Seth Rollins will battle Finn Balor at SummerSlam on Sunday for the newly created WWE Universal Championship. Rollins visited the ESPN campus and sat down for an interview on the match, that fan rushing the stage at Raw, and more.
Ben Houser: SummerSlam, what are we going to see from Seth Rollins?
Seth Rollins: Mostly what you can expect — a big match, Seth Rollins, WWE Universal Championship, first time against Finn Balor. Aside from him being a tremendous opponent, I just think you’re going to see me go out there and deliver in big match situations, so I’m looking forward to the energy and the crowd and the match itself.
Houser: It wasn’t that long ago that you came up; what is it like that you built the brand for yourself as Seth Rollins and you’re about to take on a younger talent in his first big match?
Rollins: It’s super-exciting for me, actually, to be on the other side of the coin. You know even last year, you go back to SummerSlam and look at my match with John Cena, and I feel like we’re in a complete role reversal. I feel like I’m in the John Cena position this year and Finn Balor is in my position, so it’s crazy, you know, how much can change in a year. I’m looking forward to that challenge because it’s a new challenge for me; it’s not something I’m used to. And now in the locker room, I’m almost a veteran at this point, which is just wild with all the new guys coming up and stuff like that. For me it’s a tremendous honor. It’s cool to be looked at that way, as a leader and as someone who’s going to help take this generation to the next level.
Houser: What are Finn Balor’s talents that you see?
Rollins: In the ring, Finn Balor is one of the most polished performers that we have. He’s got a uniqueness about him the way he moves; obviously, the Demon King side of his persona is very interesting and differentiates him from a lot of the other talent that we have right now on the roster. I just think there’s just something about him; he’s just one of those guys where you can’t put your finger on it. He’s got that, that “it” factor, that I can’t miss a Finn Balor match.
Houser: Monday Night Raw, you were in the middle of delivering a promo — what happened?
Rollins: Uh, well, delivering a promo, talking directly to Finn Balor, calling out the Demon King, and all of a sudden to my left I see a young man slide into the ring with a hard hat on — I had to give him a little push and make sure that he kept his distance and our security handled it. A guy who’s not supposed to be in the ring, it’s not his domain. He was a stagehand helping out with us that day and, you know, felt that the time was right to get his 15 seconds or whatever he wanted to do in that moment.
Obviously, if you’re a fan and you’re watching our show, please don’t get in the ring. It really doesn’t work out well for anybody. That guy’s probably going to see some jail time or some stiff consequences, and he’s lucky that it ended up as peacefully as it did, to be honest with you. Really, don’t try that when you come to the building. I urge it, it just doesn’t work out well for you or for me. So, you know, let’s just hope that’s not a recurring theme.
Houser: You’re performing at that moment — what goes through your mind when you see a person who has nothing to do with the show confront you?
Rollins: You just have to assess the situation quickly. It’s live television. You know, obviously the promo becomes secondary. You have to make sure you’re safe, that he’s safe, or she’s safe if it’s a woman that jumps in the ring, um, but you just got to make sure that everything’s kosher, and then, you know, try to go on with the promo and match or the story or whatever you’re trying to do there. So you just got to take a step back for a minute and make sure that everybody’s cool.
Houser: How do you continue on then?
Rollins: You know, I’m a professional. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so for me it was kind of easy just to — once I realized what was happening — to kind of flip the switch and go back into promo mode. So it took us out of the moment for a second, but you flip the switch and you’re right back in.
Houser: Take me back to the injury — what happened? What were you feeling?
Rollins: Mostly uncertainty — dread, if you will. Just feeling like I might have to vacate the title and kind of let the locker room down and take time off from a job that I love. It was a very strange feeling, you know. I’ve never had an injury put me out like that before. So to just kind of — it was almost like I was stepping outside myself watching and kind of almost emotionally distant from the whole thing. It was very, a very odd situation for me to be in.
Houser: What does this match mean now that you’re back and you’ll be able to perform at the level you had before?
Rollins: I didn’t wanna come back, you know, at 75 percent, I didn’t want to come back even at 99 percent. I wanted to come back 100 percent, and I wanted the fans to get the full effect of Seth Rollins. For me, it’s going to feel almost like a cathartic experience in a way — there’s just a lot of intangibles. A lot of things go into it, and I think once we get closer — Sunday afternoon, fans start to file in, you start to feel that energy and that heat and stuff like that, it’s really going to set in that, uh, that I’m back.