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Burn It Down!: The Top 25 Matches of Seth Rollins' Career

The EC

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Aug 3, 2011
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Burn It Down!


The Top 25 Matches
of Seth Rollins' Career

So, I had some free time on my hands this month. I thought I’d undertake a project of sorts. I’ve never done a whole lot of match reviewing. I’ve dropped a few here and there, but they’re random and mostly a thing that I would do when bored. So, I figured I’d try my hand at doing some more in depth reviewing. In this case, by watching a bunch of a wrestler’s best matches and compiling a list of their 25 greatest. Or at least, the 25 best in my opinion.

Why Seth Rollins? Well, that’s a great question. He’s kind of a polarizing figure among the IWC. Lots of people love him, it seems, but there are a good few detractors out there. Beyond that, I’ve gathered that some people just outright hate him. I’m a fan of Rollins, myself though I do understand where the criticisms of him come from. Since we’re getting ready to watch him square off with Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35, I thought he’d be a great pick to take a look at in preparation for the biggest match of his WWE career so far.

Like I said, I don’t do a whole lot of reviewing, and after this, some of you may hope I never do it again. I think it’s important to point out that above all else, what I value in wrestling is entertainment. I’m the kind of person to rate Goldberg vs. Lesnar from WrestleMania highly just because it was an awesome match to watch. The only thing I need to rate a match highly is to be thoroughly entertained by it. On top of that, I am a fan of technical wrestlers, cruiserweights, brawlers, spot monkeys and crash dummies. It is possible for me to enjoy any kind of match. I don’t hate any matches because they lack a big spot, or because they lack psychology. And on the flip side, I can love a match that is nothing but stunts or chain wrestling. Basically, I just don’t have much a criteria for how I rate matches other than my personal enjoyment. But, for the sake of this, I will say that I tried to rank these matches based on a few things… How good the match was, how good Seth Rollins in particular was, and the significance of the match as a whole.

Now, I’m getting this started a little late. My hope was to wrap this up before Rollins wrestles Lesnar at Mania and I’m still going to do that, unless there are any major objections. That means we’re going to need to do a few matches a day and I intend to post the top match(es) the day of the show. Hopefully you’ll all be down for the ride. If this goes down well I think I’ll definitely be open to do more of these for other wrestlers. I already have a few mind that I’d like to tackle. But, enough of that. I will kick off the countdown later today!
 

Chris

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Dec 23, 2011
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I'm down for any kind of reviewing, I don't rate on any kind of star system myself, I just talk about what I like or didn't like about the match bc then I don't have to worry about comparing it to others I've rated close or whatever.
 
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The EC

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#25.



WrestleMania 33
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H

This one’s going to go over like a lead balloon.

This match obviously was years in the making. Rollins joined forces with Triple H’s Authority to win his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That reign ended when his knee imploded at a house show. He returned and soon found himself contending for the Universal Championship, only to get screwed over by Triple H who labeled him a failure who wasn’t able to live up to the expectations set for him. This didn’t sit well with Rollins who would set out to provoke Triple H to step inside the ring once again. Since Rollins was still dealing with the effects of the knee injury, this match had to be made an Unsanctioned Match so that Triple H could not be held liable for anything that would happen to Rollins in this match.

Honestly, the biggest problem with this match is how much they try to put over the knee injury of Rollins. His initial injury was so long ago at this point. Even with all the attacks on it from Triple H and Samoa Joe leading up to this, they really try to frame it like his knee could just shatter to bits at any moment. They could have still told the same story without exaggerating the extent of his injury. If they had not tried to paint it as being so severe, there would have been a lot less hatred towards this match, I think. Anyways, the match goes about as you’d expect. Triple H tortures Seth’s knee with his usual old school, grit and grind style. Rollins has to sweat it out through the pain to shift the momentum. For some reason they don’t even take advantage of the weapons for like the whole first half of the match. Wouldn’t have hurt to introduce those sooner. More than any irrational high risk spots Rollins goes for, I question why Triple H would elbow drop a steel chair when he could just stomp on it. Anyways, the final stretch is back and forth where the two guys counter the Pedigree like eighteen times before Seth knocks Triple H into Stephanie on the apron, causing her to fall through the table for the biggest pop of the match. Triple H gets real angry looking, turns around, and eats the Pedigree and the loss.

I’m going to say something that might be kind of unpopular here - sometimes Triple H’s matches go on too long. Harsh, I know, but I think it needs to be said. I also have to acknowledge that this match exemplifies the biggest problem people seem to have with Rollins, which is the no-selling. I guess first and foremost I have to say that I prefer realism when possible but some questionable selling does not destroy a match for me, either. It’s theater. Rollins is the vulnerable hero with the heart of a champion who has to overcome the odds. It’s the oldest story in entertainment. A more original and grounded approach would have made this match better, I’ll admit, but anyone who expected that has clearly never seen a WrestleMania. And I have to add that Rollins’ selling wasn’t even that fucking bad. He was selling the injury literally the entire match. He limped. He grabbed his knee after pretty much every move he performed. He was launching off his good leg to land the enziguri and superkicks. Yes he did the falcon arrow and the phoenix splash but a) pain does not necessarily equal a lack of stability b) storyline wise his career is basically riding on this match, people tend to do incredible things when the stakes are this high and c) Seth Rollins is a real life freak of nature. I also feel like the use of such high impact offense on his part makes perfect sense. He’s swinging for the fences because he doesn’t know how long his knee is going to hold up. He has to make every move count. Honestly, after watching this match several times, I feel like if you’re burying Seth for his performance here, it’s only because you actually hate him or aren’t willing to look at the big picture. So I think his offensive approach, plus Stephanie being Hunter’s undoing, and the fact he won with the Pedigree combined to make for a pretty well told story here, personally. Now, having said all of those positives, I will once again acknowledge this match has its share of negatives. It’s not a great match and it’s not the worst thing to ever happen inside a ring either. It’s just fine. Nonetheless, it’s such an important match in Seth’s career that I happen to actually like, that I had to squeeze it into this thread.

***

#24.



Battleground 2016
WWE Championship
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose ©

There was a lot riding on this match, quite honestly. Seth Rollins had just come back and defeated Roman Reigns in order to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship when Dean Ambrose cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to take the title for himself. Then the brand split occurred, with Dean Ambrose going to Smackdown and both Rollins and Reigns sticking around on Raw. This match would be the final chance for these three to face off, and for Rollins or Reigns to try to win the belt to bring it over to Raw. This is also the first and last time all three members of The Shield would meet in a triple threat match. I think that pretty much says it all right there. There’s not many triple threats you could cook up in modern WWE that would eclipse this in terms of anticipation and significance.

Seth is pretty heelish in this one, but seems to be the favorite of the fans based on introductions. There even seems to be a “Let’s go Rollins!” chant before the match if I’m not mistaken. Roman of course gets shit on with a “Roman sucks” chant. They have themselves a good old fashioned standoff to begin the match, with Rollins mocking the other two, until Reigns shoulder blocks him to get things started. Ambrose and Reigns are still friends and team up on Rollins until Ambrose tries a school boy on Reigns, that leads to them going at it. This one takes quite some time to get some momentum going. The fans are just apathetic towards Reigns and Ambrose fighting and things aren’t a whole lot better when Rollins is involved. The first thing that gets any real reaction is Reigns superman punching Rollins and then immediately catching a huge clothesline from Ambrose. Then Rollins and Ambrose team up to mug Reigns and the fans really come alive. They put Reigns through the Spanish announce table with a Shield style powerbomb, then there’s another callback to when Rollins destroyed The Shield as he grabs a steel chair and blasts Ambrose and Reigns. There’s a great counter of Ambrose countering the buckle bomb with a hurricanrana into the corner. Ambrose goes high risk, but Rollins catches him and executes the superplex/falcon arrow combination for the two count. Reigns comes back into the match for the finishing stretch. He delivers a couple of huge powerbombs on his opponents, but can’t score the win. He also kicks out of the Pedigree. Rollins tried another, but Roman blocks it. Rollins instead hits a buckle bomb, which Reigns comes out of with a Superman punch, just like in their MITB match, and then splits Rollins in half with the spear. Ambrose rolls in and grabs Reigns, plants him with Dirty Deeds and get the three count!

Quite simply put this match did not live up to expectations. It simply wasn’t fitting for these three huge stars with so much history to finally meet in a triple threat match and for it to feel so anticlimactic. A big part of that I put on the crowd who were indifferent or, at times, downright negative throughout this match. It had its ups. A fair amount of them, even. The powerbomb through the table, the callback to Rollins turning on his brothers, all of the stuff Ambrose and Rollins did one on one and it’s not like Reigns was actually bad, either. Sadly, the hate for Reigns was really just so evident throughout and I think the fans in the arena were probably resigned to believing that he was going to win, so they just never gave the match a chance. In a different setting, this would have been a much more memorable match. Instead, I can only say it was decent.

