It’s finally here! It’s the day of Wrestlemania 33. It’s been a long build up, in more ways than one. We’ve been on the road to Wrestlemania for all intents and purposed for the last three months. We’ve been hearing constant plugs for Mania several times a week on each Raw and SmackDown. But it’s been a long build up for some matches too, as I’ve already written about some matches that’s roots can be traced back to SummerSlam, a whole seven months ago.
But there’s one match where the history, across several tracks, goes back years. And that’s the match I’m rounding off this preview series on. It may be unsanctioned, but that just means there are boundless opportunities here. It is, of course, Seth Rollins vs Triple H.
This goes back to the Shield. I feel like we know the story inside out by now, but I’ll briefly lay out Seth’s history with HHH here. The Shield became Triple H’s henchmen in the second half of 2013. In the build up to Wrestlemania 30, they showed signs of rebelling, finally turning their back on The Authority officially the next night. The Shield went on to feud with, and dominate, Triple H’s reformed Evolution with Randy Orton and Batista. Then, The Shield didn’t just crack, it was blown to pieces.
Seth Rollins turned his back on his fellow Hounds of Justice, and aligned himself with Triple H. He became the game’s chosen one, and under HHH’s tutelage won the Money In The Bank briefcase, and became the first man ever to cash in at Wrestlemania, where he interrupted the Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar main event to walk out with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Seth held the belt for 220 days, also in the midst of his reign becoming the first man to hold the WWE Championship and the United States Championship at the same time. Then, his well-documented knee injury hit. When he returned, he couldn’t quite stay at the top of the mountain. He beat Roman Reigns for the WWE Title at Money In The Bank last year, then immediately lost it to the briefcase holder Dean Ambrose. He came up short against Finn Balor in a match to crown the first ever Universal Champion at SummerSlam. Then, a couple of weeks later, his feud with Triple H kicked into gear.
In a fatal-4-way elimination match to crown the new Universal Champion after Balor’s injury, Triple H interfered. He pedigreed Roman Reigns, and rolled him into the ring for Seth to eliminate him, leaving just Seth and Kevin Owens in the match. Trips rolled Owens into the ring, helped Seth up, then Pedigreed Seth, figuratively and then literally handing the gold to Kevin Owens.
Triple H cost Seth his spot in the Royal Rumble match. Triple H ordered Samoa Joe to attack Rollins, putting him on the shelf again, and nearly making Seth miss Mania for the second year in a row. Triple H has attacked the injured knee several times since, only this last week on Raw it was Seth who was left standing tall – maybe on one leg, but standing tall nonetheless.
So that’s the storyline aspect of this. But there’s the real aspect of this match too. Again, it is fairly well documented that Triple H is the father of NXT, but there are potential implications in this match, so again it’s worth re-treading. Triple H wanted to rebrand WWE’s developmental territory into something the scale of which I don’t think has ever been seen before in wrestling. He built the performance centre, he made developmental a third brand instead of a warehouse, and he started manhunting the best independent wrestlers there were out there.
And one of the first new recruits was a guy by the name of Tyler Black. He would be rechristened Seth Rollins, and he would go on to become the first ever NXT Champion. They talk about the prestige of being the first ever champion, and much as NXT’s success has been credited over the last couple of years to Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura, it was Rollins that started the ball rolling. It was Seth Rollins who Triple H chose to define the new brand, and maybe even the new era of WWE.
And tonight, they’re back where it all started. They’re back in the home city of NXT, Orlando. The report was that Triple H wanted a match at this year’s Wrestlemania, not that I could have seen Triple H being left off the card if it wasn’t a factor, so that he could wrestle in front of his NXT “kids”. It’s a nice homecoming for both men.
And maybe even one or two men more. With the non-sanctioned stipulation, and Seth’s real injury that he must have at least recovered enough from to be competing, there is every chance that there will be shenanigans. It is notable that Samoa Joe isn’t on the card. With his involvement in the storyline for this match, I think there is every chance that he gets involved. Or, at least tries to get involved.
I have absolutely no basis for this. This is pure guesswork on my part. But it makes absolute sense in my mind for someone to enter the fray to even the odds. And there’s another name who isn’t on the Wrestlemania card, whose name is synonymous with NXT and is beloved by crowds all over the world, but especially in Orlando. Why not have Finn Balor make the save for Seth?
Balor has been cleared to compete. He has been wrestling at live events, usually in tag matches against Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Triple H nonetheless. He hasn’t been brought back because there wasn’t a match on the show for him, which with 13 matches currently scheduled for Wrestlemania makes sense. But I don’t see why there can’t be a spot for him on the show if not a match.
There may not be a whole lot of wrestling between Rollins and Triple H. In fact, it wouldn’t make much sense for there to be. There’s too much bad blood between them in storyline with the unsanctioned stipulation for it to be anything other than an all-out brawl, and there may still be enough doubt over Rollins’ knee that they won’t want to put him through too much. So what better way to distract the fans from the potential lack of physical interaction between Seth and Trips – the potential lack of an actual match – than to transition the story from Seth vs Triple H to Seth and Balor vs Triple H and Samoa Joe?
It could then lead on after Wrestlemania. Triple H will in all likelihood step back from actually wrestling again, but his NXT stable looks like it’s going to be a thing. Kevin Owens and Joe have been aligned over the last few weeks, and they could face off against Rollins and Balor – two NXT guys who got success in the main roster without Triple H’s help. It would be an easy transition, and it could be your title feuds over the summer months.
The reason I left this match until last on my Spotlight series is because there’s so much speculation in this article. I would be amazed if Seth Rollins didn’t pick up the win tonight, but I would also be amazed if it was a straight up wrestling match between Rollins and Triple H without any outside interference. Exactly who, what, and how, is unclear. And exactly where we go from here – which is where all our collective focuses will be shifting to in a matter of hours – is anyone’s guess. But something has to happen in this match tonight that will directly impact a lot of WWE’s future programming. And to wrap up this week, and sum up my thoughts in general for Wrestlemania with it, I am incredibly excited to see where we’re going next.