Early career (2005–2006)
Making his debut in 2005, Black started out with Scott County Wrestling (SCW), the federation in which he would hone his skills under the name Gixx. He also began wrestling for Ian Rotten’s IWA Mid-South and later entered the Ted Petty Invitational tournament, defeating Sal Thomaselli before being eliminated by Matt Sydal in the quarter-finals in Hammond, Indiana on September 23, 2005. He also won the SCW Heavyweight Championship, and spray-painted the championship belt black to mark “The Black Era” in SCW. He later won the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship as well.
He soon joined NWA Midwest winning the promotion’s tag team championship with Marek Brave. The two successfully defended the championship against Ryan Boz and Danny Daniels, Brett Wayne and Hype Gotti, and Jayson Reign and Marco Cordova several times in early 2006. He also faced Eric Priest and A.J. Styles in singles matches.
He briefly appeared in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and teamed with Jeff Luxon in a loss to The Latin American Xchange (Homicide and Hernandez) on Impact in October 2006.
Independent promotions (2007–2010)
On May 25, 2007, while in a match with the Full Impact Pro (FIP) Tag Team Champions The Briscoes in Melbourne, Florida, Black’s tag team partner Marek Brave suffered a back injury that sidelined him for several weeks. During this time Black pursued a singles career, competing in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) where he defeated Joey Ryan on June 10 and former mentor Danny Daniels at the supercard Point of No Return ’07 on June 16.
At PWG’s Life During Wartime on July 6, 2008, Black teamed with Jacobs to win the PWG World Tag Team Championship by defeating Roderick Strong and El Generico, who was a replacement for Jack Evans. At FIP’s event on December 20, 2008 Black defeated Go Shiozaki to win the FIP World Heavyweight Championship. At FIP’s event on May 2, 2009, Davey Richards was awarded the FIP World Heavyweight Championship by forfeit when Black was unable to compete.
Ring of Honor
Age of the Fall (2007–2009)
At the Ring of Honor (ROH) pay-per-view taping of Man Up in September 2007, Black made his debut, alongside Jimmy Jacobs and Necro Butcher, with the three attacking the Briscoe Brothers, hanging Jay Briscoe from the rigging that had been used during the ladder match earlier that night. Jacobs announced that the three had formed a stable called The Age of the Fall. The angle was so controversial that ROH decided to remove the footage from the pay-per-view that was being taped at the event. However, the footage was also heavily requested by ROH fans, so it was shown on the ROH Videowire for the week of September 15. Later on in the event Black faced Jack Evans in a dark match, which ended when Jacobs and Necro Butcher interfered leading The Irish Airborne to help Evans. A six-man tag team match between The Age of the Fall and Jack Evans and the Irish Airborne ended in a no contest when Necro Butcher attacked the referee.
Teaming with Jimmy Jacobs and Necro Butcher against The Vulture Squad (Jack Evans and Ruckus) in several handicap matches during early October, he teamed with The Age of the Fall to against Jack Evans, Ruckus and Jigsaw in a 6-man tag team match the following month at Glory by Honor VI Night 1 on November 1. The following night, Black defeated Alex “Sugarfoot” Payne, but was attacked by The Briscoes following the match. He appeared with The Age of the Fall in their match against The Briscoes during the main event. At Final Battle 2007, Black and Jacobs defeated the Briscoes to win the ROH World Tag Team Championship. They lost the titles one month later on January 26 to the No Remorse Corps (Davey Richards and Rocky Romero) when competing in an Ultimate Endurance match also involving The Hangmen 3 (Brent Albright and BJ Whitmer), and the team of Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson.
At Take No Prisoners, ROH’s sixth pay-per-view, Black challenged Nigel McGuinness for the ROH World Championship in a losing effort. At Up For Grabs, Black and Jacobs won an eight-team tournament to win the ROH World Tag Team Championship for a second time. The two lost the championship at Driven to the team of Kevin Steen and El Generico. Black had a second chance at the ROH World Championship at Death Before Dishonor VI in New York City, when he faced McGuinness, Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli in a three-way match, but McGuinness retained. At Final Battle 2008, Black lost a number one contenders match to Austin Aries. Following the match, Jacobs turned on Black, and Black was then attacked by Aries. At Full Circle, Black was given a non-title match against the ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness on January 16, and defeated McGuinness. The following night, number one contender Aries refused to face McGuinness, so Black faced McGuinness instead, but was unsuccessful as the match ended in a time limit draw. On June 26 at Violent Tendencies, Black defeated Jimmy Jacobs in a steel cage match to end their feud.
Singles star (2009–2010)
In September 2009, Black had surgery on a bulging disc in his neck. On October 10 Black defeated Kenny King in a first round match and then Claudio Castagnoli, Colt Cabana, Delirious, Chris Hero and Roderick Strong in the finals to win the Survival of the Fittest tournament; this earned him a match for the ROH World Championship. On December 19 at Final Battle 2009, ROH’s first live pay-per-view, Black wrestled ROH World Champion Austin Aries to a 60 minute time limit draw. Because of this draw, ROH commissioner Jim Cornette booked the two in a rematch between February 13, 2010 for the company’s Eighth Anniversary Show. The booking saw Cornette set up a judging panel with himself on and one person picked by each competitor, in order for there to be a decisive winner in case of another draw. Aries picked Kenny King while Black picked Roderick Strong, whom he guaranteed a title shot should he win. At the event, Black pinned Aries to win the ROH World Championship.
