No one will question the talent of Seth Rollins. A multiple-time WWE world champion, as well as the No. 1 pick in this year’s WWE draft, there is a reason Rollins has been so heavily favored and decorated in his four-year run.
However, there has been something missing for the talented performer lately, beginning with his recent face turn. The confident and poised performer has seemed decidedly unnatural in his face role—uncertain of his script and character as a whole.
This is not the first time Rollins has been a face in WWE, and he has always seemed more comfortable playing the heel. However, there is reason for optimism going forward for Rollins. He is immensely over with the fans, often getting the largest positive reaction of anyone on Raw, and he is too talented to be confined to one role.
It is just a matter of Rollins needing to evolve with his face turn rather than falling into a generic role. Instead of becoming too much like all the other top faces in WWE, it is important that Rollins uniquely works to his strengths to become an engaging hero.
The following is a step-by-step guide for how Rollins can more consistently perform up to his talent level as a face in WWE.
Step 1: More Focused Promos
WWE has a frustrating tendency to give its faces bad jokes as the hooks of their promos. Just a few weeks ago, Rollins was forced to try far too hard to get “sparkle crotch” over as an insult on Chris Jericho. The next week, he was playing “keep away” as an immature young boy would with Jericho’s list.
These are not the promos of a man who is frustrated and dangerous. These are John Cena-style promos where he dismisses his rival for the sake of saying something that can go on a shirt. Even Cena sometimes struggles to make these types of promos work, and Rollins just isn’t suited for that role.
In order for Rollins to succeed, he must start focusing on what matters with his promos. Ditch the jokes, and come out berating opponents for their nefarious deeds. If he’s angry, he should consistently sound angry. If he’s enjoying a situation, he should focus on being grateful to the fans and for his own hard work paying off.
Once Rollins is delivering promos that are more directed, he’ll speak more naturally as a face and get more honest reactions from the crowd, which wants to hear what he’s saying rather than just being excited to see him.
Step 2: More Natural In-Ring Style
Rollins has put on great matches all throughout his career, including as a face, but he is not quite wrestling the style that consistently delivers in the way we’re used to. Despite being just 6’1″ and 217 pounds, Rollins is wrestling as if he’s a heavyweight at all times, working a strong, aggressive and resilient style.
Particularly odd is how Rollins is shown to be almost impossible to put down, taking finishers and kicking out consistently. It is almost as if WWE wants Rollins to be considered on a higher level than his competitors, which is not a healthy mentality to keep a competitive roster.
Rollins has always been a fast striker and high-flyer, and this should be the focus of his offense. Nothing gets a crowd popping like a guy willing to put his body on the line to get a victory, and Rollins does this often. He needs to focus on this aspect of his wrestling rather than playing up his resilience.
The only wrestlers who should be nearly invulnerable are those who are defined by their size and strength. If Rollins is played out as both an indomitable force and a risk-taker, there is no reason for the fans to sympathize with him, as they know he can rally back from anything.
Step 3: Clearer Motivations
We are only a few months removed from Rollins walking out on Raw to laugh at Finn Balor after he was forced to relinquish his universal title due to injury. Now, the crowd is meant to wholly root for Rollins because he was betrayed by the same people who protected him and handed him championships last year.
The story has not been made clear, and this has made Rollins’ character hard to invest in. If fans are to believe in Rollins as a hero in WWE, it is crucial that Rollins sell everyone on why he is worth rooting for. Why is he no longer the wrestler he was before The Authority chose Kevin Owens over him?
This can be accomplished by having a sit-down interview with Rollins where he addresses his history and the choices he has made. If he can convincingly sell his new attitude and drive, it could even be one of his best promos to date.
It may sound simple, but WWE misses this step too often with wrestlers. Fans want to like Rollins, but he also needs to convince them why they should. If he can, not only will he make himself more likable, but he’ll also clear up what his own character is driven by.
With these three steps, Rollins will avoid becoming the next Shield face who gets over just to become a joke-throwing, resilient and smiling face (see: Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose). Both of his former stablemates have struggled in that role, and it would make little sense for Rollins to follow their paths.
Instead, Rollins can become a more unique, crowd-pleasing face who goes for broke and never emphasizes his weaknesses. He can play a role more reminiscent of Shawn Michaels than Cena, which is exactly what Rollins should be aiming for.
Focus on hitting more springboard knees, Sling Blades and frog splashes with less turnbuckle powerbombs and superplexes. Be angry more often than funny. Make the fans feel his sincerity and drive. If he can accomplish that, Rollins could be the biggest face in WWE today.