Blame Stephanie McMahon for this one. This column came about due to one little smirk from Stephanie McMahon this past week on Raw. In case you missed it, Stephanie had just given Seth Rollins a little truth about how he is on his own for the first time in his WWE career. Rollins responded that he is going to burn the WWE down and take Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho with him. Then he stormed off. And Stephanie looked off into the distance after him and smirked. What did it mean????? This column aims to fantasy book the answer.
For a while now, I have felt that the WWE Raw brand had a problem. Okay, it has more than one problem, but I am specifically talking about the problem posed by Seth Rollins. When Rollins came back from his injury, it would have made a TON of sense to position him as a face and turn Roman Reigns heel. The crowd wanted to cheer for him and definitely wanted to see him beat Reigns. But that didn’t happen. Rollins got some cheers, but still acted like a heel, especially when he went up against Dean Ambrose and Finn Balor.
But it appeared the WWE was willing to finally turn Rollins face when Triple H turned on him and helped Kevin Owens win the new Universal championship. But here is where I see the problem. In my opinion, the crowd is just not popping for Rollins the way that a company’s top babyface should be cheered. But why? Just a couple months ago everyone was clamoring for a good guy Rollins.
Personally, I think it is because Rollins is now matched up against another person the crowd wants to cheer, no matter how good he is at being a heel. That person is the Universal champion, Kevin Owens. And where you have Kevin Owens, you have his BFF in Chris Jericho. And that is another problem that needs to be addressed.
I am going to pause and go on a slight tangent here. I mentioned Chris Jericho’s friendship with Kevin Owens is a problem. But I only mean that as it pertains to Seth Rollins getting over as a face. Because I love the stuff Jericho and Owens are doing together. Particularly Chris Jericho. I’ve been a bit critical of Jericho during this most recent WWE run, thinking he should be putting more young guys over, etc. However, and I might be overstating it just a tad, I think Jericho is back to his early WCW glory days where he was feuding (one-sidedly) with Goldberg, Dean Malenko, Juventud Guerrera, Prince Iaukea, and even Lenny Lane over a missing Loverboy cassette!
Those were days I would tune into Nitro just to see what Jericho was going to say. He was the most entertaining person on the show and you could just tell he was having a great time.
Think about it, he got over “stupid idiots,” his fancy jacket and uber-expensive scarf, made “IT” a thing we looked forward to weekly, he is giving us many opportunities to drink in the gift of Jericho, and he began making lists again! Jericho is just hilarious on the mic and he is making the crowds laugh and have fun. So much so that I have a feeling some fans, such as myself, are fondly recalling his days in WCW as well. And we want to root for him. We want to cheer him on. We know that he is playing a heel and we should boo him, but damnit, he is just so entertaining. And, at least to me, that fun seems to be coming across with his in-ring work as well.
But, back to my point about Kevin Owens. Owens is another Indy darling who through sheer force of will has become a superstar in the WWE. He is funny on the mic, he is really good in the ring, and people just want to like him. Again, even though we know he is playing a heel, we want to see him fight. We want to hear him talk. And we want to root for him. Case in point, the “You deserve it!” chant after he won the Universal title. Then you team him up with someone else we want to cheer in Chris Jericho and it is even harder to root for the guy trying to take them down.
Therefore, we have a problem. But not to worry, I think I have figured out a way to solve it. Unfortunately, it means a little more McMahon storyline than I like, but I think it could work. Here’s how I see it play out.
Stephanie, along with the announcers and everyone else affiliated with Rollins, continues to hound him about how he is all on his own. This becomes a overriding focus on Rollins during his feud with Owens. It even gets to a point where Roman Reigns joins in on the theme, telling Rollins that it is amusing that he is on the weak end of a handicap match situation when he takes on Owens and Jericho. Reigns will then walk away from Rollins looking super-smug.
Eventually we will get a Rollins-Owens match for the Universal title. Jericho will be at ringside, but so will Stephanie and a returning Triple H. Triple H won’t say anything, he will just sit ringside and watch. After a great match, Rollins will sidestep some Jericho interference and pin Owens to win the belt. Owens and Jericho will argue with each other as they head back up the ramp, leaving Triple H and Stephanie to present the belt to Rollins.
Rollins will snatch the title and hold it high while he stares down Triple H. Stephanie will get on the mic and announce Rollins as the new champion. Then she will start saying how proud she is of Rollins but Rollins will grab the mic and get right in Triple H’s face. Before he can speak though, Triple H will grab the mic and speak to Rollins directly. Triple H will state that he is glad to see that Rollins has the belt. He was always rooting for him, but since his injury, he had to be sure about him. Triple H says that he and Stephanie had to make sure he was the same Rollins that they could count on. They needed him to fight back, from not just the injury, but mentally as well. They needed to know that Rollins still had what it took, mentally, to be the champion for the company, so he felt it was his duty to test him.
Rollins will then take the mic and take a step back from Triple H. He will look down then at the title. And then Rollins will say that he understands. He gets it. Triple H isn’t the Cerebral Assassin for nothing. And Rollins points out that he isn’t the Architect for nothing. He repeats that he gets it, but then he holds the belt up high and drops it at Triple H’s feet. A surprised Triple H looks at Stephanie as Rollins tells him that he understands he needed to see that he could do it himself. And he did. So now Triple H knows. And now Rollins knows too. Rollins knows that he doesn’t need Triple H’s help, or Stephanie’s help, or anyone’s help. Rollins will state that he knows he is the best and he proves it day in and day out. “Just like this!” And then Rollins gives a Pedigree to Triple H on the belt!
The crowd is cheering wildly for Rollins at this point. Rollins will get back up and tell Stephanie she can keep her Universal title. He tells her that he quits and is going to work for her brother over on Smackdown Live. Then he leaves the ring to big cheers as Steph tends to her husband in the ring.
This turn of events will allow Rollins to finally stand up (even if only for a brief moment) against someone the crowd actively doesn’t like (Triple H). This should allow the fans to cheer Rollins without feeling torn in their loyalties. It also allows Rollins to move to Smackdown Live, adding a new face to their roster and giving AJ Styles a new challenge. Before Rollins goes after Styles though, there could be a storyline around Triple H and Stephanie trying to negotiate with Shane to have a match between Rollins and Hunter. That could eventually pan out at one of the big PPVs.
Meanwhile, the Universal title would be vacant again. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho could both be very upset that Triple H was just using Owens to test Rollins. This could allow one of them to turn face, and given the friction between the two of them following the result of the last match, should begin a nice little feud between the BFFs. In fact, Stephanie could help it along by telling them that they will face each other to determine the new Universal champion. This would drive a wedge between them further, leading to an all-out feud.
At that point, Triple H could disappear again. Rollins would be a huge face (for standing up to the McMahons) over on Smackdown Live. Either Owens or Jericho would be a new top face on Raw. And either Owens or Jericho would be the Universal champion. Honestly, I think the fans could live with either Owens or Jericho as the face and/or the champion at this point. (And to be completely honest, I think there is a way they could turn BOTH Owens and Jericho face at this point while turning Roman Reigns heel (remember the super-smug thing earlier) to feud with.)
And that is how I would do it. What do you think? Would it work? Could it work? Do you have a better plan? Let me know in the comments section. Until next week…
Tags: AJ Styles, Chris Jericho, dean malenko, Kevin Owens, Lenny Lane, Roman Reigns, seth rollins, Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H