Seth Rollins Shoots on WWE WrestleMania 37, the Cesaro Swing, Roman Reigns, More
Shawn Michaels will forever be known as Mr. WrestleMania, but if anyone from the active roster can come close to claiming that title, it's Seth Rollins.
His track record on The Grandest Stage of Them All speaks for itself. Other than last year, he has won at every installment of WrestleMania he has competed on and has racked up wins against the likes of Triple H, Brock Lesnar, The Miz and Finn Balor.
He's proved his worth at The Showcase of the Immortals time and time again, but this year, he will be the one putting his opponent to the test when he takes on Cesaro. Rollins shifted his focus to The Swiss Cyborg upon returning to SmackDown, and the two are set to do battle on Night 1 of WrestleMania 37.
Rollins has been in his element as a heel lately, showing up each week wearing a new suit and attracting attention one way or another. He's also helped elevate Cesaro simply by working with him and bringing him up to his level.
Beyond Cesaro, there are plenty of intriguing prospective opponents for Rollins on the blue brand, including Roman Reigns. The two share an incredibly rich history, but never before have they collided one-on-one in their current roles.
Ahead of WrestleMania, Rollins talked to Bleacher Report about one day rekindling his rivalry with Reigns, taking the Cesaro Swing, the stunning lack of part-timers at WrestleMania this year and more. Check out the complete audio of the interview on the next slide, and read on for the highlights.
Embracing Fatherhood and His Sleep Schedule
Of everything Rollins has achieved in WWE over the past decade, his greatest accomplishment came when he became a father. He and Becky Lynch welcomed their daughter, Roux, into the world in December.
As much as he's enjoying fatherhood, he admittedly didn't have a frame of reference for it. It's been much more than he thought it was going to be at first, but it's been an awesome experience for him nonetheless.
Rollins is constantly striving to be the best fatherly figure possible, and having patience has been among the biggest lessons he's learned thus far.
"You don't understand what it's like to have real patience until you have a little baby crying and can't tell you what's wrong," he said. "That whole process is brand-new and completely foreign to anything I've ever experienced. It takes your patience as a human being to the next level, but it's definitely a good lesson for me, that's for sure."
Rollins revealed he's somewhat benefited from the pandemic in that he hasn't had to travel as much, freeing him to stay home and enjoy his family's company.
"To be fair, having this baby during the pandemic and with the schedule we've had because of it has made it a lot easier because when I'm not wrestling five days a week or whatever it is, I'm not doing much else," he said. "I get an opportunity to just be present, be with my wife, be with my daughter, and if we sleep, we sleep when she sleeps. But if she's not sleeping, we're awake. It's been OK. We've been very fortunate in that regard to not have to sacrifice too much in the way of rest."
His Latest Character Change and Why It Was Too Soon to Turn Face
No one knew what to expect from Rollins when he returned to WWE TV earlier this year. The last we saw of him on SmackDown, he was holding sermons and attempting to build a cult following, but he tweaked his character upon coming back.
Rollins knew he had to do something different in order to stand out on a stacked SmackDown roster.
"You come back after a couple of months off, and obviously you got to figure out where you fit in," he said. "Looking at the totality of characters and looking at what the natural progression for my character would be, and what's interesting and hot-button when it comes to the media, whether that be the real media or the wrestling media, you try to figure out what that character looks like. And for me, this is where I'm at in my life and this is where my character is at in his story."
He felt returning as a babyface would have been too easy, which was why he remained heel. It was more of a challenge that way, and that's what he thrives off of.
"We can make anything make sense if we really want to," he said. "We can always, in our lives, rationalize any decision we make, but at the end of the day, I didn't feel like the path that I was on made a lot of sense for me to be a babyface, as we say, yet. I thought there was a lot more to be done with the character in the direction I was headed. I thought it'd be a little lazy, if I'm being honest, to go the other way with it. It was a simple explanation: he had a baby, changed his life, blah, blah, blah. I thought that was kind of boring, and so I was happy we were able to drift in the direction we did."
