BALTIMORE — Rookie Mike Wright was the story of the day for the Orioles, but he wasn’t the only one to leave his mark on Sunday as WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins had a full schedule in Baltimore.
Before successfully defending his world title at the sports entertainment giant’s “Payback” pay-per-view event at Royal Farms Arena, the 28-year-old Rollins hammed it up with Adam Jones and threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Los Angeles Angels. It’s just one of the many new perks and obligations for Rollins, who won the WWE title at WrestleMania seven weeks ago after cashing in his “Money in the Bank” contract, a scripted stipulation that allows a performer to challenge for the title at any moment on WWE programming.
That moment came during the main event of the WWE’s “Super Bowl” as Rollins reached the pinnacle of professional wrestling.
“It’s fairly surreal. It’s gone so fast,” said Rollins, whose real name is Colby Lopez. “You said seven weeks, it doesn’t even feel like it’s been that long to be honest with you. Every day is a new adventure. It’s been very exciting, and to be honest, it’s been everything that I hoped that it would be. Getting opportunities to do things like this, the “Today” show, and just main-event pay-per-views for WWE, it’s always been a dream of mine. All this stuff is just the icing on the cake and the cherry on top.”
Previously performing as Tyler Black in the Ring of Honor promotion, Rollins has quickly climbed the WWE ladder after signing a developmental contract in 2010 and becoming the inaugural NXT Champion in 2012. Soon thereafter, Rollins would make his WWE debut as a member of The Shield, a group that also included Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.
Despite the trio’s popular run, the script called for Rollins to turn on his partners last year and he has since become one of the top heels in the promotion. This was evident as he walked out to the mound to throw out the first pitch at Camden Yards to a mixture of boos and cheers from fans.
“Oh, they hate me. It’s great. They hate everything I do. It’s phenomenal,” said Rollins, who has drawn comparisons to a young version of WWE legend Shawn Michaels. “They want someone to take this title off me so bad, but the problem is it’s not going to happen because I’m that good. I’m just going to keep it, and I’m going to beat everybody. Bring on all the challengers, whoever it might be — anybody on the WWE roster or Adam Jones if he wants to step into the ring. Anybody, it doesn’t matter. They hate my guts; it’s wonderful.”
Beyond laying down the challenge to the Orioles center fielder — who attended Sunday night’s WWE event along with Steve Pearce and J.J. Hardy — and throwing out the first pitch, Rollins relished the opportunity to return to Baltimore after last month’s unrest that drew national attention and painted the city in a negative light.
Having regularly performed in the Charm City with both Ring of Honor and WWE over the last several years, Rollins is well aware of Baltimore’s strong wrestling fan base and history and doesn’t want the events of last month to define the city.
“The whole weekend has been great for the city between the horse racing, the Orioles having some games back-to-back finally with some people in the stands, and ‘Payback’ bringing a lot of excitement to Royal Farms [Arena],” Rollins said. “I think it’s a great community. It’s really just a crappy thing that that had to reflect on the city of Baltimore. I’ve been here a billion times, and that’s not the character of the city at all. It’s cool to have a weekend like this where everybody is just out having a good time showing what Baltimore’s really all about.”