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One is a team of two rivals, thrown together by circumstance and hardened by respect into a two-time title-carrying tandem. The other is a team of brothers, ripped apart by ambition and slowly, painfully, reformed by redemption. And one of them will walk out of SummerSlam as the Raw Tag Team Champions.

Having finally reconciled their differences after a knock-down, drag-out brawl, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins will challenge Cesaro & Sheamus for Team Red’s tandem titles, bringing the most rabid rivalry of The Shield’s dissolution to a long-awaited end. And it certainly took a hard sell on Rollins’ part to get it to happen: After weeks of Rollins attempting to make amends for his betrayal three years ago, Ambrose finally came around to The Kingslayer’s cause when the former turncoat rescued him from a beatdown by the dominant Raw Tag Team Champions. Only now it was Rollins who wasn’t ready to play nice, fed up with The Lunatic Fringe’s unwillingness to take him at his word that he was a changed man.

In a heated confrontation the next week on Raw, the two put their cards on the table and worked out all their pent-up aggression, and The Swiss Cyborg and The Alabaster Gladiator took that moment to jump on their recent rivals. Only Ambrose & Rollins fought back in unison this time, driving the champs away and finally delivering a (reciprocated) Shield fist bump moments before the match was sanctioned in earnest. Now, the team nobody expected takes on the reunion many thought would never come. And if Ambrose & Rollins have retained even a specter of their old dominance … well, it just might be time to re-set the bar.

To see who walks out of Brooklyn as Raw Tag Team Champions, tune in to SummerSlam, streaming live this Sunday at a special start time of 7 ET/4 PT on the award-winning WWE Network.

With wrestling’s biggest party of the summer just around the corner, fans’ excitement for SummerSlam is reaching fever pitch.

Among the people who are looking forward to Brooklyn is the former two-time WWE heavyweight champion Seth Rollins, who himself has had some landmark matches at the event, including last year’s match with Finn Balor to crown the inaugural WWE Universal Champion.

However, to date, the Kingslayer doesn’t have an opponent for the summer extravaganza but told VultureHound he has been afforded some opportunities he never thought would come his way since joining the WWE.

“One way or the other, I will make sure I am on the show,” Rollins said. “I’ve had some fantastic memories of SummerSlam, so I think this is going to be the biggest one.”

He added: “Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to do some really wild things which I never thought possible. When I was a kid growing up, all I ever imagined was wrestling in front of big crowds, but being part of it now, I have done things I never expected.

“For example, I have been on The Daily Show, having a feud with John Stewart and I just shot a movie. It has been amazing. I have made friends with my favourite bands. It’s just things you never envision.”

It has been a bit of an up-and-down year for Rollins, after nearly missing WrestleMania for the second year in a row, and slowly winning the crowd over after being in the pocket of The Authority for such a long time.

However, now the 31-year-old believes that the natural progression in his character is starting to win fans over, which has led to him even turn his biggest weakness (the famously injured knee) into his deadliest weapon with the ripcord knee finisher.

Rollins said it is thanks to rigorous rehabilitation that he has been able to do this, as it was again a knee injury that nearly kept him out of the Ultimate Thrill Ride of Wrestlemania.

He added: “When Samoa Joe collapsed on my knee and I felt it pop I was convinced I was missing WrestleMania.

“It felt worse than it did the previous time, and I thought, “That was it, I’m missing it.” It wasn’t even a question in my mind.

“But when I saw the doctor, they said my knee was structurally intact but I just needed some intense rehab to make sure I was ready for Mania. Obviously, there were some bumps on the road but I did everything I could to get to where I needed to be so that I could be out there and soak up the atmosphere.”

Since joining the WWE Seth has been on a wave of momentum, being crowned the first ever NXT champion, being an integral part of one of the greatest factions of the modern era, arguably being involved in the greatest Money in the Bank cash in of all time, and now, being the face of the new WWE 2K18 game.

With exclusive screenshots of Rollins recently released, on first impressions the game looks a lot sleeker than in previous years, something even Rollins admits is amazing.

“The screen shots I was very impressed with, the likeness of me is incredible right down to the hair on my chest,” added the Iowa native.

