By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
The following quotes are from Jimmy Traina’s Sports Illustrated Media Podcast interview with Seth Rollins. Listen to the full interview here.
-Rollins on his recent social defenses of WWE: You can only sit back and read people bashing something you love for so long and sit there and take it and take the high road so to speak. I’m real proud of what I do every single week and not just Mondays, but every single Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday Tuesday…Wednesday, Thursday really. I’m real proud of what I do and what our crew does and the effort they put forward. I’m not just talking about the wrestlers, the guys and girls you see out in the ring, I’m talking about creative all the way up to Vince McMahon. We put a ton of effort into making a product that I think is pretty darn good considering all the content we put out there. The fact that people want to sit on their little soapboxes and on their little stupid social media machines and talk down about it really speaks volumes about kinda the generation and where they’re at. So I figured if somebody is going to fight back it might as well be since I am the champ and I consider myself the top guy in the company.”
-Rollins on Jon Moxley’s (f/k/a Dean Ambrose) comments during his podcast interview with Chris Jericho: “Ambrose can do what he wants. He’s a big boy. He’s got his big boy pants on and he can go out there and say whatever he wants. But the bottom line is not everybody is equipped to handle the rigors of WWE and the schedule and how it affects you mentally and emotionally. Ambrose gave everything he had to the company for the entire time he was here. He put his heart and his soul into the travel, into the schedule, into the injuries, into the work in the ring, but at the end of the day he took his ball and he went home or he went elsewhere at least. I think it’s a little presumptuous of him to get on a podcast and talk down about a company that gave him such opportunities.
“And he referenced some of those. He did talk about how he’s thankful for the time the spent here and the fact that he was able to learn, meet his wife and all that good stuff. Like I said, I love the guy, I’ll always love him, but at the end of the day we just share differing perspectives on what we want out of life and where we’re at in our own life. So I hope that he does well. I’ve kept enough tabs on him to know that he’s doing super well for himself right now and I’m happy for that, but I just don’t think there’s any reason to hop on a soapbox and complain after the fact. You need to take the first step and look in the mirror and that’s asking yourself did you do everything you possibly could to make yourself and your situation what you wanted it to be. And if the answer is yes you did and you can go elsewhere and complain and feel good about that, if that’s where he’s at mentally then go right ahead. If he hasn’t done that he has to look in the mirror and make that decision and he maybe he should think about that, and that goes for any other disgruntled talent past or present.”
-Rollins on if he feels like he’s defending the comments for the locker room or if this is strictly a Seth Rollins thing: “You know what, I hope that I speak for the other talent. I’ve got a lot of friends in the locker room and we’ve had conversations like this before and I feel like I hope that I’m speaking up. We’ve had a couple of guys who have talked to me about it and Roman Reigns hit me with a hard retweet and an exclamation point and I feel like, yeah man, it’s time to stop just like taking ’em in the gut. To hell with it. If people want to talk then let them talk, but it’s time to fire back. I’m just sick of it. I hope that it is a rallying cry and I hope that it is something that the rest of our talent feels that they can speak out about, and if they feel the same way that they don’t have to ‘take this high road’ all the time. Or if they don’t, if they just want to let me be their voice I’m fine with that too.
“Like I said, I’ve really sat back, I’ve seen it all, I’ve listened to it all. And look, I’m a thinker, man. I think about stuff. So I put this stuff in my in my brain, I run through it I wonder maybe I’m out of touch, maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m right, I don’t know. But at the end of the day after awhile it’s not frustration that’s boiling over, these are the conclusions that I’ve come to after watching what I’ve seen from other companies and other people and what they say and what they do. There’s nobody on the planet and entertainment that does what we do. They don’t do it. You can talk about these other guys and these other promotions who think that they are the best in the world or they offer this superior product or whatever, but they do not run 500 live events a year… That is top talent working working over 150 matches a year on top of all the travel, on top of all the media, on top of all the training trying to stay in the best shape so that we actually look like wrestlers, not these jabronis in gym shorts who get into ring and do high spots, okay? So what we do no one else does. The level we work at constantly, no one else works at. And I dare anyone, anywhere, in any company on the planet to challenge me on it.”
