Seth Rollins Opens Up About Injury From Recent WWE Raw Match

Despite a knee injury suffered during his recent title defense against Jinder Mahal on "WWE Raw," WrestleMania remains the goal for World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. But since coming into a title defense at WrestleMania cold is not something the champ is comfortable with, his sights are set on an earlier return than April 6 in Philadelphia. Appearing on ESPN's "DC & RC," Rollins spoke with UFC Hall of Famer and two-time champion Daniel Cormier about the injury and earmarked a specific, accelerated return to the ring to prepare for WrestleMania season.

"I'm hoping to be back at full strength in around a month," Rollins said. "Around a month is, like, kind of my timeline and we'll see what happens. I don't want to walk into WrestleMania and that be my first match in two months, three months, whatever it is. That's not gonna be good for me. I want to be able to get back in there, kind of test the wheel out and make sure that we're in a good place." The injury happened on what is a routine move for Rollins, a moonsault, that unfortunately landed somewhat off target. Having had knee injuries in the past, most notably a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee suffered in 2015, he knew something was wrong right away.

"I landed a little bit short," Rollins explained, "and basically hyperextended my knee but in the process, I was kind of twisting a little bit to the point where I felt my knee go in a direction it wasn't supposed to. I didn't feel a pop so much as I felt a stretch, but I knew something was wrong."

Assessing the damage

With the business of finishing the match still at hand, Rollins was eager to wrap things up and get right to the process of assessing the damage, knowing all that is on the line for someone in his position at this time of the year, especially. "Obviously, [I took] a second, tried to take stock," he continued. "We're on live TV so you gotta keep going, figure out a way to finish the match and then the race is on to get to the MRI and try to figure out exactly what the severity of the injury [is] and what the timetable was gonna be like for a hopeful return."

In this case, Rollins has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 MCL tear and partially torn meniscus in his left knee — an injury that, with surgery, as Rollins told the "Raw" crowd in New Orleans before being interrupted by GUNTHER, would mean missing three to four months, ruling out WrestleMania. But with the course of action being rehab in the name of an accelerated return, Rollins now directs his gaze to WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia, and is taking a positive approach to being on the shelf for the time being.

"[Royal Rumble] this weekend itself is especially important to me because I'm a prize," Rollins said. "Myself and [Undisputed WWE Universal Champion] Roman Reigns, we're a prize for the first time ever. I've been one of the guys trying to get to that spot but I've never been on the other side of it so it feels very cool, in a way, to be on the sidelines."

The road ahead

To get off those sidelines, Rollins knows what he's in for in terms of a grueling rehab, especially with the shortened return path he's wanting to carve for himself. At the same time, having been through worse, he knows how close WrestleMania 40 was to being completely out of the question. "Yeah, rehab's gonna be a pain," admitted Rollins. "[But] the ACL is intact, so, anybody who knows anything about ligaments in the knee, the ACL is a big one, that one is good. The MCL will heal with time."

Cormier brought up Rollins' penchant for being a "workhorse champion," respecting that approach but also, half-jokingly, wondering if it's as simple as that in terms of finding a scapegoat for getting injured. To that, Rollins likened his desire to wrestle often, versus others who may tackle a lighter schedule, to fighters in Cormier's world of the UFC and their varying strategies.

"There's guys who like to fight once every two years or so," he explained, "but [there are also guys who like to fight all the time. I just work best when I'm cookin' — when I'm doing the work every week. The more I'm in the ring, the better I feel like I am [but with that], there's more risk for injury. That's just part of the game." Ultimately, a month from the sidelines could do Rollins well in terms of rest and perhaps a new perspective outside of being directly in everyone's crosshairs as the champion week-to-week. As far as that perspective goes, Rollins' seems as healthy as it can be at the moment, thankful for avoiding major injury in this very close call. "I'm happy that we dodged a bullet and it wasn't anything too serious that was gonna put me on the shelf for 6-9 months."

If you use quotes in this article, please credit "ESPN's DC & RC" and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.