Seth Rollins On Verbally Agreeing To A TNA Deal Before Signing With WWE
RAW Superstar Seth Rollins was this week’s guest on E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness and opened up about what happened when he simultaneously attracted WWE & TNA attention all while still under contract with Ring Of Honor.
Things began to sour for Rollins during his second year with ROH, “My second year was not great there, as far as like – I learned a lot in retrospect. They ended up firing Gabe Sapolsky, who hired me. They brought in another booker and there was this kind of weird…political situation going on.”
The new situation, along with its accompanying backstage politics, confounded the young Seth Rollins, “I’m 22 and have no idea how to navigate those waters at all. I ended up kind of like floundering for the second year of my time there. Granted, it was fine. I was making some money. I didn’t have to work a shoot job anymore. My indie bookings were going up and everything. It was pretty good, but creatively I was not terribly happy. The style was pretty rough, so I was starting to get beat up a lot.”
During his third year with the company, The Architect won the Ring of Honor Championship, which Rollins saw as a negotiating piece, “I knew I would be able to use that for some leverage. I had some pretty good matches that were getting notoriety on the sheets leading up to the last six months of my time there, so I actually was the one who wanted to send out feelers to WWE to see if they’d be interested in signing the Ring of Honor World Champion.”
Rollins used a connection he made with Joey Mercury to get the attention of John Laurinaitis; but, returning Rollins’ phone calls didn’t seem like a top priority for the Senior VP of Talent Relations. While waiting for a call back from Laurinaitis, Rollins received a call from D’Lo Brown, who wanted to gauge Rollins’ interest in TNA. Rollins responded, “Yeah, I’m interested in making more money and moving up, so absolutely.” Brown put Rollins in touch with Terry Taylor, who formally offered Rollins a three year deal for ‘substantially more money and far less dates.’ Dixie Carter also joined in the fray to entice Rollins to make the switch and promised to make Rollins ‘the face of TNA.’ Rollins had not heard anything from John Laurinaitis, so he verbally agreed to the TNA contract.
Rollins then informed Ring Of Honor of his intentions. Jim Cornette was less than enthused with Rollins’ decision to sign with Total Nonstop Action, “He lost his mind when I told him I was gonna sign with TNA. There were so many expletives in the conversation that followed that I can’t even repeat half of it, but he was so irate.” Cornette attempted to sway Rollins, “Nobody’s gonna get you over there Tyler. Nobody gets over in TNA. They get under.” Cornette detested the idea of Rollins heading to TNA, but offered to look over Rollins’ contract, “You know what? Let me make sure they’re doing you right. Send that contract over to me. Send it to me before you sign it and send it back.” Rollins obliged, which bought him some time and opened the door for him to once again reach out to John Laurinaitis.
Laurinaitis didn’t answer when Rollins called; but, received the following voice mail, “I got this contract from TNA and if I don’t hear from you, I’m probably gonna sign it and end up there.” Rollins received a call back within 10 minutes. It was the first call back he’d received from Laurinaitis in months, who offered Rollins ‘an opportunity’ with WWE, “We don’t give out jobs. We give out opportunities. We got an opportunity for you down in Florida, if you’re interested. It’s a developmental deal. There’s no guarantees.” Rollins knew the offer was the fulfillment of a dream, “I knew this was where I always wanted to be. I didn’t give a damn whether it was a job opportunity. I didn’t care what it was. Alright, I’m in. Done. Send it over. Let’s do the testing. Let’s go. Get me to Florida, man. This is all I ever wanted. Give me a shot.”
Rollins describes what he was feeling at the moment, “I remember getting off the phone with him and I just remember doing your little deep breath, and your happy dance, and all the emotions of everything you’ve ever worked for coming together in that moment. I was so excited, until I had to pick up the phone and call Terry Taylor back and tell him I was gonna renege on my agreement.”