“It is quite the honour to be on the front cover of the game, to be among the likes of Brock Lesnar, Steven Austin, John Cena and The Rock, it’s elite company to be alongside.”

With Rollins being on the cover of the new game, many fans believe this is a clear sign of the direction the WWE is looking to head in, with more and more indie talents joining the WWE ranks, this is something Rollins believes is a good sign.

He added: “I think it started with Punk and Daniel Bryan and then you look at myself and Ambrose at NXT and FCW we paved the way and changed the mindset and broke the mould in the terms of what the modern WWE superstar is going to look like.”

With the likes of Roderick Strong and Kassius Ohno breaking through, they are people Rollins has his eyes on, but looking to the future, Rollins is hoping a certain Heart Break Kid may come back for one last match.

“Based on the shape he was in at Wrestlemania, I think Shawn Michaels has one more match in him,” Rollins hinted. “So if he ever wants to come out of retirement I’d love to step into the ring with him.”

Vulture Hound Interview

Say what you will about Dean Ambrose; the man keeps his promises.

The Lunatic Fringe told Seth Rollins he was done bailing out his former brother-in-arms last week, and he stayed true to his word in emphatic fashion during The Architect’s rematch with Sheamus on Raw. Whereas Rollins surprised the Raw Tag Team Champion last week, The Alabaster Gladiator reversed his fortunes in Round 2, pinning Rollins with a roll-up of his own off an assist from Cesaro.

The cohesive Raw Tag Team Champions proceeded to lay a lengthy beating on Rollins after the match — one that only got worse when they realized that Ambrose would not be coming to the rescue.

Say what you will about Seth Rollins, but he won’t leave a man hanging: Despite Dean Ambrose refusing to come to The Kingslayer’s aid after his match against Sheamus, Rollins lent Ambrose a hand after The Lunatic Fringe found himself in hot water of his own with the Raw Tag Team Champions.

The main difference was that Ambrose had won his match, an epic, scientific affair with Cesaro wherein the two Superstars traded a wide array of old-school holds and locks before they broke out the heavy artillery. Down to the wire, The Lunatic Fringe won off a roll-up, and when the champs swarmed him, Rollins arrived to drive them back. Ambrose was convinced enough of Rollins’ intentions to offer the customary fist bump, but Rollins left him high and dry this time around. Turnabout is fair play.

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When did you film Armed Response?

“It was all shot in April of 2016, I want to say.”

Yeah, you looked pretty mobile and I was wondering how it coincided with your knee injury.

“I was right at the end of my rehab period. So I got hurt and had surgery in November of 2015 so this was probably five months or so out from that. I was at the very end of my rehab so I was moving around pretty well, though I still had a ways to go before I was ring ready, but I was certainly silver screen ready.”

When I watched the trailer, you’re only shown a few times so I thought “Oh, he’ll die pretty quickly.” But you’re in this until the very end. It’s a pretty prominent role. What was your favorite part about playing this guy?

“Yeah, Bret’s just a hard dude, man. Clearly a veteran of many battles and conflicts and he’s pretty straight-forward when it comes to what he thinks is true and how he wants things to get done. And he doesn’t like taking orders necessarily. I think he just likes to tell it like it is. Or at least how he sees things from his perspective. He’s not shy when it comes to sharing his opinion. He’s constantly ready to let you know what he feels about everything that’s going on.”

In these types of films, there’s always the one soldier who’s had it with all the craziness. Like Hudson in Aliens.

“Yeah, that was the fun part. Bret’s role in the film is the guy who’s looking for logical answers to everything. He’s saying “Look, I’ve been in situations like this before and it’s not ghosts or aliens or anything crazy like that.” He looks at the hard empirical evidence and wants to move forward based on that. Some of the other characters in the film are thinking about things in a different way so it creates some good drama. It was cool though to just get into that zone and be a little bit of a jerk.”

From the poster, you’d think this was just a straight action film, but there’s a big ghostly mystery element to it. Also, a sci-fi bend.

“When I first read the script, I thought it was pretty damn cool. I thought it was very interesting because it had a lot of elements that I think people are afraid of when it comes to today’s technology and the power that artificial intelligence can wield. It also had the whole “Whodunnit?” deal of people being trapped in a space and not knowing what’s going on. It had a strong suspense element to it. And like you said, the poster sort of makes it look like a huge action blow-out, and there are some big action pieces in it for sure, but I don’t think that’s what the soul of the movie is. I think it’s cool that it’s able to cross over different genres and give you different feelings from moment to moment.”

