WWE: Sheamus, Cena, and the Fans' Rejection of "The Super Face"

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WWE: Sheamus, Cena, and the Fans' Rejection of

There's an old saying that goes something like, "...but in the end, the good guys win."  We love to see the hero prevail.  We want justice to be served.  This single idea drives most of the movies and television we watch, books we read and stories we tell.  Good triumphs over evil.

Well...good triumphs over evil after a long, hard-fought struggle that keeps us at the edge of our seats.  That's more like it.

The darker the storm clouds above, the bleaker the outlook for our noble do-gooders, the more satisfying and compelling when we see them rise from the ashes and achieve glory.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise to anyone that newly crowned World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus received a less-than-warm welcome from the Miami crowd last week on Monday Night Raw.  After squashing Daniel Bryan in an embarrassing 18-second title match to kick off WrestleMania 28, the Celtic Warrior was booed and jeered through an entire promo with Alberto Del Rio, and to make matters worse, he was drowned out with cheers for the very man he defeated, the supposed heel, Daniel Bryan.

While this switcheroo can be attributed to a variety of factors—a raucous Miami crowd, an extremely popular catchphrase and a general feeling of being shortchanged a title match, to name a few—it seems as if the WWE fans were all too willing to abandon "the Great White" for one simple reason: Sheamus has been a bit too great as of late.

For months, Sheamus has floated up and down the WWE roster, dispatching his foes with ease, passing out Brogue Kicks like candy on Halloween.  His matches lasting only a bit longer than the 18-second mini-match with Bryan, Sheamus' streak of dominance set him on the fast track not only for a title shot, but also for a long push as a prime-time face. 

The fans were able to swallow his lame squash matches week after week.  They were willing to stomach his surprise Royal Rumble upset over the runaway favorite Chris Jericho.  But the WWE writers pushed their luck, and they are now feeling the full effects of the Super Sheamus backlash.

This act is nothing new.  Hulk Hogan was squashing baddies and telling the kids to drink their milk, take their vitamins and say their prayers decades ago.  However, the days of the Super Face are long gone. 

Well, so we thought.  Guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were nearly invincible in the ring, but they had enough edge to stay fresh to the mature audiences.  The Undertaker has always been a larger-than-life presence, but he was never a "role model."  But as the WWE has shifted into what has become known as the "PG Era," John Cena's once popular "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick was tossed aside in favor of the mask and cape.  About a decade later, and Cena is still the ire of any fan old enough to drive.

It has been made clear that no one wins in a superhero world...except for the superhero every time.  The older fans do not want to see a guy pat his opponent on the back, take the high road, or "rise above hate."  The younger fans will only be "younger" for so long.  Yet it's not only the fans that suffer, but the talent as well.  The young guys on the roster fail to build credibility when they are constantly jobbing to the unstoppable forces of Cena or Sheamus.  And for the heroes themselves, well, have fun being booed out of arenas the world over.

So why is it that the WWE is still trying to push faces in this manner?  Is there even an alternative anymore?  In the PG era, can a character capture the imagination of the fans the way they could in the days of The Rock or Stone Cold?  We won't be seeing John Cena down a six-pack, steal a truck and flip the bird anytime soon.  So maybe the only way to get faces over is to make them into Terminators?

Well, if this were true, it seems highly unlikely that Daniel Bryan would be as over as he is at the moment.  Just as Sheamus' fall from grace was made ever the more easy because of his unattractive, superhuman dominance, Daniel Bryan's explosion of popularity has been made ever the more easy because of his incredible skill in the ring.

Perhaps the Sheamus-Bryan role reversal will trigger a change in how good and evil are presented to the fans.  Perhaps the young talent like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk will carry the torch to a place where wrestling ability, technique and merit will appeal to the fans, making the "five-moves-of-doom" obsolete?  A guy can dream.        

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