If you were to ask how Seth Rollins performed since returning from his knee injury in late 2015, he’d probably tell you he didn’t feel like he was Seth Rollins. When Seth returned, he was instantly thrust back into the main event, defeating Roman Reigns clean for the WWE Championship that he never lost to begin with. However, the wheels began to fall off for the architect as Dean Ambrose would cash in the MITB contract and win the WWE Championship off of him, bringing new meaning to the phrase “what goes around, comes around.” Seth would fail in his quest to reclaim the WWE Championship, and would then move on to the Universal Championship. He lost to Finn Balor in the first ever Universal Championship match at Summerslam two years ago, even after Finn tore his labrum from a barricade powerbomb gone awry. Seth would then fail to reclaim the Universal Championship from Kevin Owens, due to relics of the past such as Triple H and Chris Jericho.
Seth Rollins in 2016 was underwhelming, because not only did we have to discern whether or not he was a face or a heel, but he himself didn’t seem to know the answer to that question either. However, at least he had a purpose. He was still fighting for championships, and Seth kept up a streak of competing for world titles on PPV that he had since he won the WWE Title at WrestleMania. However, at the turn of 2017, Seth was in a bit of a purgatory. Samoa Joe attacked Seth Rollins in his RAW debut, giving Rollins another injury to worry about, putting his WrestleMania status in jeopardy. He managed to rehab and fight enough to get his revenge against Triple H, but unfortunately, the match suffered from Triple H’s main event-WrestleMania style match, being a match that goes on longer than needed. Seth would then just wander nowhere with no direction and was pretty much an ordinary guy with black hair, an inflated ego and nothing unique about him. From an underwhelming revenge feud with Samoa Joe to an aimless, cringeworthy feud with Bray Wyatt that lasted all of about a month, Seth was burning it down, but not what he intended.
He finished 2017 on a Shield reunion tour, but even that didn’t have any lasting pay-off. Hell, we couldn’t even tell if they were in The Shield or not some nights because they didn’t come out with their signature black vests. Dean Ambrose eventually got injured and got put on the shelf, and the only memorable match they had was with New Day at Survivor Series. Seth basically went from going into aimless feuds into becoming a tag team wrestler. He lacked an identity, he lacked a distinguishing factor, and he was just, well, a wrestler. Again, ask Seth how he performed the past couple of years, and he’ll tell you himself he’s seen better years.
Therefore, when the calendar transitioned into 2018, it would appear as though he made a vow to himself. He started where he left off. A forgettable, throwaway tag team match at the Royal Rumble. It was as if this was a funk he couldn’t get out of. Perhaps he all overestimated Seth’s abilities and who he is at his core was an overrated superstar who lacked charisma. However, one night, he told Kurt Angle that he wanted to make Monday Nights into Monday Night Rollins. As soon as Jason Jordan (who was probably holding him back) was injured, Seth was a singles wrestler again, and this time, he’s coming for everybody. Maybe he was trying to send a message by bringing back the Curb Stomp early this year.
The issue with Seth Rollins being a heel is that he didn’t sound human. He wasn’t a heel so much as he was a guy trying to convince us that he’s a bad guy. There was nothing natural about him evil at all. However, the 2018 version of Seth Rollins appears to be the man we all thought he could be but never was. A genuinely good guy that we can all get behind that we feel sympathy before and delivers in the ring whenever he arrives. The stage was set with what will go down as one of his signature moments with an incredible gauntlet match performance on RAW in February which showcased Seth’s in-ring prowess, determination, and endurance. For over an hour, Seth Rollins faced the two golden boys of the WWE for the past 13 years and bested both of them, clean. While some people may have had an issue with the length of the match and the super-human booking of Seth that seemingly came out of nowhere, it was nonetheless an amazing individual performance. There are only a handful of guys that can say they beat Roman Reigns and John Cena cleanly in separate individual matches. But Seth is the only one who can say that he beat them back to back.
After Seth’s performance, he transitioned into going for the only championship that he hadn’t won, the Intercontinental Championship. He had a great series of matches with Finn Balor on RAW before WrestleMania. In the opening match of Mania, Seth Rollins had another marvelous performance against two other world-class athletes in The Miz and Finn Balor. Becoming a grand slam champion, Seth would honor his personal vow of being a fighting champion. He’s already defended it in superb individual matches against Balor and Miz, and this past week on RAW, he managed to do the incredible, which is getting something watchable in the ring out of Mojo Rawley. The Seth Rollins that consistently gives us quality matches, talks with confidence and looks and acts like the good guy that we can relate to is somebody we have waited for so long to arrive, and he’s finally here.
On an active roster that features AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan among other in-ring performers, Seth Rollins has been the best in the 2018 calendar year, and if we’re being honest, it’s not even close. He’s so well conditioned that he floats seamlessly in the ring while still being able to be impactful with his moves. He picks his spots with such ease and connects his offense with precision. Seth is able to elevate his matches to new heights and makes the guy he’s working with look like a million bucks to boot. This actually sounds like AJ Styles circa 2016.
Rollins has transitioned into a new phase in his career where he is finally blossoming into a true face that we can all get behind, and after years of watching Seth and being disappointed in his performance, it is clear that Rollins has finally broken out of his shadow. I’m personally a Rollins mark and if there is anybody who is happy about what Rollins is doing, it’s me. It pained me to see Seth Rollins come out to generic WWE 2K stock music and not deliver like we know he can. It was cringeworthy to hear him cut promos at times. He couldn’t get the crowd behind him. Now, he’s proven himself and made us wonder why we ever doubted him to begin with. Maybe he wasn’t put in a position to succeed.