Seth Rollins is not the WWE champion, but he is WWE’s champion.
In the last few days, he has waved his company’s flag loudly and proudly, representing himself, his locker room and his management against the sustained and continual abuse that WWE and the McMahons have received for a long time now.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when this intense dislike started. By all accounts, there were a lot of people who were very anti-WWE back in the Monday Night Wars days. I’m sure a lot of WCW lovers were furious to see Vince McMahon appearing on the big screen during their last weekly show; their beloved Nitro having been bought on the cheap by The Genetic Jackhammer himself.
Mixed reactions to John Cena date back to 2006 and a feud with Kurt Angle. This was well after the crowd took over a match; chanting loudly their unhappiness at seeing Goldberg take on Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. CM Punk leaving the company was a huge drop off point in satisfaction levels of crowds and audiences, particularly given that it directly followed the infamous omission of Daniel Bryan from the Royal Rumble.
But here’s the thing. There is an idea that crowds had been viciously pro-Bryan since WrestleMania the year before, when he achieved a new record in the quickest WrestleMania loss in history at the time. I’ve watched those shows back recently and that win served its purpose perfectly in getting Sheamus over. It was also the start of a very long term push for Daniel Bryan. He was not overlooked.
I could certainly say the same about CM Punk. While his issues are certainly legitimate, so too are those that the WWE had with Punk. Yes, for the champion to miss so many main events and to be such a background title was a very bad look. At the same time, he had a title reign from November to January over a year later. Imagine saying that you weren’t given opportunities.
This was also the beginning of the end for the incredible popularity that Roman Reigns had until that time. Roman Reigns would draw the ire of WWE fans across the world and yet WWE would stubbornly, pigheadedly refuse to listen. Instead they would push him and push him, to WrestleMania main event after WrestleMania main event after WrestleMania main event.
When would they learn, fans would ask. When will Roman just get out of the title picture some asked. Why won’t he just go away and vanish forever, others would ask.
WWE never fired back. Roman Reigns never fired back. They took the lead of John Cena and rose above hate.
Cody Rhodes would leave, slowly but surely setting up rival company All Elite Wrestling. While Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada set the world on fire, subsections of disappointed fans became sections of disappointed fans. Sections became movements.
By the time All Elite Wrestling actually launched, WWE had lost more names. The loss of Dean Ambrose and the arrival of Jon Moxley to AEW began the floodgates even further. Moxley would appear on a now infamous podcast with Chris Jericho followed by a two part marathon with Wade Keller.
Still, nobody fired back. Jon Moxley laid out incredible details of a divided, unhappy locker room that were creatively stifled and desperate to get out. Fans across the world began to speculate who was next. Who was going to leave for AEW next?
Things haven’t quite gone that way though, have they? We’ve been told that WWE is so bad that nobody wants to wrestle there, but Daniel Bryan happily signed a new contract. There were rumors that AEW was negotiating with Randy Orton and yet The Viper is still there.
What about AJ Styles – a very close friend of many members of the AEW roster that didn’t just sign a new contract but who WWE had such confidence in that they approached negotiations very casually indeed.
The Revival requested their release. They’ve been Raw Tag Team champions twice since then. Goldberg was mooted as a huge name that AEW could get and he signed back with WWE to wrestle in Saudi Arabia. Paul Heyman dropped hints that we’d see Brock Lesnar in the black, white and gold. That didn’t happen. Where is Sasha Banks? Nobody knows. Even PAC didn’t quite make it when he was Neville.
If you’d listened to all the negativity surrounding WWE right now, you’d be wondering why people kept signing these new contracts.
Competition is good. WWE has a bloated roster and they need to clear some room for some of their developing talent to rise to the top. Competition is great when the people leaving are Shawn Spears (fka Tye Dillinger), who the company clearly had no plans for, or Dean Ambrose, who was clearly very unhappy to be there. Yet through all of this, nobody fired back.
The night before Stomping Grounds, Seth Rollins fired his first shot.
Take a look through the replies to that tweet and what do you have? Wall to wall negativity. Mockery. Despair. Seth Rollins, the current Universal champion, would double down.
And you know what? Stomping Grounds was a great show.
Rollins wouldn’t stop there. He would instead take aim at WWE’s opponents. He would take aim at negative coverage and, in a move that will probably provide very good exposure for the man in question, he would fire back when Will Ospreay would dare to state that his mere existence voided Rollins’ argument.
When WWE refuse to mention Impact, they are mocked. When they mention Impact, they are mocked. When WWE doesn’t deliver a match as popular with Dave Meltzer as Omega vs Okada, they are mocked. When NXT puts on two Meltzer five stars in one night, they are mocked.
Rollins is going to be mocked. He’s going to be attacked. He’s going to be abused. It’s already started and started heavy. That doesn’t make him wrong. Seth Rollins is a locker room leader. When people doubt that anyone wants to work in WWE, Seth Rollins stands in dispute. Roman Reigns stands in dispute. Becky Lynch stands in dispute.
Seth Rollins continues to be the perfect champion for any WWE fan.