Seth Rollins has had one of the strangest years in wrestling history. He opened things by winning the Royal Rumble and surprisingly dethroning the formidable Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 35 to become WWE Universal Champion. Fans were excited, as Rollins is a performer they've wanted to see back on top for a long time.
Since WrestleMania, Rollins has continued his winning ways. Only Lesnar cashing in Money in the Bank has stopped his momentum, but he avenged that loss. However, Rollins has gone on to become a polarizing figure. A few lackluster matches have caused some fans to turn on him, but it hasn't been all bad. To get a better understanding of Rollins' 2019 to date, we're ranking every one of his Universal Title defenses this year.
11 Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt - Hell In A Cell
The match that truly turned fans against the idea of Seth Rollins as champion. Bray Wyatt, also known as "The Fiend," entered this match as the hottest thing in wrestling. By all rights, this Hell in a Cell match should have been something special.
Instead, the match turned out to be a joke. Bray used comical weapons like a giant mallet. Seth got angry, hitting Bray with several finishing moves and a bunch of weapons. When he used a sledgehammer, the referee stopped the match, which shouldn't happen in a Hell in a Cell where there are no rules. Fans hated this outcome and mercilessly booed it.
10 Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar - Extreme Rules
This was the shortest of Seth Rollins' Universal Title defenses. Brock Lesnar snuck in at the last minute to win the Money in the Bank briefcase two months prior. Seeking revenge for Seth beating him at WrestleMania, Lesnar cashed in at Extreme Rules.
Rollins was coming off of a tag team Extreme Rules match and was worn down. Lesnar arrived, beat him up with relative ease and cashed in. That made him the Universal Champion after just 5 seconds, yet it was still better than the previous entry.
9 Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin - Stomping Grounds
The rivalry between Seth Rollins and Baron Corbin was one of the things that dragged down Seth's title reign for many. It went on for far too long and they never had a great match together. This main event at Stomping Grounds was the bottom of the barrel for them.
They spent weeks teasing a special guest referee and it turned out to be Lacey Evans. She wasn't any good in the role and only served to help Becky Lynch enter into the feud. Many fans weren't interested in this at all, as nobody involved gave them any real reason to be.
8 Seth Rollins vs. Rusev - Raw 9/30/19
Raw hosted its big season premiere on the final day of September. With a new theme song and set, this was a huge episode. Seth Rollins was scheduled to face Rey Mysterio, but the masked maestro had to be taken to the hospital after a Brock Lesnar assault.
In need of a new opponent, Rollins was pitted against the recently returned Rusev. These two put on a fine enough battle but it was another contest hurt by not having a finish. Rusev was distracted, while Bray Wyatt showed up to attack Rollins.
7 Seth Rollins vs. Kofi Kingston - Raw 4/8/19
WrestleMania was a great night for fans. Seth Rollins won the Universal Title and Kofi Kingston won the WWE Championship. Kingston and Rollins opened Raw the following night, challenging each other to a match with both titles on the line.
On paper, this had lots of potential, but nobody wanted to see either talent lose their gold in less than 24 hours, so the crowd had nobody to cheer. It ended without a winner thanks to random interference from the Bar.
6 Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin - Super Showdown
WWE's shows in Saudi Arabia have been met with heavy criticism. The quality of the events hasn't helped things. Super Showdown in June was another example. There, Rollins put the Universal Title on the line against his rival Baron Corbin.
As noted earlier, this combination was never one to light the world on fire. This was another ho-hum match. Corbin got frustrated and argued with the referee, opening the door for Rollins to roll him up and retain. Not the most convincing of performances from the champ.
5 Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman - Raw 9/23/19
We're starting to get into the good stuff. Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman work together in a way that Rollins and Corbin haven't. They complement each other's strengths well. Strowman threw Rollins around with his trademark strength and Rollins fought valiantly from behind.
This was well on its way to being a highlight of Rollins' title reign. However, it was yet another match that didn't have a good ending. Bray Wyatt interrupted and attacked Strowman. At least we got to see this feud, as Strowman was someone we've wanted to see Rollins battle for a while.
4 Seth Rollins & Becky Lynch vs. Baron Corbin & Lacey Evans - Extreme Rules
Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch were paired up on this night to defend both of their titles. They had to do so under the extreme rules stipulation. The only real problem with this match was that the teams followed normal tag rules in a No DQ environment. That didn't make sense.
Other than that, fans were treated to a match filled with intensity. You could tell how much these teams didn't like each other. Corbin even went as far as to hit Becky with his End of Days finisher. That infuriated Rollins, who hit him with three Blackouts to put them away.
3 Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn - Raw 5/27/19
The forgotten Seth Rollins title defense of 2019, because it came on a random episode of Raw with no build behind it. The match we were treated to turned out to be quite good, which makes sense when you consider how talented both men are.
Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins worked together to put on one of the stronger matches we've seen all year on Raw. There were close calls, we saw some counter wrestling, and they were given about 20 minutes to strut their stuff. They made the most of it. Rollins survived a bad knee to score with two Blackouts to retain.
2 Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman - Clash of Champions
We did say that Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins work well together. That was so true that they won the Raw Tag Team Titles in 2019. At the start of Clash of Champions, they lost those titles to Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. At the end of the show, they faced off for the Universal Championship.
Braun once again got to toss Seth around. There were times when you felt bad for Seth because he was hitting the mat extremely hard. Rollins rallied and, as was the case against Lesnar, found a way to overcome his larger foe. He nailed the Pedigree and Blackout to remain champion.
1 Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles - Money in the Bank
This is easily the best Seth Rollins title defense of 2019. It's not even close. Rollins vs. AJ Styles was a dream match for a lot of fans. The fact that they'd been in the same company for over three years before the clash happened was a a huge surprise. When it finally did, though, they delivered in a major way.
After a slow beginning, the match progressed into the bigger and more exciting spots that we want from these two. The final third was intense and filled with great moments. They found incredible ways to counter one another until Rollins used a late flurry to come out on top. It was one of the best matches of the year, period.