Anyone that has ever met me knows how genuinely terrible I am at waking up, especially at night. My brain, along with most of the parts of my body tied to sensory experience have trouble in the boot stage, usually leaving me partially blind, hard of hearing and entirely unable to make words connect brain.
Despite this limited cognitive function, waking up to HHH and Seth Rollins celebrating after falling asleep mid-show with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns lay broken on the ground immediately felt like something. I couldn’t quite figure out who, or why or even what the heck just happened. But I knew whatever it was, it was wrestling equivalent of getting engaged: things would never be the same again and there’s nothing you can do to allow for an easy exit from the situation you find yourself in, even on the off chance you wanted to get out just as quickly as you had gotten in.
Thankfully, just as it is in my case, Seth Rollins seems happy with his decision. He, or at least the character Colby Lopez plays, projects the idea that he made the right choice even as the reality of what stands in his way – for him, a 6’4” Viking Murder Machine, for me, picking out centerpieces – becomes clear. There is no shaking Seth Rollins in any way he can’t recover from.
He is, in that way, the perfect choice to stake the future of the company on. The guy, like HHH before him, who you trust to, if not be The Man, at least be The Guy that works with The Man to put butts in seats. Having a new actor in that role may feel, sort of. But for the first time since the OVW superclass came out with Brock, Batista, Orton and Cena, it’s finally time to let someone else have a turn.
Seth being the leader of that new generation, though? That’s most certainly odd. It’s easy to forget now, but before he was chosen to be the one who broke away from the best stable in almost a decade –after they handily beat the very group that held that title previously, Evolution — it was hard to ever imagine he’d even be in that discussion.
When the Shield broke up, the WWE (and the “Hounds of Justice” in particular) were as hot as they had ever been. They likely weren’t pulling in the viewership numbers they had during previous boom periods – in no small part because the numbers they were pulling in for Raws are now more than what MLB playoff games get – but the crowd reaction and actual quality of the television being produced was routinely between “remarkable” and “significant”.
And from that perspective, Seth Rollins as Golden Boy of the McMahon-Helmsley Regime reboot, makes a great deal of sense. He, in retrospect, was really the only option the company ever had from the trio: the best talker, best worker and most punchable of all three by a significant margin, Rollins screams heel existentially.
The nature of his talking – a nigh-Randy Orton-level overexplainer with a gift for looking genuinely vulnerable in times of crisis or distress, while simultaneously allowing the mechanisms of his next move to be presented in his eyes as though they are being worked out in real time – works as a natural successor to HHH infamous twenty-minute opening promo giver, and the next step in the evolution of a very particular type of wrestling archetype: the chicken-shit bad ass.
Like a Jeff Hardy-Jeff Jarrett hybrid, his moveset – and all the different aspects of it — completely validate Rollins. Unlike Jarrett, who only genuinely worked as a main eventer when he was allowed to stack the deck completely against his opponents, Rollins goes far beyond talking a good game only to end up hiding behind something or someone to keep his title. He has proven – at least once – capable of defending his legitimately, entirely a function of his otherworldly in-ring ability. He is, in every measurable physical way, a main eventer. In fact, he’s so transcendent at certain aspects of the role – selling — that he’s derailed (at least on some level) the career of at least one other performer in Dolph Ziggler. Why pay attention to the Ziggler scale when Rollins shatters it every time he works a match?
Rollins, even more so than his former stablemate and next week’s WotW, Dean Ambrose embodies all of the bits of character fine-tuning that allow Joker to work so well when written. While Dean Ambrose works as an agent of chaos, he has allegiances and morals that push him closer to the wisecracking anti-hero Deadpool than the sociopathic Clown Prince of Crime.
Which is to say: both will blow your head off to get what they want, but Ambrose is going to be the crying while he’s laughing.