With Seth Rollins returning to NXT to defend his World Heavyweight Championship against Bron Breakker, we look back at his last match in NXT prior to his return.
Over a decade ago in 2012, Seth Rollins lost the NXT Championship in a fantastic match with Big E Langston.
Keep reading to find out how he won the title in the first place and the details behind the legendary match with the future New Day member.
Seth Rollins NXT Championship
Seth Rollins became the first ever NXT Champion when he defeated Jinder Mahal in the final of the NXT Championship tournament in 2012. The tournament was a straight knockout format, featuring 8 of the top stars in the developmental brand.
Rollins, pre-Shield, started his run with a victory of Drew McIntyre, who had been sent back down to NXT after some disappointing years on the main roster. A win over the former Intercontinental Champion was huge for Rollins and increased his legitimacy as a potential champion in NXT.
He went on to the semi final to face off against Michael McGillicutty. He was a former member of the NXT Game Show and The Nexus faction, having appeared in the second season of the ill-fated NXT Game Show.
While you may not remember McGillicutty, you probably know the person he would later become.
He was repackaged in 2013 as Curtis Axel and would go on to become an Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion on the main roster.
The final of the tournament pitted Seth Rollins against Jinder Mahal. This was a battle of the future stars as both men would eventually go on to become WWE Champions in their career, although Jinder’s reign was much more poorly received than any of Rollins’ world title runs.
Seth Rollins defeated Jinder Mahal to win the tournament and become the NXT Champion in one of the most emotional moments in his career. He has noted in his interview with Steve Austin that he was close to being fired and was told he would never succeed in WWE, so this win proved to himself that he was good enough.
Seth Rollins vs Big E
Seth Rollins lost his NXT Championship in a bout with Big E Langston on the December 6th, 2012 episode of NXT. The match came just weeks after Rollins had debuted on the main roster alongside Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns.
The trio appeared during the main event of the match of the show, attacking Ryback and John Cena. They helped CM Punk to retain his WWE Championship, elongating his legendary title reign that would eventually be ended by The Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble.
He was still the NXT Champion at the time, so needed to go back down to Florida to drop the title to the next face of the brand.
As the first NXT Champion he was beloved by the local crowd, and entered to a heroes welcome when he was joined by his Shield partners on stage to challenge Big E Langston to a match for the title. This was before Vince stole Big E’s last name.
The match showcased Big E as a powerhouse in the ring. He lifted Rollins up multiple times with ease, including an impressive Gorilla Press above his head as if the NXT Champion was not even there.
He then threw him over the top rope to the outside in a brutal looking attack by the challenger, impressing Jim Ross and William Regal on commentary.
As the match was booked as a no disqualification match, The Shield were able to run in and attack Big E. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns attacked the challenger, throwing his carcass into the steel steps with a sickening thud. This put Rollins on top of the match.
However, Big E soon took control and knocked the Shield off the apron with a double clothesline. He was outnumbered however before the NXT locker room ran out to subdue to two Shield members not involved in the match.
They were beaten down until they retreated from the arena, leaving Rollins perplexed. This gave Langston the chance to hit the Big Ending to win the match and his first, and only, NXT Championship. This ended Seth Rollins’ NXT Championship reign at four title defences and 133 days.
The match with Big E was also Seth Rollins’ last match in NXT. He would make an appearance during the broadcast for NXT TakeOver: San Antonio, confronting Triple H and challenging him to a match at Wrestlemania 34.
The Game had cost Rollins the Universal Champion the year prior, handing Kevin Owens the belt by attacking his former protégé and nailing him with a pedigree for good measure.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.