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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: Making Sense of the Seth Rollins Heel Turn
By The Doc
Jun 3, 2014 - 11:57:24 PM

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The Snowman is a genius

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you think Seth Rollins joining forces with Triple H will earn him a place in the main-event this year, competing for the WWE Championship?

Well into writing the third paragraph of my latest column, I glanced up at my television to see Seth Rollins blast Roman Reigns with a steel chair. My hands were frozen, my eyes wide, and my breath in a holding pattern. I was stunned. The Architect of The Shield, seemingly the most natural babyface among his stablemates with his flashy move set and “Devil may care” attitude, destroyed the group that many were calling one of the best of all-time. It was a surprising turn of events just one night after The Hounds of Justice had earned a clean sweep against the previously most dominant stable of this century.

So, the aforementioned column that I had been working on got pushed to the backburner as I now attempt to make sense of what was undoubtedly one of the most shocking heel turns in recent memory. Why did Rollins align himself with Triple H? What does it mean for Rollins in the both immediate future and for the rest of his career? Where do Reigns and Dean Ambrose go from here?

If there is one thing to definitively be said about last night’s RAW climax, it is that it effectively gave us all sorts of questions to want answered in the next week and beyond. I’d like to follow that statement by acknowledging my own opinion that this was the right time to break-up The Shield. On “The Doc Says…” podcast last week, I explored several options for the ending of Payback and listed a 3-0 victory over Evolution as a possibility for The Shield, quickly following that there would be nothing left for the trio to accomplish if they, for a second straight PPV, defeated Trips, Randy Orton, and Dave Batista. I stand by that. Any step taken by the group, in unison as protagonists, would have either been sideways or backwards. The Shield members are still going to be the hottest thing going today, just with modifications to their personas. So, the bombshell for me was not that they split, but who caused them to split. I had quietly been predicting that Reigns would join The Authority and become the modern age’s Corporate Champion like his cousin did 15 years ago. WWE Magazine proceeded to reveal Ambrose talking a month into the future about his "former partners," which was turned into a rumor of his pending turn to the dark side. Though it wound up being Rollins who ditched The Shield, the fact of the matter was that the end was near and had been in the works for many months.

Had it not been for the plans changing at WrestleMania XXX, I do believe that we would have seen The Shield triple threat match at this year’s “Show of Shows.” Shocking it was, to a lesser degree than last night’s events, that Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose did not go their separate ways after the March 3rd RAW in Chicago. Recall that they reunited and renewed their collective purpose on Smackdown a few days later after having teased their split for months. Back then, it felt like an abrupt about face, but it all worked out in the long run. Holding off on the break-up was a smart play, for it will now be the primary focal point of WWE TV for the next several weeks instead of taking a backseat to Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Daniel Bryan, Batista, John Cena, Bray Wyatt, and The Authority as it would have if it had gone down as originally thought in the winter. Their brief babyface run has raised the stakes. The stage is much better set for The Shield after being in such high profile matches for much of the year.

I know that some people wanted to see them continue on as a heroic unit for a while and I get that. It had to end sometime, though. And if you’re a fan of Seth Rollins, in particular, then this might be the best option for him. I could completely change my mind two weeks from now after this story fleshes itself out a bit, but I currently see this situation for Rollins being high risk vs. high reward. From the moment that The Shield debuted, it was Rollins that people most questioned, in regards to his long-term upward mobility. Though he proved a lot of naysayers wrong with improved capabilities on the microphone and an obviously relentless work ethic, he remained the least likely candidate to ascend to main-event stardom to a lot of observers. Well, someone must think pretty highly of him to put him in this position. His ceiling just got elevated. Being under Triple H’s wing has been a historically smart move for aspiring headliners, just as being a prominent member to break away from one of wrestling’s most celebrated stables in order to seek Corporate opportunities has proven a wise choice. Rollins is now on the precipice of immediate superstardom, where many riches could soon become his. As Triple H’s newest recruit, Rollins – I can only speculate – would seem a top flight candidate to win the Money in the Bank briefcase or earn a WWE Championship opportunity within the next few months. At the very least, he provides a fresh personality in the Authoritative regime after nearly a year of well-established acts dominating the top angle.

There could always be a downside, of course. A few years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers brought in Dwight Howard to pair with Kobe Bryant, gambling that his experience would be so wonderful that he would sign a long-term contract and be the next great star of the storied NBA franchise. The Lakers took a risk and it flat out flopped. They could be paying for it for the next half decade or longer. Rollins, on the surface, is not exactly entering a natural fit alongside Triple H and Orton. Seth is far more Daniel Bryan and CM Punk than he is The Game or The Viper. He has the look of a talent that the WWE will mismanage for several frustrating years to come and, as proven by the likes Dolph Ziggler just one year ago, if you get your chance and something happens to prevent you from making the most of it, you may not get another shot. The WWE is churning out some prospects lately and this, as mentioned in last week’s column, is a period in wrestling history ripe for change. What if Rollins is merely a temporary piece of the creative puzzle, destined to be used as fodder for Reigns?

It’s very easy for the critical community to walk down gloomier paths. Personally, I see a lot more positives for Rollins turning heel than negatives. It’s going to be a challenge for him, but part of what makes being a fan of wrestling fun after watching it for so long is seeing what happens when stars that you’ve grown fond of get thrown into the fire. This is a golden opportunity if they give him any kind of legitimate push toward the top (and I think that they will). Rollins on the dark side could make for some very interesting feuds, first and foremost. Obviously, you start with the remaining members of The Shield. I have wanted to see them go at it for a long time. I cannot even begin to put thoughts to paper on how the entire thing is going to play out on TV, but I know that I’m highly anticipating it. If Rollins connects as a heel, then look at who could potentially await him in major matches down the road: Daniel Bryan and John Cena. Also, consider that if Rollins remains affiliated with The Authority and continues to interact heavily with Triple H for any length of time that it could lead to a star-making babyface turn against the C.O.O. and his cronies down the road.

The bottom line is that Seth Rollins is one of those guys that overcomes criticisms. His burning passion to succeed in the wrestling business permeates the airwaves. It is his desire that allowed him to get to the WWE and emerge as a breakout star in the making. He may be walking up to the edge of the proverbial cliff in a different way than we thought that he would, but when he jumps off, he’s either going to soar to the heights he (and many of you on his behalf) has dreamed of or he’s going to drop out of the sky – no matter if he’s a hero or a villain. Rollins has made a habit in 2014 of making sure that people left the building or turned off the TV/computer talking about him. Last night he did so again and in the most significant way possible. If WWE is analogous to a baseball team, then I applaud them for throwing us a curve ball. Now, it’s the bottom of the ninth. Seth Rollins is stepping up to the plate. Can he hit a homerun?


Wednesday at 5PM EST, it’s “THE DOC SAYS…” podcast on LOP Radio

Triple R, Rob Simmons, joins us for a discussion of WWE Payback from last Sunday, offers his Win/Fail from Monday Night Raw, and helps us look ahead to WWE's next PPV offering, Money in the Bank. Who is the favorite to win the briefcase this year? We'll give the early odds. Trips will also be the first guest to give us his "Favorite Wrestling Memory for the Month."

Be aware that The Doc's book, "The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment" is now available to purchase at Quimby's bookstore in Chicago.

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