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Seth Rollins has been jaw-jacking with The Usos all weekend, but he and Dean Ambrose might have a far more present danger to worry about, as The Kingslayer fell to Cesaro in a singles match pitting one half of the current Raw Tag Team Champions against one half of the tandem they defeated to win the titles.

And it’s all because of the other half of that tandem, as Sheamus took Rollins’ eye off the proverbial ball by taking a swipe at the ropes while The Architect was preparing to fly. While Ambrose scrapped with The Celtic Warrior on the outside, Cesaro uncorked a home-run uppercut to Rollins that put him down for three. The only person who was happier than Cesaro about the win turned out to be Sheamus, who challenged Ambrose to a match on the spot.

It’s a split series for the current and former Raw Tag Team Champions, as Dean Ambrose knocked off Sheamus just moments after The Alabaster Gladiator’s impromptu challenge to The Lunatic Fringe. The Alabaster Gladiator was riding high off of his partner Cesaro’s win over Ambrose’s own partner Seth Rollins, and The Lunatic Fringe quickly showed his foe that his eyes were bigger than his stomach. Through a series of impressive reversals (that tornado DDT!) some gritty perseverance through a banged-up back, and an assist from Rollins, who bailed his partner out of White Noise behind the ref’s back, Ambrose planted Sheamus with Dirty Deeds for the 1-2-3.

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The band is back together, and the dream matches have already begun. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins opened their unlikely Raw Tag Team Title reign by declaring the evening to be a “party” and inviting any team in the locker room to step to them, seemingly expecting Cesaro & Sheamus to come looking for a rematch. Instead, they got a gentleman’s challenge from The Hardy Boyz, and it was exactly as epic as you might have imagined. (Cesaro & Sheamus scouted from the locker room.)

The Most Exhilarating Tag Team In History didn’t just hang with the younger tandem, they came awfully close to defeating the new champions after Matt Hardy hit The Lunatic Fringe with the Twist of Fate to tee him up for Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb. However, Rollins superkicked Matt right after Jeff tagged in, and Ambrose got his knees up to block the Swanton, leaving The Charismatic Enigma alone to suffer the one-two combo of Rollins’ ripcord knee and a match-ending Dirty Deeds.

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Believe this: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins, brothers-turned-rivals and back, reformed their alliance and burned down “The Bar,” defeating Cesaro & Sheamus in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to become the new Raw Tag Team Champions.

Yes, this really happened. Not only did The Lunatic Fringe successfully win tag team gold with the man he once vowed to hunt to the ends of the Earth, but the two reunited Shield-mates knocked off one of the most imposing tandems in WWE to do it. Cesaro & Sheamus held an undeniable early advantage over the challengers, bullying them around the ring and employing a tag team strategy that was all but ironclad. The Swiss Cyborg knocked Ambrose off the apron into the path of a waiting Brogue Kick, while Sheamus joined in with his partner to smash Rollins hip-first onto the arena floor.

With The Lunatic Fringe briefly kayoed, Sheamus metaphorically tore Rollins to pieces, while Cesaro leapt over the outside barricade and literally tore apart a beach ball that had been making its way through the capacity crowd. Even though Ambrose roused to life and helped get his team back in the match, “The Bar” held a narrow advantage by the skin of their fingertips. Even as Ambrose & Rollins got more and more innovative, the titles remained just beyond their reach, usually because either Cesaro or Sheamus saved the other from disaster. (The King of Swing had the biggest save of all, bailing Sheamus out of a potential double powerbomb.) Now, it was Ambrose who found himself isolated and trapped in Cesaro’s Sharpshooter after Sheamus flattened Rollins with a rolling senton to the outside. The champs took full advantage of the two-on-one, hitting a top-rope clothesline-powerbomb combo and landing a cheap blow after a brief distraction of the referee.

This wasn’t exactly overwhelming to The Lunatic Fringe, who all but dared the champions to hit him with their best shot. So, they did, setting him up for a double-team White Noise variation. But the move never hit home. Rollins repaid Ambrose’s earlier assault and rose to life, connecting with a springboard hurricanrana that hurled Cesaro into his partner, then superkicking both champs and blasting the legal man Sheamus with his ripcord knee to the face. Ambrose provided the finishing touch to The Alabaster Gladiator, hitting Dirty Deeds to break “The Bar” and win the Raw Tag Team Titles.