Rollins had fans fooled for a little bit when he returned in February and walked out to his old "Burn It Down" entrance theme. He admits that it was meant to throw them off the scent, but it stuck once officials realized it was a better fit for him at this stage of his career.
"I think the first night I came back, it was just supposed to be a bit of a misdirect," he said. "It was meant to be a misdirect, but as we drifted forward with the character, the Messiah theme didn't seem to fit. The "Burn It Down" one is more memorable, so we stuck with that. There's a possibility we work on something different, but I don't know how different it's going to be, but we'll see where we go."
Working with Cesaro, and Why the Cesaro Swing Is Awful to Endure
At one point during the Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro storyline, Rollins offered Cesaro the opportunity to join him in the same way he had Murphy, AOP and Austin Theory follow in his footsteps last year.
Of course, Cesaro denied his request and gave him one of his patented Cesaro Swings instead. At this point, Rollins would only be interested in another stable if it were designed to elevate someone else.
"It's always nice to have people to bring up with you, if that makes sense," he said. "I think any time I can do that and help elevate people with them by my side, I think it's always good for everyone, including myself and them and the industry as a whole. This character with the way he is right now doesn't seem to need anybody but himself. Who knows where that will lead, so we'll see, but right now, going to WrestleMania against Cesaro, it feels very clean and very simple, and I like that."
Rollins and Cesaro have been beating up on each other long before WrestleMania 37. In addition to waging war on WWE TV over the years, they also came up in the business together on the independent scene.
For The SmackDown Savior, that makes matches such as this one all the more enjoyable.
"It always seems to be more fun, I guess, because we can always look back on the road that got us here, and when that road's long and full of twists and turns, it's a lot more memorable," he said. "It seems to be really fun and less pressure in a weird way, even though I feel like there's pressure every single time. It's WrestleMania, but having someone that you're very comfortable with in the ring and outside of the ring be your opponent at WrestleMania, it just makes things easier."
As for the Cesaro Swing, it is a marvel to look at, but it's one of the worst moves for performers to endure. Rollins has already experienced it multiple times and is looking to avoid it at all costs come WrestleMania.
"It's garbage. It's trash. It's disorienting. It's unsettling," he said. "Here's the thing: I fancy myself as a bit of an athlete. I'm kind of strong sometimes, and to be picked up and thrown about by another human being at will whenever he wants as many times as he wants is really unsettling. I don't like it. You've been on the spinny rides at carnivals and stuff like that and they suck. They're the worst kind of rides. It's like being on a human version of the Tea Cups."
Lack of Part-Timers at WrestleMania and Becoming a Locker-Room Leader
WrestleMania 37 will feature fewer part-timers on the card than it has in nearly a decade. The only such performers in action on the card this year are Edge (who is much more active than the usual suspects) and Shane McMahon.
Triple H, The Undertaker, John Cena, Goldberg and others are all missing from the lineup. That allows for some of the younger guys to get the spotlight, including Cesaro.
That isn't lost on Rollins, who has been fighting for this for some time. He's been the flag-bearer of WWE in recent years and isn't a fan of when the stars of yesteryear are brought back to send the wrong message to the audience.
"Our roster, and especially the top of our roster, we've been pushing and working for a WrestleMania that's not built around part-time performers for a long, long time," he said. "Especially coming out of a situation where we haven't had a live crowd in over a year and the first live event back is basically on our shoulders. That says a lot about where we're at as a whole. I'm real proud of that. I think I can speak for a lot of guys and girls who were a part of that as well and have been for an extended period of time that we all take pride in that.
"We never want to look at it as we're not good enough, and I think that's always how it's been portrayed. When the part-timers come back, it always seems to turn to the narrative that, 'Oh, the full-time guys are stars to a certain extent, but they're not the stars.' Now, this is a great indication that...we are the stars, we're the ones that have carried this industry for the last decade. We're the trendsetters, and we're going to carry it into the next generation. To be able to have this WrestleMania be that jumping-off point is really something we're proud of. I know I am, anyway."