-Rollins on whether he’s satisfied with the level of input he has into his character: Absolutely I’m satisfied with it because I make a point to be satisfied with it. I make a point to contribute my ideas and my thoughts, and if I feel strongly about something, the way it should be or the way it should be portrayed, then I will make my voice heard. And look, not everybody gets that leeway and also not everybody should get that leeway, okay? That’s just not how it works. You have to build equity with your audience, with your boss, with your co-workers. You have to build equity over time and then you can get the type of leeway to have that type of say in your story if that’s your complaint. Or you can just stand up for yourself and do it instead of going on somewhere else and bitching about it.
“So I’m very satisfied with the amount of input that I have. Do I do things that I don’t always want to do? Yes, and you know what? Sometimes that stuff works because I can’t see things perfectly every single time. I don’t have the perspective that other people around me have. Vince McMahon has been doing this 20 years longer than I’ve been alive, okay? So he’s got some ideas and he knows things that I just don’t know that I have to learn from him. So sometimes being your best is about taking advice from other people, so what we do is work together in a group, in a community and we take advice from everywhere, from each and every person that we respect in our little circle and we try to make things better. So to answer your initial question, yes, I feel extremely comfortable with the amount of input I have in my matches, in my promos, in my stories, and in my schedule.”
Powell’s POV: While show quality is subjective, it’s a fact that television ratings and viewership have reached all-time non-holiday lows recently. Many fans have been voicing their frustration over the show quality because they are passionate about the product and simply want it to improve. The television ratings and some of the recent live attendance numbers show that fans aren’t just venting on social media, many are doing what people have done as long as entertainment has been around – if they don’t enjoy the product being offered then they stop watching it.
None of this means that fans don’t recognize and appreciate the hard work of the wrestlers. If I stop watching a television series because the writing isn’t as good as it once was it doesn’t mean I assume the cast of actors and the production staff are not working hard to hold up their end. And who cares if fans feel another promotion offers better wrestling? Again, it’s all subjective. Seth seems to take it personally that wrestlers from rival promotions feel they deliver a better in-ring product than WWE. That’s the nature of the game. Should other companies brand themselves as having the second or third best wrestling in the world? Should wrestlers bill themselves as the best non-WWE wrestlers in the business? Does he take offense when Paul Levesque says he’ll put up the quality of NXT Takeover events against any product?
As for his comments regarding Moxley, it’s worth noting that Moxley said in at least one of his post WWE interviews that he couldn’t change the creative structure from within the company and hopes he can be a cause for change from the outside. He openly challenged Vince McMahon to change the creative process. Rollins was around Moxley and has a better perspective than any of us ever will in terms of how Moxley operated within the WWE system. But while Moxley did his share of venting in his interviews, he offered his assessment of the creative approach and why he feels it needs to change. He also recalled long waits outside Vince’s office door before meeting with him in hopes of changing things he was scripted to do, so he did more than just bitch about Vince’s creative approach once he left the company. Rollins says that Moxley can say whatever he wants to say, yet he also comes off as bothered that Moxley spoke out.
Ultimately, I appreciate Seth’s passion and I sincerely hope that he was speaking from the heart. It’s hard not to wonder if he was put up to this or if he was trying to score points with management and even the locker room. If he was speaking from the heart, then it shows why Vince McMahon has him in the position that he does, as there are some obvious similarities between him and John Cena. Seth’s words will serve as a rallying cry for WWE loyalist fans and some people within the company. I just hope he remembers that locker room leaders represent everyone in the locker room, not just those who are as happy as he is with the way the company operates.
Seth actually needs the company to improve creatively as much as anyone and not just for the sake of his on-air character. He made himself the most vocal defender of a product that has turned off many fans. If the company improves from a creative standpoint and starts to win back viewers then he’ll be fine. If that doesn’t happen and he continues to speak out favorably then he could be viewed as a defender of the status quo at a time when many fans are desperate for a change.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Brian Fritz of the Between The Ropes podcast discussing WWE’s creative and ratings struggles, Bray Wyatt following the Firefly Funhouse, WWE Stomping Grounds, NJPW G1 Opening Night, and ROH’s issues, what would happen if AEW opted to run head-to-head with WWE Raw, and much more.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Todd Martin on his background, attending pro wrestling events in Japan, the NJPW G1 Tournament, why lucha libre companies haven't been as successful as NJPW in the United States, AEW optimism, covering pro wrestling and MMA, and more (68:57)...