How does it work with the WWE Studios films? Were they like “You’re up. Time to be in a movie?”

“It’s definitely an option. They called me and said that they had this script and this movie and obviously I had this time off due to injury so it made things easier to schedule, but yeah they said they had this role they thought I’d be perfect for and asked if I wanted to read the script. It was an open invitation and I’d never done anything like this before so it was very intriguing. I wanted to check it out. The script was cool and the cast was awesome so I figured “Why not?””

Obviously, you’re able to perform in thousands of people, but how nervous were you headed into this?

“It was a little nerve-racking, sure, since it was my first time. And I was dealing with some pretty great and seasoned actors — like Wesley Snipes, Anne Heche, and Dave Annable who were the other players in the movie — and they all had a ton of experience. Working scenes with Anne, who’s amazing and has a great emotional range, I’d have to try and match her level of talent. Or to work with Wesley who’s just always calm and cool and always very subtle in his scenes, I’d try to pick up on what he’s doing in specific moments so that I could play off them and how he delivers his lines. So I was always focused, just so they could see me as a peer and maybe not some idiot who’s coming in from the pro-wrestling world. I’m sure they had their preconceived notions about me so I just hope that once we were finished with a scene, or finished with the movie overall, that I managed to change their perspective based on what they were expecting.”

Speaking of Anne Heche, of all the people to actually have fight scenes with in this film you get into it pretty harsh with Anne. What was that like?

“Yeah, it was fun. It was cool. Doing fight scenes in movies is a lot different than in WWE, but it was still relatively easy. One of the things that’s very interesting to me is that the fight choreography, on these movies – someone like Anne who hasn’t done that many movie fights in her life, it might take her a bit more time to memorize the steps of a fight. But she was into it. She really got in there. But it’s something that I do all the time so it came second nature to me, so I didn’t have to rehearse all that much. The fight coordinators are very particular and they’re safety-oriented so they really want to make sure you got it all down, but if you tell me once, I’m there. I don’t need to go over it a million times. I got it. It comes very naturally to me to do that. And our industry is a little more physical than I think some people know, with regard to how much contact is made between WWE Superstars when we’re wrestling a match. Whereas on set, sometimes actors aren’t familiar with that sort of physicality. There’s a scene where Dave and I sort of quickly brawl and Dave’s heart rate definitely went up when I snatched him by his vest and dumped him on a table. But it’s just a different atmosphere so it was cool to just bring a little bit of my world into the mix and I think they appreciated it.”

Where was this shot? Was it an abandoned prison?

“It was an actual working prison. It was not abandoned. It was actually built somewhat recently. It’s a newer prison in southern Louisiana, probably about an hour south of New Orleans. The entire movie was filmed in that area and even the scenes, the desert scenes, where we’re supposedly over in the Middle East, they somehow managed to make that look great even though we were just in New Orleans. It was a cool experience all around. The prison was wild. It definitely had its inmates rolling around. It was a functional working prison.”

I noticed that your costume in the movie was basically your old Shield gear more or less.

“Yeah, it didn’t too feel strange. [laughs] To put a vest back on and stuff like that. It was funny. I thought that was an interesting costume choice, but it worked out well. It was cool to sort of jump back into that outfit for a while.”

Switching gears slightly, how does it feel to be on the cover of WWE 2K18? And were you expecting any fan backlash after smashing all those ironic wrestling items in the reveal video?

“No, I didn’t really expect too much backlash. I thought it was cool and exciting. I got to smash things with a bat. Take off Andre’s head. Burn a bunch of stuff and break glass with my fist. It was a cool experience. We shot it in LA in this abandoned mall, which felt super weird. I know they filmed some scenes from Westworld in there too, which is a great show so I was just excited to be on the same set of that show. It was a really spooky experience to be in an abandoned mall, but I think the spot turned out great. It was a big win for 2K, WWE, and myself. There’s certainly an element of responsibility that goes with being on the cover, but I’m just stoked for it. I think it’s awesome for our generation to have a guy on the cover who comes from the group of guys and girls on the road right now who are grinding it out every single day and night. I feel honored to have gotten the opportunity and that I was chosen to be that guy when it could have been anyone from Charlotte Flair to Sasha Banks to Roman Reigns.”

