1. They ended.
2. Nikki Bella's speech
3. Seth Rollins
Rollins' Slammy appearance was fantastic. Cheered upon his arrival and put over by Michael Cole, babyface Rollins felt good. Starting as his smarmy self, Rollins eventually transitioned into humility and then palpable determination. As he vowed to return as the best version of himself, a chemical reaction was initiated. If there's one trait carried by all storyline WWE megastars, it's resilience. WWE has just been given such a story.
|Look at that baby-face elation.|
We all did it. Some more than others, but we are all a little guilty. That goes for all of John Cena's children. Frankly, it goes for WWE, too.
We all took Seth Rollins for granted.
This is no astute observation. In the same moment Rollins' knee buckled, WWE had its pleated slacks yanked down to reveal embarrassing (and probably red mohawked) genitalia. How could we ever have known the void that Seth Rollins was filling? Perhaps carrying WWE for 7 months loosened those knee ligaments.
We smeared his campaign by concluding he was a weak champion. There's numbers to back it, too, as Raw had its ratings dip to squeamish lows. WWE betrayed him by having him work with cadavers liked Sting and Kane. Objectively, he was probably trending towards overexposure, but to no fault of his own. WWE's oversaturated TV schedule and thin roster were the only culprits worth blaming. And still, despite holding the US Title and WWE Championship, no one ever said "he's being pushed down our throats." You know why? Because he's awesome.
Already drawing comparisons to the likes of Shawn Michaels, Rollins—at least before his injury—was the best in-ring talent in WWE. His ability had not only been recognized by WWE, but arguably abused. I mean, why, oh why, is he fighting Kane in a house show in Europe? It's easy to question in retrospect, but it's the equivalent of racing your greyhound with bloodhounds.
Rollins was thrust into a situation that asked him to cover an unsustainable amount of ground. He was everywhere. Maybe his promos had gone stale, but how could they not have? Can you imagine 15-minute soliloquies from Roman Reigns to kick off every Raw?
At 29, Rollins' arc has been stellar if not meteoric. He was NXT's first champion and seeing what NXT has become, there's something acutely gratifying about that. Given the title of The Shield's "architect," also grows in impression by the day. Seeing that Reigns will be a face of the next era, and Dean Ambrose being right behind him, only solidifies Rollins' resumé. On top of everything, he was last sharing the screen with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon regularly.
Rollins' most remarkable deviation lies within his timing. If we were to look at the approaching time in WWE, it may just be called the "Indy Guy Era." While someone like John Cena is technically an "indy guy," Seth Rollins had a lengthy underground career. In a similar respect are Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor and Apollo Crews all of which have factored or will factor significantly in WWE's future. All undersized, at least by WWE's standards, yet all are somehow limitlessly capable. They have begun a charge that will transcend wrestling—and we're ready for it.
This model of wrestler has yet to fully capture the WWE and its audience. Yes, Daniel Bryan's moment was incredible, but it was certainly momentary. No indy guy has fully climbed WWE's summit. CM Punk—the most coherent starting point of Indy Guy Era—was monstrously successful, yet never got to headline a WrestleMania. It's worth pointing out that he lost the matches that would have vaulted him to the next level: Brock Lesnar, The Rock, The Undertaker. Maybe all these indy guys inherently lack something; genetically deficient when it comes to encapsulating the wrestling world. If there is anyone who can do it though, it's Seth Rollins.
Though being The Authority's gladiator gave Rollins a tremendous stage, the gimmick began to hold him back. This injury may be a gift. He can evolve.
|Rollins could be a true People's Champion|
His character lacked visceral appeal. This is a compliment more than a critique as it is one of the most evasive qualities a wrestler can attain. At the Slammy Awards, Rollins flashed that he and WWE will be eyeing our hearts. After getting "thank you" chants after missing one month, what will he be like in the summer of 2016 when he returns?
It will be nuclear.
The internet has been WWE's greatest ally and worst foe as it forces transparency into a world that thrives on the antithesis of the concept. WWE needs to make sure they keep the beast at bay, giving us enough to wet our CrossFit Jesus palates yet keeping us ignorant to let our imaginations run wild. Let's just hope he's coming up with a new finisher in the meantime.
WWE has an opportunity to shoot a star into an echelon that rarely presents itself. He'll come back as a babyface with an edge, and holy balls will it work. This is a chance that WWE will not miss, mainly because they've never missed it before.
Yeah, Reigns is cool now, but if he keeps saving The Usos, we'll be booing him by February. WWE is starving to find its new Face That Runs The Place. Reigns can fill in, but he may just have a few too many detractors to be a perpetual champion. The throne will indeed be kept warm, potentially lukewarm. When Rollins returns, let's all be ready to scream.