could turn in a way people would give a shit, I'm not sure. If he turns on Roman, Seth will get cheered... again. If he had turned on Jordan WWE would have been fools to keep Jordan a babyface over Seth who is more popular. If he re-aligns himself with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon they are just rehashing an old story and relying on us to forget about his match with Hunter where they also wanted us to forget that Seth became a world champion with his help.
If Seth keeps doing the same old/same old he'll have a decent career. He'll have a decent fan base. He'll have a decent spot on the card. Then when he's gone he will just be a decent star who had a decent run which is still better than most people have. Personally, I expected more and maybe Seth has indeed peaked or maybe the 30 or so writers and Vince can drum up an idea of how to make this guy, the guy who Sting said was the most talented worker he ever got in the ring with (whether he was just putting him over or not, he still said it) can be more than just "Roman's brother" on Raw. If you're a big Seth Rollins fan reading this, you shouldn't be mad at me. You should want better because if that tepid reaction he got in his own home state while wearing a shirt that f***ing said "IOWA" on it didn't serve as a warning sign that this guy is spinning his wheels right now then you're as tone deaf as WWE is.
Thanks for reading this edition of Planet Kayfabe. I appreciate it and if you have any thoughts leave a comment below or tweet me @PlanetKayfabe. Also check out my acoustic guitar cover of Owen Hart's entrance theme I posted last week and share it if you really want to get on my good side.
Thanks again everyone, for NoDQ I'm Paul Matthews p/k/a KAYFABE CANDYASS (actually both are fake names, but whatever). See you here next time.