Given that the new titleholders celebrated their win with the old-school Shield fist bump, allow us to sum it up in the only way that feels appropriate: “November, Echo, Whiskey, Charlie, Hotel, Alpha, Mike, Papa, Sierra.”

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SummerSlam Kick Off Screencaptures
Match Screencaptures

GQ: You were recently announced as the cover star to this year’s WWE 2K18 video game, and the Internet has had a lot of fun talking about how realistic your character in the game looks, specifically the care for detail when it came to your abs. So let me ask you: are abs made in the kitchen or in the gym?

“Seth Rollins: I think it’s a bit of both, you know? Obviously, you can be skinny and have some abdominal definition, but for them to really pop, if you will, you’re going to have to put in some time. You’re going to have to do some core exercises and lift some weights, some resistance. Otherwise you’re not going to build any muscle in that area, which is what’s going to help you be able to show them off a little bit more.”

It’s no secret at this point that the WWE maintains one of the crazier schedules in sports and entertainment. You guys are going pretty much non-stop, all day long doing media, working out, driving to shows, putting on said shows. So what does an average day look like for you when it comes to eating?

“It sort of depends on if I’m home or away, but when I’m on the road, generally I like to find a good, local breakfast restaurant. That’s my first go-to in the morning. It’s one of the ways I can feel like I’m doing something with my time other than just working. Generally I have some sort of balanced meal. Three to five eggs for me is good. Whole eggs. I’m not an egg whites guy. I can’t deal with egg whites. I need the flavor of the yolk, and I like the fat of it, as well. So I’ll have that and some sort of potato. If I’m not feeling potatoes and I’m feeling extra spicy, I’ll throw in a pancake or something like that. But they key is just one, for a little bit of carbs to help balance out the diet. If you order three or more pancakes and throw them in my face, I’m going to eat them all. And then I’ll have a coffee, too. Usually from there I’ll go to the gym.”

Do you do anything special for a pre-workout, or is your breakfast essentially your pre-workout?

“If I’ve had coffee in the morning, I won’t mess with a pre-workout [supplement] because I don’t want to overload on caffeine. I like the caffeine that I do take to be effective and useful, so instead of a pre-workout I’ll just kind of ride the morning caffeine wave into the gym. During the workout it’s mostly just water that I’m drinking. If I’m not feeling hydrated, sometimes I’ll take a little electrolyte supplement that I can just put in my water to help me absorb and hydrate a little better.”

Like one of those tablets that just dissolves right into your water?

“Yeah, like a Nuun tablet. Those are really effective as far as helping me absorb a good ratio of potassium and sodium and magnesium. Electrolytes without the added sugar of a sports drink.”

What about post-workout? What is your go-to after you’ve finished working out?

“Afterwards I’ll have a shake, which is usually a pretty heavy shake as far as carbohydrates and protein are concerned. Then I’ll go find some more food. Lately I’ve been—for the first time in my career, actually—traveling with food on the road. One of the things that I wanted to do with my diet in the last few months was create some more consistency. Sometimes when you’re on the road—you mentioned our schedule. Between media, workouts, driving, the shows themselves, there’s a lot of room for, I guess, diversity in terms of what we’re eating and when we’re eating depending on what town, or even what country, we’re in. There are all sorts of stuff as far as how we get our food. So for me, I started traveling with meals in the last month or so, really trying to create some consistency in my diet. It’s been a little bit of a hassle, but it’s also been useful and effective. I feel, particularly in my macro counts, just a consistency and a good balance. Plus this way I always have food on me, as opposed to having to go out and try to find stuff. I’ve been packing a lot of frozen meals into a very large Yeti cooler over the course of my travels recently.”

What type of frozen meals are you typically bringing along with you? Do they follow any sort of dietary restrictions?

“I like fats. I think fat is important. I think there is a reason we have it. Obviously it’s part of our dietary makeup, so I don’t avoid it. I think a lot of people fall into the diet trap of starving themselves or eating things that don’t taste good for the sake of getting in better shape or having a better physique. I think there has to balance there. I don’t avoid carbs. I don’t avoid protein. I think it’s just, again, about balance and finding what works for you and your body. For me, having a higher protein, higher carbohydrate, and middle-of-the-road fat count usually gets the job done as far as my energy needs and for my physique.”

For your main meals, what type of fats—I’m guessing we would classify them as “healthy” fats—do you prefer?

