I was planning on writing this post sometime before Survivor Series, but disaster struck the WWE and so I moved up my timetable. Earlier this week, The Most Important Wrestler In The World Not Named John Cena was injured during a match in England. The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins tore his ACL and is projected to be for 6-9 months. Not even Brock Lesnar could get away with not defending the belt for that long. So the belt has been vacated, and some sort of tournament is planned for Survivor Series. Whatever plans the WWE had going forward into WrestleMania have to be rewritten, and quickly.
But that’s the future. This post is about the past. I’ve seen people complain about Rollin’s title run, comparing it to some of the worst in history. Seth Rollins has been a poorly booked champion, there is no question about that. He has looked like a second fiddle to HHH since winning the belt, pawing and fawning over The Authority instead of being his own champion. He lost to John Cena about a billion time. But let’s not fall too deep in the hyperbole pit. In a few years, what we’re going to remember about Seth Rollins first title reign was the quality of matches and the people he beat.
There have been several champions in the past 10 years who have had a much worst title reign then Seth Rollins. Rey Mysterio, Jack Swagger, and CM Punk’s first title reign spring immediately to mind. Hell, in terms of booking, Brock Lesnar had a worst title reign since he, you know, never defended it. Seth Rollins has defended it, and has had great matches while doing so.
Let’s look at the list of names Rollins has walked away from while still being champion. Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Sting, and Kane. That’s a pretty impressive resume. In time, the lame circumstances will not be remember. The circumstances of the “victory” over Lesnar in particular, with the non-finish and Undertaker interference, will be overlooked. If we remember anything about these matches, it will be their high quality.
Rollins has excellent matches against Orton and Ambrose. His match with Lesnar was shaping up to be pretty special before the finish. He had great matches against Cena. Most impressive to me though was his match against Sting. Sting had no business being in the wrestling ring anymore, but his title match against Rollins was much better then expected. Sting looked like a legitimate threat in his match, no small feat considering his age and history.
And that’s what we’ll remember. Not the lame kiss-ass promos, not the neutering of his character. We’ll remember Seth Rollins putting on great matches, with a hint of “What if.” I’m sure he would have done one hell of a job passing the belt to Roman Reigns, and it’s a shame we won’t get that moment. There’s a lot to talk about for the future of WWE, but for now, let’s give Seth Rollins some credit for doing tremendously despite being given some awful stuff to work with.