This Sunday, WWE Superstar Seth Rollins hopes to officially graduate from his “Kingslayer” moniker and become “The Beast Slayer.” He’ll need to execute the Stomp of his life to defeat Brock Lesnar and claim the Universal Championship. That previously banned finishing maneuver was a move Rollins wasn’t even allowed to use (again) until just over a year ago.
“It was a conversation that I had to have with [Vince McMahon]. It was something where he had his reasons for why he wanted to get rid of it at the time,” Rollins told TheWrap of the initial ban and its eventual return. “That was a fine and dandy, but I was having trouble getting a finisher that I was happy with and he was happy with. The Pedigree worked for a little bit, and the Ripcord Knee worked OK. But at the end of the day, the Stomp was what I was synonymous with, it’s what I won the title with, it was part of who I was.”
“When it came down to it, I just went and asked him a few years later. I said, ‘Hey look, I want to do this. Give me reasons not to and I will tell you why you’re wrong and hopefully, we can meet in the middle,'” Rollins recalled. “He was on my side, I caught him on a good day. Luckily it’s back and hopefully, it’s not going anywhere.”
WWE brass, meaning McMahon, shelved the Stomp back when it was still called “The Curbstomp,” after deciding that the company’s top wrestler should not win by stomping another person’s head into the ground. The name itself was an issue as well.
Rollins told us that it was his idea to remove “Curb” from the equation. After all, the phrase “curb-stomp” generates a brutal and gory mental image.
“Obviously branding it is part of the deal, right? You don’t want to have any (negative) connotations– it has nothing to do with what people what think it does,” he said. “You want to remove any connotations so you don’t give anybody any reason to say, ‘Well, but.’ It was easy enough to just call it ‘The Stomp,’ just like The Spear or The Stunner, whatever. It works just fine and no one seems to care.”
The compromise seems to be working out for everyone.
Perhaps Rollins’ most infamous Curbstomp/Stomp is one he didn’t even land. Four WrestleManias ago, Rollins made a preliminary match as memorable as the main event (which is saying something, considering he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract in surprise fashion and won the WWE Championship in that final match of the night) by taking fellow Superstar Randy Orton’s most iconic RKO ever.
“It was perfect. I was just so stoked we hit it,” Rollins reminisced with us. “We tried it a couple times– more than a couple times in rehearsal the day before, and I couldn’t really nail it down. It’s kind of complicated, obviously, the timing’s gotta be perfect.”
“Randy’s a guy that says he likes to bat 1.000 — he doesn’t want to take any chances,” he said. “It’s a huge match at WrestleMania — if there’s ever a time to try to bat 1.000. it’s that one. But I coaxed him into taking a risk and it paid off in a huge way because that’s one of those ones you’re never gonna forget. Real pleased with how that one turned out.”
“Once I got launched in the air and got flat I was like ‘Oh, thank God. We got it. Let me just lay here for a little while now,'” Rollins said.
Watch the mastery unfold via the video below.
It’s tough to talk about Rollins’ prolific WWE career, past and present, and not touch on The Shield. Should Rollins’ friend and former tag-team partner Dean Ambrose leave WWE next month as expected, the departure will effectively end one of the industry’s greatest wrestling factions of all time. The trio, which is rounded out by (or led by, depending on who you ask) Roman Reigns, recently put together one last ride before Ambrose’s contract expires.
“Honestly, it couldn’t have been any more perfect for me,” Rollins said of the final Shield reunion. “Obviously, circumstances all came together at one time with Roman coming back, me having a little break in the action because my WrestleMania opponent (Lesnar) doesn’t show up very often, and then news getting out about Ambrose not re-signing his contract. It felt like we had one opportunity to get it right — almost like destiny in a sense, that all of the pieces aligned at the right time.”
“Even though it came together really quick, the audience was ready for it — I don’t think they were really ready for us to split up that last time anyway,” he continued. “So to have this one and go out the right way, do it the right way, it felt so nice. It was one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever had in a ring, to be out there with those guys with the knowledge that it was gonna be the last time for a while. It really felt super special.”
Readers can catch Rollins weekly on WWE’s flagship show, “Raw,” which airs live Monday nights on USA Network starting at 8/7c. Rollins and Lesnar will battle for the Universal Championship Sunday at WrestleMania 35, which kicks off at 7/6c on WWE Network.
Check back with TheWrap soon for more from our interview with Rollins.