Will Seth Rollins Ever Be WWE’s Top Guy?

As WWE celebrates ten years of The Shei….sorry, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, Brandon Bethune digs deep in Seth Rollins’ WWE career, his relationship with fans, and if he’ll ever reach the heights of his fellow ‘Hounds of Justice’.

It’s a testament to the enduring careers of the three founding members of The Shield, Seth Rollins, Jon Moxley, and Roman Reigns, that ten years after the group’s emphatic debut at Survivor Series 2012, they could all be having their career best year in 2022.

Roman Reigns has finally become THE guy WWE always wanted him to be, while Jon Moxley has had similar fortunes outwith the ‘fed, as in a year of turmoil in AEW, MOX has stood up to the plate and proved himself to be their MVP.

As for Seth Rollins though, despite being in career best form in 2022, to say that he’s reached the same level as Moxley or specifically Roman Reigns as the top dog in his company, would be a stretch.

Speaking to renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani in a two-part interview for BT Sport, Rollins spoke of his desire to step up, just as Moxley and Reigns have, to be his company’s top guy. THE guy.

However, he himself doubts this could ever happen, as he happens to be in the ‘Roman era’.

Seth isn’t wrong, as WWE’s persistence with Roman Reigns following in the footsteps of John Cena and Hulk Hogan as company figurehead has lasted almost since the moment Seth blasted Roman with a chair to destroy The Shield in 2014.

Moxley had to leave the company to reach his full potential elsewhere, and while Seth has stayed the course, he is yet to reach the head of the table. This hasn’t been for a lack of trying though, as there have been times Seth looked like he could usurp Roman in WWE’s minds as the top dog.

It was in The Shield’s immediate aftermath that Seth perhaps established himself as the best choice of the three to be skyrocketed to the top, as in the unlikely role of heel coming out of the stable, Seth excelled as the smarmy bully having ‘bought in’ to promised success via The Authority.

And in a time where Roman Reigns was failing to connect as a babyface, and WWE weren’t going all in on Moxley, Seth proved to be the biggest success story of The Shield in the first few years after its demise. Being parachuted in to save the WrestleMania 31 main event after a prospective Roman victory was shot down by fans was all the indication needed that if anyone was coming out The Shield on top, it was Seth.

Magnificent performances overshadowed shoddy booking during a lengthy World Title run in 2015, which didn’t go unnoticed by fans as Seth’s absence was felt after a brutal knee injury ended the reign prematurely. By the time Extreme Rules 2016 came around with Seth having been sidelined seven months, he was once again seen as the saviour as he dropped now-world champion Roman Reigns on his return. This moment was perhaps an even larger indication that Seth was the guy to run with over Roman, as after months of fan backlash against Roman as champion, the fans had all but chosen Seth Rollins as their champion.

When the time actually came to run with Seth as a babyface though, it all began to unravel.

The decision to turn Seth back heel against Roman 24 hours after his return was the beginning of the end, as WWE failed to get behind Seth’s face potential from the offset, and despite continuing to put in great work in the following months, heel Seth wasn’t what the fans wanted, and the resistance to embrace the their vision for Seth would eventually cool audiences on him significantly.

A victim of his own capabilities at times, Rollins has been able to make whatever he is given work to a certain extent, even if not the correct fit for his talents and reception. (Photo by Marc Pfitzenreuter/Getty Images)

And when the trigger was finally pulled, it lacked commitment or sense.

Seth as a character made no significant change. Triple H turning on him to align with Kevin Owens during the Universal Title four-way in August 2016 was more a face turn for Hunter than it was for Seth, and the following months of Seth waiting for a Triple H return around WrestleMania 33 only served to further fail his character.

This would remain the pattern for Seth between 2016 and 2019, as every time he got the fans behind his act organically again, WWE would mess it up. The Vince McMahon regime failed Seth Rollins over and over again, be it for typecasting him as the No.2 behind Roman for much of his career, or in butchering his face run time after time.

Seth himself highlighted this on the Broken Skull Sessions with Steve Austin, as he recalled confrontations with Vince over his failings. Seth found himself in no better place on the card after what was meant to be a landmark win against Triple H at WrestleMania 33, so an Intercontinental Title run was locked in to fix that a year later.

It worked, only for the subsequent promotion to Universal Champion a year after that, a time Seth felt was his only chance to surpass Roman after he went down with leukaemia, was also botched, ending in the infamously disastrous Hell In A Cell Match with The Fiend that Seth almost fought Vince over backstage.

Granted, at this time Seth also didn’t do himself any favours either. Targeting Sasha Banks, CM Punk and Will Ospreay in misjudged rants on social media, that were perhaps born from Seth’s desire to be the ‘company guy’, along with his inconsistent booking, was the nail in the coffin of Seth’s relationship with fans, to the point that it took years for positive sentiment towards Seth to recover.

Post-2019, Seth found himself at rock bottom. Various new character attempts were shot around, from ‘The Messiah’ to the ‘Drip God’, but none ever truly hit despite him consistently putting on great work. As always though, it was that work that eventually endeared him to fans once again.

Once he escaped the drab Mysterio’s storyline in 2020, Seth had a fun series with Cesaro followed by a memorable feud with Edge in 2021. Some notable character work alongside Kevin Owens and against Roman Reigns opened 2022 with a bang, and a swell of momentum began to build behind Seth once again, all before an incoming Cody Rhodes ignited a rivalry that would make as much a star of Seth as it did him following WrestleMania 38.

Both men needed each other at this time, with Cody looking to re-establish himself in front of a WWE audience unfamiliar with ‘The American Nightmare’, while Seth was refusing to be lost in the shuffle behind the new arrival. Across three PLE matches at WrestleMania 38, Backlash, and finally their epic Hell In A Cell Match, Seth and Cody elevated each other to the next level in a fashion not often seen in WWE.

It spoke volumes of Seth’s ability and connection with fans that despite losing all three matches to Cody, he came out arguably stronger than ever, a testament to the ability of a man who has been racking up loss after loss in the last few years.

The Rollins v Rhodes feud elevated both stars, with the story not finished just yet… (Photo- WWE)

Since then, great work has continued to follow opposite Matt Riddle, and Seth was rewarded for his tremendous work by capturing the United States Championship from Bobby Lashley last month.

Where Seth Rollins goes next is realistically anyone’s guess.

He is doing all-timer work as a heel, and has a ready-made WrestleMania finale with a returning Cody Rhodes potentially awaiting him, but the ground swell of support for a fanbase dying to cheer Seth again may put those plans to bed.

His extravagant attires, catchy theme song, and stellar in-ring year have all made him a hot commodity once again, and while he may not be one of the top options to battle Roman Reigns in the future (The Rock, Sami Zayn, and Cody Rhodes are all ahead of him in that category), but the sky really is the limit for newly-minted babyface Seth Rollins to explode in WWE in the near future.

And while Seth has been botched as a good guy in the past, a new Triple H regime that you know is behind him, may finally get right what the old system had failed time and time again.

So, while Seth may be positioned behind his former Shield mates, and some of WWE’s other top prospective babyfaces at the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seth elevated back to that top spot sooner rather than later.

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