Seth Rollins was one third of the popular stable The Shield and a hot up and coming babyface until June of last year. On an episode of Raw he stabbed his team-mates in the back and he was promoted to top heel in the company, the face and in-ring representative of the McMahon-Helmsley Authority. Gifted the Money In The Bank briefcase by his Authority colleague Kane, Rollins cashed in at WrestleMania this year during the brutal bout between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. But a popular opinion is that his reign has been undermined at times by him appearing overly weak and cowardly and that this has put him in danger of not being taken seriously as WWE Champion. So six months on how does his term as champion rate?
On paper there is no questioning that Rollins has beat all the top guys and the standard of opponent couldn’t have been any higher. He has walked out victorious in matches with the top tier multi-time WWE Champions John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar. He has also seen off Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Neville from the next generation of stars pursuing their first WWE Title. There isn’t a full time top star he hasn’t faced during his reign.
However it is the manner of victories which for some has blemished this impressive streak. Stone Cold Steve Austin is a man never afraid to give his honest opinion and he had this to say about "The Future Of The WWE" last year before his cash in:
“I’ll go and segue into a little tangent here — at Night of Champions, whatever it was, [you ’ve got] Cena versus Lesnar, and then all the sudden, here comes Seth Rollins to interrupt that match and cash in his title shot. But when he did it… he did it with trepidation and hesitation. If you’re gonna cash that thing in, you’re making a bold statement, so the way that was booked, the way it was executed, it basically made him not effective and — what’s the word I’m looking for — emasculated the guy and it just didn’t have any impact. And he ends up looking like a coward.”
Then since he won the title the internet has been awash with criticism of his reign. Just Google "Seth Rollins weak" and you'll see what I mean. The main criticism seems to be the manner of victory in his title defences and the fact his only clean victory, against Dean Ambrose at Money In The Bank, wasn't even fully convincing.
So here is how his reign as champion has played out. On Raw against Neville J&J Security interfered and Rollins picked up a win by pinfall. At Extreme Rules Randy Orton had his RKO banned (which was then used by Rollins) and there was interference from J&J Security and Kane. Kane also interfered at the expense of Orton at Payback during the Fatal 4-Way with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns also competing.
At Elimination Chamber Rollins kept the belt by shoving the referee and losing via disqualification. Ambrose was again defeated at Money In The Bank when Rollins was the victor in a ladder match, but at the next PPV Payback against Brock Lesnar again there was interference, this time from The Undertaker, and despite 13 visits to Suplex City Rollins escaped after the no finish. Sheamus interfered during Rollins vs Orton on Raw meaning another DQ loss to keep the belt. At SummerSlam the interference came from Jon Stewart as Rollins defeated John Cena to become the first person to hold the WWE and US Title simultaneously.
It can't be denied that given the above he has not been booked as a strong champion, but here is where I will rarely disagree with Austin and everyone else who has criticised this booking. Page one of “how to be a heel” says cheat, cheat and cheat some more. Having Seth work in a John Cena or Roman Reigns "never give up" style and being the man to finally tame "The Beast" would have had an adverse effect on him establishing himself as a credible heel and generate the heat he does now. Seth's character is that of a spoilt brat who has had everything handed to him so he shouldn't be dominating the babyfaces.
I would argue that he is not a coward and instead say that he has become a strategic heel with a viscous streak and he still demonstrates the in-ring skills to put opponents away when the perfect opportunity arises. Being booked in this way will also serve to help him as a face should his relationship with The Authority turn sour. If the long rumoured eventual match with Triple H happens his former mentor will be taunting him that he can't win on his own making Seth the underdog and will immediately help get the fans on side with his new character.
Call me old fashioned, but a heel should be a heel and should Seth walk away with both titles next week having gained an unfair advantage in both bouts I will not be disappointed. He doesn't need to beat Sting clean to be a credible champion, he is already playing the role of a heel champion like a veteran.