The last 14 months have been quite the whirlwind for WWE superstar Seth Rollins.
At the Survivor Series in November of 2012, Rollins, along with his teammates Dean Ambrose and Roman Reins, made their WWE television debut.
In one night, they went from ordinary developmental talents to known commodities on the WWE roster.
Since then, Rollins’ career has taken off. He’s made an appearance at WrestleMania, won the WWE Tag Team championships and has gone up against main event players on a nightly basis.
“We’ve all had the opportunity to get in the ring with some guys that are considered in the history of this business; CM Punk, John Cena, the Undertaker, The Rock, guys like that,” Rollins said. “At this point, it’s kind of customary. I don’t feel out of place. There are no nerves. I feel at home.”
A prime example was Dec. 30, when Rollins went one-on-one with former WWE Champion CM Punk. Rollins lost the match, but had an impressive showing against the longest-reigning champion of the last 25 years.
“I feel like for me, I’ve become smarter,” he said. “I’ve become a more intelligent wrestler. I’ve become a more intelligent performer and I think that shows. I’ve had the best matches of my career probably over the last year.”
Although his future in WWE looks bright, the last week for Rollins was a reminder just how far he has come since his days growing up in Davenport, Iowa.
Despite being his foe Monday night, CM Punk was one of Rollins’ initial teachers of the wrestling business at Ring of Honor’s wrestling school in Bristol, Pa.
On Tuesday, Rollins will return to Philadelphia where he has wrestled numerous times for ROH among other promotions.
Rollins won’t be performing in front of an intimate audience like he did on many occasions on the independent circuit. He, along with the rest of The Shield, will be performing in front of thousands at the Wells Fargo Center for a taping of Smackdown.
“Philadelphia is kind of like a Mecca for professional wrestling, especially the old ECW Arena down in South Philly. That’s the place I always wanted to wrestle growing up and I got that opportunity when I worked with Ring of Honor,” Rollins said.”
“The fans are notorious in Philadelphia for being a little harsh sometimes, but they’ve always been kind to me,” he added. “I’ve had some memorable moments in Philadelphia and I hope to have another one coming up on Tuesday at Smackdown.”
While CM Punk was training him, Rollins briefly lived in the area with a friend and his aunt.
Rollins then moved back to his hometown of Davenport where he was trained by a local independent wrestler named Danny Daniels.
“I’ve always been in love with it,” Rollins said. “When it came time to pick a career, I didn’t see myself doing anything else. It’s one of those things where if you don’t put everything you have into achieving your dream you might end up regretting it at some point in your life. I’ve never been one to say, ‘What if?’ I just kind of threw myself into it, tried my best and here we are.”
After being formally trained, Rollins began making his rounds on the independent circuit where he quickly rose up the ranks.
Rollins, then known as Tyler Black, won the ROH World title on Feb. 13, 2010. Rollins only held the title until September of that year because he was offered a developmental contract from WWE.
Once again, Rollins’ stock rose very quickly. It didn’t take long to pick up what he was being taught by the various trainers in WWE’s developmental system and eventually became the first NXT Champion in July of 2012.
“You’re always learning,” Rollins said. “If you’re not learning, then you’re stagnant. If you’re stagnant, then you’re not evolving and the business isn’t progressing. Our company isn’t progressing.”
Rollins seemed destined for success as a singles competitor, but unexpectedly, the idea came about for him join a group. This wasn’t any ordinary group, however. This was a group of talented, hungry performers that were hell-bent on taking the wrestling world by storm.
“Justice has always been our big thing. Preaching justice and injustice and trying to right the wrongs and stuff like that,” Rollins said. “I think that’s kind of been a metaphor for just changing things up in the wrestling business.”
“We were tired of seeing the same things over and over,” he added. “The three of us, we were tired of seeing the way guys were conducting themselves on a weekly basis, just kind of going through the motions. We didn’t want to be apart of that. That was an injustice to us just seeing the guys who were not as good as we were getting opportunities that we weren’t getting. We kind of injected ourselves and for the past year and few months we’ve been the most dominant faction and arguably the top act. To say that in only our first year is pretty humbling as well and I think there’s a lot more to come for the three of us.”
Before becoming The Shield, Rollins, Ambrose and Reins were three separate entities. Despite essentially being thrown together, the trio came together quite nicely and has made quite an impact in the process.
“I felt like we gelled very quickly,” Rollins said. “Ambrose is someone I’ve had chemistry with from the moment we stepped in the ring together. I don’t really have an answer for that. With some guys, that’s just the way it is.”
“Roman came on board. He’s a bit more inexperienced than the two of us and I think all of us were willing to put aside a little personal pride and work with each other on our strengths and our weaknesses and capitalize on what we were good at,” he added. “There was never a situation where there were any egos involved. All of our agendas were exactly the same.”
Shoving egos to the side isn’t easy to do when it comes to a group of veterans with years of experience. It is even less likely for a group of fresh faces, which makes what The Shield has accomplished over the past year and change even more amazing.
The Shield’s quick ascension to the top of the WWE is something that can’t be compared to anything else in the history of the industry.
“It happened at the speed I think it was meant to happen at,” Rollins said. “I always envisioned myself moving even quicker up the ladder, but that’s just kind of my personality.”
“I’ve always had the upmost confidence in my abilities as well as the other guys in The Shield. We all have kind of have the same mindset as far as success, personally and professionally,” he added. “I think that has a lot to do with the way we come across on the television screen, at a live event. I think the connection with the crowd, I think the people feel the energy that we’re putting off and I think that has always been a determining factor in how successful we’ve been as far as wrestling individually and as a unit.”
Scheduled to appear alongside Rollins and The Shield are John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Mick Foley, and The Wyatt Family.
For more information on Smackdown in Philadelphia, click HERE.