SummerSlam 2018: Seth Rollins feels reborn in WWE – and he says nobody can hold a candle to him other than AJ Styles
Seth Rollins tells the South China Morning Post he’s back on top in WWE, with an injury to Dean Ambrose a blessing in disguise that lit a fire underneath him
Every time Seth Rollins walks out into a WWE arena to perform, thousands of fans scream “burn it down!” – but it was an unfortunate injury to tag team partner Dean Ambrose that he admits reignited his career.
“Being part of the Shield is a special thing,” Rollins told the South China Morning Post via phone call from China, where he was promoting WWE’s September 1 show in Shanghai at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. “Any time the three of us are healthy and in the same place we can get into some trouble.
“Not that I would wish injury on Ambrose at all, but that was something that lit a fire underneath me. It’s definitely been a blessing in disguise for my singles career.”
Rollins and Ambrose, two thirds of fan favourite faction “The Shield” along with Roman Reigns, reunited last year and had a run with the tag team titles.
But Ambrose underwent triceps tendon surgery in December, leaving former two-time world champion Rollins in limbo.
“It was like OK, I’ve got to kind of refocus, reset my priorities and move forward,” Rollins added. “I was presented with some cool opportunities early in the year.”
Rollins went on to claim the Intercontinental championship at WrestleMania 34 in an acclaimed triple threat match against Finn Balor and The Miz.
“Yeah, it’s been a really good year for me,” Rollins said. “Honestly, you look at my body of work from SummerSlam last year to SummerSlam this year – I really don’t think there’s anybody on the main roster, aside from an AJ Styles give or take, that can compare with what I’ve done.
“From winning the tag team titles, to winning the Intercontinental title at Mania, to the gauntlet match performance on Raw, to some of the matches I’ve been a part of the last six months, nobody can hold a candle to what I’ve done in the ring.
“I definitely feel I’m back on top for sure.”
Rollins has gone on to bring a level of prestige back to the Intercontinental championship that has been missing in recent years.
“The Intercontinental title has meant a lot to me this year, it’s kinda been the cornerstone of my rebirth as an in-ring performer,” the 32-year-old said.
“It’s really been a fantastic experience, a lot of credit is due to my opponents and the people that have helped make that championship as important as it was.
“To main event a pay-per-view with the Intercontinental title for first time since SummerSlam ’92 when Bret Hart faced the British Bulldog at Wembley Stadium, that’s a pretty incredible feat and shortlist to be on.
“I was always proud to wear the Intercontinental championship just based on the legacy of that title alone. To be able to be part of that history now is fantastic. It helped me, and I helped it.”
WWE heads to the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn for SummerSlam on August 19, with Rollins looking to reclaim the Intercontinental championship from Dolph Ziggler.
But since relinquishing the WWE championship in November 2015, with a knee injury keeping him out for nearly seven months, Rollins has only held the top title in WWE for a fleeting moment.
He defeated then-champion Reigns on his return from injury in June 2016, only for Ambrose to cash in his “Money in the Bank” contract seconds later to snatch the title.
“Right now my focus is Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I want all the gold because I do,” Rollins said.
“I’m definitely focused on winning back the Intercontinental championship, but the Universal championship is in my sight some point in the future.
“I would love to ride that wave to maybe a champ versus champ match depending on who comes out on top between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns at SummerSlam.”
“We’ll see. At the end of day it’s all about wining and building a legacy, and I’ve been a dual champion before,” he added, referring to his simultaneous run as WWE champion and United States champion in 2015.
Rollins came to Shanghai two years ago for WWE’s first live show on the mainland, and has been in the city this week to promote next month’s show.
It’s been a busy couple of days, taking in a visit to Shanghai Shenhua’s training ground to meet Demba Ba and Co, as well as a traditional tai chi lesson.
“This time around it’s so much cooler for me, this week of media has been fantastic,” Rollins said.
“The sky is the limit over here, obviously it’s still a new market for us, we’re getting fresh eyes and ears every single time we come over here.
“But I think there’s an incredible upside to coming to this part of the world. Every time we come we’re better and better.
“The experience has been fantastic. There’s no reason why we can’t keep cultivating it, there’s so many people over here that maybe it can be even bigger than in the States.”
WWE has six Chinese talents in developmental at their Performance Centre in Orlando, with Xia Li set to compete in all-female tournament the “Mae Young Classic” for the second year in a row.
“She’s doing really well,” Rollins said. “It’s pretty cool to see the talent excelling in that way so quickly. It’s a new market for us, and we haven’t even broken the surface on what the talent possibilities are.
“To see a market not familiar with WWE, and we can come in progress so well, that’s fantastic. But it’s the tip of the iceberg.
“Who knows what the future holds, there’s no reason we couldn’t see a Chinese women’s or men’s champion down the road.”