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The wrestling beef between Seth Rollins and Will Ospreay, explained

This is all so dumb.

Real life conflict between professional wrestlers is nothing new, but the past 48 hours on Twitter have given us the dumbest, most nonsensical beef between WWE’s Seth Rollins and New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Will Ospreay that the whole thing is already reaching the height of ridiculousness.

What began as seemingly harmless banter has evolved into insults, bank account comparisons and merchandise opportunities. The entire thing doesn’t serve anyone, and does more harm than good in the long run, and yet it just keeps going.

How this all began.

Rollins, the WWE Universal Champion, was defending his title against Corbin at the WWE Stomping Grounds pay per view on Sunday night, a show which fans expected very little out of. Poor ticket sales and an underwhelming card let to horrible expectations — but all in all it was an entertaining show. Except for one match: The main event featuring Rollins.

It wasn’t the performer’s fault. The match was over-hyped on TV and promised a “special guest referee” as its main point of curiosity. Fans became irate when it was revealed that Lacey Evans was the surprise, and while I’ll spare you why this made sense from a story perspective, it definitely let fans down. The end result was a middling match with a disconnected crowd chanting “boring,” “CM Punk” and “AEW” as a result.

Hyping the event, Rollins called it “the best pro wrestling on the planet,” and made a bold proclamation.

It’s here where Ospreay enters the story. The current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Ospreay is regarded as one of the best wrestlers on the planet who isn’t signed to WWE. He took exception to Rollins saying he was the greatest in the world and it took just two words to set everything off.

It’s unclear whether Ospreay meant it as a direct shot at Rollins following the poorly received main event, or whether it was a matter of circumstance — but Rollins didn’t take kindly to Ospreay disagreeing with him, especially while negative reviews of his match rolled in.

Rollins’ condescending, dismissive response to a beloved wrestler seemed wholly out of left field — but it makes sense in the context of what transpired. Rollins probably shouldn’t have logged on for a couple of days, but here we are.

Ospreay let it sit for a couple of hours before clapping back again, this time at the notion that he hasn’t worked as hard to get where he has, than Rollins or anyone else on the WWE roster.

To which Rollins decided the best route would be to go with the “I MAKE MORE MONEY THAN YOU” defense.

It’s at this point the back-and-forth should probably have ended. It would have been a little spat between two guys, but then in came Corbin with the grace, wit and timing of a Baron Corbin.

Rollins talking smack is one thing. He’s a guy who pushed through the independent wrestling scene to earn his spot, and knows what it’s like to sacrifice for the business. On the other hand there’s Corbin, who left the NFL to get a developmental contract in WWE and has been pushed to main event status when almost nobody thinks he deserves it, which led to ...

Then Chris Jericho got involved too and this whole this is making my head hurt.

Ospreay decided to jump on the attention and launch a new line of shirts, because why not?

Here’s why this is all so dumb.

This back and forth transcends simple beef solely because of the people involved. Rollins dragged himself into a fight with Will Ospreay for no good reason, which is whatever — people do dumb things. However, this is so much worse because of what it represents for Rollins.

Rollins has made a trade of being a true “wrestler,” one of the good ones. He’s not only WWE Universal Champion, but the company’s premiere babyface (good guy). One of the reasons fans like him so much is that he’s an amazing performer with a tireless work ethic, but also because a bulk of the fans know his story. They’ve followed him through the independent scene when he wrestled as “Tyler Black,” and have carried that torch through to being the face of the biggest company in professional wrestling.

This is what makes it so shocking and unnecessary for him to go after Ospreay. Wrestling fans don’t exist in a vacuum. Many watch other promotions too and appreciate Ospreay as well. Picking a fight that didn’t need to take place only serves to make Rollins look petty, especially when it comes to trying to compare checkbooks.

Furthermore, it’s ridiculous to denigrate Ospreay considering that by all accounts he’s turned down WWE before. The money isn’t the motivating factor for him. Ospreay wants to stay in New Japan because he enjoys it, so making a “I have more money” clap-back only serves to make Rollins look like an arrogant bully — and remember, he’s supposed to be a good guy.

Rollins’ frustration at fans is palpable, and it’s understandable. However, he’s missing the point that much of the ire wrestling fans direct at WWE isn’t towards its performers, but rather its storytelling, management and booking (how matched take place). When fans chant “boring” there’s no doubt it’s upsetting for those in the ring, but it’s often a larger indictment of everything fans are seeing — not simply a claim that the people wrestling aren’t doing a good job.

After all, it’s a lot easier to chant “boring” than “I would really prefer these wrestlers were used in stories more effectively so I could care more about their in-ring performance.”

There’s also blame on Ospreay for escalating this too, and it makes no sense for him to burn potential bridges in the future over something this petty. In the pantheon of dumb sports beefs this one is right up there, but now it’s on Rollins not only to squash this before it gets even worse, but find a way to re-ingratiate himself to fans who feel burned by him going after another amazing performer.

What a mess.