Armenian Wrestler Named As New WWE Champion

Wrestler Seth Rollins in the ring. Jan. 10, 2015. (Photo: Anton Jackson)

What Does It Mean For Armenian Visibility in Young American Pop Culture?


Seth Rollins has been called “The Undeniable Future of WWE” and he was named World Wrestling Federation (WWE) World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania 31, but he’s less often recognized as an Armenian-American. Born to an Armenian father he never met, Rollins took the last name Lopez and was raised by his mother and stepfather. He’s spoken in scant media about his Armenian heritage.

Nationalities often inform wrestlers’ characters like Rusev, a Bulgarian who hails Putin or the Uso brothers who roll into the ring with Samoan chants — and some viewers criticize the industry for using such simple stereotypes — but for wrestlers like Seth Rollins whose characters don’t hinge on their nationalities, the question remains whether it is more or less important to be recognized for one’s background.

This is not to say Seth Rollins’s character needs to be presented as Armenian in the ring. He has more freedom to develop an intricate story that’s free of hookups. In less than a year, Rollins turned on his tag-team The Shield and went solo, aligning with The Authority to plow past WWE Champions John Cena and Brock Lesnar. Seth Rollins’ plot centered on power, paving a more direct route to success than a nationality-based storyline may have in the same amount of time.

Aside from character strategy, it seems worth noting in a broader societal sense that Seth Rollins is Armenian. This would be partly helpful as WWE mends its diversity issues, but especially in light of the Armenian peoples’ genocide survival. It’s important for continuity and cultural preservation to establish that people of Armenian descent have lived and thrived to do great things in the world after the early 20th century Armenian Genocide.

Like many entertainers, Rollins’s deservedness is questioned at times. He won his title by cashing in a sort of voucher briefcase he once earned, and that owed him any near-future title he desired. And Rollins was recently the subject of a scandal involving leaked private photos. But precisely like the successes of many other Armenian entertainers, Rollins’s achievements symbolize via blood and lineage that generations of Armenians have strengths contributing to global culture. Seth Rollins is an incredibly talented athlete and performer, and he’s quickly becoming one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. The WWE universe would not have Seth Rollins if the genocide had taken his ancestors’ lives.

It’s possible Rollins feels removed from Armenian culture and that would be understandable. He was not raised in an Armenian home. A person is not obligated to any identity if he or she does not feel comfortable or connected enough to express themselves in such a way. But Rollins seems to comfortably admit he’s Armenian when asked, and it’s certainly special for Armenians to celebrate one another’s successes. If we recognize Rollins’ Armenian heritage, it can only help our culture’s advancements.

Kate Spalla is a part Armenian writer living in New York City with her cat, Pizza who is also part Armenian – at least she thinks. She has written about live music review, professional wrestling, politics and more across publications such as Time Out New York Magazine,, and


Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.


  1. Satenik said:

    If he admits that he is Armenian or identifies with it ,then so be it. I am sure that Armenians will embrace him,of course they will. But only he can decide if he feels Armenian or not.

  2. hye said:

    Hi Kate, hope you’ll read this: Seth Rollins is an Armenian if he feels he is, and he is more Armenian than me(me being full blooded armenian does not mean anything), because he is not obligated to say/admit he is an Armenian but he says he is. There is no one at the door/gate that determine you are an Armenian or not, being half blodded 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32 1/64 or etc. Garegin Nzhdeh once said to be good Armenian an individual needs to be good person. I wish him success in ring and to encourage him I’ll say that Armenians are succesful in sports and we’ve had succesful generals(whether Bagration, Suvorov(his mother was Armenian), Garegin Nzhdeh, Gevorg Marzpetuni, Monte Melkonian(last 3 won battles with limited resources(Gevorg Marzpetuni with 20 soldiers against an enemy’s huge army))). I don’t watch sports but I’ll definitely watch him and support him.

  3. S. said:

    1. You seem to have confused the terms “nationality” and “ethnicities”. Seth Rollins’ ethnicity is Armenian, but he is of American nationality.
    2. Pro wrestling is scripted.

    • Narek said:

      So what pro wrestling’s scripted (at least you didn’t use the F-word [fake]) ? Performers take real risk and put their body on the line. Apart from athleticism it also requires good mic work and Seth has those qualities that’s why he’s got the push.