WWE star Seth Rollins was on a recent episode of Sports Media with Richard Deitsch. Rollins opened up about the creative process in WWE, and he revealed how much of his promos are scripted nowadays.
“I would say almost 0% scripted in the sense that I don’t write things down on a piece of paper, and read them and memorize them that way. That doesn’t really work for me,” Rollins admitted. “Scripted in the sense that I have a pretty good idea of what I want to say when I go out to the ring and grab the microphone, but like I said, it’s not written down. It’s almost written in my head on a little tablet in my head. There’s no piece of paper for me, I can’t do that. I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t fly for me. I cannot be authentic in that way.
“Say you’re doin a play, or a TV show, there’s tons and tons of takes, and you’ve got a script that you do, if you’re on Broadway, you’re doing the same thing pretty much every single night. And so you get accustomed to knowing how you should act during certain parts of what you’re saying, but wrestling is different, and it’s different every week and it’s episodic television. It changes so quickly. For me, script wise, almost nothing is written on a piece of paper for me at this point.”
Many stars have come and and explained why scripted promos do not work, and promotions like AEW and Impact Wrestling note that they do not do scripted promos. Rollins explains his process before he goes out and cuts a promo.
“Most times, I’ve run it out loud to myself or to someone that I trust, at least before I go out there because oftentimes before the show, say if the show starts at 8:00 ET and if I just have a promo segment, most of the time is spent kind of writing and rewriting it in my head and coming up with different ideas of what I want to say or how I want to get something across or maybe simplifying an idea,” Rollins explained. “Talking with some people and trying to figure out, does that work? Maybe we should save that for another week. That doesn’t really fit here. What’s the goal? What’s the story I want to accomplish during this promo?
“And then as we get closer to show time, then I’ll start running it. Then I’m in the in the back. I’m in my suit, and I’m running it. How do I want to say these things? What’s my inflection going to be here? What’s my tone? Am I serious here? Am I having a good time? What’s my mood, all that type of stuff. It’s definitely not the first time that you’re hearing the words, at least I’m hearing the words come out of my mouth, but that’s that’s sort of my process. I go over it a good amount of times before I go out and say it but mostly just in my head or from memory.”
Roman Reigns revealed recently that he is rarely scripted, and he and John Cena have traded personal barbs at each other. Rollins spoke on how difficult it is for wrestlers to navigate the fine line between storyline and reality.
“Well, everybody’s different in that regard,” Rollins noted. “Everybody you go out there and have a promo with or talk about is different. The line is drawn in different places for each person. Cena, for example, this is just off the top of my head. When I’ve done promos with him. He always told me, ‘I don’t care what you say while we’re out there. Anything in front of the camera, I don’t care. I never take it personal.’ He’s a guy that’s, let it all fly, and then when we get to the back, it’s different. It’s work.
“Nothing is personal and sometimes other guys aren’t like that. Sometimes there are guys or girls who are very protective about certain parts of their life, and they don’t want that to be in the public and you have to respect that as well. The mileage varies from person to person, but I do think, I would say most of us have been in this game long enough, especially when we get to the level, you mentioned John and Roman with their promos, kind of break that wall a little bit.
“They’ve been in the game long enough where everyone sort of knows its business, and there’s going to be personal jabs in there, but if you can’t take that stuff, if your skin isn’t thick enough, then you’re probably in the wrong business because it’s all about conflict. Conflict is what sells, and so that real life thing, that one little twist of ‘real life’ is really going to be the difference between a wrestling story and a real story that people get invested in, especially nowadays, when the curtain’s pulled back so deep.”
Rollins has been in WWE for over 10 years, and he has been in pro wrestling in general for over 15 years. He talked about whether he falls in the Cena line of thinking where he doesn’t take whatever is said in a promo personally.
“Go ham, go wild. I’m all for it,” Rollins stated. “I’m in the John boat, whatever you want to say. Like I said, you got to have thick skin. If you don’t have a thick skin, you’re not in the right business. You have to be tough at the top, especially because everybody wants to jab at you. There’s nothing Roman Reigns is going to say to me in a ring that 6,000 people haven’t said to me on Twitter in the last 24 hours. You got to just be able to take that and move on.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Sports Media with Richard Deitsch with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.