In hindsight, January 15, 2018, may go down as one of the most notable days in Seth Rollins' career—bigger than June 19, 2017, the day 2K Games announced his WWE 2K18 cover spot, and even bigger than February 19, 2018, the day of his career-defining performance in the Raw Gauntlet Match.
January 15 was the day that Seth Rollins brought back the Curb Stomp finisher. He performed the move on Finn Balor to score the pinfall. And in that instant, for the first time in close to three years, Rollins became the "complete package." WWE should have never banned his beloved finisher in the first place.
When properly assigned to the right wrestler, a finisher should reinforce the wrestler's character.
Undertaker's Tombstone Piledriver, for example, resembles an upright headstone when he plants his opponent. The Rock's People's Elbow is appropriately flamboyant and brash—the equivalent of dunking on someone in a game of street ball.
And Seth Rollins' Curb Stomp fits him like a glove. It's a vicious piece of work—much more dangerous-looking than it actually is. And it's delivered to the back of the opponent's head, which gives it the sort of "underhanded opportunist" vibe that befits The Architect of The Shield.
And for years—in NXT, throughout The Shield's run and even after The Shield's breakup—the Curb Stomp developed a following. Fans uploaded "best Curb Stomp" compilations on YouTube. The finisher also became integral to two defining moments in WrestleMania history, both of which occurred at WrestleMania 31.
The first moment was in the match between Randy Orton and Rollins. Orton reversed the Curb Stomp into an RKO—it was a miraculous intersection of timing and pure gall.
The second moment was during the WWE championship match between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. Seth Rollins ran down to the ring to cash in his Money in the Bank. He delivered two Curb Stomps—one to Lesnar and one to Reigns—and pinned Reigns to win the WWE championship.
But unfortunately, Vince McMahon worried that kids would imitate the move. And those worries, combined with the ongoing concussion lawsuits against WWE, resulted in Rollins dropping the move.
Subsequent video packages of the WrestleMania 31 main event conveniently left out the two crucial moves that finished the match.
Rollins' new finishers were not nearly as provocative. For a while, Rollins used the Pedigree, which made thematic sense since he was Triple H's protege. But Rollins is a lean guy, and unlike Triple H, who towered over many opponents and had massive legs, Rollins looked undersized compared to many opponents he was Pedigree-ing.
The believability factor wasn't there. Rollins later tried out a flying knee that he named The King's Landing, but it lacked the sort of high-impact, crowd-pleasing theatrics that WWE thrives on.
Rollins is booked to wrestle a Triple Threat Match with Finn Balor and the Miz for the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania 34. It's not the main event, but it's a title hunt, at least. Should Rollins lose, the logical step would be to place him in a feud with Reigns after Mania.
Reigns, no matter how WWE books him, will forever be a heel to a subsection of the fanbase. Meanwhile, Rollins can play the babyface—a "Burn It Down" Steve Austin-esque antihero for a new era. And expect the Curb Stomp—now referred to as the Blackout—to be Rollins' match-ending Stunner for years to come.