IGN Interview

Firstly, can you take us into how you came to be in Armed Response and what it was about the project that most appealed to you?

“I was injured in November of 2015. I tore my knee up pretty bad and was in the middle of rehabbing when the WWE Studios film department gave me a call and said they had a role in a movie coming up. I was able to fit it into my schedule as I was just finishing up my rehab and they asked me to play the role of Brett in the film in New Orleans for a month, so I said, ‘Yeah, why not, I’ll give it a shot!’ It seemed pretty cool and obviously the rest of the cast was nice and I got to work with those guys so it seemed like a good opportunity for my first movie.”

Brett certainly doesn’t shy away from saying what he thinks. What did you like most about playing a character like that?

“Brett was a cool character in the sense that he’s a badass and gets to push everybody’s buttons a little bit. He also gets to be a jerk which is always fun to do on film because a lot of time, in real life, you’ve got to keep those things that you want to say under your tongue. When you’re in a movie playing a character that doesn’t bite his tongue, you can say everything and act in a certain way you otherwise couldn’t. It’s nice to channel that energy on screen and I think Brett was a cool character and I enjoyed sliding into his mindset from time to time.”

Wesley Snipes is one of the biggest action movie stars out there. Can you talk us through your experience working with him here?

“WWE is cool in the sense that we have a lot of people from mainstream media come into our world to be a part of the excitement that is Monday Night RAW and SmackDown Live so I’m used to being around celebrities in that sense. However, it was still nerve-wracking to be in scenes with Wesley Snipes, the guy who’s been acting for 30+ years and made a lot of money in Hollywood. He seemed like a cool dude to me as a kid growing up so it was great to be around him and he was awesome and treated everyone with a great deal of respect. He’s still the same cool, calm, and collected guy I thought he was going to be so he’s one of those dudes who lived up to the hype. When you set a certain expectation for somebody and you meet them, he definitely didn’t let me down.”

You get to use some very cool guns throughout Armed Response; did you receive much in the way of training for that?

“We had a little bit on set. They had some people there from the military who were very particular about how we held the weapons and the way to search a room and stuff like that. There’s not a whole lot of armed combat in the film, just a little bit, so we didn’t have the same extent of training some of the guys go through but there were definitely people on set to take care of that sort of thing for us and to make sure we were as authentic as we could be.”

Brett’s fight scene with Riley is particularly memorable and probably the movie’s biggest and most exciting action sequence. What was it like to shoot that?

I’m used to doing things in one take and one shot and doing all my own stunts (if you want to put it that way) with WWE so it was pretty interesting. Anne [Heche] wanted to do as much as she could and then I’d do some work with her stunt double to make it as good as possible. Kudos to Anne for getting into it and letting me manhandle her a little bit as she’s much smaller than I am so I was kind of worried about hurting her but she was happy for me to bring it to her. It was a cool experience and watching the film back, it came off pretty good.”

You get some very memorable one-liners in the movie; were there any that ended up on the cutting room floor?

“There was a good one liner that I really liked that I’m not allowed to repeat right now [Laughs]. I smashed a guy in the face with the butt of my rifle and uttered a nice little expletive in his direction that I thought was pretty funny.”

Did the fact you were recovering from an injury during shooting make starring in the movie significantly harder for you?

“It was a little difficult for me as I had my rehab system set up at home so going down to New Orleans threw me off a little bit as I didn’t my doctors there to let me know how my progress was doing. It was just different for me. So, having to figure things out and see how my knee was doing on a day to day basis on my own was something that was a little tough for me, especially as I was trying to get back to WWE as soon as I possibly could. It all worked out fine, though, and was a good experience for me and I wasn’t doing anything stunt wise that was too crazy so it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it and my knee held up just fine.”

What is your take on how Armed Response provides a different take on the way A.I. (artificial intelligence) is used in films?

