The long-awaited Seth Rollins face turn finally taken place. The former WWE Champion is now a “good guy.” At least, that’s what it seems like.
Let’s analyze Rollins’ appearances during the past two episodes of Raw.
Last week, Triple H cost him the Universal Championship in favor of Kevin Owens. This week, he yelled at Stephanie McMahon, had Mick Foley lift his suspension and faced Chris Jericho in a match.
Based on that interaction, it’s safe to say Rollins is now a babyface, although his character hasn’t changed too drastically. He’s still kind of whiny, although now he actually has a legitimate gripe.
Rollins was also fair in that he didn’t blame Owens for taking advantage of an opportunity. That would be hypocritical, which is not an attribute a good guy should have. Instead, he attacked Owens after the champion trash-talked him. Nothing wrong with that.
So yes, Rollins now seems like a babyface Superstar, which is completely necessary given the current state of Raw. With Owens as the show’s top heel, the red brand needs a top babyface, especially after Finn Bálor’s injury.
Who is going to be a presentable challenge for the new heel champion? Roman Reigns is an option but realistically he’s a tweener. There’s no way WWE can put Reigns and Owens in the same ring and expect a crowd not to hijack a match.
The champ is too popular with adults and hardcore fans while the challenger isn’t. WWE needs a top babyface who is universally over with the crowd. That means someone who is just as popular with smarks as they are children.
That’s why Rollins is the perfect choice. Hardcore fans have loved him since he was Tyler Black in Ring of Honor and independent promotions. They followed his journey from inaugural NXT Champion to World Heavyweight Champion.
Kids, on the other hand, hate Rollins because he’s been a heel for such a long period. But trust me, if you book him to beat up heels, every kid will be asking their parents for Seth Rollins merchandise within the next month.
The fact is, Rollins is one of the best in the wrestling industry for a reason. He is a masterful heel, yet seems capable of being just as good of a babyface.
Many expect him to be a modern version of Shawn Michaels. Michaels started off as a whiny, arrogant heel, but became massively over during his first babyface run.
Like the Heartbreak Kid, Rollins is the total package. He’s charismatic enough to work a crowd into a positive or negative reaction and possesses a ridiculous athletic ability. Rollins also has a moveset that will excite fans of any age, much like Michaels did in his heyday.
If Monday’s appearance was any indication, Rollins will be a successful babyface. He managed to get a positive reaction from the crowd, especially when he set Jericho up in the Pedigree for the win.
It’s crazy to consider, but the once sinister Rollins may have a higher ceiling as a babyface. Though he’s prided himself on being “The Man,” he can’t truly be the face of the company until he’s had a successful babyface title chase and run.
Rollins has the potential to be WWE’s biggest star for the next decade, but first must prove that he can be the face of the franchise. This will be his opportunity to showcase that he can pick up the ball and run it into the end zone, metaphorically speaking.
It’s easy to get heat as a whiny, arrogant heel. It’s more difficult to stay over with the entire audience as a do-gooder in 2016.
The best thing would be for WWE to continue this transition naturally. Avoid changing Rollins’ character completely because it’s worked so well for the past two years.
Instead have him interact differently with babyfaces and heels than he did before and let the change play out over time. In today’s wrestling, all that separates a heel and a babyface are cheap heat — insulting the crowd — and rest holds. Rollins can have the same self-serving attitude, tone down the whininess and still be a genuine good guy in 2016.
“The Architect” is the perfect answer to WWE Universe’s plea for a new hero. Though Rollins has played a heel for his entire post-Shield singles run, he should ascend to even greater heights as a babyface.