All of these notable names winding down their in-ring careers or leaving all together happened so gradually that there wasn't one moment in particular when Rollins adopted the role of locker-room leader. Rather, it took time and wasn't something he saw coming until one day a few years ago when he was asked to give a toast he wasn't prepared for.
"After every European tour or every overseas tour, the crew all get together and share a shot, whether it be whiskey or water or whatever," Rollins said. "We get together and do a toast. Usually the guy on top leading the tour is the one that brings in the toast. A few years ago, I looked around the locker room and was like, 'Oh, I guess that's me now. I guess I do that now. Who's going to do it. John [Cena] isn't here. Roman's out—he's on the other tour. Who's the guy? I guess I'm one of the guys. So I'll do it.'"
Rekindling His Rivalry with Roman Reigns Is Inevitable
Unless one of them were to leave WWE unexpectedly (which seems unlikely at this point in time), Rollins and Roman Reigns are going to be two cornerstones of the company for a long time. As such, it's more a matter of when and not if they will cross paths again.
Their most recent one-on-one match to date came at the 2019 WWE draft that October on SmackDown. They had a few random encounters on Raw before that, but it's been a full five years since they had a formal feud.
They have always worked well together in the ring given the chemistry they shared in The Shield, but the eventual babyface Rollins vs. heel Reigns dynamic will make matters infinitely more interesting.
"You look at each time our paths have crossed over the years and we've both been in different places every time with our characters and with our careers and where we're at and where we're going," he said. "Each time has been interesting and different. Shockingly, considering we came up together, it's not one of those matches WWE has beat over your head over the years. It hasn't been done to death."
Reigns vs. Rollins will feel fresh when it comes to be down the road because it hasn't been booked in a long time. It's also a marquee match that SmackDown should be holding off on until it matters most and everything is aligned.
"Our connection is forever," Rollins said about Reigns. "It's always going to be there because of The Shield, and you look at the WrestleMania moment. You look at my comeback from injury. Some of the other stuff. We've always paralleled, and every time our paths have crossed, it's been exciting. Obviously, right now, he's doing what I believe is the best work of his career, and I think that whenever we do cross paths again, it's going to be totally different from the times before and, dare I say, be our best encounter yet."
What Went into the Greatest RKO of All Time at WrestleMania 31
Two of Rollins' most memorable 'Mania moments ever came on the same show in 2015—first when he was RKO'd into the stratosphere by Randy Orton.
Their WrestleMania 31 match was excellent and everything it needed to be. Just when it looked like Rollins was going to hit The Viper with his patented Curb Stop, Orton launched him up in the air and planted him with the greatest RKO of all time.
Rollins walked through the process of how the beautiful counter came to be: "Obviously, with WrestleMania, we have rehearsal before the matches because, like, it's a regular show where you have the time to just sit around and figure the thing out. We had rehearsal the day before, and I had come up with the idea maybe a week or two prior and had run by Joey Mercury, who was working with us at the time and was helping produce and is a jack of all trades when it comes to what he's capable of."
Mercury agreed to help out Rollins to ensure it went smoothly, but Orton didn't want to take the bump. Rollins also wasn't comfortable at the time with taking risks so that everything he did was pure perfection, but he went for it anyway because it was WrestleMania.
"It was one of those things where we tried and tried and tried, and we got close a couple of times, but we never actually connected with it," he said. "We had a couple of backup plans in mind, but Randy was like, 'Eff it. Let's try it.' I always want to bat 1,000. I never usually take any chances in these shows, but screw it, let's take a chance. I'm glad we did, and I think he's glad we did as well. It's one of those moments that will live on forever and will always be replayed and talked about."
Don't miss Seth Rollins' clash with Cesaro on Night 1 of WrestleMania 37 on Saturday exclusively on Peacock in the U.S. and WWE Network everywhere else.
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.