Seth Rollins slipped into a new skin, that of a top heel, when he smashed Dean Ambrose's head into a stack of concrete blocks.
That savage act will remain imprinted on fans' minds for years to come. Its severity, impact and uniqueness transformed Rollins from a worm to a snake, from coward to convincing threat.
Following a spectacular Lumberjack match at SummerSlam where the brawling bled out into the crowd, Rollins and Ambrose collided on Monday's Raw in a Falls Count Anywhere match. This clash was designed to allow them to take their violence wherever they wished.
The same frenetic energy that powered their SummerSlam bout was present again—this time doubled.
In what will surely be a Match of the Year candidate, the two foes flew at each other, their fists in constant motion. The attack that ended the contest pulled at the audience even more than the action that preceded it, though.
Kane removed the timekeeper's table to reveal a stack of cinder blocks.
He then dragged Ambrose and placed his face atop it. Rollins followed with a boot to the back of Ambrose's head, leaving a mess of cracked concrete underneath.
An act like that stuns an audience regardless of their knowledge that the violence is scripted and as safe and controlled as possible.
WWE fans have seen wrestlers smash each other with trash cans, steel chairs and acoustic guitars, but never something like this. It was a spot seemingly plucked from ECW's heyday or some independent promotion bent on delivering hardcore action.
It was barbarity that shocks even the barbarians.
Rollins' resume is bolstered by that attack. Previous spots have featured him scurrying from the ring like a roach or relying on outside interference to win his matches. Now fans will associate him with Ambrose getting rolled out on a stretcher.
The Lunatic Fringe has since gone missing.
To further the storyline, WWE.com reported, "Dean Ambrose has not only refused treatment but is reportedly missing after escaping WWE medical personnel altogether." In reality, he's likely out of commission so he can begin filming WWE Studios' Lockdown.
As Marc Graser wrote for Variety, "WWE star Jonathan Good, known in the ring as Dean Ambrose, will headline the film."
The longer Ambrose is gone, the more powerful Rollins looks. It helps too that he didn't just twist his ankle or some other common attack. He shelved Ambrose in a vile way that will echo for a long time.
In the same way that Mark Henry's list of victims during his Hall of Pain days increasingly made him more of a monster, Rollins concrete-assisted Curb Stomp has him moving forward with a newly intimidating aura.
Scripting haunting moments is key to building heels.
WWE did that on Monday's Raw, allowing Rollins to have a moment on par with anything the roster's other villains besides Brock Lesnar have committed this year.
His bravado and his scrambling away from his enemy made it easy to hate him. Pounding Ambrose's face into concrete has made him fearsome.
It's an act he can brag about and threaten to repeat against his other enemies. In 1977, Greg Valentine elevated his heel status in an angle where he "broke" Wahoo McDaniel's leg. He spent weeks boasting about the attack, even wearing a "I Broke Wahoo's leg" T-shirt.
WWE doesn't need Rollins to plaster the result of his actions on a T-shirt, but it can go a similar route and drum up hatred for him by reminding us of what he's done. He's already begun to gloat, tweeting an unsettling message in reference to his actions:
Lesnar, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H sit atop WWE's hierarchy of villainy. Rollins moved to join them with one blow.
The next step must be to capitalize on this. Rollins is drenched with momentum right now. He needs to follow up one dirty deed with others, leaving new victims in his wake.
Rather than depend on non-wrestlers or a part-timer to be the company's top heel, officials can turn to Rollins. His latest violent outburst is beyond what a henchman would do; it's an act that shifts fans' perception of Rollins, giving them reason to expect more carnage.
WWE has a new monster at the ready, his fangs still glistening with venom.