Back on the July 27, 2015 episode of WWE Raw, Seth Rollins took on John Cena in the main event for the United States Championship. In the end, the Cenation leader was able to come out on top, retaining his title, but the match did take its toll. At one point, Rollins drilled Cena with a knee to the face that left the eventual Hollywood star with a broken, bloody nose.
A few months later, while speaking with Sports Illustrated, WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hitman” Hart gave his thoughts on the move going awry while addressing comparisons between Shawn Michaels and The Architect.
“Shawn was always really safe,” Hart said. “He was always a really safe worker, but I don’t know about Seth Rollins. That knee in the face that he gave to John Cena was unprofessional, at best. It’s really strange that a guy like Rollins, who I have a lot of respect for, would be that reckless with that knee in the face. If someone kneed me in the face like that, I would have met him in the back dressing room with a baseball bat. There’s just no excuse for it.”
While speaking with Daily Mail, Rollins opened up about how Hart’s criticisms weighed heavily on him. As someone who grew up during The Attitude Era, he has a lot of respect for The Hitman’s work and was genuinely hurt by what Hart had to say. From his perspective, Rollins believes that anyone who has shared a ring with him would tell you he is a safe worker.
“I did approach Bret at a Hall of Fame induction ceremony,” Rollins revealed. “Bret was backstage and we ended up in the catering line together and I said ‘Hey man’ and he said ‘Hey’ and I just said ‘I wanted to tell you as somebody who looked up to you a lot and still does – it really kind of hurt my feelings.'”
“So, I expressed that to him and I don’t think he knew that I had that feeling towards him, I don’t think he knew I cared about him that way and it hit him in a spot and he apologized and we have been friends since then and we’ve had good conversations. I’m happy we did do that as Bret is still someone I look up to to this day.”
Fortunately, it sounds like the incident is water under the bridge between the two WWE World Champions. Now, Rollins has to deal with Finn Balor, someone else he accidentally injured back in 2016 in a battle to become the inaugural WWE Universal Champion. During the match, Rollins hit Balor with a buckle bomb to the outside barricade, resulting in Balor tearing his labrum, and having to drop the title the night after winning it. This too seems to be water under the bridge as they have used the incident as part of their current feud.