By Norm Elrod
Seth Rollins has reached — and fallen from — the top rope of success in pro wrestling, holding WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship, United States Championship and Tag Team Championship. That’s quite a leap for a small-town boy from Iowa, who grew up wrestling in the backyard.
The former Shield member, featured in multiple WrestleManias, doesn’t currently hold a title (for now), but he still rules the ring as one of RAW‘s featured talents. And now that he’s recovered from his recent knee injury that threatened to keep him out of WrestleMania 33, reclaiming a title is probably just a matter of time.
Here are 19 fact you probably didn’t know about Seth Rollins and his pro wrestling career to date.
1. Seth Rollins was born in 1986 in Buffalo, Iowa as Colby Lopez, taking the last name of his Mexican-American stepfather. He has one brother.
2. Lopez found his interest in pro wrestling as a young teenager playing around with friends and a trampoline in the backyard. He and his friends would put on shows; his character was God, and his finishing move was a double front flip off the trampoline and through a makeshift table. Before that, he wanted to be a football player, having idolized Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers.
3. Lopez graduated from Davenport West High School in Davenport, Iowa in 2004.
4. Lopez grew up a fan of Heavy Metal, and his music tastes evolved to include Hardcore and eventually Metalcore, a combination of the two. His entrance music over the years has included numerous examples of the genre, including songs from Haste the Day, War of Ages and Walls of Jericho.
5. Lopez, wrestling as Gixx, first entered the ring in 2005 as part of a Scott County Wrestling (SCW) event. He would go on to win the SCW Heavyweight Championship.
6. Lopez debuted with Ring of Honor in September of 2007, wrestling under the name Tyler Black as part of the Age of the Fall. He and Jimmy Jacobs held the ROH tag-team title twice, falling into an in-ring feud after their second run. Black eventually defeated Jacobs in a steel-cage match to settle their differences.
7. Black went on the win the ROH World Championship title in early 2010, pinning then-champion Austin Aries. The two had previously wrestled to a time-limit draw a few months before at Final Battle 2009.
8. In the summer of 2010, Lopez signed on with Florida Championship Wrestling, which was then WWE’s developmental territory. He debuted as Seth Rollins in late September, losing to Michael McGillicutty.
9. When FCW rebranded itself as WWE NXT in 2012, Seth Rollins won the inaugural tournament to become NXT’s first heavyweight champion.
10. Rollins’ current ring name is a tribute to Henry Rollins, singer of the hardcore band Black Flag, which is his favorite band.
11. Rollins’ WWE debut came at Survivor Series 2012 as a member of The Shield, alongside Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Initially heels, the stable would ambush opponents of wrestlers they supported, such as CM Punk and Triple H, who led The Authority. Rollins left the Shield in 2014 after attacking Ambrose and Reigns with a chair at the behest of Triple H.
12. In May of 2013, Rollins and Reigns took down Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) in a tornado tag team match to win the tag team title. This type of match allows both team members to be in the ring at the same time, though no tagging actually happens. Rollins and Reigns held the title through October, successfully defending it against Bryan and Randy Orton, The Usos and The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil). They eventually lost it to Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
13. Rollins and other members of The Shield are the subjects of more than their fair share of fan fiction. He’s read a lot of it (because it’s unavoidable), and finds it a little disturbing.
14. In 2013 Seth Rollins started the Black & Brave Wrestling Academy in Moline, Illinois. Lopez and fellow trainers offer a $3500 12-week crash course preparing wrestling novices for the ring. Students train five hours per day, three days per week, often with Rollins himself. The course includes character and career development.
15. Rollins captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31, cashing in a Money in the Bank contract won months prior to enter the Reigns-Brock Lesnar title match, which he won. He later retained his title against Lesnar, Ambrose and ‘Demon’ Kane, only to forfeit it due to injury after 220 days.
16. Rollins is the only WWE wrestler to ever hold the World Heavyweight Championship and the United States Championship at the same time. Already the heavyweight champion, he captured the U.S. title from John Cena at Summer Slam 2015 in a Winner Takes All Match only to relinquish it back to Cena at Night of Champions a month later.
17. Rollins, like most professional wrestlers, travels a lot. He always carries his gear and any championship belt with him rather than checking it with his bags. As he said in an interview a few years ago, “I never check my gear or the belts because if something happens, God forbid, and you don’t get that bag, you’re screwed. That always comes with me on the plane every time.”
18. During Rollins’s heavyweight championship reign, WWE banned his finishing move, the Curb Stomp. The move, in which he put his foot on the back of an opponent’s head and forced it down into the mat, was thought by WWE to be too violent. Chairman, Vince McMahon, felt younger wrestling fans might try to copy the move.
19. On a July 2015 episode of RAW, Rollins actually broke John Cena’s nose with a knee to the face. “I heard his nose pop, and I felt it on my knee,” Rollins said in an interview. “The narrative changed after that.” Cena went on to win the match by submission.
Norm Elrod likes sports and other sanctioned forms of craziness.