Removing the Curb Stomp from WWE champ Seth Rollins' toolbox hurts him.
Suddenly, he is without a finisher that accentuated the opportunistic and predatory sides of his character. It's a thriller of a move—a unique and memorable way to put his foes away. It appears he will have to find something else that accomplishes all of that.
On Monday's Raw, Rollins didn't beat Dolph Ziggler by crashing down on the back of his head as he has done so often in the past. Instead, Rollins whipped out a new signature attack, a variation on the DDT.
The move is a poor replacement for the Curb Stomp. It looks like a hundred other guys' big move. It's like replacing a tomahawk jam with a layup.
Then why did he make the switch? It's not quite clear yet. Rumors that WWE have banned Rollins' move have been buzzing on the Internet, but according to F4WOnline (h/t Wrestling Inc), the move isn't banned exactly. Rollins will reportedly be using a new finisher instead.
It's hard to imagine that he would just switch gears like that on his own accord. One has to think that this is a WWE-directed move presumably due to safety concerns.
The move involves a boot colliding with a head and a head meeting the mat. And with concussion awareness at an all-time high, wrestling has had to adapt to make the business safer.
If that's the impetus for the change, though, then why single out the Curb Stomp? There are a litany of other dangerous moves performed in WWE rings today, such as Dolph Ziggler's DDT or superkick.
Strangely, this news comes as Rollins prepares to face Randy Orton in a match where the RKO will be banned.
Regardless of the reasons behind the Curb Stomp going the way of chair shots to the head, it's a big blow to Rollins going forward even if Jim Ross doesn't think so. The Hall of Famer tweeted that he doesn't think this is all that significant:
Ross is wrong here—not about the move's safety but about the impact of its absence.
No longer wielding the Curb Stomp won't prevent Rollins from being an all-time great. It does, though, rob him of one of his greatest weapons. It's a part of what was a complete package.
Take it away, and his matches and character lose some oomph.
Pluck the stunner from Steve Austin's repertoire or Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels' game, and try to argue that it wouldn't affect them. Those moves helped create a number of lasting images that still burn bright in fans' minds.
Had Austin hit the McMahons with the flapjack into a hangman that he used as The Ringmaster, it wouldn't have been nearly as powerful. Imagine Michaels ending his match with Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV with a Teardrop Suplex. It's less iconic of a climax.
Rollins' own timeline would look far different minus the Curb Stomp.
So many of his biggest moments have been built around the impact of that move, of how it reminds one of a villain stabbing a man in the back. Replace his Curb Stomp that sent Dean Ambrose's face into a pile of cinder blocks with that DDT he used on Monday night. Switch out the sight of him stepping on Randy Orton's head to oust him from The Authority with something else.
All those memories are weakened as a result.
The image changes dramatically. It's simply not as powerful if he's doing a less unique move.
Finding a standout finisher is a difficult process. Ask Damien Sandow if he doesn't wish he had found something as memorable and buzz-worthy as the Curb Stomp.
The RKO has been a great boon for Orton. Fans chant for it. It has so often resulted in tremendous highlights.
Before The Viper started using that move, he hit a move called the O-Zone. It was generic and bland and didn't feel like something strong enough to put away an opponent. Thankfully, he added the RKO to his arsenal in 2003.
If the Curb Stomp truly is gone, Rollins will be in the same boat as Orton was pre-RKO. He has to return to that search for a great finisher. Of course, he can rely on his skills as a showman, his agility, his flying knees and his powerbomb into the turnbuckle, but he and his fans will miss the Curb Stomp.
A fencer can succeed without the flying lunge. An MMA fighter can thrive in a world where the spinning back fist is banned. Watching those athletes without those signature moves is just not as fun.
The same goes for Rollins, who is now in need of a new exclamation point to cap off his in-ring sentences.