Seth Rollins 221 days as WWE world champion changed the face of the company in 2015. Rollins became the top player in the company with polarizing results. Whether his reign as champ was a success or fail depends upon the criteria you judge it upon.
It’s easy to sit back and call Seth Rollins’ title reign a success if you are a Seth Rollins fan. Chances are you probably aren’t a John Cena fan, so Rollins represented a new era in the WWE main-events. Rollins, as champion was certainly something different and his matches, were always top notch. So yes, of course, Rollins title reign was a success.
However, a more objective look at Rollins’ reign says differently. If you are judging Rollins’ title reign purely on what happened inside of the ring, his reign was one of the best in years. I, on the other hand, like to look at the big picture and the business and by those criteria, Rollins’ reign as champion was one of the worst in recent memory.
The interest in Rollins was not sustainable. The ratings for RAW got worse under Rollins, much worse in the beginning when John Cena was a minor player on the shows. Once the company pushed Cena again, especially with Rollins, the ratings picked up a bit. However, you can’t argue with the numbers and the numbers tell you that Rollins was never able to captivate the fans as the top guy as others before him.
That said, I don’t put a lot of blame on Seth Rollins for this. Rollins was only playing the cards he were dealt. To say that the booking of Seth Rollins as WWE world champion was one of the worst booking examples of a champion in company history is an understatement. Perception is reality and booking Rollins as a cowardly champion hurt him greatly. I get it, he’s a heel, but at some point fans have to believe that the WWE champion is the best, even if they hate him. Rollins was never portrayed to be the best.
Rollins being dismantled by Brock Lesnar had a real negative impact on his perception. Rollins was treated like a jobber in their match and fans knew immediately that this guy was simply a paper champion and paper champions don’t draw money. Ironically Rollins was more competitive against Lesnar as a challenger at the Royal Rumble than he was at Battleground.
Unfortunately for the former Shield member, that was the least of his problems. Rollins never recovered from the way he was booked in his feud with John Cena. Sure he beat him for the U.S. title, but that ride didn’t last long. Rollins not only lost the title a few weeks later, he was beaten weekly on RAW, going weeks without even getting a win on television. Quite honestly he was booked as if he was the intercontinental champion. It was horrendous, something I never would have expected to see on Vince McMahon’s watch. Between that and chasing Cena unsuccessfully for the U.S. title in rematches, he was seen as mid-card at best.
The association with Triple H and Stephanie should have helped him. It didn’t. As a matter of a fact, I think it hurt him. Rollins was seen as second-rate, kissing up to management in exchange for receiving special treatment. At some point, your world champion needs to step out and clearly present himself as the franchise player. Instead, he was constantly talked down to by the Authority making him look like a chump.
What I can credit Rollins with is one heck of a run inside of the ring. Inside of the ring, there weren’t many people who could touch him. Rollins consistently had good to great matches, arguably his best coming at SummerSlam against John Cena. In retrospect if you look back at Rollins’ run, it peaked at SummerSlam and went downhill thereafter in and out of the ring.
The only thing Rollins truly had control over during his reign were his matches and they were solid. Unfortunately while Rollins is not necessarily responsible for it, his creative resulted in one of the most disappointing title reigns in recent memory.
Hopefully creative gets it right the second time, yet massive changes need to happen in order to make that possible.