***

#23.



Money in the Bank 2014
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger vs. Rob Van Dam

At this point in time, Seth Rollins had turned on his Shield brethren to join The Authority as Triple H’s handpicked future face of the company. So, despite there being six men in this match, the story is really dominated by just two of them: Rollins and Ambrose. Rollins is out to validate Triple H’s investment in him, while Ambrose is out to pay Rollins back for his betrayal a few weeks back.

The match gets off to a quick start, as Dean is the last man to enter and he slides in and immediately appears Rollins to begin the proceedings. Things are pretty typical as far as structure. Everyone gets their moments to shine and do their spots. Kofi of course has a lot of the show stealing spots, such as when his ladder get knocks over and he lands on the top rope, using it to springboard out to the competitors on the floor. Seth Rollins seems to take the brunt of the ladder offense in this match. He takes a suplex onto a ladder propped in the corner. He takes a Rolling Thunder on a ladder. He also eats a superplex off one of the tall ladders. And perhaps most tragically, he takes a back body drop from the ladder onto a horizontal ladder that is placed between the vertical one and the ropes. Towards the end of the match, Dean gets ejected from the match by the doctors due to a shoulder injury he re-aggravates. He returns and demolishes Rollins with a steel chair and seems to have a clear path to the briefcase until fire shoots from the ring posts and Kane arrives to murder The Lunatic Fringe with a chokeslam and tombstone. With Dean out of the picture, Rollins skates to a win in his first Money in the Bank ladder match! Afterwards, The Authority arrive to raise their guy's hand in victory.

It felt like easily the two most over people in this match were Kingston and Ziggler. Two guys who really exemplify WWE's dropping the ball on hot faces. Even so, this was a logical result. All too often it feels like the guy who goes through the most punishment in these matches doesn't get to win. That's not the case here. Rollins gets the win and a golden opportunity but he paid a price physically to get that prize. He was also getting a good amount of heel heat, easily more than Swagger, so out of the two villainous choices here, Rollins makes the most sense and it also helps to perpetuate his feud with Ambrose. One of the biggest factors that held this match down for me was Kane's interference at the end. Again, I have to admit, it was a logical move to help transition Kane into The Authority, keep Dean looking strong and generate sympathy while making Rollins look like a prick, all at once. The only thing is that it takes so long for the whole finish to unfold and there are four other guys in this match that are just scattered around the floor waiting while all this goes down. Ultimately I think this ranks in the top ten MITB ladder matches. Though, since I'm just so desensitized to ladder matches at this point, it's going to have to end up on the lower end of Seth's greatest matches.

***

#22.



Monday Night Raw - 8/3/2015
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins © vs. Neville

A week after dropping a match to John Cena (and breaking his nose) Seth Rollins came on Raw with something to prove. Thus, he held an open challenge in “honor” of Cena, for anyone in the back come out and take him on for his belt. Based on the booking of Rollins’ title reign to this point, I would have expected a midget John Cena or something along those lines. They teased it being El Torito. Thankfully, it was actually a good wrestler. None other than Neville stepped up to accept the challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately, it would be Neville’s first and last time challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Who would’ve guessed.

It doesn’t take long for this match to pick up steam. It’s a lot of Rollins being a cock and Neville being fast for the sake of being fast. The crowd loathes Rollins and are huge into Neville despite giving him a lukewarm reception when he stepped up to the challenge. His firs near fall comes when he catches Rollins with a mid-air superkick and then spike him with an inverted Frankensteiner. The second near fall comes after Neville’s deadlift, hesitation German Suplex. The third one comes when Neville counters the Pedigree into a jackknife pin, which gets a 2.99999999 count. The fans become furious because of how close it is. Then Neville hits a top rope Frankensteiner followed by the Red Arrow. His hooks Rollins’ legs and seems to get the three count upon first look. But the referee then points at the ropes to point out that Rollins’ foot was on the rope. I think the entire building was duped. Neville takes too long arguing with the referee before trying his next Red Arrow, so Rollins moves out of the way and wiped out Neville with the Pedigree to retain his title.

This was a short match that packed a lot of punch. The fans were simply electric for this. I won’t lie - Neville carried this thing big time. Rollins got in very little offense, and when he did, it was mostly punishing strikes and things of that nature. But, to Rollins’ credit, his selling and timing was really good. He let Neville have the spotlight and had us all believing Neville really might just pull this thing off. It’s truly one of the most nerve racking matches in recent memory. Rewatching it doesn’t really do it justice when you know the result and have the rest of Neville’s career to be sad about, but that doesn’t take away from how special it felt in the moment.

***

#21.



Payback 2014
No Holds Barred Elimination Tag
The Shield vs. Evolution

After ousting Evolution the prior month at Extreme Rules in a match that wasn’t no holds barred for some reason, we have a rematch here that is no holds barred and will be elimination style. Their last match did get out of hand though, as Amrose, Rollins, Triple H and Orton brawled into the stands, while Reigns finished Batista off back in the ring. Based off the last match and the fact they were in the legendary wrestling city of Chicago, I went into this one expecting some hell to be unleashed. And that’s pretty much what happened.

Right out of the box, they split up. Reigns takes on Batista, Ambrose takes on Orton and Rollins takes on Triple H. They all fight into various sections of the crowd which makes for some less than ideal production as they’re cutting between the three groups and you really don’t see much action from any of them. For some reason they come back to the ring and get back on the apron and we have a more traditional tag format going forward. Which was kind of odd, because of how things started, I was under the impression it was going to be organized mayhem. I’ll say this, they definitely made up their mind at this point that they wanted Reigns to be the most protected guy in The Shield. Every move Reigns executes is followed up by Cole putting him over as a fucking juggernaut. He overpowers Batista and Triple H and takes very little offense for the entirety of the match. Rollins pulls out the Three Amigos in the middle of the match and gets the fans chanting “Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!”. Batista just gets shit on every time he breathes. And I kind of feel like he deserves it for the all blue attire he chose for this match. After some goofing around they finally get back to chaos as everyone starts fighting around the ring and back in the stands. Evolution bands together to give Reigns a triple powerbomb through the announce desk and despite having all three members of The Shield incapacitated, they don’t pin Reigns. They mock The Shield’s fist taunt, and while they’re going that, Ambrose reemberges from the stands to takes out all three members of Evolution by jumping off the announce table. Orton and Triple H stumble into the same spot where Rollins comes soaring in with a tope con hilo to take them down again. Evolution is able to regroup and hit Ambrose with a back suplex onto the seat of a chair, and a Pedigree onto the chair for Rollins. They then gang up on Reigns who is still selling the effects of the triple powerbomb. Things get ugly when they sprawl Reigns over the steel steps and lay into him with kendo stick strikes to the back. They continue to decimate Reigns as well as Ambrose until Rollins suddenly appears on top of the LED screen at the top of the ramp and in a bit of an homage to his leap from the stands at the last PPV, he takes flight and crashes down into all three member of Evolution. He stumbles back to the ring where he and Batista square off. Batista lifts him for the Batista Bomb, but Rollins is able to free himself right as Reigns slides in and spears the hell out of Batista, allowing Rollins to make the cover and eliminate Blue-tista. Ambrose then takes out Orton with a Dirty Deeds onto a steel chair. Which certainly calls into question why they were tagging in and out earlier, but now there’s no regard for who the legal man is. Gonna have to shave a few points off this one for that lack of logic. So, it’s just Triple H against all three men. Orton slides him his sledgehammer, which he hits Ambrose with. As he measures up Reigns, Rollins soars in with a flying knee which gives Reigns the opening to spear Triple H and make the pin. A clean sweep for The Shield.

I have to rank this one above the match they had at Extreme Rules, for a couple of reasons. The one thing I’ll go ahead and grant the Extreme Rules match is that they kept it short, which I thought was smart, because the fans absolutely hate Batista and I don’t think they cared much for Orton or Triple H either. And I don’t mean that as in they were good heels, I mean it as in the crowd was just apathetic and not interest in watching Evolution get any offense in whatsoever. But what this match did better than the other match is put over The Shield as a whole, as they each got to eliminate a member of Evolution. It was more brutal, hands down. It had some memorable moments, like Evolution doing the triple powerbomb on Reigns through the table, Randy Orton doing the elevated DDT at the top of the stage on Ambrose, the dive off the big screen by Rollins and the caning of Reigns. It was just a bigger and more meaningful match than the previous match these stables had, therefore I’m going to give it the slight edge in the rankings.

***
 

Keith

Well-Known Member
Aug 6, 2010
13,103
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Am liking this. Can't comment too much because I've only been a causal WWE viewer during the time Rollins has been on the main roster. From what I've seen he's a very good talent. I like your reviews, plus I like how you set up the background to the matches.
 

