#Rollins Week: Difference of Opinion

It's the Final Day of #RollinsWeek, the 32nd installment of our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. As always, we finish everything off with a Difference of Opinion. This time, it's mostly a discussion about Stevie Richards, floors and ceilings.

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Nick Bond: So, we’ve texted, podded, and now, finally get to talk about this in writing: Seth Rollins – Great wrestler or Greatest wrestler?

David Gibb If we’re talking main roster WWE? The best new top star since Cena and Orton.

Nick Bond Closer to Cena or Orton? And perhaps more importantly, does he have a counterpart like they did (for each other) or does he kind of stand alone?

David Gibb Orton’s a more direct comparison, in that he’s an athletic wrestling heel. And I think Rollin is “married” to both Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. This week on my blog, I wrote about how WWE characters lack a sense of community, but the former Shield members are among the few who can say they have a set of well-established relationships to work with.

If WWE decided to hitch the wagon to Rollins (which I don’t think they are going to do) in a serious way, some combination of Rollins-Reigns-Ambrose could be your next three Wrestlemania main events.

Nick Bond I think, in general, those three represent a sea change in the way characters are going to be constructed — or at least portrayed — going forward. And I think a lot of it is that sense of “community”. Like, with Kevin Owens (last week’s WotW), who knows Sami Zayn and Finn and a bunch of other guys he worked with on the indies. They don’t do the THESE GUYS HAVE NEVER MET BEFORE! thing with him, so I could imagine that those three being “married” to each other as the catalyst for a change in how characters interact.

And, I assume that when you say that they won’t hitch their wagon to him, you mean you don’t see him being used the way, for instance, HHH was during the Attitude Era.

David Gibb If you’re right about the active laying of foundations, more power to them! I just hope that somewhere somebody’s writing the bible on all these back stories so that they can do they can actually honor them down the line.

As for “hitching the wagon,” I mean putting him on top for several years and rotating things around him. (See: Hulk Hogan, Bret, or yes, Triple H)

Nick Bond So more of a “champion by committee” situation, you mean? Or, do you see — no matter what Seth does — Roman Reigns being the Wagon?

David Gibb I see Rollins as a guy capable of becoming that early 80s Ric Flair-style heel champion to the point where WWE could make a business of building up babyface challengers to knock him off his high horse. What I think is more likely in reality is that Roman Reigns becomes the mid-80s Hulk Hogan-style babyface champion and Seth becomes one of the principal members of a rotating cast that runs at Reigns and falls down.

He could be his Orndorff, if you will.

Nick Bond Is that problematic to you, considering Seth’s talent? Or just the way of the world (wrestling entertainment)?

David Gibb I’m not sure I find it “problematic,” but I will say that I find Seth Rollins to be far more talented in just about every manner that involves actual skill than Roman Reigns. Reigns may have more intangible “star power,” but I think Seth is so much better by every other measure that it would be a shame for him to become the second fiddle of this era to a much lesser wrestler.

Nick Bond How would you feel if Reigns was replaced by Ambrose? Which, I suppose is more a question of how you feel about Ambrose, but seems pertinent as it remains a (small) possibility.

David Gibb I think Ambrose and Rollins could have a great personal feud that was first next from the top. I don’t think that could ever be built as the Wrestlemania attraction that Rollins-Reigns would be. Though, as you say, that’s more a reflection of Ambrose.

But to answer your original question: No, I don’t think Ambrose has nearly the potential of Seth as a heel or Reigns as a babyface. Although he is a very good wrestler and a very good promo.

Nick Bond Given his immense physical talent, does Seth ever have a chance of working as a face beyond the weird “you’re so fucking good, we really just love watching you hurt dudes” thing that Orton has going right now?

Or do you feel like his face too punchable? Because that’s my concern.

David Gibb Well, throughout this conversation, I have completely discounted Seth Rollins as a potential babyface attraction — which is crazy of me. I think if he worked like Neville (which he’s completely capable of doing), he could become a very over babyface act.

But that basically turns him into Rey Mysterio, who they didn’t really get anything the last 5 years of his tenure, so I don’t know if that’s a really great idea long term.

Nick Bond Could he be Jeff Hardy without the crippling drug addiction? Or are those inextricable from one another?

David Gibb Anybody who follows what I’ve written about NXT over the last six months knows that I have Finn Balor pegged for that Jeff Hardy spot.

Nick Bond WOW, CALLING ME OUT, GIBB! Hahahaha. That is true, I had forgotten about that.

David Gibb I think Seth’s face IS too punchable to fill those particular boots, however. Honestly though, turning him babyface should be easy: he rejects The Authority and gets the better of them. If all earnest creative effort was put into that, it could make Rollins a huge babyface star.

But too many egos need to be assuaged for something like that to be executed properly.

Nick Bond The moments I’ve always liked the most with Rollins on the mic — who it has to be said, has improved as much as anyone this side of Ryback (who went from stinky-farty-smelly to totally serviceable) in that regard — are those where he allows himself to be vulnerable. Before shitting all over the goodwill he built up less than a minute earlier.

Like, the “I’d like to thank… Seth Rollins (X15)” promo.

David Gibb Yeah, it’s refreshing to hear someone who actually understands how to get the crowd in the palm of their hand and then decides to use that power to get heat. Since basically the Attitude Era, anybody who can manipulate the crowd effectively has used that to become “cool.” Whereas Seth actually uses his charisma to be a better heel; which takes us back to what I was saying at the beginning of our conversation about him being the best new star in over a decade. He has grown into the quintessential chickshit heel promo over the last year and a half.

Which is crazy because it’s happened at the same time as the rise of Kevin Owens, who has grown into the quintessential ass kicking heel promo.

Nick Bond Is that just a function of guys actually having to learn how to get heat and work in front live audiences, them growing up as wrestling fans, or just them giving a shit about being good at their craft?

David Gibb All the above. Most basically, though, it comes from “getting” wrestling and understanding what a promo is:

It’s not a sketch.

It’s not a monologue.

It’s not a scene.

It’s a very specific method of promoting a fight between wrestlers and making people want to see one guy beat the other.

Rollins and Owens give you PROMOS. Other guys are just acting and doing sketches.

Nick Bond That’s the defining difference of this generation, at least to me. The successful ones seem to have at least two out of three of those traits (having to learn with a live audience, growing up wrestling fans or just giving a shit). And they all treat it like something you work on and get better at.

Which, I guess makes the next thing I am about to say kind of contradictory: relative to his predecessors, what’s Rollins floor?

David Gibb If his push peters and his character loses definition, I’ll say his floor legacy-wise, at least as a performer, is Mr. Perfect

Nick Bond That’s definitely good enough for government work!

David Gibb Oh, gosh. Mr. Perfect is one of my 10 favorite wrestlers of all time to watch work. So it’s not a slight.

Nick Bond Exactly! Does he have the potential – potential – to be an all-time all-timer?

David Gibb It’s really hard to say what any young wrestler’s ceiling is in 2015 because we’re standing on the edge of a major paradigm shift in terms of distribution and technology: I compared him to Ric Flair earlier as a performer, but he’ll never create the phenomenon or Ric Flair because that was so tied to context (the structure of the NWA and the carefully built-up and fiercely-defended credibility of the World Title).

The most realistic ceiling might be Macho Man: a wrestler revered as an era-defining worker by aficionados and thought of as a highly-memorable, long-running character by others.

Nick Bond Not bad either!

David Gibb Well, what am I gonna do, tell you he reminds me of Stevie Richards?