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WARNING: Some of the content of this article is very bloody and is not suitable for all audiences.
For many wrestling fans their first exposure to Seth Rollins was on November 18th, 2012. This is when he and the rest of The Shield jumped the rail for the first time, attacking Ryback and allowing CM Punk to retain his WWE Championship. It was a strong and very surprising debut for these newcomers. If you follow the indy scene you recognized Dean Ambrose as Jon Moxley and Rollins as Tyler Black. Fans of Black’s work in Ring of Honor will know that Rollins’ WWE debut isn’t anywhere near as shocking as his ROH debut was. The events surrounding Tyler Black’s ROH debut were initially deemed so graphic that the company wasn’t going to release the footage. What could be bad enough to almost make a company not air a part of their pay-per-view? Two words: blood shower.
It was September 15th, 2007; the taping of ROH’s third pay-per-view, Man Up. The Briscoe Brothers had just won a Ladder War to retain their ROH Tag Team Championships over Kevin Steen and El Generico (aka current NXT roster member, Sami Zayn). Suddenly several audience members clad all in black push their way to the barricades while the sound of a screaming woman is played over the speakers in the arena. The Briscoe’s are then attacked by the Necro Butcher, Tyler Black, and Jimmy Jacobs. This was the debut of a new faction; The Age of the Fall.
The leader of the group, Jimmy Jacobs, had been out of action for a number of months with a leg injury following a brutal cage match with BJ Whitmer and this was his big return. Previously Jacobs and Black had teamed together in the short lived MTV wrestling promotion, Wrestling Society X. ROH had seen the Necro Butcher before during the ROH/CZW feud, but this was the very first ROH appearance of Tyler Black.
The Necro Butcher used barbed wire wrapped around his fist to severely lacerate the forehead of Jay Briscoe. Jay was then attached to the rigging used to hold the Tag Team Championships in the ladder match and was hung from the ceiling by his feet. Blood was pouring from the head of Briscoe and Jimmy Jacobs stood under him while he cut a promo. It’s one of the most memorable things I’ve ever seen in wrestling simply because of how graphic it was. You can watch the video below. (Please excuse the quality, it’s a fan upload.)
Without this moment we many have not seen the WWE debut of Seth Rollins. After the Age of the Fall debuted, they shot to being some of the most important members of the Ring of Honor roster. In 2007 there wasn’t an angle hotter than this. Cutting this footage from the pay-per-view may have been the best move possible by ROH because it turned it into a moment that people were talking about. At this point, Tyler Black was still a relative unknown in the wrestling world despite having wrestled on MTV. By the end of the year, Jacobs and Black would defeat the Briscoe’s to win the ROH Tag Championships. Once they lost the tag titles Jacobs found himself in a bloody feud with Austin Aries and Black was moved up to the title picture. Even though Black was a heel, the crowd was very much behind him because of his in-ring ability.
Black grew a lot as a performer in his time at ROH and I have to assume that Jimmy Jacobs was integral in his development. Following a face turn, a feud with Jacobs, and a neck surgery, Black was on the road to the ROH World Championship. He would capture the belt from Austin Aries in February of 2010. By August he had signed with WWE and in September he lost the ROH Championship before parting from the company. From there Tyler Black became Seth Rollins and now he’s climbing his way to the top of the WWE roster. Black is a fantastic wrestler, but he may have gotten lost in the shuffle of ROH if it wasn’t for his initial debut and association with Jacobs. There’s a chance that if Jay Briscoe had never been hung from the ceiling, Seth Rollins wouldn’t be main eventing Raw. Who’s to say? All I know is that Rollins was involved in two of the most surprising debuts in the past ten years.