“I’m a big avocado brother. I love the avocado. So if I can get some avocado in a meal, that’s a big win. Otherwise I try to find a good, solid, fattier piece of meat. It doesn’t have to be crazy. I don’t need to go find olive oils or coconut oils—which are fine—or something like that to get the fat. I find that if you, for example, use a chicken thigh as opposed to a chicken breast, you’re going to be able to get a more flavorful chicken. You’re still getting your protein in and, at the same time, you’re going to be able to get a little bit more fat in there, which is going to help fill you up and give you a little more energy throughout the day.”

One thing I wanted to ask you about: You have your own wrestling school now, the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy. I was curious how much focus you put on nutrition for the people who attend your school when they’re first coming in?

“That’s one of the main questions I get from my students when they first come in. Now, mind you, these are mostly young kids—18, 19, 20 years old. A lot of them, to be fair, have not participated in athletics before. They’re just wrestling fans that want to give it a shot and see what it’s all about. But they usually come in undersized. And again, they’re still young kids, so they’ve got a lot of size to put on. They’re also usually poor kids that are just trying to make ends meet. They don’t come in with a bunch of money that makes it easy for them to find good foods all the time. So my general advice to them is to eat a lot. They think they know what eating a lot is, you know? And then they’re like, “Why can’t I gain weight?” Well, chances are you’re not eating nearly as much as you think you are. What I always tell them to do is track how much they actually eat for about a week and just see how the calories lay out. Nine out of 10 times when they do that, they’ll find that they’re not eating nearly as much as they thought they were. So my first bit of advice is to just max yourself with food because you need the sustenance as a kid. Being as young as they are, they’ve got a metabolism that’s probably pretty high and the workload that they’re putting themselves through at my academy—they’re doing a lot of work. Far more work then they’ve probably ever done in their lives over the course of three months. So I just tell them to eat and eat and eat until they can’t eat anymore. For someone who is already in good shape or has the size already, then I can work from there to help mold them into what they want to look like. But, for the most part, the guys just don’t eat enough and they need the sustenance if they want to grow.”

Spitball a number to me for an average kid who you see come in. How many calories are they usually in taking versus how many they really need to be?

“I would say they’re probably eating half of what they need to be eating. They’re probably putting in 2,000 to 2,500 calories, which is pretty normal. If they’re really trying to gain size, they could probably go up to 4,000 calories. Which sounds insane, but if you really want to gain weight and put size on, that’s really the only way to do it. Calories in versus calories out.
Part of the problem, too, is with my program, what they’re doing in the ring and what they’re required to do in the gym, they’re burning a lot of calories. They’re burning a lot more than what they’re used to.”

You and I have spoken about this in the past, but you’re huge into CrossFit. Because you’re putting yourself through pretty demanding, high-intensity workouts on top of everything else you do, I’m sure you’re putting an even bigger emphasis on making sure you’re getting calories in.

“Yeah, I feel like it’s a never-ending process of tearing yourself down and building yourself back up. I sort of see fitness in that sort of way, making little strides along the way. I think people are impatient with their fitness and their bodies. They’ve got to understand that it takes years and years to get yourself to where you want to be. It’s not an overnight thing. There’s no quick fix. It’s just a matter of being disciplined and working hard. For me, since I found CrossFit seven years ago, my metabolic output has been a lot more than when I was not doing CrossFit. I’m burning more calories, so I need to eat a little bit more. Which is good for me. It lets me play around with my diet a little. That way I can enjoy my food as opposed to hating what I eat all the time.”

SummerSlam is Sunday in Brooklyn, and along with WrestleMania, that show has become a sort of milestone on the WWE calendar. Do you allow yourself to have a celebratory meal to mark the occasion after such a big show?

“Not necessarily, but I’m also not one to shy away from celebrating with food. I’m not somebody who has to discipline themselves too much, unless I’ve really gone off the rails for weeks at a time. If there’s a special occasion, a birthday, an outing with friends, or even just a food I really want to try—like, if I’m in New York and there’s something on the news saying you’ve got to go try this crazy ice cream cookie doughnut sandwich or something, I’m not shy about having that. Or a cheat meal, or whatever you want to call it. I just think that, again, comes back to having a good relationship with food. Not having it be such a strict thing all the time where you’re constantly fighting against what you’re eating to get to a point where you’re like, “Now I get my cheat meal! Now I get to reward myself!” I try not to think about food that way. I enjoy eating. I enjoy the process of it, and I don’t want it to become something that I dislike, you know?”

It doesn’t need to become another job for you.


GQ Interview