He’s the new face of the WWE — and unabashedly loves being so. After turning pro-wrestlers like The Rock, John Cena, Batista, Triple H and many more into household names with their pay-per-view specials and eventual Hollywood movie deals, WWE have truly hit gold with Seth Rollins: a bonafide performer as charismatic (and controversial) as they come, be it with his outspoken opinions on social media or dating another pro-wrestler Becky Lynch, the current Raw Women’s champion.
Since 2012, when Rollins made his main roster debut alongside friends Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns as part of a wrestling faction called The Shield, he has gone from strength to strength earning a huge fan base across the world, including India.
33-year-old Rollins is currently preparing for one of the biggest matches of his career: a battle to regain his WWE Universal Championship belt, at the upcoming SummerSlam event in Toronto next month. He will face long-term nemesis and someone he considers “unworthy” of carrying the belt: modern-day legend in the field, 42-year-old Brock Lesnar, well known to wrestling fans globally.
Talking to us as he lets off steam before his headline match, Rollins is as cool and savvy as ever (it’s obvious why WWE want him as a spokesperson for the brand) but is clear that behind all the glitz and glamour that comes with the profession, he has only one thing on his mind: winning.
What can you tell us about your upcoming SummerSlam match for the Universal Championship?
I’ve already shown the world I can beat Lesnar when I won the title against him at WrestleMania 35 and I can do it again. After that, at WWE Extreme Rules, Lesnar cashed in his Money in the Bank contract when I’d just emerged from a gruelling battle to take advantage of me and literally stole the belt back. Now you tell me, is such a win befitting of a champion?
No kid in the world grows up wanting to be a ‘Brock Lesnar’. He might be a great wrestler/ performer, but he doesn’t inspire anyone, doesn’t do anything for the brand or business, and most of all, he’s a terrible champion.
Your relationship with Becky Lynch makes you one of the most popular on-screen/ off-screen couples in sports entertainment today…
My relationship with Becky is something that keeps me going everyday; I’m so lucky to perform with the love of my life at every event, and share all the different emotions that comes with being a pro-wrestler with her. She’s one of the most talented performers in the planet today, and you’re going to see much more from her.
How important is a social media presence for athletes/ performers these days? You’re very active on Twitter and often engage in criticism..
It is a great tool, but we also need to be careful how we use it. We try to be as real as possible and interact with the fans, apart from a few pointers given to us by WWE. But it’s really frustrating sometimes, I’ll admit, when the negativity and trolling gets to you. I mean, I come from a generation that didn’t have the Internet as a kid and maybe I still don’t get it.
But some of the issues that are blown out of proportion online really baffle me: like fans worldwide petitioning for a Game of Thrones reshoot because they didn’t like the finale? That is ridiculous!
What would be your dream match, perhaps with a WWE legend?
Definitely the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels! I’ve grown up idolising him, and it would be a dream of mine to get into the ring with him, either for a special or if he wants to wrestle me for a title.
How has your wrestling ‘character and persona’ changed over the years?
In the last seven years, I have not just improved my skills, but my ‘story’ and ‘arcs’ on the show have also been constantly evolving. It’s important for a performer. WWE is the best wrestling platform and business in the world, and that's why we are so good and knock our competition dead each time!
Are you interested in a movie career like many other WWE superstars?
I've acted in a WWE production earlier and enjoyed it.. Look, I'm a wrestler fore and foremost and that's what I want to focus on. If any interesting opportunities from Hollywood come my way, I'd be glad to take it up. But my priority is the WWE and making the brand bigger than ever.
Do you have any idea of the fan following you enjoy in India? Even small cities here boast of fans who sport your posters and T-shirts, and stay up to watch your matches..
Oh man, this is exactly what makes our lives worth it. Hearing that there are fans millions of miles away supporting us is truly special. India would be a fantastic place to perform in, and I'm aware of plans that the WWE has for us to stage a event there sometime. Until then, I hope our fandom stays as strong as ever!
WWE is telecast in English on SONY TEN 1 channels, in Hindi on SONY TEN 3 channels and in Tamil & Telugu on SONY SIX channels