The origins of Seth Rollins’ 2018 run with the WWE Intercontinental Championship stem from a heated discussion with Vince McMahon where the boss wanted to know what happened to the trajectory of Seth Rollins’ career.
In 2018, Seth Rollins became WWE Intercontinental Champion at WrestleMania 34 by defeating Finn Balor and The Miz. Years before that, Seth Rollins was a staple in the World Championship picture.
However, Seth Rollins wasn't fully satisfied with the direction of his career and one day, shortly after he fought Triple H at WrestleMania 33 in2017, Vince McMahon had a conversation with Seth Rollins that led to him pitching an Intercontinental Championship run for himself in order to recapture his authenticity and take some of the pressure off of performing in the World Championship picture when other superstars were clearly more of a focus in that spot on the card.
Speaking with Steve Austin on the most recent edition of the Broken Skull Sessions, Seth Rollins explains how this conversation with Vince McMahon turned volatile when McMahon questioned the direction of Seth Rollins’ career.
"It always had a special place in my heart growing up. Whether it was Mr. Perfect, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, sometimes those IC Title reigns are more fun and more exciting and more memorable than the World Title reigns. I don't know if it's because [we] as performers put more pressure on it but I really just loved the IC Title. I pitched to have that run. That was my idea. When I talk about being in no man's land, I had a conversation with Vince. He brought me into his office one time, it's the middle of the summer, after the Hunter match, and I'm in the middle of doing nothing, in no man's land, and he goes, 'What happened to Seth Rollins? What happened to Seth Freakin Rollins? Where is that guy? I need that fire.' I know what he's trying to do. I have all the respect in the world for my boss and for Vince as a person, we have a good relationship, but you're not going to talk to me like that without me firing back. I fired back at him. We got into a heated discussion, an argument, and I'm like, 'Look man, just give me the ball and I'll take it to the house, but you have to give me the opportunity. You put me in a bullshit situation where I'm having to fill in these spots and I'm not getting the focus I deserve."
He continued, "Give me the opportunity and you'll see the guy you want to see. It's not me. Trust me. I put forth the effort every night. I make every town, I bust my ass for you, don't give me that shit.' He respects that. He respects when you do that and stand up for yourself. I was like, 'We're nowhere with this babyface character. Give me a run as the IC Champion, let's work to get to Finn, Miz, and Seth at WrestleMania, give me the title and let me run with it as a babyface. The work rate will get me over, I promise you. It will take the pressure off me, do what you want with the World Title, just let me go out there and have a good time. I promise you, you're gonna get these people to see who the real guy is.' That's what happened.
Continuing on, Seth Rollins explained that in his mind, this was all about building equity for his character and building a solid foundation for his future in order to prove that he did belong in the World Championship picture in a more permanent position than when he was briefly champion in 2015.
"You have to pick your time and place. If I had walked in the door day one and been like, 'I'm your next World Champ,' you can't do that. You have to build equity over time. It's like any relationship. He gives you a little bit, you do what you can with it, and if you turn it into something, he's going to respect you. At this point, I've been one of his guys for a decade, we have got to have that relationship. If he doesn't hear it from me, who is he going to hear it from? Not everyone is going to tell him that."
Seth Rollins’ popularity during his time as WWE Intercontinental Champion would rise to new heights and allow him to win the Royal Rumble in 2019 and defeat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35.
Elsewhere in the interview, Seth Rollins explains why he was disappointed that he and Brock Lesnar did not main event WrestleMania 35. Learn more here.
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