Years ago around 2005 I met a couple young teenagers before a small independent wrestling show in Rock Island. Ones name was Nick Morrill, the other was Colby Lopez.
A few months later I saw the two at another small show for IPW in the tiny town of Delta Iowa. It was their first paid wrestling match, soon after they changed their names to Marek Brave and Tyler Black. They slowly began to make a name for themselves in the independent wrestling scene. Unfortunately Marek Brave suffered a terrible injury in the ring that put him out of action for years. Lopez continued his journey.
When the Buffalo Iowa native was signed to WWE in 2010 Lopez was given the name Seth Rollins. After 2 years in the Florida Developmental system he was called up to the main roster as a member of the three person tag team The Shield. They made an immediate impact headlining cards all over the world and PPV.
I remember being a bit surprised when Rollins soon after left Florida to move back to the Quad Cities. Making big money, in a great spot for the world wide WWE he could have lived anywhere. He chose to come home to his Iowa roots and still resides in Davenport Iowa.
This past weekend on March 29th Lopez realized his childhood dream and won the WWE world heavyweight title. Lopez won the belt on the grandest stage in Sports Entertainment Wrestlemania in front of over 75,000 fans and millions more on TV. It was an exciting moment for every WWE fan watching live and on PPV. But for me and so many others it was a truly special, rare amazing moment seeing the culmination of Colby Lopez journey from teenage independent wrestler to the height of the WWE.
When I met Colby Lopez I thought he was a nice humble young man who had many of the same dreams I had at his age. When I began to be on cards with him around Iowa I began to see he had much more maturity than I ever did at that age. He also had a burning ambition and a tireless work ethic that blew me and all those around him away.
I thought he had the talent and work ethic to reach the WWE. But I also knew it’s a long hard road. So many things can keep people from reaching the heights of WWE. Injuries, arrogance, apathy, being homesick, women and the road are just a few roadblocks a young wrestler must navigate.
He knocked down everything thrown at him. And now he’s champion of the world.
But he’s still the nice guy I met over ten years ago. Last year he opened up a wrestling school in Moline with his old friend Marek Brave, The Black & Brave Wrestling Academy. Now young people here in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas who dream of getting into pro wrestling can get trained by a WWE champion.
I can still remember a small wrestling card I helped put together in heavily Hispanic Columbus Junction. I asked Colby about his last name. Was he Hispanic? He told me he was not, but his stepdad was. He loved Mexican food and its culture. He was proud of his Mexican American family. He expressed regret he didn’t speak Spanish, it would have given him some opportunities in wrestling. He seemed to do ok.
We didn’t have a big crowd. But it didn’t deter the future Seth Rollins. He went out and had an outstanding match that showcased all his skills. During intermission he posed for pictures with the fans and as a student of the craft of wrestling he watched every match from the back.
I’ve learned a lot watching the journey of this young man. About dreams and the work and sacrifices required from them. It’s been an absolute joy. I look forward to seeing him in action at the WWE Smackdown show Tuesday April 28th at the iWireless Center in Moline.
A young skinny kid from Buffalo Iowa dreamed big, worked tirelessly and now is the WWE Champ! Congratulations Seth Rollins. Si se puede Colby Lopez!!
Photo: Seth Rollins in July of 2010 in Waterloo Iowa at an Impact Pro Wrestling card with Tia Fourneau
Bottom Photo: Wrestlemania Facebook
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