Seth Rollins and The Shield follow in the grand tradition of such greats as Dick the Bruiser and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, wrestlers who started out as villains but through time became beloved by the fans.
It’s just a process that happens a lot quicker in this day and age.
Shortly before Monday Night Raw in Baltimore, Rollins talked to SLAM! Wrestling about The Shield as babyfaces.
“It’s just how things happen,” Rollins said. “It’s been an interesting transformation, I suppose. But to be honest with you, we really haven’t done much different. We just started targeting different people, I suppose. By that association, the fans just started to get with us. It’s been fun. It’s been a side to take for sure, but I think it’s something that we’re all pretty excited about.”
Rollins and his brothers in The Shield — Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns — are firmly a part of a new generation of WWE stars pushing the envelope, not content to wait their turn.
“I think that with this new generation of guys, you talk about the Wyatt Family, you can talk about Daniel Bryan, the Usos, you can throw Cesaro in there. There’s this next generation of dudes who are hungry, man,” Rollins said. “The Shield, coming into WWE, we wanted to change what was going on. We had seen the business stagnate for a good five years at least. Just guys not coming in being hungry, and not wanting to make change, not wanting to ruffle any feathers, feeling like they’re walking on eggshells. Myself, Ambrose and Reigns, we were never like that. We’re all alpha males, that type personality.
“We all want to be the best, be number one. From the very outset, we were just going to work harder than everybody else, put on better matches than everybody else, cut better promos than everybody else, be more interesting than everybody else. We didn’t really care who that pissed off. I think that attitude resonated with a lot of other guys that we came across, especially in developmental — and they brought that attitude up here with them. It’s really a great time to be a WWE fan, because you’ve got a lot of very invested performers who are willing to make that sacrifice, to make that change.”
From one former Ring of Honor World champion (when Rollins was Tyler Black) to another (when Bryan was “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson), Rollins is a fan and a friend of Daniel Bryan.
“People say he ascended so quickly, but he’s been in WWE for what, four years now? And before that he was on the indies for over decade,” said Rollins. “He’s a guy who, if anybody’s put in the time, it’s him; if anybody’s had a slow build to where they’re at, it’s him. It definitely seems like a skyrocket, just because of all the attention the Yes Movement has gathered, the way he’s been positioned over the last six months particularly. But like I said, he’s worked so hard, and I’m super happy for him. He deserves it. I’m real proud of him as a performer and as a friend.”
Rollins doesn’t deny that he and Bryan have walked similar routes.
“The lifestyle, the paths we’ve taken, have put us in the same perspective. We kind of see through the same eyes a bit. Like I said, I just really appreciate all he’s been through. He’s been a guy that’s been there through most of my career. Wherever I’ve worked, he’s always been someone’s who helped me out and been a major part in my development. I’m just super happy for him, man, and hope that he can make the most of his title run. He’s definitely had a run for the ages.”
Many pundits point to Roman Reigns as the Next Big Thing, a breakout star from the A’noai family of wrestlers just waiting for his chance.
Rollins doesn’t disagree, and explains how Reigns has learned from Ambrose and Rollins, both veterans of the indy wrestling scene.
“He’s smart enough to listen. He’s smart enough to pay attention and pick up little things,” Rollins said of Reigns. “He’s someone who’s a student of the game. He played football before he got here. He didn’t spend as much time doing this as we had, but it’s in his blood. His family’s a huge part of this business. He’s just a guy who’s built for it. It’s just part of him. We spend a lot of time in the car and a lot of time in the ring together, and stuff like that, so if he’s not learning, then something’s not right. But I think it’s pretty clear that over the past 18 months that we’ve been teamed up up here that his progression and his development has been accelerated, to say the least.”
The trio can only get better with top-of-the-card billing, such as the Extreme Rules pay-per-view bout with The Shield against Evolution (Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista).
Rollins admits to being a fan of Evolution’s back in the day.
“How could you not be? You’ve got past, present and future, with Ric Flair in the original incarnation. All the success that those guys have had is proof that Evolution was a successful stable in its time. I think the fact that they have banded back together to have match with The Shield and try to take us on is proof that we are also an extremely successful stable, and hopefully not just now, but for a long time.”
In his earlier days, when he was Tyler Black in Ring of Honor, Rollins was a part of a faction called The Age of the Fall.
The Shield is another faction, and Rollins talked about the differences between working as a unit compared to on one’s own.
“It’s something that I’ve kind of grown accustomed to a little bit; it’s almost like a comfort zone kind of thing,” he said of teaming up with multiple partners. “It’s definitely different than working by yourself, because there’s so many moving parts. Especially in a six-man tag match, you’ve really got to be aware of what’s going on, not just for yourself, but for everybody else in the ring. You’ve got to play off each other’s strengths, and weaknesses too, which is different than being out there by yourself. It’s a whole different ballgame, but we’ve definitely perfected the art, I’d say.”
While not always perfectly neat, Rollins’ hair is worth a mention. With his long, dark hair dyed a yellowish blond on his right side, he stands out in a cookie-cutter world of wrestlers.
It’s not a backstage before Raw dye job either.
“No man, my girlfriend’s a hairstylist, actually, so it’s worked out well,” chuckled Rollins to conclude the interview. “We do it at home every so often. You can kind of tell when I’m on the road too long and the roots start to show. But yeah, she does it every month or two. It is what it is, just a way to stand out. It’s starting to come up with some serious breakage up front though. We’ll see how long it lasts. We’ve been doing it for about two years now.”
Seth Rollins and the WWE roll into Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum this Friday, April 24. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.