“I think it’s a really cool concept as the world moves closer and closer to autonomy, especially when you look at self-driving cars and robots and what they’re going to be in the future. This movie sees The Temple taking control and fighting back and it’s an interesting take on that because a lot of people think artificial intelligence could be used for bad. You know, ‘What if these robots grow consciousness and take over and they’re evil?’ This movie is the opposite of that as the artificial intelligence weeds out the bad guys, grows a conscience and uses it for good. It’s very interesting prospect and I think people look at it as the future and it being so far off but it might not be as far off as you think.”

Has starring in the movie made you want to find more acting roles or are you focused on your wrestling career for the time being?

“I’m certainly focused on WWE. That’s a 24/7 lifestyle, not just a job. That’s my main focus, obviously, but if the opportunity came up to do more movies like this I would not be opposed. I would be very open to the idea if the movie and the role were right for me at the time.”

The Miz recently made headlines when he said he’d like to play Booster Gold in a DC Comics movie; are there any superhero roles you have your eye on?

“Oh man, I don’t know. Who would I be good as as a superhero? Anybody got long dark hair and a beard? A role as a superhero or maybe a supervillain would be pretty sweet, though, so who knows! If the opportunity came along and it sounded cool, I’d be down for sure.”

You’d make a good Shazam opposite The Rock in the Black Adam movie he’s doing!

“I’d be a good Shazam, is that what would you said? Alright! I’ll have to look that up, I don’t know that one.”

You were recently named the cover star of WWE 2K18, an honour which doesn’t seem to usually be reserved for active members of the roster. How did it feel to be chosen?

“I was pretty stoked. I got the call, they asked me to do it and I was really excited not just for myself but my entire generation of guys. You mentioned that there’s a long history of inactive wrestlers being on the cover, so to be the first of my generation of guys and girls to get than honour was really cool. I know in the locker room it was cool for the guys and girls to see one of us on there so to speak and it made us feel a little bit validated in the sense that we put in all the work and are finally getting a bit of the credit. That’s the way we feel about it anyway so it’s definitely awesome and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s responses when the game’s on shelves in a couple of months.”

The moment you cashed in at WrestleMania is personally my favourite Mania moment of all-time. How does it feel now to look back on that night and winning the WWE Championship on such a grand stage? Are you striving to top that in the future?

“I’m definitely striving to top it. For me to walk out of WrestleMania with the world championship over my head was the childhood dream but at the same time, I also want to be the guy billed in the main event of WrestleMania so that’s a future goal of mine as well. Looking back on it, it’s hard to put into words how it felt, man. It happened so fast, it almost seems like a bit of a dream or fiction. It’s interesting to see it in a highlight reel or video package as you look at it and almost look at it like it’s not you and that it happened to someone else. It was a special moment that I don’t think will be recreated maybe ever. It’s cool that it’s going to go down in history, like you said, as one of the most exciting and greatest WrestleMania moments of all-time.”

You took down Triple H at WrestleMania, so looking ahead to next year’s event in New Orleans, what are you hoping to achieve there?

“Like I said, for me, it’s all about the main event. I want to be the guy on the poster, I want to be the guy who’s going on last at WrestleMania and in the match not just doing the run in or the cash in or what have you. That’s my goal; to be that guy. To be the Hulk Hogan, the John Cena, the Roman Reigns (the guy who’s been in that spot for the past few years now). For me, that’s always the goal, it always has been the goal, and I won’t rest until I get it.”

What are the origins of your Kingslayer nickname? Was it inspired at all by Game of Thrones?

“Yeah, 100%. It came from me and Cesaro riding down the road coming up with ideas for me moving into WrestleMania and me working with The King of Kings, Triple H. The Kingslayer was something we discussed and it just so happened it was available for me to use so I figured, ‘Why not?’ It was a cool correlation, we got it all figured out and now it’s on a t-shirt with my logo, so that’s pretty sweet.”

Since the brand split, there’s been some healthy competition between Raw and SmackDown. Would you ever be tempted to make the leap there so you could square off with the likes of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura?

“I’m happy on RAW right now. RAW is the flagship show. I feel like it is, always will be, and always has been. Obviously, if I move to SmackDown Live, it will be the flagship show because I’m on it and there are certainly some guys over there I haven’t locked horns with. I’d like to do that, but for now, I’m happy where I’m at, I’m happy with the competition on RAW and I’m moving forward.”

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