Because of how many similarities they share with their portrayal of the hero vs. villain conflict seeing WWE venture into the world of comic books is not surprising. WWE has actually produced several comic books during the course of its existence, though none of them have stuck around for that long. Even with the lack of success WWE is back, this time teaming up with BOOM! Studios, to produce a comic book that explores the post-Shield break-up and the rise of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Will spotlighting the former Shield brothers make WWE’s newest comic book successful? Let’s find out with WWE #1.
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Serg Acuña
Colorist: Doug Garbark
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: As Seth Rollins climbs the ladder to reach the Money In The Bank briefcase he thinks about all the questions people asked him about why he broke-up the Shield. As he grabs the briefcase he says he did it because his plans don’t involve Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns. His plan is to become “The Champ.”
Back in the locker room Roman Reigns and the other WWE superstars watch replays of the Money in the Bank match when Seth walks in. Seth promotes himself as being the best though Roman thinks he is just delusional. Seth tells everyone in the locker room that he is the one that secured his future in dominant fashion.
While Seth continues to gloat Dean Ambrose tackles him from behind and starts pounding on Seth, calling him a “coward” in the process, while Roman watches. Seth jams the Money in the Bank briefcase into Dean’s gut.
Seth tells Dean that if Dean wants a fight he is happy to oblige. Roman steps in and tells Seth to back off. Before things can escalate even more Triple H walks in and tells Roman to walk away and cool off somewhere else. Roman walks away while saying that things aren’t over, which Triple H and Seth chuckle at.
Triple H congratulates Seth on his win as it justifies the faith he put in him. Seth tells Triple H that he isn’t going to just sit around like other Money in the Bank winners have in the past. Triple H tells Seth to slow down a bit as they don’t have to conquer the world right away. Seth says that is exactly what he wants to do. Triple H backs Seth against the wall and tells him that they will be having a meeting about when and where Seth will cash in his opportunity so that it is best for business.
The discussion is interrupted by Stephanie McMahon and Shawn Michaels, who congratulate Seth on his big win. Seth shakes Shawn’s hand and goes on about how Shawn was his idol and inspiration to break into the business. Triple H breaks things up and walks out with Shawn and Stephanie so they can have dinner.
Dean gets back up and taunts Seth over his hero worship of Shawn.
As the summer and fall months pass Seth has to deal with being frustrated by feeling that Triple H is holding him back and Dean constantly attacking him while he tries to train.
At the same time Seth has matches with John Cena and Roman with varying degrees of success. After each match Triple H is in Seth’s ear about being closer to where he needs to be.
During the winter things reach there worse with Dean’s constant attacks and he and Seth have a match. Seth wins the match and Triple H congratulates him on his big win getting himself one step closer to their goal.
During spring Seth barges into Triple H’s office at WWE headquarters and demands to be allowed to cash in his Money in the Bank. Triple H walks Seth out of his office and calms him down by saying that Seth has his full support to cash in on Brock Lesnar whenever he wants now. Seth is happy to hear that but Triple H says there is one last thing Seth needs to do before that happens: beat Randy Orton at Wrestlemania.
While Seth is training in the gym Roman walks in to have some “friendly” talk. Seth does not want to talk to Roman. Roman talks anyways and brings up how he has his own big Wrestlamania match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
As he starts his training Roman asks Seth if he regrets turning his back on the Shield. Seth tells Roman he is an idiot for not getting why he went solo.
Internally Seth thinks to himself how Roman and Dean were dead weight to him.
As Wrestlemania commences Seth has his big match with Randy. The two end up going back and forth for a while with Randy coming out on top after a big RKO out of nowhere.
After cleaning himself up Seth walks through the locker room when he is called over by Triple H, who is getting ready for his own Wrestlemania match with Sting. Triple H congratulates Seth on having a great match and uses his loss to Randy as an example as to why he is having Seth wait to cash in his Money in the Bank.
While walking through the backstage Seth runs into Shawn, who also congratulates Seth on his match. As they watch Roman’s match with Brock together Shawn brings up how he was in Seth’s position back in the day and how he decided to stop asking permission to do stuff. This gives Seth an idea.
A little later Seth runs to the ring with Brock down and Roman completely exhausted. He hands his Money in the Bank briefcase to the referee to cash it in. He then proceeds to take out Roman and win the WWE Championship.
