Seth Rollins' betrayal of Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns on the June 2 episode of Monday Night Raw made for one of the most shocking moments of 2014. In one night, WWE took its hottest babyface act in the Hounds of Justice and deconstructed it in hopes of creating three young, individual breakout stars capable of carrying the company into the future.
It is a calculated risk that could spark interest in the product and ensure the long-term success of the company.
For that to happen, though, Seth Rollins must separate himself from everything and everyone related to The Shield or risk being recognized only as "that guy from The Shield."
Former teammates Ambrose and Reigns have a much easier road ahead in terms of singles stardom.
Ambrose is an animated performer. His facial tics and expressions not only lend themselves to Internet memes but are also key to the world of performance art, which professional wrestling is. Fans can easily understand emotions and motivations based on his body language.
His ring work is different than anyone else's in the company. He uses open-hand slaps and a tenacious, gritty brawling style that separates him from the rest of the pack. It is his uniqueness that helps him stand out on a roster full of highly talented and skilled competitors.
At a time when fans are growing more and more disenfranchised with the cookie-cutter performers and gravitating more toward the Bray Wyatts of the world, Ambrose gives them something different that they can get behind.
Reigns is an explosive powerhouse with a phenomenal move set. He looks like a star and, most importantly, carries himself as one. As a result, fans treat him like one.
He has an understated charisma about him and is as much a favorite of the female audience as he is of the males. The women enjoy his dark, mysterious good looks, while the men appreciate his badass demeanor.
With a push befitting the next big thing in WWE, he is clearly en route to the top of the business.
Rollins does not have the attributes that his former teammates do. He doesn't have the WWE look nor is he overly animated. He is a great worker between the ropes, but his promos are just slightly above average.
In many ways, he is similar to Dolph Ziggler at this point in his career.
If he wants to establish himself as a potential main event star, he must first disconnect from his former Shield partners. He has to eliminate the flack vest and black cargo pants, something he began on Raw and continues this Friday night on SmackDown, as reported by Wrestle Zone's Nick Paglino.
Rollins must also move on and feud with other Superstars on the roster to prevent any potential and unfavorable comparisons to Reigns and Ambrose, even if they are likely anyway.
Rollins has to be his own man. As Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston and Christian have experienced at times in their careers, just being a great worker alone does not guarantee success. Great workers have to establish their personas and characters so fans have a reason to care.
Luckily for the former Ring of Honor standout, he has the support of management and WWE Creative. Still, the more fans are reminded of his more dynamic former teammates, the harder it will be for him to breakout on his own, regardless of how good he is from bell to bell.