The rivalries between WWE superstars are so epic sometimes that they spill out of the pro wrestling ring and into the toy aisle.
Take former partners in the Shield faction and now in-ring foes Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. They’re both major characters and faces for Mattel’s new Create A WWE Superstar action-figure line, which features interchangeable body parts and accessories, and even though Rollins holds the WWE world heavyweight and United States championships, “clearly I’m dominating him in this customization world,” Reigns says. “My guy could carry his head but I don’t think it goes the other way around.” Both wrestlers have big matches this Sunday at Night of Champions (airing live at 8 ET/5PT on the WWE Network) — in Rollins’ case, two throwdowns in one night — and Mattel will be incorporating elements of the Create A WWE Superstar line into the event. While most WWE figures reflect their ring characters, the new toys ($14.99-$19.99 each) venture into the over-the-top themes of each. For example, John Cena has a militaristic vibe, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gets a gladiator outfit and Paul “Triple H” Levesque garners barbarian wear and shield — and all can do battle in a ring ($39.99) with mix-and-match turnbuckles, ropes and mats.
“You can create a superstar, a superhero, a supervillain — whatever you want, really,” says Reigns, who like Rollins is a regular on USA’s Monday Night Raw and Syfy’s Smackdown programming. Plus, there are generic heads and other non-wrestling stuff in there as well so kids of all ages can “find ways to envision what that next WWE champion could be,” adds PJ Lewis, senior director of global brand marketing design for Mattel action figures. “That might look different to a 7- or 8-year-old than it would for somebody who has been watching WWE for 10, 15, 20 years.”
Both Rollins and Reigns’ figures arrive in the next two weeks. Reigns’ “special ops” set features riot gear, a gas mask and handcuffs that fit his ring gear and character. “I believe in hard work and being a good person. Why not equip yourself with the right gear to protect those beliefs?” he says. “I like to think I’m the good sheriff in this Create A WWE Superstar world.”
And Rollins comes with a ninja and martial-arts accessories such as a samurai mask, kendo stick and ancient armor. Plus, his plastic counterpart has a matching back tattoo, he says. “I move around well in the ring, quick and light on my feet, so I thought it was a pretty cool direction to head.” However, the figure does not come with his two championship belts, and he’s noticed. “Well, they’ll be able to put that in a later version to make it more accurate,” Rollins deadpans. “As long as it looks kinda like me, I don’t complain too much about my action figure. They give me all my abs and my smashing movie-star good looks.” Rollins, 29, has quite a few action figures of himself at this point, and they never get old — mainly because he was such a toy collector as a kid. When the Iowa native was really young, he had the old rubber LJN guys of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Big John Studd, and later on came the Jakks figures of the Dudley Boyz and the Hardy Boyz.
Similarly, Reigns’ 7-year-old daughter has a bunch of her dad’s figures. “We have so many of mine now that she can just make them anybody,” he says. “I can be a servant, I can be the lawnmowing guy, I can be the handyman at the Barbie Dreamhouse. If the toilets are clogged, I’m the plumber I guess.” At Night of Champions, Reigns, Dean Ambrose and a mystery partner will face the Wyatt Family, including their monstrous new member Braun Strowman. Reigns, 30, won’t tease who their third guy is yet, but admits if “me and Dean could just go into the lab and create a customized superstar, we wouldn’t have anything to worry about.” The Create A WWE Superstar characteristics their Frankensteined partner would require: the size of the 7-foot-tall Big Show, the ring savvy of Shawn Michaels and the nasty attitude of Vader, “to come and throw bombs and big stiff heavy shots,” says Reigns. “Can we get that made? I think you have to start right now though. We need him by at least 4 on Sunday.”
Meanwhile Rollins defends his U.S. championship against Cena on Sunday as well as having a world title match vs. Sting — Rollins’ toy collection offered a couple Sting figures back in the day, he recalls. “I had the blond surfer dude and the Crow one later on. I definitely had them all.” WWE folks get to have action figures, video-game versions (WWE 2K16 is out Oct. 27), T-shirts, drink sleeves, gym bags and other paraphernalia. So what’s left for the champ who has almost everything?
“When I was a boy,” Rollins says, “I had an Ultimate Warrior toothbrush so if I could get a Seth Rollins vibrating toothbrush, I’d probably be set for life.” Not surprisingly, Reigns has a retort: “I need some toothpaste, a toothbrush. Just give me my own aisle.”