The EC

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Aug 3, 2011
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#20.



Extreme Rules 2017
Extreme Rules Fatal Fiveway
Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe

As is the case on many PPVs for the last couple years, the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar just couldn’t be bothered to compete at Extreme Rules 2017. Sure, that leaves a bit of a gap in your card, especially since this is a Raw exclusive show so there’s not another world title to compensate, but there’s an opportunity within that to create a fun high profile match that can close the show. This is what we had here. Five of Raw’s top stars going at it in the main event for the right to challenge for the Universal Championship and since this is Extreme Rules… anything goes baby! Though… it’s a fiveway… so, it’s really extreme rules just in nature because there is no disqualification regardless, but we’re going to go ahead and encourage the use of weapons by actually calling it and Extreme Rules match. Wicked!

The only thing is, this match isn’t very extreme. Wouldn’t categorize it as any more extreme than a majority of multiman matches, since weapons seem to almost always be introduced at some point in those things nowadays. Most of this match is based around the alliance of Bray Wyatt and Samoa Joe wreaking havoc as a tandem, while we all wait for that alliance to fall apart. Of course it ultimately does, when Wyatt sacrifices Joe to protect himself from a suicide dive from Rollins. The action turns hectic at ringside, with Samoa Joe trying to lock Balor into the Coquina Clutch near the barricade - bad idea. Reigns spears Balor and Joe through the barricade simultaneously. Wyatt is still out on the table so Rollins goes ahead and just frog splashes him through the thing. This leads to a showdown between old pals Rollins and Reigns which is probably the best stretch of the match. The conclusion allows for everyone to get their moment though as the others at ringside recover and enter the fold leading to the finish. The finish line is in sight for Balor who unleashes his arsenal of signature moves on Reigns only for Samoa Joe to emerge out of nowhere and slap the Coquina Clutch on Finn to become the number one contender for the Universal Championship!

At the time I remember this match being called a MOTY contender. In hindsight, I just don’t see why. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but the first 20 or so minutes are mostly filler where there’s a considerable amount of laying around being done, and not much that would catch your attention. Even with the final stretch being really good, it isn’t so remarkable that it makes you completely forget about the first two thirds of the contest. I also have to say that the stretches where there actually was a good dose of action was very by the books. Just a lot of signature moves, really. That’s one of the things that holds WWE back in this era. The ring work has come a long way since the early 2000s but it’s like the superstars are required to meet a signature move quota every match. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are definitely two of the guys most panned for that style of offense but it’s really a rampant problem that waters down the matches of even the best workers in the company. The highlights of this match were Wyatt DDTing Rollins on the steps, Reigns spearing Balor and Joe through the barricade, Rollins frog splashing Wyatt through the announce table and the final three or so minutes where all hell breaks loose in the ring and Balor nearly gets the win, only for Joe to steal it right out from under him.

***¼

#19.



SummerSlam 2016
Universal Championship
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

With the WWE World Heavyweight Championship going to Smackdown, along with champion Dean Ambrose, Raw had to introduce its own world title. They would do that in the form of the Universal Championship, a big red symbol of dominance. To determine who would carry that title as the inaugural champion, a tournament of sorts was set up to culminate at SummerSlam. Rollins was granted a bye all the way to the finals while eight other men competed to be his opponent. Finn Balor would be that man, as he won a fatal fourway and then bested Roman Reigns one-on-one to qualify for the match. Of course, these were his first two matches on the main roster. In his third, he would meet Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship in one of the main events of SummerSlam. It seems like a century ago when Finn Balor was this incredibly over and beloved phenomenon. But he was a sensation. He has one of the most revered NXT runs ever and came in white hot. Seth Rollins cut some good promos on him to build up the match but things reached a new level when Finn Balor showed up as “The Demon” on Raw and stood tall in their confrontation.

Rollins arrives looking like a character from Tron, I’m pretty sure. Balor comes out in possibly his best Demon look of all time. He gets an early advantage and goes to work on the previously injured knee of Seth Rollins. Rollins turns the tide with the powerbomb into the barricade which would cause an injury for Balor. Rollins takes a sadistic approach in controlling Balor, even slapping him and calling him “boy” after some trash talking. When Balor makes his comeback, the pace quickens and the fans who pretty much died after Styles vs. Cena start to come back to life a little. For working with an injury, Balor carries on pretty well, though you can tell he’s not comfortable. Balor even takes another fucking buckle bomb for God’s sake. He misses a Coup de Grace and eats a Pedigree, but still kicks out. Ballsy. He then manages to power up and lands a standing double foot stomp into the chest of Rollins, followed by two shotgun dropkicks and capped off with the Coup de Grace! An exhilarating finish to crown the first Universal Champion.

This match had a lot working against it, to be honest. A zapped crowd, an injured Balor, and a bunch of dickheads in the audience who booed every time the Universal Title was on screen because they’re so EDGY~! Despite all this, they worked a really satisfying match that built slowly to a climactic finish. Rollins played a great villain that made it impossible not to root for Finn. Both men walked out looking very strong and a rematch could very well have been in the cards if Balor didn’t have to step away for surgery. It isn’t one of the best world title matches in SummerSlam history, but I’ve seen worse.

***¼

#18.



Hell in a Cell 2016
Universal Championship
Hell in a Cell Match
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens ©

After Finn Balor’s injury forced him to vacate the Universal Championship, a fatal fourway was booked to decide who would carry the newly christened title. The competitors of that match were Big Cass, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens and it would be none other than KO who walked out champion after an interference from Triple H that saw him double cross Seth Rollins. The following month, Rollins got to challenge Owens for the title, but lost due to interference of Chris Jericho. This time around, the match would take place inside the steel cell to ensure no outside interference. I mean, there was outside interference in the very first Hell in a Cell match and probably like ten times since, but there definitely wouldn’t be any outside interference this time around!

The match is mostly methodical and carried by Owens’ sadistic approach to attacking Rollins’ hurt back. It’s a good enough approach because once things heat up, they really heat up. I love the fans in the front row are shouting “KEVIN OWENS SHOW BABY!” as KO is brutalizing Rollins at ringside. In fact, Owens seems pretty over in general here, even though he’s supposed to be the bad guy. But the alliance of Owens and Jericho was a pretty likable one. Speaking of Jericho, he does of course become involved. Owens sprays a referee in the face with a fire extinguisher, and while he’s being helped out, Jericho comes in, locks the cage behind him and takes the key. From there it’s mostly a handicap match. Though Jericho doesn’t get in much offense at all, he constantly interferes to stop Rollins from putting Owens away. Rollins does a nice job of taking on the both of them at once, but he’s unable to overcome the odds in the long run. The match did take a bit to turn into the demolition derbies we’re used to these kinds being, but there are a lot of great highlights, as you’d expect. We have Owens doing the obligatory cannonball to smash Rollins into the cell, we’ve got Owens taking a Falcon Arrow onto the ring apron and we have Rollins hitting his consecutive suicide dives onto Owens, which smashes him into the cell. The biggest highlights are Rollins powerbombing Jericho into the cell, and powerbombing Owens out of the ring and through two tables. The Owens one is especially amazing because he seems to fail at getting Owens up the first time around, so he’s kind of just dangling there. Rollins holds on though and heaves Owens, who clearly is not a light individual, all the way up and into position, and then does a running powerbomb over the top rope and through the tables. Amazing strength from a man who doesn’t scream powerhouse. I could watch Rollins powerbomb people into things all day. Kudos to Owens too, because I don’t think there’s anyone in WWE who takes crazier bumps than he does. The match ends with Owens and Jericho absolutely beating the dogshit out of of Rollins with chairs. Owens spike DDTs Rollins onto a chair and then powerbombs him through the seats of two chairs to finally finish the job.

This might not make into the Hell in a Cell Hall of Fame, but I sure enjoyed it. The match was slow to begin with, which I don’t think was necessarily a bad thing, but the crowd weren’t really having it. Fortunately, after a great back and forth between the two, the crowd did come alive and the rest of the match was up to the standard that the fans in attendance, as well as myself were expecting. Some of the spots, namely the running powerbomb through two tables that Rollins performed will stand the test of time and belongs in any Hell in a Cell promo video. I know it might not mean much to say this because of the title’s reputation, but this is one of the best Universal Championship matches thus far. It’s also one of KO’s best main roster matches. All in all, the match isn’t extraordinary but it’s worthy of rewatching and I don’t think I could honestly come up with many negatives of this match.

***¼

#17.



Money in the Bank 2016
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns ©

Rollins’ maiden title reign ended with him suffering an injury in late 2015 which set up Roman Reigns to ascend to the throne, by winning a tournament to become the champion, only to lose it, then reclaim it at WrestleMania 32. Rollins made his surprise return at Extreme Rules to Pedigree Reigns and stake his claim for the title he never lost. This was the birth of “Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim” Seth Rollins. I think this is also his first match without the blonde streak, for whatever that’s worth. Even though Rollins left as a heel and came back as a heel, he seems to clearly be favored by the fans. Tough scene.

