WWE Extreme Rules saw the return of Seth Rollins from his injury-related absence to attack Roman Reigns moments after he had retained his WWE World Heavyweight Championship by defeating AJ Styles in the main event. The return of Rollins, who never really lost the championship in the first place after he was forced to relinquish it last November, set up a new feud with Reigns, which will see the two superstars face off for the title this coming weekend at Money in the Bank. Rollins’ return came with a huge pop from the crowd and his intention to claim the belt back was made clearly and immediately, by delivering a Pedigree to his former Shield team-mate.
While the confrontation between Rollins and Reigns has been a long time coming, it somehow feels a little too early, and Money in the Bank will likely be the first chapter in their feud. The question is, will WWE follow up Money in the Bank with further bouts between the two until SummerSlam? Or will they keep their final confrontation for a later date/venue, such as WrestleMania 33 where they could also weave in Dean Ambrose – subject to him claiming the briefcase at the Money in the Bank ladder match this weekend – and set up a triple threat match between the former Shield team-mates? The latter option has been the topic of much speculation for a few years now and would be epic in its realization. Let’s hope WWE pursues this route.
So if Rollins doesn’t face Reigns at SummerSlam, this then could open an interesting creative door for a feud which many expected to happen but ultimately didn’t as a result of Seth’s knee injury. Prior to Rollins’ injury, the seeds had been planted for a feud with Triple H.
Though it was slow-burning, tension between the two was becoming more and more tangible over the weeks when Rollins had the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and Triple H had shown some frustration with the way The Architect was behaving as champion. Moreover, Triple H has been left off WWE programming since losing to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 32. His return is only inevitable. There is clearly unfinished business between the two superstars, and WWE would be wise in revisiting the classic rivalry between mentor and protégé.
When attacking Reigns at Extreme Rules, Rollins used the Pedigree, his finisher move which was made famous by Triple H. From a narrative standpoint, this could irk Triple H, bring back the frustration, and force him to come back to punish Rollins. WWE would plug in The Game’s return for the Money in the Bank PPV and cost The Architect the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Reigns, and set the stage for a much anticipated SummerSlam grudge match.
The thing is, Rollins may be back, but he remains a heel. And in all likelihood he will remain a heel for as long as he is put in a storyline with Roman Reigns (even though the fans are cheering him and Roman Reigns is getting booed). If he is to be turned into a babyface and allowed to really live up to his popular status, facing Triple H – the heel of heels – seems the right way to help make that shift seem organic.
Seth Rollins is starting to evolve as a fan favorite which may not be the WWE’s plan at this time, but they may seek to tweak his character sooner or later.
In the WWE 24 documentary on Seth Rollins, fans were provided with a different image of the man. He was shown as hard-working and committed, a real professional and one we can empathize with. In the documentary he spoke about his feelings and what it was like when coming to terms with his injury and his halted momentum in WWE. In his quest for excellence, Rollins said he didn’t want to just return to WWE but that he wanted to continue to evolve and thrive – hence ‘Redesign, Rebuild, Reclaim’.
Seeking to be the best in the company again is a befitting objective for a babyface. And it will be interesting to see how WWE will exploit that potential and, in the longer-term, where he fits into the recently revamped WWE landscape.