Seth runs up the ramp and celebrates his big win as Wrestlemania goes off the air.
When he reaches the backstage area Triple H grabs Seth and slams him against the wall. Triple H tells Seth that if he ever does anything without his permission again he will end him.
Triple H puts Seth down and tells Seth to clean himself up as they got work to get to. Seth then stares at his newly won title with a worried look in his eyes. End of issue.
The Good: As a fan of pro wrestling, and WWE in particular, learning about what is going on backstage has become just as interesting, if not more so, than what is going on during broadcasts on Raw, Smackdown and PPVs. For better or worse, it has become part of the appeal of watching WWE now. So for Hopeless to dig into this aspect of the WWE was the smart move. By doing so Dennis Hopeless is able to dig into why we find this part of the business so interesting throughout the course of WWE #1.
Using Seth Rollins rise as a solo star after he single handedly destroyed the Shield is a smart time period to spotlight. Not only was Seth rise to the main event the most interesting out of the three Shield brothers but his story with Triple H behind the scenes could not have come at a better time. Hopeless is able to tap how Triple H was a catalyst to Seth’s drive to become champion and the friction it caused between them.
Hopeless use of Triple H in particular was well executed. Not only is Triple H the perfect guy for Hopeless to use as the authority figure holding other superstars back, like he did with Seth, but he did so in a manner that makes you hate that you understand him. Hopeless characterization of Triple H is spot on in this aspect because he actually has Triple H believe what he is doing in is right. That conviction is able to provide a good balance for the impatience we see Seth show following his Money in the Bank victory.
Making Seth’s spotlight more entertaining was the antics he had to put up with from Dean Ambrose. While Dean can be a hit-or-miss character on TV Hopeless is able to capture why fans like him throughout WWE #1. Hopeless went all in on the unpredictability Michael Cole and others have you believe is Dean’s main attribute and actually showed why that might. In doing so Hopeless is able to bring in some of the fun aspects of the Attitude Era by using Dean in a similar way Steve Austin used to terrorize Mr. McMahon and others. This made the build to Seth’s victory over Dean come off as being satisfying even though there weren’t back-and-forth dialogue scenes between the two.
The other real life aspect that was good to see Hopeless employ is Seth’s admiration for Shawn Michaels. Shawn is a guy that has inspired a lot of the modern day wrestlers thanks to how he was the best of his era, and possibly ever. Using Seth’s fanboy respect for Shawn as a catalyst for Seth to take action at Wrestlemania made the cashing in much more satisfying. This also adds an interesting wrinkle to Seth’s conflict with Triple H as he followed Shawn’s advice over his former DX partner.
The back-up story featuring the New Day’s antics in a completely alternate timeline gave WWE #1 an additional selling point. The story was off the wall enough to be its own thing, while tapping into what makes this stable so fun to watch. The fantasy aspect of this back-up also helps to give us something completely different from what we are getting in the main story without being a distraction.
Serg Acuña serves up some very good artwork that brings the WWE world to life. His character designs capture the superstars in a good enough manner that they don’t come off cartoonish. He was also able to deliver some fun action scenes as he drew some of the best moments from Seth Rollins matches from this time period. Though his version of Randy Orton was a bit off as it was hard to tell it was him from the design. But that is only a minor gripe for an issue that had solid artwork from beginning to end.
The Bad: This may just be the part of me that has yet to fully connect with Roman Reigns’ character but his scenes in WWE #1 were by far the most boring parts. Unlike Dean Ambrose, who added a unique secondary antagonist to the plot of this issue, Roman was just himself. Hopeless never went in on exploring Roman’s own issues with Seth. Instead Roman just acted chill like he had absolutely no reason to go look for another gym to train when he saw Seth training. This was a big miss opportunity to establish this rivalry that was taking place at the time. Though this may just be a case where Roman does not translate well to the comic book world, even with his Superman Punch.
Overall: While Seth Rollins story about his rise to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion is over two years old now it could have not been come at a better time to be retold. With Seth Rollings getting ready for his eventual clash with Triple H, most likely taking place at this year’s Wrestlemania, in the real world Dennis Hopeless was able to tap into what makes the story between the two so interesting. In the process Hopeless is able to inject some Attitude Era-type storytelling in a way the modern era of WWE has not been able to execute on as seamlessly as they would like to make it seem. This all makes WWE #1 a worthwhile read for fans of pro wrestling.