This match built well throughout. They didn’t storm out of the gates like you may expect. They did a nice slow progression towards a hot finish. It was mostly Reigns manhandling Rollins for the early going and Rollins defiantly fighting back. Rollins is eventually forced to retreat and try to avoid Reigns, but manages to turn the table by throwing Reigns into the steps. Rollins puts his new knee to the test by taking out Reigns with a suicide dive, followed right up by the tope con hilo. From there, Rollins pretty much unleashes his full aerial arsenal like his knee didn’t just implode 6 months ago. They call back to the sunset flip powerbomb spot that injured him, but he hesitates, nearly allowing Roman to counter, only for Rollins to still roll through and take Reigns for a ride leading into the buckle bomb! Rollins comes within a fraction of an inch of pinning Reigns with the superplex rolled into the falcon arrow. Reigns then gets a near fall off the deadlift powerbomb. After a heated face off and some back and forth brawling, Rollins hits a second buckle bomb which Reigns shakes off to land a Superman punch and get another near fall. Out on the floor, Reigns measures Rollins up for a spear through the barricade, but Rollins moves and Reigns hurls himself into the barricade. Reigns sells injury for a while and they bring doctors out, but Rollins decides to continue taking the fight to Reigns. Back in the ring, Rollins sets up for the Pedigree, but Reigns shoves him off into the ref. Reigns then spears Rollins and goes for the pin, but because the ref can’t get over in time, Rollins kicks out. Reigns then measures up for another spear, but Rollins counters the spear into the Pedigree. Reigns kicks out of that one, but is like a wounded animal. Rollins picks him up and hits another Pedigree. This time it’s good enough for the 1-2-3. Rollins wins a match that seemed destined to be a loss. The fact that so few people expected a clean Rollins win (myself included) was just the cherry on top. In fact this was, as far as I can remember, the first time Reigns got pinned clean in a singles match.

After the match, Dean Ambrose, who won Money in the Bank earlier, ambushes Rollins, cashes in, hits the Dirty Deeds and swipes the WWE World Heavyweight Championship right from under Rollins’ nose. It was an enjoyable ending to the show that got people buzzing. It was a very fitting way for Ambrose to win his first world title after Rollins had cashed in on Reigns at WrestleMania a year earlier.

This would have been a pretty good opportunity for WWE to go ahead and pull a double turn with these guys. I think it would have went over perfect and it could have salvaged Reigns before they got in too deep with him being the new “SuperCena”. For the most part, Rollins would be a face going forward from this. I would say he never truly turned face until the night Triple H hit him with the Pedigree and gave the Universal Championship to Kevin Owens, but he was getting mostly positive reactions anyways. Since this was close to peak Reigns hatred, they could have gone ahead and had them switch roles in this match. I would say from this point on, if they hadn’t already, the majority of the WWE Universe chose Rollins as the guy they wanted to see carry the torch over Reigns. Only now (ironically as Rollins seems to be headed towards a Universal Championship win) is Reigns reclaiming some of the fanbase.

***¼

#16.



SummerSlam 2014
Lumberjack Match
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

This would be Seth’s first big PPV singles match since debuting around 20 months earlier. These two were set to face off at Battleground, but Ambrose was kicked out of the building for attacking Rollins before the match. This caused Rollins to win by forfeit. Rollins, of course, turned on The Shield in order to join The Authority. He then made it a point to have Dean Ambrose included in the Money in the Bank ladder match which Rollins would win with some help from Kane. After being screwed over multiple times by Rollins at this point, Ambrose reached a breaking point and was hellbound on settling the score. It was decided they would face off at SummerSlam with the two of them competing in a Beat The Clock Challenge, where the winner could decide the stipulation of this match. Dean won the challenge and chose to have a Lumberjack match to keep Rollins confined in the ring. Sound enough strategy.

Only it didn’t go that way at all! In a piece of exquisite booking, this match would actually end up being a knock down, drag out brawl all through the crowd. Ambrose hit a suplex off the apron that took out a bunch of lumberjacks. He then back body dropped Rollins over the barricade and despite the best efforts of the lumberjacks, the fight would continue throughout the arena. Dean fought through the lumberjacks and dove off the announce table onto Rollins in the crowd. The two rivals then fought into the stands with the lumberjacks giving chase at the orders of corporate Kane. Rollins tries to sneak his way out of the match while the lumberjacks are restraining Ambrose, but he gets cut off by The Usos, Big E and Stardust who corral him. The rest of the lumberjacks join in to carry him back to the ring kicking and screaming. When the mob reaches the ringside area, Dean dives off the top rope with an elbow onto Rollins that wipes out the 20 or so lumberjacks as well. It might be a bit of a played out spot, but it was really fitting in this match. Back in the ring, Ambrose seems to cap off the match with the curb stomp on Rollins, but Kane breaks up the pin. Goldust rolls in and gets in Kane’s face. Kane uppercuts Goldust and suddenly the ring becomes flooded with lumberjacks who are all just brawling. The ring clears, with Ambrose doing the honors of dumping Harper and Rowan out. But while the referee and Ambrose are both distracted with the commotion taking place, Rollins grabs his Money in the Bank briefcase and welts Ambrose with it. The shot with the briefcase is enough to keep Ambrose down and out as Rollins picks up the win via pinfall.

This match is really just great because it’s one of those rare instances where WWE completely flips a stipulation on its head. The lumberjack match is, I think, a terrible stipulation. Most of the time, it just falls back on the usual tropes and rarely has it produced a memorable bout. So this match is almost like watching Razor vs. HBK in their ladder match where there are no high spots and choreographed stunts. You go in thinking, well, there’s going to be nowhere for Rollins to run. When he goes outside the faces will toss him in. If Ambrose goes out, the heels will probably try to jump him. Nope. Most of the match takes place outside of the ring. The use of the lumberjacks in this match is excellent. They are actually the ones who end up on the receiving end of a lot of damage at the hands of Ambrose and Rollins. They also go into the stands as part of the fight. They play into the excellent diving elbow spot that gets the fans chanting “this is awesome!”. And they factor into the finish where they all brawl in the ring in a moment that looks truly chaotic. The fighting in the crowd is a nice touch because, of course, The Shield made a habit of entering through the crowd and a lot of their matches would end up going into that territory as well. The fact that this match is built around mayhem is also a nice touch, with Rollins and Ambrose being known as the agents of chaos in The Shield. It would be nonsense to try to book this match any other way. This a super fun, very rewatchable match, and would have stole the show if not for Brock squashing Cena in the main event.

***½
 
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Keith

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Not sure there's been many good Lumberjack matches though I did have a soft spot for the gimmick.
 

The EC

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#15.



Monday Night Raw - 4/2/2018
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor


Leading up to WrestleMania 34, The Miz was looking for a high profile challenger for his Intercontinental Championship. He found two in the form of Seth Rollins and Finn Balor who each picked up wins over The Miz on Raw before a triple threat was booked for WrestleMania. On the last Raw before WrestleMania, Miz hosted a MizTV segment with his challengers, that melted down and became a fight between the three men. In classic Raw fashion, a match was made on the spot between Rollins and Balor with The MIz joining the commentary team for the proceedings.

Finn is in his all blue gear, which I have to say is a bit of an eye sore. His performance is really strong, despite his upsetting choice of attire. The first two thirds of this match were good, as they built up to the big finish. After the second commercial break is when things reach a boiling point, as both guys begin to pull out all the stops. There is a series of near falls that have the fans on the edge of their seats. Rollins sells his complete disbelief after hitting the Revolution Knee. He goes for a huge frog splash but crashes down on Balor’s knees. Out on the floor, they call back to their SummerSlam match. Rollins catches Balor’s leg as he attempt the soccer kick and lifts him up to deliver a powerbomb into the barricade, at the same spot where Finn suffered his shoulder injury during their Universal Title bout. Balor counters out, hits the slingblade on the floor and hits the shotgun kick on Rollins into the barricade. Back in the ring, Rollins attempts the Coupe de Grace, but Rollins avoids it. Rollins tries the stomp, but Balor moves out of the way and attempts an O’Connor Roll pin. Seth kicks out and rolls Balor over with a school boy, gets to his feet and finished Balor with a big curb stomp! A highlight reel worthy finish.

