When Will Seth Rollins Return to WWE's Undisputed Title Scene?
It's impossible to name the best wrestlers of 2022 without including Seth Rollins in the conversation.
His win-loss record on pay-per-view may not reflect it, but Rollins was far and away one of WWE's top performers in 2022. His stellar resume of matches with the likes of Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes and Matt Riddle speaks for itself, not to mention he helped carry Raw for a good chunk of the year.
Despite his many impressive accomplishments and an undeniable level of popularity this past year, The Visionary has largely been left out of WWE's Undisputed title scene.
He last challenged for the Universal Championship at last year's Royal Rumble event. He beat Roman Reigns by disqualification but was never granted the rematch he was owed.
With Rollins recently losing the United States Championship, fans have begged the question of whether it's merely a matter of time before he's back where he belongs: in contention for world title gold.
These next few months should tell the tale of when exactly that will be.
Finishing Feud with Austin Theory
Before Rollins can firmly set his sights on the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, he must first put his rivalry with Austin Theory to rest once and for all.
Rollins lost his United States Championship to Theory in a Triple Threat match at November's Survivor Series pay-per-view. He attempted to reclaim it on the first Raw of 2023 but was unsuccessful.
Theory cheating to win has left Rollins in chase mode, and last week on Raw, both men declared themselves for the men's Royal Rumble. Another one-on-one match between them isn't necessary, but it is possible for Rollins to finally give Theory his comeuppance in the form of an elimination from the annual Battle Royal.
Rollins beating Theory would likely require him to take back the star-spangled prize, which Rollins is above at this point. Theory will benefit from holding it through at least WrestleMania 39, freeing up The Visionary to be involved in something more meaningful for the event.
That's of course assuming Rollins doesn't emerge victorious in the Rumble for the second time in his career.
Why He's a Frontrunner to Win Men's Royal Rumble Match
Although all eyes are on either Cody Rhodes or The Rock returning to win this year's Royal Rumble match for the men, Rollins should also be considered a frontrunner to come out on top.
When looking at the current rosters for Raw and SmackDown, there aren't many Superstars who make as much sense to face Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 39 as Rollins.
That isn't to say it's imperative the match be made, but it would be a logical route to take given their storied history and unfinished business from a year ago. As noted, Rollins owns a disqualification victory over Reigns from Royal Rumble 2022 that was never followed up on.
Rollins being the one to end Reigns' lengthy run as champ isn't ideal, but a bout between them would certainly be worthy of the WrestleMania stage. Additionally, him winning the Rumble would almost definitely be well-received with how popular he is at the moment.
Edge and Brock Lesnar won the men's Rumble the last two years, so WWE going with yet another repeat winner this year in Rollins wouldn't be the wisest choice. That said, it's an option that shouldn't be counted out completely.
Rekindling Rivalry with Cody Rhodes?
Cody Rhodes was asked recently on Raw what his plans were upon returning to the ring (which is expected to be soon) and specifically said he has nothing left to prove against Rollins.
It was an interesting answer seeing as how Rollins was partially credited for putting Rhodes on the shelf following his brutal sledgehammer assault on The American Nightmare at the start of the summer. It would be somewhat strange for him to not want revenge.
Regardless of whether Rhodes wins the Rumble or not, Rhodes vs. Rollins could theoretically work as an attraction at the Elimination Chamber event in February. The only issue is that both men should be protected at this point and neither of them should be losing to the other.
Rollins has also since turned babyface, so the timing isn't right for them to rekindle their rivalry unless something is at stake. Rhodes is indeed better off moving on to other endeavors despite Rollins boasting about injuring Rhodes on more than one occasion in recent months.
Another loss to Rhodes would do Rollins no favors in his pursuit of the prestigious prize and would only hinder his hot momentum.
Possible Plans for Rollins at WrestleMania 39
Although Rollins has been synonymous with WrestleMania for the past decade, he may once again be the man without a match for the second straight year.
Granted, he wound up facing Rhodes at last year's installment, but it wasn't made official until The American Nightmare made his entrance. Rollins spent the two months preceding the pay-per-view scrambling (in storyline) to find an opponent to ensure he wasn't left off The Show of Shows.
Until WWE determines who he'll be facing, he could be in a similar situation heading into WrestleMania 39.
Rollins vs. Reigns is a possibility but not the top choice for the 'Mania main event, whereas his storyline with Theory should wrap up well before then. He's already feuded with Bobby Lashley, Brock Lesnar, Edge, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles, so not many compelling options remain.
Assuming they're fully recovered from their respective injuries, Logan Paul and Johnny Gargano could be Rollins' best bets right now. Both are fresh faces and would be capable of stealing the show with The Visionary on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Rollins would be a lock for a world title match at WrestleMania if they weren't unified, and unfortunately for him, that's when they should be separated at the earliest.
Re-entering World Title Picture Post-WrestleMania 39
In a perfect world, Rhodes will reign supreme in the men's Rumble, challenge Reigns at WrestleMania and walk away as the Undisputed WWE Universal champion.
His first order of business on the post-WrestleMania Raw should be to declare the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship separate entities once again, keeping the WWE title for himself while handing the vacant Universal title over to SmackDown.
Needless to say, Rollins should be first in line to contend for the championship.
Having never beaten Rhodes before, Rollins would have everything to gain. Their feud would have a fresh dynamic with both men being babyfaces this time around, and their highly-anticipated encounter could be saved for Money in the Bank in London or whatever pay-per-view happens to come before it.
The world title scene is bound to be crowded in the coming months, but once WrestleMania season is over, Rollins should be able to insert himself back in with relative ease. Whoever dethrones Reigns shouldn't have a short run with the gold, but it would be asinine for Rollins to not be crowned champ again by the time 2023 comes to a close.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.