The narrative on Seth Rollins has done a 180—fast.
And WWE, for all its faults, deserves the credit for at least acknowledging a mistake and fan reactions before turning things around in one of the best ways possible.
Rollins' standing with the fans needed saving. It's almost cringe-inducing to run through the list of faults that got WWE to the point of botching a top star in this manner.
Fans know where it started: WrestleMania 35, where Rollins opened the show and won a title on a low blow. From there, unending feuds with Baron Corbin, mixing in some awkward Becky Lynch tag scenarios and, finally, the fateful, booed-out-of-the-arena match at Hell in a Cell with Bray Wyatt's The Fiend.
The only thing that could save The Architect was a heel turn. Throwing him out there each night in "aw, shucks" good-guy mode, talking about his work rate and bringing up the name of whichever city he was in just wasn't going to cut it.
But it had to be the right heel turn.
Fans saw plenty of the scaredy-cat heel Rollins who got help from others back in the day after his betrayal of The Shield and consequent run with The Authority.
His run with AOP is a whole different animal and sheer brilliance.
This Rollins fancies himself a savior of sorts. The work-rate stuff and standing as a leader even in the face of fan backlash has seemed to drive him into a delusional state. The best bad guys in any medium think of themselves as doing the right thing most of the time, being the good guys even if no one likes it at the time—they think history will smile on them in hindsight.
And so he has blazed a path of destruction through Raw since slowly morphing into this deranged leader. He's propped up an amazing tandem in Akam and Rezar in the process. He's given a reason to get Samoa Joe out from behind the announcer's table and back into the ring while forming a fun, albeit likely shaky, alliance with Kevin Owens. He's also looped in Buddy Murphy, which should produce amazing results.
Perhaps best of all, odd as it might sound, it keeps him out of the main event scene with the top titles. While it stinks WWE has again reverted to slapping a title on Brock Lesnar, meaning it's gone most of the time, injecting Rollins into the picture right now wouldn't do much in the way of good for anyone.
At the very least, the idea The Beast Incarnate could get eliminated in Sunday's Royal Rumble and set up a new feud is a good option WWE should want to utilize.
No, this Rollins isn't ready for a title run. His work with AOP and his angering the locker room while also gaining allies here and there could go on for a long time and make for must-see television.
While building up other stars and gaining the animosity of fans (the good kind, not the bad), Rollins will slowly work himself into a heel role that sees fans desperately want to see him lose. That's why he bullies or cheats his way into a title shot. By then, WWE ideally has a fun good-guy champion he can squabble with and the whole feud won't be met with a lukewarm, potentially disastrous reaction.
For now, though, Rollins' fun path is just more proof even WWE can't ignore a fan movement. It throws its hands over its ears and screams about not hearing fans at times, like arranging the silly Lesnar-Cain Velasquez feud or feeding Kofi Kingston to The Beast.
But everything requires a careful balance, and one of those righting forces is the role reversal for Rollins. It's a clear-cut response to fan reaction that it initially tried to ignore before an alteration. And given the world-class talent he is, he's made it even better than WWE could have possibly drawn it up in the first place.
Call it a testament to both WWE and Rollins. The former listened, and the latter is using the shift as a way to remind fans he's one of the best on the planet while propping up some deserving names alongside him.