Coach said it at one point during this match. At a certain point, this match stopped being a WrestleMania preview and just turned into an epic battle between these two. One of those gems that you get on Raw every few months if you’re lucky. Even with Miz carrying on on commentary, it’s easy to forget that he’s even a part of the equation. I’m confident in saying this match overshadows their SummerSlam bout. Probably has a lot to do with Finn not working with a bum wing, as well as the crowd in this match being super into it, where as the SummerSlam crowd was mostly subdued. It’s really just a shame that this match didn’t carry the same implications. I think their SummerSlam match is brought up quite a bit, due to the importance of it, and because of that, I think a lot of people overlook the fact they had this really awesome match on this episode of Raw. All in all, it’s a very fun match, even if it’s a bit inconsequential in each man’s career.

***½

#14.



Monday Night Raw - 6/10/2013
Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan

This is possibly the first standout singles match out of The Shield. Earlier in the night, Dean Ambrose faced Kane in a fairly good match, and Roman Reigns faced Randy Orton in a slightly lesser affair. This encounter between Rollins and Bryan, which the fans voted into existence via the WWE app, is the clear best match of the three. A little over five years before this match, Seth Rollins would have his breakout match in ROH against none other than Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson so there’s a hint of poetry to this being his first big singles showing in the WWE. This match is not quite up to the level of a couple of the matches they had in ROH (no surprise there) but it’s better than just decent and it’s a match I’d love to see happen again today.

Rollins comes out swinging in this one and though he is known to be a whirlwind of a competitor, he does not match up to Daniel Bryan who is going through his “unstable” phase here. Bryan beats the hell out of Rollins with some stiff kicks and elbows that you still rarely see in a WWE ring. Even though both men switched up, maybe even watered down, their in ring style since the indies, they seemingly decide to throw it back a few years. The strikes are pretty mean, the holds look legit (specifically the surfboard into Dragon Sleeper that Bryan applies) and if the match would have been in front of a crowd that appreciated what they were doing, this would have been one of the top TV matches of 2013. It’s definitely a slow paced match for Rollins’ standards but it’s fine because the offense is much more methodical and vicious. Thankfully Roman Reigns and Randy Orton, who are on the floor, don’t get involved throughout the match so Rollins and Bryan are able to work a straight up contest. The finish sees Rollins miss a splash and then get rolled up in a small package by Bryan.

This bout definitely showed a side of Rollins that we don’t get to see all that much these days. He takes and dishes out some stiff shots and the whole thing isn’t a sprint. The commentators really put over how good the match is, but unfortunately the crowd is a little quiet, which puts a damper on things to an extent, if only because it feels like their efforts are a little unappreciated. Of course this is a good feather in the cap of Seth Rollins but I’m not going to act like Daniel Bryan isn’t the clearly superior wrestler. Props to WWE for putting the two of them together and letting Rollins show what he can do.

***½

#13.



Monday Night Raw - 5/1/2017
Seth Rollins vs. The Miz vs. Finn Balor


WrestleMania 34? Never heard of her.

On the May 1st, 2017 edition of Monday Night Raw, Seth Rollins came out to stake his claim to be the next challenger for Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship. His promo was broken up by Finn Balor who was quick to point out that he never actually lost the belt and was more deserving of that shot. Then came reigning IC Champion Dean Ambrose who proclaimed that his belt was now the new number one prize on Monday nights, because he actually shows up and puts it on the line, unlock Brock. The Mz then joined in to rib Dean Ambrose, saying that he is the one that elevated the title to where it is. One thing lead to another and Dean Ambrose made a call (literally) to Kurt Angle there in the ring, and had a triple threat set up to determine who would challenge him for his championship.

The Miz does what any rational person would do and just rolls out of the ring to begin the match, allowing Finn and Seth to go at it. He slides in now and then just in case he needs to break up a pin but ultimately finds himself in the match, caught between Rollins and Balor. He tries to make a truce with each of them but to no avail. The Miz gets the worst of things for a bit, then tries to use Maryse as a human shield, with limited success. Things continue, as all three men get their licks in. There’s a sketchy spot where it looks like Finn is supposed to counter a springboard crossbody from Seth into a powerslam, but Seth overshoots it and ends up nearly breaking his neck. The Miz takes control for a while and deals out dual “It Kicks” to Rollins and Balor until Balor ducks, tosses Miz into Seth who catches him in a front facelock, and then dropkicks Rollins which causes Rollins to DDT Miz. Balor then catches fire, hitting his signature moves on each men. He lands a vicious soccer kick on Miz and then laps around the ring to shotgun dropkick Rollins into the barricade. He nearly gets a win off the 1916 on Seth, but Miz breaks it up. After eliminating Finn from the equation, Miz targets the bad knee of Seth Rollins and manages to cinch in the figure four, only for Finn to break that up with another soccer kick. The final stretch is a flurry of moves from all three, going at it. Rollins is selling knee injury, but manages to dispose of Miz and frog splash Finn, but it’s still only good for two. Miz goes up top, looking to catch Seth off guard, but Seth sees it coming and lands his superplex/falcon arrow combo. Rollins then suicide dives on Finn and Miz on opposite sides of the ring. Out of nowhere, Samoa Joe jumps out of the crowd and plants Seth on the outside with the Ura-nage. Back in the ring, Finn is on the way to victory, delivering his signature moves on Miz, until Bray Wyatt interferes and drills Finn with the Sister Abigail, allowing Miz to make the cover and get the three count.

I’ve always felt this is a really slept on match. About 10 months later these three would be facing each other for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania in another good match, but I find this to be the superior bout. It probably had to do with their time restrictions at Mania. But they also just seem more engaged here. This is the main event of Raw and gets a solid run time. All three men seem to really care about making this match as good as possible. There are several exciting stretches. Especially Finn’s big run and Seth’s final heave. The interferences in this case aren’t a big issue. They both happen in the last minute of the match so it doesn’t really diminish or slow down any of the action. In fact, having the two different interferences in that short span kind of enhances the action. Anyways, this was a well above average triple threat with a good performance from all three men.

***½
 
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The EC

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#12.



Monday Night Raw - 8/18/2014
Falls Count Anywhere
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam 2014 in their first high profile singles encounter. It was an out of control Lumberjack match, easily one of the better ones in WWE history, but it did not settle the issues between the two. Rollins won the match with some interference from Kane and the use of his Money in the Bank briefcase. Earlier in this edition of Raw, Ambrose interrupted a Rollins interview to pour ice water on him (during the time when the ALS ice bucket challenge was a big thing) which lead to Triple H somehow deciding that they would face each other in a match with the stipulation decided by the fans. Fittingly, after their SummerSlam match turned into a brawl all over the arena, the fans decided they should face off in a Falls Count Anywhere match here tonight!

It took about 90 seconds for this match to spill into the WWE Universe. Why beat around the bush, right? Like the lumberjack match, this match plays into their Shield history pretty heavily. In this case, it is highlighted how well they know each other. The match is jam packed with dodges, counters and comebacks. The two men seem evenly matched in the ring throughout, though they’re strengths are quite different. Rollins uses cunning and speed, while Ambrose of course uses lunacy and brawling. There’s no shortage of punishing weapon usage. The standout hardcore moment comes when Ambrose tosses a bunch of chairs in the ring in a pile, and attempts to superplex Rollins onto them, only for Rollins to turn it around and hit a running powerbomb onto the chairs. Rollins then tries to set Ambrose up to curb stomp his head through a table, which I would have liked to see, but ends up taking the superplex through the table. Like the night before, Kane becomes involved to save Rollins’ skin. Ambrose manages to fight against the odds for a bit, but it’s all for naught. He gets caught by Kane who chokeslams him on the announce table. Rollins follows it up with a curb stomp on the announce table. Then Kane picks up a box or maybe a small table at ringside to reveal a pile of cinder blocks. No one cares to explain why there’s just a pile of cinder blocks at ringside, but fuck it I guess. Kane holds Dean there and Rollins plants him with a curb stomp off the announce table through the cinder blocks which are clearly about as solid as a water balloon because they crumple to bits despite obviously not receiving that much of an impact. It’s a good visual at least, I won’t fault them for trying to do something different here. Lil Naitch Charles Robinson comes over and ends the match, rewarding Seth Rollins with the stoppage finish.

The biggest thing this match achieved was advancing each man’s characters. Dean got over as the lunatic he’s supposed to be and his valiant fight against both Rollins and Kane presented him as someone who was willing to fight to the death. Rollins, still early in his heel run here, got the guile treatment. He continued to rely on interference from Kane to defeat his arch nemesis, and they took his character a step further by having him curb stomp Dean’s skull through a stack of cinder blocks. An absolutely ruthless and malicious move for Rollins to pull out on his former brother in arms. This really felt like one of the more intense hardcore matches I’ve seen on WWE television this decade. I’ve said it already and I’ll say it plenty more before we’re done, but Dean and Seth are just two of the best at creating pandemonium. Whether it be as part of The Shield, in their tag team matches, or as opponents, they just know how to make chaos work. This was a great brawl that sold you on the hatred these two have for one another and so, in that sense, it was perfectly executed.

