Seth Rollins has revealed how a heated argument with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon led to him winning the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 34.
After arriving on WWE’s main roster with The Shield, Rollins quickly rose to the top of the card as a singles star after the group split in 2014. This rise culminated in Rollins winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 31. However, after missing the following year’s event through injury and defeating Triple H in 2017, Rollins found himself on the outside looking in as others fought over the World Championship.
Speaking to Stone Cold Steve Austin on his Broken Skull Sessions, Rollins revealed he pitched to become Intercontinental Champion following a fiery discussion with Vince McMahon.
“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 bullsh*t situation where I’m having to fill in these spots and I’m not getting the focus I deserve. 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 sh*t.’”
Rollins then explained how he pitched the match involving himself, Finn Balor and The Miz.
“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.”
“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.”
Winning the Intercontinental Championship proved to be the spark Seth Rollins hoped, as he went on to win the Royal Rumble in 2019. After his Rumble win, Rollins returned to WWE’s top table with victory over Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 35.