When it was announced that Seth “Freakin'” Rollins and Austin Theory would close out the first televised episode of WWE programming with a match for the WWE United States Championship, it felt like a massive deal. The duo were working the match across the WWE Holiday Tour circuit, albeit in a cage match, and even if Rollins came out of the wrong side of the pin for the live audiences, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way the match would shake out in the end.

Like him or not, Rollins, is, like, incredibly over in the WWE audience, with his theme song sing-along among the loudest reactions you’ll hear at a live show. Giving him the strap, especially over a performer like Theory, who is less than over, would give fans a fantastic start to the calendar year. Still, Theory wasn’t too concerned with what fans thought, as his forever reign is just getting started.

“My confidence is at an all-time high,” Theory said backstage. “And why is that? It’s the new year. New year, new me, that’s what everybody says, right? No me, 2022 was Austin Theory’s year and 2023 is gonna be my year but let’s talk about two weeks ago with Seth “Freakin'” Rollins when I got under his skin. And then, he wanted to pick a fight with The Bloodline, and when he least expected it, I dropped him. I guess that just clarifies that Seth “Freakin'” Rollins is the past and me? Well everybody knows I’m the now. But, I do hold this United States Championship, but that’s not all I hold, I hold all of the cards right here in my hand, and I’m outplaying Seth “Freakin'” Rollins on every turn. And that just means that my forever reign, is just beginning. Not too bad for a kid, huh Seth?”

Asked to comment on the situation himself, Rollins didn’t seem too worried about wrestling Theory, as he’s wrestled and defeated him a number of times before, even if he’s been coming up on the wrong side of the pin as of late.

“Nashville! Who’s ready to sing tonight? Mmhmm, 2023 already looking at lot like 2022. The Bloodline here trying to take over my show, Austin Theory trying to take my spot, Cathy Kelley, as long as I’m here, as long as I’m bleeding, breathing, doing it all, Monday nights belong to me. And in just a few minutes, so will that United States Championship. Now Austin Theory, he’s gonna do everything in his power to hold onto that title, and I dig that, I do, because that’s how much the United States title means. I dig that. But as good as Austin Theory is, and as good as he’s gonna be, there’s one thing that he ain’t, and that’s me. Because I am a Visionary, I am a Revolutionary, I am Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins! Party on Broadway tonight!”

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Austin Theory remains WWE champion two days into 2023.

Taking part in their 27th match together, according to Cagematch, Theory and Rollins took the ring in very different mindsets, with the former working incredibly tight, whereas the latter commanded the offense with ease. Working like the champion, Rollins commanded the ring until his knee gave out on a curb stomp attempt that dogged his performance throughout. While Theory attempted to leave the match midway through the contest, quite literally attempting to take his belt and going home, Rollins kept the match alive and even laid out his much younger foe with a Pedigree, but because the referee was knocked out, it didn’t secure the three. Still, with a new referee in place, Theory’s underhanded tactics proved too much for an injured Rollins to overcome, as he was dropped with a low blow, then a chop-block, and finally the A-Town Down for the victory.

Bad news: Theory is still champion, and needless to say, the crowd in attendance was not happy to see that happen, but because Theory worked heel, tried to run away, and ultimately had to cheat to win, this match should perfectly set up another bout at some point down the line, maybe at the Royal Rumble, maybe just in the actual Royal Rumble as one of those fun mini-feuds that take place in the middle of the massive match from time to time.

Will Theory and Rollins leave this feud in the past any time soon? No, probably not, so really, it doesn’t matter too much who holds the strap now or at any point in the not-too-distant future; all that matters is the fun of watching Rollins work semi-face and Theory get trashed despite being the underdog in the contests.