Seth Rollins will always remember his first Survivor Series.
After all, it was at this signature WWE event, two years ago, that he shocked the world making his big introduction to the audience with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. The trio, known collectively as The Shield, interrupted CM Punk’s WWE championship title defense against Ryback and John Cena.
“It was one of those things where it happened so fast,” Rollins said, as he prepares to captain Team Authority against Team Cena 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 23 at this year’s WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view.
“It was one of those moments where you had to take time to let it sink in. It was hard at the time. It was like lightening. Looking back, it was definitely impactful. We definitely made the right move. It was cool that it caught so much attention right from the get-go. It’s cool to also be involved in a moment that is part of Survivor Series lore. You look at the history of the event. You had a lot of major moments. Looking back, the debut of The Shield is going to be one of those moments that last forever in the history of Survivor Series.”
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The emerging talent doesn’t recall too many words being said beforehand.
“It was one of those things that we all knew we had one opportunity to do this right,” Rollins said. “None of the three of us was going to take that opportunity lightly. We made sure to make the impact that we needed to make. I think that became very clear that night and over the year-and-a-half that followed.”
As a unit, The Shield is among the most successful and dominating factions in the annals of WWE. The team’s run came to a screeching halt when Rollins took a chair to the back of his brothers in black. Rollins had joined the Authority to close the June episode of Monday Night Raw. The dastardly act surprised viewers, marking the end of an era.
“When I was approached about the opportunity, it was certainly something I had to think about,” Rollins said. “It wasn’t one of those deals where it was, ‘Oh yeah, that makes perfect sense.’ It was definitely one of those things where I had to make sure it was something I was ready for personally. It happened real fast as well. Looking back and the time since then, I would say I made the right call.”
The betrayal led to Rollins going into a lengthy feud with Ambrose. They created great television, entertaining fans and growing as performers on opposite sides. The work of the popular superstars was rewarded with a headlining slot at the Hell in a Cell event in October.
“For two guys who have been with WWE for less than two years at the time to main event a pay-per-view that featured another Hell in a Cell match with Randy Orton and John Cena is nothing to sniff at,” Rollins said. “It’s definitely something we will both be proud of. I mean I can’t speak for him, but for me, it’s one of those matches.
“The lumberjack match at SummerSlam was another. I think when people heard the lumberjack stipulation they were maybe a little concerned. Knowing what Ambrose and I were capable of based on our past encounters down in FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) and WWE developmental, I was not. I think we surprised the entire world and set the bar pretty high for future lumberjack matches. I’d say it will go down in history as one of the greatest lumberjack matches of all time.”
The battle between the former comrades inside the enclosed steel structure at Hell in a Cell was among the most physical in recent memory. The end came when Bray Wyatt mysteriously showed up and attacked Ambrose.
“I look at it as a separate piece all together,” he said. “I don’t put that in there with the rest of the match. I look at the match as the match and the Bray Wyatt involvement completely different…I think at the end of the day when people step back a few months and years and take a look at what were able to accomplish in the Hell in a Cell match, in this post ‘Attitude Era’ during WWE’s ‘PG Era,’ I think they will be pretty proud. I think they will be proud at what we were able to do and the match we were able to have.”
Rollins has been on a meteoric rise ever since The Shield broke up. He is currently the golden boy of the Authority, a powerful onscreen hierarchy made up of Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Kane.
“I’m a sponge in that scenario soaking up all the information I possibly can,” he said. “You are looking at Triple H, who has pretty much done all there is to do in WWE. You look at Stephanie, who is a McMahon. She has this in her blood. Then you have Kane, who also has been around in many incarnations for a very long period of time. There is so much information and so much to learn about being the man in WWE. That’s definitely who I want to be and where I want to be. It’s been an incredible experience to be with the three of those people and learn from them on a day-to-day basis.”
His momentum continued after Ambrose moved on to Wyatt. Rollins has proven himself as a main event caliber competitor in his clashes with Orton and when he captured the Money in the Bank briefcase. The 28-year-old is guaranteed a WWE world championship opportunity whenever he is ready to cash it in. Right now Brock Lesnar is the title holder and hasn’t defended the gold since Night of Champions.
