Happy Friday TJR Faithful. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for the WWE. Interesting doesn’t always mean good or entertaining, but it does provide a lot of topics worthy of discussion. Personally I’ve had a few things I’ve wanted to delve into for the last few days. With Raw’s ratings going down recently (even before NFL season started in earnest) I feel like the most pressing of the issues I want to talk about is the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins.
Seth Rollins has everything that you want a wrestler to have. He’s a strong dude, supremely athletic, charismatic (though not the most charismatic), and he gets how to put on a great match with just about everybody. Yet for some reason there’s a disconnect. How is it that this performer who has so much going for him talent-wise, in and out of the ring, has trouble making me want to watch him and the stories he is telling?
The answer came to me at Night Of Champions in a single moment. Seth had just pushed Sting through a table and picked up his Title to leave like the cowardly heel he is supposed to be. Then he looked back at Sting struggling to stand after being put through a table, and he decided against being a coward and returned to take advantage of a prone Sting. It is in that moment that it finally clicked for me. Seth is two different and conflicting characters, which is confusing as all hell for people.
Now those who stand behind the WWE’s booking of Rollins have told me that he’s a chickensh** heel, an undeserving Champion and you’re supposed to hate him. The problem is that I don’t really hate him. I don’t know exactly how I feel about him which is a problem. He’s supposed to be a character in the mold of Triple H and Flair. Inferior competitors who make up for that inferiority with bravado and an innate ability to manipulate and bend the rules to close the gap on the competitors who are greater than them. Flair always found a way to cheat to gain the upper hand, and Triple H surrounded himself sycophants and did despicable stuff to his rivals in order to dispel them from his life. They were actively villainous.
Seth Rollins approach to this archetype is far less nefarious and more inept. He is billed as The Architect. A cerebral mastermind whose intellect is as much a tool as his athleticism, if not more so. Yet all I ever see is him going into matches hoping for the best. He doesn’t have a plan in place to ensure his victory or that he’ll hold onto the title. He just wrestles and prays for deus ex machina, an act of God that will help him retain the title. Unbelievably it has worked for him since winning the title, but not through any scheming of his own. He is inactively nefarious. He is outright lucky, which isn’t exactly a trait of a heel.
If he was going to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Elimination Chamber in his match against Dean Ambrose by DQ, he should have been confident that his plan to pull the ref into the way of Dean’s flying elbow would work and get himself disqualified. Thats what the evil architect would do. Instead, he rejoiced like a doofus who had no idea how he got so lucky. He should have been the one to plant the seed about Ric Flair’s record in Jon Stewart’s head, and in everybody’s head early, so that some deranged Flair worshipper would take action to help him defeat John Cena at Summerslam.
Now in most cases you don’t want to be a cookie cutter character, because what fun is there in watching something that feels like a carbon copy of something else you’ve seen. Seth shouldn’t be exactly the same as Flair or Triple H. That said he needed to capture the active despicableness both those characters had during their heel runs. You hated them because they were good at being villainous scumbags.
Seth Rollins, the undeserving, inept Champion by hand of The Authority could be a compelling TV Villain if A) he was way more insufferable and villainous (think King Joffrey, the ultimate insufferable, evil brat on TV), and B) he didn’t perform the way he does in the ring.
The character that we see backstage and in promos, the hapless shill of Stephanie and Triple H, always begging them for help with his current endeavour and whining about his place in the WWE, is very different from the one we see in the ring between bells. Once the bell sounds, Seth is confident, proficient, calculated, strong and downright fearless. He wrestles matches with every intention of beating his opponent fair and square, unafraid and full of grit.
The amount of times he has gone into a match with no help from The Authority, against guys you would consider much better than he is, only to fight valiantly against these odds, to either be bailed out by the hand of God (Undertaker screwing Brock, Jon Stewart screwing Cena, both of which were not his plan) or win outright. He’s a gutsy performer in the ring that battles to his last breath and performs maneuvers that very few can dream of doing. Seth Rollins is a walking contradiction because of this. You cannot be both confident and cowardly. You cannot be both competent and bumbling. Yet these are the character traits of Seth Rollins, our World Heavyweight Champion.
How could one reconcile these two sides of a character? The storyline he’s in right now has Kane playing at having two personalities, but the real Jekyll and Hyde story belongs to Seth Rollins. How he acts backstage and how he acts in the ring are diametrically opposed. Cowardly undeserving brat backstage, but arguably the most gifted and valiant performer they have on the roster, capable of getting great matches out of nearly everybody. It simply doesn’t jive.
What needs to happen is clear to me. The character needs to become consistent. Either the in ring character needs to become more inept (which none of us want) or the backstage character needs to become more sly. The backstage character needs to become the evil architect, always plotting, always thinking about ways to give himself the advantage. He needs to become James Moriarty. A thinker capable of setting in motion schemes that are two, three, four steps ahead of you at all times. Wouldn’t it be deliciously loathsome if Seth Rollins actually put an abhorrent plot into motion, and it worked? He’d be infinitely more despicable and detestable than he’s been since turning on The Shield.
Consistency is the key. The character in the ring and out of the ring need to go hand in hand, not be opposing forces. Making sure that the Seth Rollins character is consistent will help him greatly as a TV character and as the villainous World Champion that our heroes are chasing. Also having heroes the people actually want to see chasing the title instead of Kane would help too.
There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think! Is the Seth Rollins character confusing? Could he stand to be more clever as a villain outside the ring or do you like his doofus crybaby shtick? Would the in-ring and backstage characters being more in line help or hurt his standing as a heel?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying only a month until the start of the NBA season and I get to see my new look Spurs in action. Can’t wait! Have a great weekend everybody!