Seth Rollins was WWE Champion in November of 2015 when a freak accident during a sunset flip powerbomb at an Ireland live event wrecked his knee, forced him to vacate the title and put him on the shelf for seven months.
Then this happened:
When he slid into the ring at the end of Extreme Rules 2016 to Pedigree Roman Reigns, the crowd lost their minds and nearly tore the roof off the building with the size of the pop he got.
The next night on RAW, he was back to his old heelish self, though, telling us how he burned all of our fan mail and how we didn't deserve him. Stuff like that.
It was odd, because up until that point, WWE tradition had dictated that even if you were a heel when you got injured, when you came back, you got to work as a babyface--even if it was just for a brief time.
But that didn't happen with Seth Rollins, and it left a pretty big portion of the WWE Universe scratching their heads.
It did the same thing for Seth Rollins, as it turns out.
Speaking on the Sam Roberts wrestling podcast, Seth recalled how it felt when he came back from that knee injury:
”Yeah, it was a little confusing at first. I guess, when it was happening, I was like, ‘it only made sense, I thought, for me to come back as a babyface, I thought personally. I thought all the makings of a hot babyface comeback were right there. You talk about Triple H with the quad tear and the return at Madison Square Garden. I think everybody had visions of that in their head and that just never came to fruition. It just never happened. It was a little bit of a letdown. And then, I had to kind of slide back into a role, and, if I remember correctly, most of the fans were not really ready for me to come back as a bad guy at that point. Yeah, they were ready to cheer. Looking back on it now, in retrospect, I think it was (the right choice) … the story arc, the character arc I’ve kind of gone through even though it has been slow, it's been very good and well told. On the backend of it, I think looking back on all of this, it will be better this way, but it was still strange for sure.”
Rollins would eventually regain his title at Money in the Bank the next month, only to lose it immediately to a cashing-in Dean Ambrose, who had just won the MITB briefcase that same night. He hasn't held the WWE Title since.
You can listen to the entire podcast at this link.