“I think it’s bull crap,” Rollins said. “I don’t appreciate it one bit. I’m sitting here with this contract biding my time. I want to be the WWE world heavyweight champion now. I don’t want to wait around to when he decides it’s cool to show up. He has said it before. He is this mercenary. He is basically a guy you pay as much as he wants and he comes and works for you. I’m not a fan of that. I think there is no honor in that.
“Coming from the guy who ‘stabbed his brothers in the back,’ me talking about honor I know can sound a little outrageous. However, I want him to be around so I can keep an eye on him and make sure that WWE world heavyweight championship is within eyeshot. That’s my goal and on the horizon for me. When he isn’t here or not around, it can be pretty frustrating.”
Rollins is another success story to come out of WWE’s developmental system. He set the tone for those who followed by becoming its first ever NXT champion. The standout believes things have changed a lot in the two years he has been gone.
“I never was in the [WWE] Performance Center [in Orlando],” he said. “I was the NXT champion while we were transitioning from Florida Championship Wrestling, so I never trained at the Performance Center. To go in there and see what it has become, all the potential and the talent that they have down there. Even something as being on the WWE Network and having that translate into live event crowds that are sizable, especially compared to what I was used to working in those small Florida towns. That’s great because it really simulates the experience I had.
“Compared to myself and working on the independent level where you have to make or break yourself on a night-to-night basis, it really simulates that atmosphere for those guys. I think that is really important when it comes to learning to hone your craft. So kudos to Triple H. Kudos to Bill DeMott and the other coaches who put in the time on a day-to-day basis to make that place the absolute factory for success. I think it’s really going to blow the roof off over time. You are going to see guys who are WWE-ready coming out of there as soon as they come up to the main roster.”
Rollins feels it’s a great time for superstars of his generation. They are the journeymen who generated buzz for themselves before WWE in promotions around the world.
“You look at a Daniel Bryan and even a CM Punk who kind of paved the way for a guy like myself, Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami, Finn Bálor. We all come from different backgrounds, but share one thing. That’s our love and passion for this business and industry. As they start to climb the ladder and make their way into WWE, you are really going to see a renaissance. It’s going to be a revolution of sorts as far as the style and the feel of what WWE looks like two, three or four years from now.”
As a lifelong fan, Rollins appreciates every positive that has come in his career. This includes a spot in “WWE 2K15” video game, available now.
“It’s awesome. Being a part of the video game, how cool is that? You see yourself immortalized in virtual form. It’s pretty incredible. Now I don’t have to spend hours in the create-a-wrestler feature making myself. It’s pretty awesome to be a part of such a franchise that ‘WWE 2K15’ is and be immortalized in the WWE video games that I played for so many years.”
He also takes pride in leading Team Authority at the WWE Survivor Series.
“I think there is a lot of weight on my shoulders for sure,” Rollins said. “You are looking at some pretty big stakes going into Survivor Series with the Authority’s control of WWE on the line. You could be looking at a completely different WWE come the night after Survivor Series. It’s on my shoulders to make sure that doesn’t happen. I like my bosses. I like where they’re at, as they’ve helped me out a lot.
“So being on that team, captaining that team and looking at the history of Survivor Series and matches that have paved the way for this one, it’s going to be great to be part of it. I’m looking forward to making another blip on my own legacy with defeating Team Cena in a major pay-per-view atmosphere.
- Seth Rollins heads up Team Authority (Luke Harper, Mark Henry, Kane, Rusev, Rollins) with Lana, Joey Mercury, Jamie Noble, Pail Levesque and Stephanie McMahon against Team Cena (Erick Rowan, Ryback, Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Cena) 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 23 at the Survivor Series pay-per-view (free on WWE Network).
Also, Bray Wyatt is set to square off with Dean Ambrose. AJ Lee defends the Diva’s championship against Nikki Bella. WWE tag champs Goldust and Stardust defend their titles against The Usos, Los Matadorers, and The Miz and Damien Mizdow. Team Fox (Alicia Fox, Emma, Naomi, Natalya) vs. Team Paige (Paige, Cameron, Layla, Summer Rae).
Renee Young, Booker T, Alex Riley and Paul Heyman will host the one-hour kickoff show on WWE Network. The show will also include Bad News Barrett and Fandango.
Visit www.WWE.com for full details on the event and pre-show coverage.
- “WWE 2K15” video game featuring Seth Rollins.
- Follow Seth Rollins on Twitter @WWERollins.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
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