***½

#11.



No Mercy 2017
Raw Tag Team Championship
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose © vs. The Bar

This one has a pretty simple set up, honestly. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose reunited shortly before SummerSlam, despite some reservations from both parties. Ultimately, their problems with The Bar lead them to them resume their alliance, and they were given the chance to challenge The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam. Ambrose and Rollins won the match. The Bar invoked their rematch clause for the right to challenge Ambrose and Rollins for their recently lost titles.

This is four of the main roster’s best workers of the last five years, in my opinion. Both in terms of match quality and quantity. So it’s no surprise that they shine so bright here. The match starts with Ambrose being dominated until he can get Seth in off a hot tag. As always, Seth goes to town at a million miles per hour. His momentum doesn’t last though and the tide soon turns back in favor of The Bar who maintain control for the majority of the match. Rollins and Ambrose just refuse to die though. Midway through the match, we have Ambrose catapulting Cesaro into the turnbuckle which is the infamous spot where Cesaro gets his teeth bashed out. The fact he continues to wrestle for about 10 more minutes with no limitations is just stupid and makes me feel like an inferior being. Several exciting minutes later, there’s a beautiful spot where The Bar have Ambrose set up for the White Noise/double neckbreaker. Seth Rollins appears and attempts to Frankensteiner Cesaro off the top rope, but Cesaro blocks it, and catches him. Sheamus drives Ambrose down with the White Noise and Cesaro performs a top rope powerbomb to Rollins, onto the prone Dean Ambrose. Unfortunately that still isn’t enough to put them away! Ambrose is totally spent at this point though. Sheamus sets Ambrose up for the Brogue Kick, but Ambrose just collapses. Sheamus saunters over, only for Ambrose to throw him in a quick small package to get a two count. Sheamus gets up and tries for his Brogue Kick but Ambrose moves and Cesaro takes the blow. Sheamus turns back around and takes the Dirty Deeds from Ambrose who pins him and gets the three count!

Two of my favorite teams of this decade going at it with no shenanigans or twists.. just a good, straight up, 15 minute tag match with everyone laying it on the line. The Bar are super entertaining and their chemistry is just so apparent. Ambrose and Rollins have a long history, of course, and they feed off each other in a way that few others can. There’s really no missteps in this match at all. There’s a great cohesion and pace to this match. You get the added bonus of seeing Cesaro lose his front teeth and continue to wrestle his ass off. Just a lot of fun, all around and the high point of a show that also featured John Cena vs. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman.

***½

#10.



Monday Night Raw - 10/14/2013
WWE World Tag Team Championship
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns © vs. Goldust and Cody Rhodes

What a wild ride this one is. Honestly, just looking back on this run from Goldust and Cody Rhodes, this is one of the great feel good stories of recent times. They had no right to be as good or as over as they got. This is the hallmark match of their memorable 2013 run in my opinion as well as one of Reigns and Rollins’ premiere matches as a tag team. The set up to this match saw the Rhodes family feuding with Triple H and Stephanie who fired Cody for insubordination and attacked Dusty. Goldust returned and teamed up with his half brother to win back their jobs in a match against Rollins and Reigns at Background. So, here on Raw, The Brotherhood were given a chance to face Rollins and Reigns in a match for the World Tag Team Championship, though it was also made a No DQ match in order to “punish” Goldust and Cody. That never backfires.

This match is a lovely little brawl and whatever it lacks in technical greatness, it more than makes up for with fantastic booking and crowd investment. Rhodes and Goldust also make for a great unit, so they’re cohesive in their double team moves. Besides that, Goldust really turns back the clock and shows us all he still has the goods. His strikes are very believable, he takes some nice bumps and he’s plenty mobile so despite being a fossil compared to the other three in this match, he doesn’t bring it down one bit. In fact, he’s probably the best part of it. Most of the match is just trading control between the two teams, with Dean Ambrose getting involved when needed to derail The Brotherhood’s momentum. Though, it’s a No DQ match, so why not just jump in and destroy everyone with a chair? I guess that’s really a larger philosophical question about wrestling in general and I don’t feel like getting into it. Anyways, The Shield get the upper hand for a good bit and they build towards the hot tag for Cody which works like a charm. He comes in hot and starts using Goldust’s moves to dismantle Reigns and Rollins. It’s at this point that the fans become fully engrossed. Cody pulls out a moonsault onto Reigns which I don’t remember him using much, if at all, before. He takes out Dean when he tries to interfere with a beautiful disaster kick and then drops Reigns with a springboard dropkick. If Cody had committed himself to being an AJ Styles type he would have really gotten over a lot sooner. Anyways, Ambrose interferes and it becomes a three on one beating while Goldust is subdued. That doesn’t last long because Goldust slides in with a steel chair and cleans house while the fans go wild. On the outside, Rhodes and Rollins are brawling when Cody tries to do a disaster kick off the stairs, only for Rollins to catch him mid-air and powerbomb him into the barricade. It’s a sick spot. Goldust continues to fight and get the better of all three members of The Shield for a while until Reigns catches him with a spear through the barricade. Just when things are looking hopeless, the recently fired Big Show comes through the crowd to the biggest pops of his career and dismantles The Shield. The ending sees Roman and Cody in the ring. Roman notices Show on the outside and gets distracted. Rhodes goes for the disaster kick but Roman ducks, only to get clocked by the Show’s knockout punch which allows Cody to make the pin and win the titles. The crowd goes nuts as Triple H comes out livid at what just happens. Big Show stands in the crowd, leading them in “Yes!” chants which at the time was a little cringey but now that some time has passed, is an enjoyable moment. Raw ends on this very high note as The Brotherhood celebrate on their way to the back, as the new tag champs.

This is basically just one of the best two on two tag matches that The Shield have had. For my money, it’s the best one that featured Rollins and Reigns as opposed to Rollins and Ambrose. Just looking at things in a vacuum, I don’t know if this would have made the list if not for the fans being so hype for this thing but since they loved the match so much, it made it feel like the stakes were super high. I also loved seeing Goldust back at his peak and as he was one of my favorite wrestlers when I was younger, I am probably a little bit biased in my rating of this. Still, objectively, it’s an awesome brawl with two teams who know how to work together and hit all the marks to make for a good, fluid match. This is arguably one of the hottest endings to Raw this decade. Rollins has certainly had better individual performances that didn’t make the cut over this one, but this is for sure one of the 25 best matches he’s been in.

***½
 
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The EC

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#9.



Backlash 2018
Intercontinental Championship
Seth Rollins © vs. The Miz


Coming into this match, Seth Rollins was on one of the hottest runs of his career. He defeated Miz and Balor to win the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, defended it in a ladder match at the Greatest Royal Rumble and was coming off another defense against Balor on Monday Night Raw. The story of this match was the fact that Miz was getting an automatic rematch despite being moved to Smackdown as part of the Superstar Shakeup. So, if he wins here, he’s taking the legendary belt with him to Tuesday nights.

This match opened the PPV and got almost no mention on the opening video package but was the best match on the show by a landslide. It’s a good thing they put this on first, in a way. The crowd was super pumped as soon as Rollins’ music hit and were very vocal with their support throughout. Had they been exposed to the rest of this boring card first, this match may not have come off so well, either. But, anyways, this match is kind of just the perfect PPV opener. Intercontinental Championship on the line between two well respected wrestlers. One being an all time great heel, the other being a cherished hero, both playing their role to perfection. The action is fast and furious. There are great counters. Each guy pulls out some new or rarely seen stuff. Loads of signature moves. Some legit highlights, like the huge frog splash from Rollins, or Rollins with the flying knee into the post, followed by Miz putting him in the figure four and Rollins going nuts to reverse it. I think you can tell how good most matches are by how the fans react to the submissions. This crowd went crazy for the figure four leglock sequence. You would have thought this was a Flair match by how they ate it up. Great acting by both men there, as well. I also really love the part where Rollins slips out of the SKF, then rolls back into the wheelbarrow, slips out of that, sells the knee giving out, and then takes the SKF. Very well executed. They go back to it when Seth attempts the superplex/falcon arrow with his knee giving out. It isn’t as nice the second time around, but at least it’s some consistency and the crowd seems convinced that it’s the end of the match, only for Rollins to kick out again. The match ends on another brilliant sequence. Miz goes for the O’Connor Roll on Rollins, Rollins reverses it into a pin of his own, Miz gets out and rolls Rollins up with the school boy, Rollins rolls to his feet and plants Miz with the curb stomp for the pin!

Not a whole lot to say, other than this is an excellent match. It helped cement Rollins as one of WWE’s best wrestlers of 2018, arguably the very best of the first half of the year. This is one of those matches where even the most ardent Rollins haters seem to have no choice but to tip their hat to the guy. And a lot of credit has to go to The Miz as well, of course. He was fantastic in this match as well, and on this night they just clicked and had themselves a great match in front of a great crowd. Matches like this make for great rewatching because they didn’t over complicate it and they didn’t drag it out. It’s a match you can just throw on and have a good time watching.

