Tuesday, 30 May 2017

WWE Seth Rollins: Building the Architect Review

WWE Seth Rollins: Building the Architect is out on DVD in the UK now from all reputable outlets as the two time WWE World Heavyweight Champion gets the Home Video treatment. The set takes the form of an interview with Rollins which is spread across the set, around a total of 18 matches, including The Sheild against John Cena, Ryback & Sheamus and then Team Hell No & The Undertaker, a Triple Threat match with Brock Lesnar and Cena, a Ladder match with Dean Ambrose, a title for title match and then a Steel Cage match with Cena, the injury return against Roman Reigns, a triple threat with former Shield stablemates Ambrose and Reigns, the first WWE Universal title match opposite Finn Balor as well as appearances from Triple H, Randy Orton, The Big Show, Kevin Owens and Cody Rhodes. But is it any good? Let's take a look.

Rollins Interview

Overall the interview goes just over half an hour as Rollins sitting down to talk about each match or moment which gives a good insight and sometimes a new spin. The interview is extremely candid, included moments like Seth discussing almost signing with TNA, demanding to be the first NXT Champion, disagreeing with splitting The Shield, as well as not wanting to do The Shield triple threat at Battleground. Rollins comes across confident, yet humble, putting over a number of his opponents and seems to have a real connection with the audience and an understanding of how a crowd will react and what the die-hards want to see.

The Matches 

The first match sees Rollins in the Finals of the Jack Brisco Classic facing up off with a masked Hunico [Sin Cara] (FCW TV, Feb '11) in a 15 Minute Iron Man Match, a bout that doesn't really get going until the later stages. The sudden death period with the pair trading near falls and throwing out big moves wakes the crowd up and we even get appearances from Steve Keirn and Gerald Brisco, although the medal the winner receives is ridiculously lame compared to pretty much every other wrestling prize in history. Another 15 minute Iron Man bout is next and is a much better use of the gimmick, in the form of the first of what is currently 63 matches with Dean Ambrose (FCW TV, Aug '11). The match builds well to it's conclusion, with the pair working at much higher pace and creating a couple of crisp back and forth sequence with the door left wide open for a rematch. Rollins' FCW Florida Heavyweight title win against Leo Kruger [Adam Rose] (FCW TV, Mar '12) takes a little while to find it's groove and a sequence where Kruger gets dragged back to the ring after trying to leave is completely cringe-worthy. However, the last five minutes as the two trade false finishes amidst a number of really good reversal sequences, manage to turn things around with the finish being particularly strong. 

Rollins dropping the NXT title to Big E. Langston  in a No DQ (NXT, Jan '13) tells an effective story and got a good reaction out of the early Full Sail crowd. The Shield (Rollins alongside Ambrose & Roman Reigns) battling John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback (Elimination Chamber, Feb '13) is a good example of how well the trio were booked over the first few months of their WWE run, as they look magnificent when working as team. The bout is part wild brawl, part classic tag team bout, featuring a marvellous Ryback hot tag and concluding with a slick momentum swinging sequence. The trios match with Sheamus, Randy Orton and The Big Show (WrestleMania XIXX, Apr '13) is a step down, but still has a couple of cool moments. The bout is much more focused on the relationship of the opposing team, but as Rollins' first WrestleMania match it deserved to be on the set.

A rare TV appearance from The Undertaker sees the Deadman tag with Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) against The Shield (Monday Night RAW, Apr '13) in a good six man tag from London. Part of the excitement of 'Taker appearing on RAW is gone on rewatching, but there's still a lot of strong action including Bryan and 'Taker hot tags and a great angle at the start with Undertaker having to go it alone. The drama is turned up to 11 when Rollins tags with Reigns against Cody Rhodes & Goldust (Battleground, Oct '13) as the opponents battle for their WWE careers . The finish as Dusty Rhodes gets involved with Ambrose gets
nuts. The break-up of The Shield with Rollins turning on Reigns and Ambrose, to side with Triple H and Randy Orton (Monday Night RAW, Jun '14) is one of the most iconic moments in The Architect's career, it's dramatic and at times uncomfortable as we see Rollins and then Orton brutalise the former Shield brothers. 

A triple threat over the WWE World Heavyweight title with John Cena and Brock Lesnar (Royal Rumble, Jan '15) features a star-making performance from Rollins in what is still his best match as a singles competitor in WWE. Alongside two bonafide megastars the then Money in the Bank contract holder more than holds his own in a thrilling near 25 minute epic that is full of dramatic near falls and awe-inspiring highspots. There's almost always something brilliant going on, but the stretch Rollins' has with Cena before the finish is particularly special and a big part of what makes this the best triple threat match of the decade. Randy Orton provides Rollins' first WrestleMania singles match (WrestleMania 31, Mar' 15) and it's a bloody good wrestling match to boot. The two put on a crisp bout, full of twists and turns and with the help of J&J Security, a shit load of RKO's out of nowhere. From the same show, the history making moment of Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and interjecting himself into the Lesnar v Roman Reigns main event is one of the most shocking conclusions the Show of Shows has ever seen. 

