Next Sunday at WrestleMania 35, Seth Rollins will challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title. The bout is a fundamental styles clash as Rollins has been praised for his work ethic and wanting to deliver the best match every time he steps into the ring. Meanwhile, Lesnar has been criticized for rarely showing up to work and only being in the sport for money.
Speaking to Sporting News, Rollins discussed Lesnar's absentee status as the Universal Champion.
"I'm old-school, man. I want my champion to be there headlining all of the events. We go to these live events and Brock Lesnar is not there and we go to "Raw" or pay-per-views and Brock Lesnar's not there. Somebody has to pick up the slack and carry that mantle," stated Rollins. "I was able to try and do that for a while with the Intercontinental Championship. I took that to the main event of a pay-per-view with Dolph Ziggler (WWE TLC in December 2018). You can do what you want but there's still so much prestige over the Universal Championship. Everybody feels that the champion is the champion."
Rollins continued, "When you've got somebody like Lesnar who doesn't really care about inspiring other people, you start to lose a generation. You lose people who are motivated. If I didn't have champions who inspired me when I was younger, I may not have wanted to be a professional wrestler. I may not have wanted to get into this business. There are guys like Shawn Michaels and Triple H and John Cena and Edge and Eddie Guerrero and these guys became champions. They inspire people to want to get into this industry and to push it forward and Brock Lesnar just doesn't do that. He doesn't inspire people. He's in it for himself and he'll tell you that. He's in it for the money and he'll tell you that. It's just frustrating for me as a fan of our industry to see it kind of be held hostage by someone who only cares about themselves and making their own money."
While Rollins wants to show up to work and wrestle every night, he hasn't stepped foot in the ring very often since winning the Royal Rumble. Rollins has wrestled just four times since the Jan. 27 Royal Rumble and has been kept off live events. Rollins confirmed reports that a back injury sidelined him in February.
"Yeah, I did have a lingering back issue that I was dealing with. At the end of the day, I'm able to compete. I've been cleared by our doctors," confirmed Rollins "I had to take a few weeks to rest but it looks like I'll be fine moving forward. I feel good. I've ramped up training in the gym and at my school (Black and Brave Wrestling Academy). I feel really good. I feel healthy and, hopefully, I'll be able to pick that guy up and throw him around a little bit so I'm not the only one getting tossed around."
Rollins may not have been active in the ring leading up to WrestleMania, but he's remained on television, building the match with Lesnar on the microphone, dueling with Lesnar's advocate Paul Heyman. Lesnar is scheduled to appear next Monday at Raw, the final episode before WrestleMania.