***¾

#8.



WrestleMania 31
Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton


I was a really big fan on the storyline leading into this. It was simple for the most part, but it showed that Seth had the backing of WWE management. He got nicknamed “The Undisputed Future of WWE” and they backed it up with his booking. Sure, there was a lot of chicken shit antics that protected him and lead to many of his wins, but he wasn’t the first nor the last top heel to be elevated by that route. That includes his opponent here, Randy Orton. The lead up to this match started months earlier as Rollins ascended up the ranks in The Authority after turning on his SHIELD mates. Orton was previously dubbed “The Face of WWE” but since losing the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX, his place as the guy was coming into question. After a string of setbacks for The Authority, Seth Rollins would ultimately usurp Orton for the top position and take him temporarily out of action. Orton came back at Fastlane, just weeks before WrestleMania, to exact his revenge and challenged Seth to settle the score at WrestleMania.

So, that’s what this match was about. Orton was facing a man who, in many ways, resembled him and was on a similar career trajectory. The difference in this match was largely that Orton was the more mature competitor who was driver by revenge, while Rollins was still looking for shortcuts to get over on Orton. J&J Security got involved quite a bit of course, but this isn’t Orton’s first rodeo, so he dispatched them with relative ease. He even dropped the two of them with elevated DDTs onto the floor, in a pretty nasty spot. As a whole, Orton is the general of this match. He is determined to deliver a beating on Rollins and controls a majority of the exchange. However, Rollins refuses to go away, kicking out of a clean RKO. This leads Orton to line Rollins up for a punt, only to be cut off by Jamie Noble who he serves an RKO, followed by Joey Mercury who he a serves a mid-flight RKO. This allows Rollins to catch him by surprise and hit the Curb Stomp which Orton astonishingly kicks out of.The finishing sequence is really smooth and capped off by one of the single greatest visuals in WWE history. Rollins goes for a Phoenix Splash, but Orton moves and Rollins lands on his feet. Orton goes for an RKO, but Rollins pushes him off, delivers a heel kick and doubles him over for the Curb Stomp. Seth goes for the Curb Stomp but Orton doesn’t give, and instead launches Rollins up and catches him on the way down with an RKO for the win. That is the definition of a picture perfect finish.

Interesting decision, no doubt, to give Orton the win here. He isn’t even someone I consider overly protected, so I’m not sure what motivated WWE to give him the W in this case, other than it was a sensible and fan pleasing finish to the feud. I guess that’s enough.

As we know, that would be the last we saw of Seth Rollins for the night.

PSYCHE!



WrestleMania 31
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar ©


Can’t call it a match, so much, but we can’t leave off arguably the biggest moment of Seth’s career, so I’m going to lump it in with his other match and call it a day.

Later that night as Lesnar and Reigns were waging war over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the unthinkable happened as Seth’s theme song pounded on the speakers and the future “Architect” came sprinting down to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase IN THE MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA! Now that’s metal.

Seth comes in after Brock and Roman have just beat the holy hell out of each other and cashes in. He rolls Reigns out of the ring and gives Lesnar a Curb Stomp. He measures Brock up for another, but gets scooped up in place for a F5. Reigns comes in and splits Lesnar in half with a Spear, saving Seth’s ass, and Seth returns the favor by drilling Reigns with a Curb Stomp for the pin and three count! Rollins leaves WrestleMania 31 with the WWE Championship in the HEIST OF THE CENTURY!

***¾

#7.



Hell in a Cell 2018
Raw Tag Team Championship
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler ©


The whole Shield vs. Dogs of War thing was pretty bad, but it did yield us this absolute gem. With The Shield reforming in mid-2018 after the return of Dean Ambrose, a heel alliance was formed between Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre to take down the reformed Hounds of Justice. Strowman was pursuing Reigns and his Universal Championship, while Rollins and Ziggler had an ongoing feud over the Intercontinental Championship. Ambrose and McIntyre began to have their own little rivalry, really just by virtue of the feud between the two alliances.

Dean Ambrose was still kind of finding his footing since returning from injury with a new look and a bit of a tweaked character. Luckily any ring rust he might have had did not hold back this match one bit. I might be in the minority here, but I like the alliance of McIntyre and Ziggler. I certainly like it better than McIntyre’s current union with Corbin and Lashley. It gave Ziggler a new and improved attitude and I think they just gelled so great as characters. Ziggler the out of control loudmouth and McIntyre the brute of few words. At the very least, it was good for Ziggler to have someone to make up for any of his shortcomings. I have to say, though, he is great in this match. His bumpin doesn’t get too bad. He’s constantly taunting his opponents, knowing that McIntyre can bail him out when things go and get tough. He plays the role of strategist as well. One example would be the really well done spot where Rollins makes a desperate tag to Ambrose by jumping over McIntyre’s shoulder, but Ziggler rolls in the ring to distract the referee for just long enough so that he doesn’t see the tag and forces Ambrose back to the apron. Some of the spots in this match are just fannntastic. McIntyre belly-to-belly suplexing Ambrose into the corner was pretty nasty. Rollins countering the jumping DDT of Ziggler into the falcon arrow and then countering his Famouser into the buckle bomb was really dope. The finishing sequence saw McIntyre and Ziggler set Dean up for what looked like a Doomsday Device, but Dean fought out by clocking Ziggler and hanging him up on the top rope. He then broke free and tagged Seth in before spearing McIntyre out of the ring. Rollins went right for Ziggler and superplexed him into the ring. He rolled through to attempt the falcon arrow and got Ziggler up, only for McIntyre to catch him by surprise with the Claymore. Ziggler fell into the cover and that was all she wrote. McIntyre and Ziggler won to retain their titles.

This match is almost a masterclass in timing and sequencing. It starts off pretty standard. Heels in control, methodically beating Rollins. As things go on, the match gets more and more hectic as the teams become more desperate to put things away, building up to a huge climax. All the counters, team work, kick outs and sequences are just perfectly on point. If you rewatch this PPV, the crowd isn’t super electric through the first few matches. In this match, they are totally electric and hanging on the edge of their seat with every pin attempt. This thing goes for 25 minutes but you’d never know it by watching it. The match never drags or feels like it’s overstayed its welcome. All four guys play their roles superbly. The booking was a smart choice as well. If Ambrose and Rollins won this match, The Shield would hold every male title on Raw by the end of the night. That would pretty much be the end of this program as well, which still had legs to continue for a couple months. Plus, McIntyre gets to looks like the hoss that he is, and secure the win for his team, reaffirming his status as the actual leader of this team. This is one of my favorite tag team matches to rewatch and hands down one of the best WWE matches of last year.

****
 
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The EC

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Aug 3, 2011
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#6.



Monday Night Raw - 2/19/2018
Gauntlet Match
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. John Cena vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Braun Strowman vs. Elias

One of the longest matches in WWE television history, this seven man gauntlet took place over the course of the first half of a February Monday Night Raw and featured the seven guys who would compete in the “historic” seven man Elimination Chamber match six days before the namesake event. Seth Rollins at this time was in a weird and already easily forgettable period of his career, teaming and feuding with Jason Jordan before he got injured. Coming into this match, the commentators note the desire of Rollins to get back to the top of the heap and turn this show into “Monday Night Rollins”. Over a year later, we might finally be watching that truly come to fruition.