Arguably the best match of Rollins' 221 day title reign is a Ladder match with Dean Ambrose (Money in the Bank, Jun '15) that see's the two mix cute storytelling with huge creative highspots. It's a lengthy at over 35 minutes, but fills it's time well, starting as a slower paced traditional wrestling match before incorporating the toys. When the narrative of Ambrose injuring his leg comes into play, the bout gains depth as Rollins effectively hams it up as the bouts antagonist, targeting in on the body part and drive the second half of the match. The finish is a little disappointing after such a long match, but this is still an epic match. Rollins' open challenge (with brilliant specific regulations laid down post-match) getting accepted by Neville (Monday Night RAW, Aug '15) produces a very good TV bout with two of the best near falls Monday Night RAW ever seen, as well as some lovely crisp and pacy wrestling. 

 The winner take all bout with Rollins' putting his World Heavyweight Championship up against John Cena's United States Championship (SummerSlam, Aug '15) is a belter of contest, as the two use the work rate template that made Cena's US title run. The big moves, near falls and glossy reversals are complimented by a number of story threads and a lively Brooklyn crowd. The finish leaves the bout without the satisfying finish that it deserves, but Jon Stewart's interference got a sizable pop and earned mainstream attention. A Steel Cage rematch with Cena (Live at MSG: Lesnar v Big Show, Oct '15) over the United States title didn't exactly jump to my mind when I was considering bouts that might be on this DVD, in all honesty I remember not enjoying the bout all that much when it aired on the WWE Network. However on a rewatch (when it's not silly o'clock) this match is much better than I had originally considering, as the two get creative with the cage, making some nice spots and incorporating the escape rule to produce some fun near "falls". The conclusion with Kane is a little lame, but considering this was essentially a televised house show it more than surpasses what it needed to be and both men deserve credit for that.

Rollins' return from injury against Roman Reigns over the World Heavyweight Championship (Money in the Bank, Jun '16) is a strong WWE-main event style bout with finisher kick-outs, ref bumps and outside brawling. At points the sequences feel a little contrived and the decision to keep Rollins heel despite the crowd desperately wanting to support him was questionable, but Rollins and his doctors deserve a tonne of credit for how he was able to step back into a match of this quality straight away. The crowd reaction throughout is loudly behind Seth and at points it looks like Reigns might heel it up as he picks on the leg injury, but this isn't fully realised leaving what could have been an interesting story on the table. The booking of Rollins' initial comeback was almost completely fumbled and Dean Ambrose cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase post-match is a big part of that, even if the crowd pops for it. 

A triple threat against former Shield buddies Ambrose and Reigns over the WWE World Heavyweight title (Battleground, Jul '16) might not have been as massive as it could have been, but all three guys bring it in a pacy main event in front of a loud Washington crowd. There's plenty of call-backs to their time in the Shield and various matches together that make the match as the rich history the three share pays dividends. It's a shame that WWE didn't hold off to do the bout at a WrestleMania because the broad strokes and little touches would've worked perfectly in a gigantic stadium full of die-hards. The first ever WWE Universal Championship match with Finn Balor (SummerSlam, Aug '16) displays Rollins ability to help showcase new stars as he offers up a giving performance that makes Balor look incredible. It's a shame that the Brooklyn crowd became fixated on the new title belt for the first five minutes or so as it then takes them another ten to get into the action in front of them, which is of a high standard. The bout is made even more spectacular and at times uncomfortable, with the knowledge of the damage that Balor does to his shoulder after taking a powerbomb into the barricade very early on in the match. 

The final match is a No Disqualification match with Kevin Owens for the Universal title (Monday Night RAW, Nov '16) which features some fun plunder based offence, as well as one significant spot out in the crowd. The bout is a good watch, but doesn't have the same impact as some of their PPV bouts, whereas Rollins' bout with Triple H at this year's WrestleMania would've been offered a much better conclusion so it's strange that WWE didn't hold off this release to include that match. 


ATPW Scale Rating - 7.22/10

Building the Architect is a very good DVD and obviously a must-buy for anyone Seth Rollins fans. The interview portion gives the match extra depth and offers a number of nice tidbits of info on the backstage goings on, as well as how Rollins was feeling at that point in his life. There could have been more focus on how Rollins broke into the business, but with no footage available of clashes with the likes Davey Richards, Nigel McGuinness or Bryan Danielson in ROH, it's understandable that it's quickly skimmed over. The match quality is strong, especially when focusing on The Architect's singles run with bouts like the Royal Rumble triple threat with John Cena and Brock Lesnar, the Ladder match with Dean Ambrose and the title for title bout with Cena all standing out as great examples of the The Man's work. Rollins' time in FCW and The Shield is perhaps under-served in the bouts chosen with better matches against Dean Ambrose and The Wyatt Family (amongst others) not being included. However, that doesn't stop this being a stellar effort in presenting a look at Rollins career to date, which will make any Seth fan very happy for hours and hours.

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