Roman Reigns is WWE's star attraction right now, but his path to becoming the company's top guy was never easy. Back in 2015, the former Shield member's meteoric rise to the main-event scene began when he won the Royal Rumble. Fans initially refused to accept Reigns as a babyface, which gave Seth Rollins a career-defining idea for WrestleMania 31.
The night after the Royal Rumble, Rollins spoke to WWE executive Triple H about plans for Reigns to headline WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar. The Architect held the Money in the Bank contract at the time, meaning he could face then-WWE World Heavyweight Champion Lesnar whenever he desired.
In 2019, Rollins revealed on Edge & Christian's Pod of Awesomeness that he suggested an interesting idea to Triple H for the WrestleMania match. Instead of Roman Reigns dethroning Lesnar, he wanted to cash in his Money in the Bank contract to end the show as world champion:
"I just wanted to remind him that I have this idea on the table," Rollins said. "I think it's a pretty good one and even if it's not the idea, it could easily be a contingency plan if the main event at WrestleMania doesn't come together the way you see it. Just, keep it in the back of your head, ya know? Yeah, I pitched the idea and I strongly felt like it was a good one. I felt like I was the guy. Again, I went to him and said, 'I want the ball.'" [H/T Wrestling Inc. for the transcription]
Triple H passed the pitch on to then-WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, who liked the idea and booked the WrestleMania finish exactly as Seth Rollins wanted.
The show closed with the former Authority member swinging the WWE World Heavyweight Championship around the stage area after pinning Roman Reigns to win the title. The finish is widely viewed as one of the most dramatic in WrestleMania history.
Why Seth Rollins wanted to win instead of Roman Reigns
Following The Shield's separation in June 2014, it quickly became clear that WWE's higher-ups wanted Roman Reigns to become a top babyface. While The Big Dog had major issues winning fans over, Seth Rollins produced some of his best performances around that time as a cocky villain.
With Reigns struggling, Rollins thought it made sense to pitch himself as the next world champion instead of his former Shield stablemate:
"I had a little bit of foresight in the sense that I saw how the momentum with Roman was shifting toward going into that WrestleMania," Rollins continued. "It's four years ago now but I remember going into that Royal Rumble, the fans were starting to – this was the beginning of the, 'Ah, we hate Roman,' thing."
Reigns eventually won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship later that year when he defeated Dean Ambrose at Survivor Series 2015. His first tenure as world champion only lasted five minutes, though, as Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to capture the title.
What did you make of the WrestleMania 31 finish? Let us know in the comments section below.