Seth Rollins' Intercontinental Championship Run Was Born Out Of A Heated Request To Vince McMahon

Seth "Freakin" Rollins has been a long-standing cornerstone of WWE's Modern Era for the past decade, from his two-year stint as "The Architect" of the famed Shield faction alongside Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose (aka Jon Moxley), to being hand-picked as the future of WWE by "The Authority" and winning the WWE world title in 2015, to becoming "The Kingslayer" in 2017 in order to take down his traitorous mentor Triple H, and beyond.


It was right after that climactic clash and subsequent victory versus Triple H at WrestleMania 33 when many people, including then-Chairman Vince McMahon, felt that Rollins was primed for another world title run. However, Rollins himself had other ideas. Rollins went on the September 26, 2021, edition of "The Broken Skull Sessions" podcast (h/t Fightful) with Steve Austin to clear the air on how he had felt too much pressure, given the increased focus on stars like Brock Lesnar in the world title picture. "The Architect" wanted to spend 2017 building himself back up by pursuing the Intercontinental Championship, for which Rollins has always held a great deal of respect and sentimental value:


"It always had a special place in my heart growing up. Whether it was Mr. Perfect, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, sometimes those IC Title reigns are more fun and more exciting and more memorable than the world title reigns. I don't know if it's because [we] as performers put more pressure on it but I really just loved the IC Title. I pitched to have that run."

One would think that a boss would have appreciated a worker taking the initiative to invest in themselves like Rollins, but that wasn't the case with Mr. McMahon.

Rollins and McMahon's War of Words

Seth Rollins pitching the Intercontinental Title run to Vince McMahon in mid-2017 drew the ire of the chairman, who questioned if Rollins had perhaps lost his "fire" and was drifting into the proverbial "no man's land" of the midcard. This set Rollins off and, according to him, the conversation turned volatile. 


"I know what he's trying to do. I have all the respect in the world for my boss and for Vince as a person," Rollins told Steve Austin. "We have a good relationship, but you're not going to talk to me like that without me firing back. I fired back at him. We got into a heated discussion, an argument, and I'm like, 'Look man, just give me the ball and I'll take it to the house, but you have to give me the opportunity. You put me in a bulls*** situation where I'm having to fill in these spots and I'm not getting the focus I deserve."

Rollins then made it clear to McMahon that he had put in the work up to that point in his WWE career and refused to take any guff when it came to an alleged lack of effort, knowing McMahon would appreciate a superstar standing up for themself. "He respects when you do that and stand up for yourself. I was like, 'We're nowhere with this babyface character. Give me a run as the IC Champion, let's work to get to Finn, Miz, and Seth at WrestleMania, give me the title and let me run with it as a babyface. The work rate will get me over, I promise you. It will take the pressure off me, do what you want with the world title, just let me go out there and have a good time. I promise you, you're gonna get these people to see who the real guy is.' That's what happened."