Entering through the crowd, from high up in the bleachers, was a fine way to distinguish the act, adding an element of danger and rebellious edge.
The apparently self-filmed backstage vignettes, during which the camera would often be left on the ground following a well-spoken onslaught of threats, also felt contemporary.
When it was confirmed in August of that year that Black had signed a developmental contract with WWE, while still recognized as champion, he was officially named public enemy number one in Ring of Honor.
He reported to WWE’s developmental program in Tampa, Florida after dropping the ROH World Championship in a No Disqualification match to Strong.
Mixing up his usual high-spots, he delivered his dives seamlessly, raising the crowd to its feet.
Speaking to a wrestling publication on March 31, 2010, less than two months into his reign as ROH World Champion, Black remarked, “Some fans don’t understand [the financial] part of wrestling: they think wrestlers sell out when they go to work for a bigger company. We’ve got to make our money when we can.” On February 23, 2012, Rollins defeated Leo Kruger to become the Florida Heavyweight Champion.
Months later, he was promoted to the main WWE roster.
Eventually, it was revealed that they had been paid to do Paul Heyman’s dirty work, but crucially, had no allegiance to him.
Their goal was self-service, and their pay-off to simply make their mark.