Seth begins the match against Roman Reigns. Interestingly there’s not so much of that Shield stigma. Roman is more concerned with Braun at this point in time, so they don’t really beat around the bush doing the whole “these two are brothers” staredown bit that they’ve done many times before. The match begins at a surprisingly slow pace. A lot of that just has to do with Roman punishing Rollins methodically. Once Rollins gets freed up, he turns up the tempo a little. He foolishly hits the buckle bomb on Roman, because Roman of course just bounces out of the corner with the superman punch… a sequence they’ve done in literally every match I’ve seen them wrestle against each other… Nonetheless, Rollins is able to score a surprise win, countering an O’Connor roll into a small package for a clean win after about 30 minutes. After his elimination, Reigns goes to shake hands with Rollins, but Cena’s music hits and The Doctor of Thuganomics enters the match. Cena controls the action, and grinds Rollins down until we’re all convinced that his elimination is a foregone conclusion. But nope. Rollins hangs in there through it all, even surviving the STF. For some strange reason, Cena charges Rollins out on the floor, but Rollins moves and Cena shoulder blocks the steel steps. They then roll in just in time to break the 10-count. Seth Rollins breaks out a rare crippler crossface as a counter to a Cena clothesline, but it’s not enough to do the trick. Cena powers through, and heaves Rollins up into the Attitude Adjustment. Rollins lands it though and then lays Cena out with the enziguri before soaring for the frog splash! Cena survives and is able to once more get Rollins up for the Attitude Adjustment and hit it this time. Rollins manages a kick out when no one saw it coming and gets the fans chanting “Burn It Down!” (I think?). Cena goes high risk, presumably for his leg drop, only for Seth to rise from the dead and hit his superplex/falcon arrow combo. Still not enough. He measures Cena up for the curb stomp, but gets caught in another STF! He gets a rope break to be released. He goes for the enziguri again, misses, and ends up in the STF for a third time! He still manages to break free. John Cena takes Rollins to the top for a super Attitude Adjustment, but Rollins frees himself. Cena crossbodies Rollins, but Rollins rolls through and lifts Cena, heaving him up to land an Attitude Adjustment of his own. I don’t get tired of seeing him do that. Cena kicks out, but he soons trips up. He lands the Attitude Adjustment on Rollins, and then does his roll through to try a second one. Rollins wiggles frees, hits the ripcord knee strike, superkicks Cena in the abdomen and finishes him off with the curb stomp! Elias is next and wastes no time getting to the ring. He immediately goes for the pin on Seth who is obviously just spent at this point. Seth manages to kick out, but he won’t last too much longer in this bout. Elias focus his attack on the knee of Seth Rollins and ultimately dispatches him with the Drift Away. The rest of the gauntlet is good, but not relevant to this thread. Braun ultimately wins by bouncing Miz as the last two competitors.

This is, of course, one of the great performances of Seth Rollins’ career. In one night, with this one match, Seth Rollins commanded the respect of so many who refused to acknowledge him. Besides the fact he wrestled over an hour and earned a “thank you” chant from the fans for his efforts, he got clean victories over Reigns and Cena consecutively. That’s an unheard of feat. That’s a bigger feat than Jericho defeated Rock and Austin in the same night, because that was pure shenanigans and no one walked away from that one thinking about the fantastic showing Jericho just put on. I’m kind of torn on saying this match progressed brilliantly or that the second portion of the match was just much better than the first. To me, Rollins and Reigns are just not good opponents. On the other hand, Rollins and Cena are excellent opponents. Either way, the endurance of Rollins was great to see and created a spectacle you rarely see on Raw these days. The Elias stretch was pretty much a non-factor in the end, but if I’m taking the whole thing into consideration, it’s a negative because it was relatively short and uneventful. I would have much rather had Finn eliminate Rollins than Elias, but ah well, you can’t have it all.

****

#5.



Elimination Chamber 2014
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family

The conflict between The Shield and The Wyatt Family was rooted in the Elimination Chamber qualifying process. The Shield would face Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Sheamus in a match where the winning trio gained entrance to the Elimination Chamber. During that match, The Wyatts interfered to attack Cena, causing a DQ loss for The Shield. Thus, The Shield were out to gain some revenge and would look to do so at Elimination Chamber. This match was super interesting at the time. We had two of the hottest trios to arrive in WWE in quite a while meeting for the first time. Both were hot, so it was anyone’s guess who would win.

This match gets a “this is awesome!” chant before the bell even rings. Before The Wyatts ever even step foot in the ring for that matter. Watching this back is kind of jarring because the fans actually like Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns. The expectations were no doubt sky high and these two top flight factions came through. A brawl breaks out before the match can officially begin where The Shield clear the ring of The Wyatts. After a moment, things get officially started. The stables really just trade control for the majority of the first half, making quick tags whenever one trio gets advantage. One highlight of the early goings is Harper’s selling of a punch by Roman where he hits the ground and sits back up, stares straight ahead with a blank expression and his hand held out, as if to say “what the fuck did I just get hit with?”. Rollins lands a beautiful backflip out of a top rope German suplex and then goes ballistic on Harper for a bit, which kicks the match into another gear until Harper stops his roll with a high impact Bossman slam. Eventually Reigns gets the hot tag and comes in guns blazing in a super exciting sequence where he takes the fight to all of The Wyatts. As things go off the rails, bodies start flying everywhere. Harper hits his suicide dive onto Dean and Bray, and Rollins takes it up a notch with the top con hilo onto Harper. As part of a theme of this match, Dean tackles Bray into the crowd, because he is completely unhinged and fighting with emotion instead of logic. It doesn’t show us what happens, but Dean never returns to the match, leaving Rollins and Reigns outnumbered. Then, Harper and Rowan double chokeslam Rollins through an announce table from the other one, so it effectively becomes Reigns vs. The Wyatts. He manages to keep them at bay for a while, but takes a Sister Abigail from Wyatt which finishes him off.

This match was great. It had an atmosphere, it had two stables that you care about, it has some of the best sequences in Shield history, it has Luke Harper being awesome, it has carnage, drama, suspense, intensity, sensible booking… basically all the ingredients you would want in a big time six man tag match. The member of The Shield got to shine at what they do best. Ambrose was the unhinged one who never put on the breaks, Rollins brought the fire and provided several highlights, while Reigns got to be the last guy and put up a valiant fight at the end of the match. It’s just a shame these two stables didn’t match up more often, because every match they did have was just perfectly on the money.

****

#4.



Survivor Series 2014
5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Match
Team Authority vs. Team Cena

You know the background of this match by now. Most likely, at least. The Authority formed in 2013 and were lead by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who used their strike by elevate the people who they favored or who were willing to sell out to them. Most notably, they oppressed Daniel Bryan from SummerSlam 2013 until he took off time for his injury in 2014. They also manipulated Big Show and abused the Rhodes family. In the lead up to this event, John Cena challenged The Authority, prompting a big Survivor Series match where if Team Cena won, The Authority would be out of power and if Team Authority won, all the members of Team Cena would be fired. At the beginning of the show, Mr. McMahon added the stipulation that if Team Cena won, the only way Triple and Stephanie will ever get their power back is if John Cena brings them back. This was most definitely the highest stakes match in 2014 and the most anticipated one since WrestleMania XXX where we awaited to see the fate of Daniel Bryan.

Team Authority was captained by Seth Rollins, with the inclusion of Corporate Kane, Rusev, Mark Henry and Luke Harper. Team Cena was of course lead by John Cena himself and featured Big Show, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler and Erick Rowan, all past victims of Triple H and Stephanie’s power trip.

This thing is much too long to detail all the action, but the big things to note is the swinging of momentum and attention to details. Like I said, this is a long match, so at times you start to drift. But then they throw a curveball at you and get you invested again. Highlights of the early part of the match are Big Show’s knockout punch on Henry to eliminate him in seconds, Rusev missing a splash on Ziggler and crashing through the announce table and Big Show betraying his team and getting Cena eliminated because of course he does. Once Show knocks out Cena, he walks out and that leads to Ziggler being the last man standing on his team, against Kane, Harper and Rollins. Ziggler ragdolls it up for a good while, taking a nice little beating from all three of the remaining members of Team Authority. He does finally snap out of it, and manages to superkick and Zig Zag Kane, making it two on one now. Harper steps in to try to finish “The Showoff” but ends up falling to a surprise school boy. Now things are all even, and it’s Rollins and Ziggler for all the marbles. The final stretch is fun, as Ziggler and Rollins actually have a pretty good little mini-match before the thrilling conclusion. Triple H clobbers two referees to save the match for himself and his team, and then takes the attack to Dolph Ziggler. A third ref comes out to come the final fall after Triple H has mangled Ziggler but his count is interrupted by the debut of Sting! There’s an incredible standoff between Sting and Triple H that ends with a Scorpion Death Drop. Sting then pulls a napping Dolph Ziggler onto a napping Seth Rollins and the referee finally recovers at just the right time to count the three and give the win to Team Cena!

The MVP of the match is Seth Rollins, bar none. Dolph Ziggler is over as hell already, and he gets the huge reactions, but Rollins has to shoulder the load for his team and plays the villain to perfection. He really comes into his own as “The Future of the WWE” and lives up to the “The Architect” moniker by orchestrating his team’s attack and being the guy who constantly runs interference and distraction. Since he’s on a team of super heavyweights, he has to be the one to do the athletic feats and take the most impact. This match is obviously mostly remembered for Sting’s WWE debut, and rightfully so, but it was a great match in its own respect. There are certainly some questionable aspects. Such as why did John Cena, who puts his entire team’s careers at stake, not come out to stop Triple H from stealing the match and are we really meant to believe that Rollins and Ziggler were out cold for a solid five minutes while the whole Sting/Trips played out? Of course, the shine of this match is also dimmed by the follow-up which was just atrocious. But at its core this was an awesome match with some awesome moments. It’s a turning point in Survivor Series history and reinvigorated the match type that has been featured very heavily and treated as a big deal in the years since. With nearly 50 traditional Survivor Series matches in the company’s history, it definitely says something that this is one of the most memorable to ever take place.

****
 
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