On April 3, Black retained the title in a three-way elimination match against Austin Aries and Roderick Strong at The Big Bang! pay-per-view, thereby depriving Strong of his championship chance in a singles match. He also retained at the following pay-per-view, Death Before Dishonor VIII, on June 19, in a match against Davey Richards. Black turned heel at the August 20 tapings of Ring of Honor Wrestling, after news broke that he had signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). His new heel character involved him criticizing the fans who were labeling him a sell-out for signing with WWE, a feeling Lopez states was based on true feelings. He also threatened to take the ROH World Championship with him to WWE, and refused to put the championship at stake in a match with Davey Richards on August 28 which he then lost by submission. On September 11 at Glory By Honor IX Black lost the ROH World Championship to Roderick Strong in a No Disqualification match with Terry Funk as a guest enforcer. This would mark his final appearance for the company.
World Wrestling Entertainment
Florida Championship Wrestling (2010–2012)
On August 8, 2010, it was reported Lopez had signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment, to debut with their developmental promotion Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) in September. Lopez had been offered a contract with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and was renegotiating with ROH but Evan Bourne (formerly Matt Sydal) convinced him to join WWE. On September 14, 2010, Lopez (as Tyler Black) made his WWE debut in a dark match prior to the SmackDown taping, defeating Trent Barreta.
Lopez debuted for FCW on September 30, using the name Seth Rollins, in a loss to Michael McGillicutty. Rollins then faced Hunico on November 4 in the first ever ‘FCW 15′ match under 15 minute Iron Man rules. The duo fought to a 1–1 draw. Following this, Rollins, along with Hunico, Richie Steamboat and Jinder Mahal, participated in the FCW 15 Jack Brisco Classic tournament. Rollins qualified for the finals on January 13, 2011 where he defeated Hunico to win the tournament and become the first FCW 15 Champion.
On March 25 at a live event, Rollins and Richie Steamboat defeated Damien Sandow and Titus O’Neill to win the Florida Tag Team Championship. On May 12, Rollins and Steamboat lost the championship to Big E. Langston and Calvin Raines.
From July 2011, Rollins would feud with Dean Ambrose. Ambrose and Rollins had their first match for the FCW 15 Championship in a 15 minute Iron Man match on the August 14 episode of FCW TV. The match ended in a draw with neither men scoring a fall, so Rollins retained his title. A subsequent 20 minute rematch for the title two weeks later resulted in a similar 0–0 draw. A second 30 minute rematch for the title on the September 18 episode of FCW TV went to a time limit 2–2 draw and the match was sent into sudden death rules, where Rollins scored a pinfall to win the match 3–2. Of note, an entire episode of FCW TV was dedicated to hyping and showing the third match in the series. On September 22, Rollins lost the FCW 15 Championship to Damien Sandow after Ambrose attacked Sandow late in the match, causing Sandow to win the decisive fall by disqualification and therefore win the title.
Rollins made his WWE TV debut in a video package that aired during the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in February 2012, where he was shown working out with John Cena in Cena’s gym; Rollins was also featured in a speaking role. On February 23, 2012, he defeated Leo Kruger to become the new FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion.
NXT Champion and The Shield (2012–present)
In June 2012, Lopez, as Seth Rollins, debuted on the second episode of the sixth season of WWE NXT taped at Full Sail University as a high-energy maverick, where he defeated Jiro. On the August 1 episode of NXT, Rollins was inserted into the Gold Rush Tournament to crown the first NXT Champion, where he defeated Drew McIntyre in the quarter-finals. On the August 15 episode of NXT, Rollins defeated Michael McGillicutty in the semi-finals of the Gold Rush Tournament. On the August 29 episode of NXT, Rollins defeated Jinder Mahal in the finals of the Gold Rush Tournament to become the inaugural NXT Champion. On the October 10 episode of NXT, Rollins had his first successful defense of his title against McGillicutty. During the November 15 tapings of NXT, Rollins pinned Mahal again in his second successful title defense; the episode of the match aired on December 12 due to tape delay.
At the Survivor Series pay-per-view on November 18, Rollins, alongside Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, attacked Ryback during the triple-threat main event for the WWE Championship, which led to CM Punk pinning John Cena to retain his title. The trio of Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose declared themselves “The Shield” and vowed to rally against “injustice” while denying that they were working for Punk, but would routinely emerge from the crowd to attack Punk’s adversaries such as Ryback, The Miz, Kane and Daniel Bryan, who had attempted to save Kane. This led to a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match being set up for the TLC pay-per-view pitting the three men of the Shield against Ryback and Team Hell No (Kane and Bryan), which Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins won in their debut match.
During the January 2, 2013 episode of NXT, which was taped on December 6, 2012, Rollins, now part of the Shield, defended his title against Corey Graves; as Graves was about to win the match, Ambrose and Reigns attacked him to cause a disqualification, but Rollins retained his title. On the January 7 episode of NXT taped on the same date, Rollins faced Big E Langston in a no disqualification title match. The NXT locker room neutralized the other Shield members, and Langston defeated Rollins to win the title.
The Shield continued to aid Punk after TLC; during Punk and Ryback’s TLC match for the WWE Championship on the January 7 episode of Raw, they attacked Ryback, which resulted in Punk retaining his title. During the Royal Rumble event where the Rock challenged for Punk’s WWE Championship, match, a blackout occurred and the Rock was attacked in the darkness by unknown assailants, directly leading to Punk pinning Rock; the announcers blamed the Shield for the attack. The match was later restarted with Rock winning. The next day on Raw, the Shield attacked and laid out John Cena; Sheamus and Ryback suffered the same fate when they attempted to save Cena. Later in the show, it was revealed through footage played by Vince McMahon that Punk and/or his manager Paul Heyman had been paying the Shield and Brad Maddox to work for them all along. This set up a six-man tag team match at Elimination Chamber, which the Shield won.