For me, Ole Anderson was the toughest man in the National Wrestling Alliance.
He did not have an overly vicious hardcore image, and he was never regularly showcased in blood-and-guts matches every time he was in the ring. He rarely used weapons, and was not known for taking physically dangerous bumps in his matches.
But when fans looked into his eyes, they could see the devil on a bad day.
King Kong had nothing on Ole Anderson.
Every time I see Sheamus in WWE, I think of Ole.
Sheamus is simple, understated and deceiving in his seemingly typical Superstar image. The spiked red hair is nothing more than a gimmick, the Celtic imagery on his gear merely just representative of his home country of Ireland.
It’s the look in his eyes, the physicality of his ring work, that screams "I am a man to be feared." Sheamus is the guy you want by your side in a barroom brawl, not the guy on the other side of it.
If you’re faced with a five-on-one, and Sheamus steps in to help, then you’re no longer outnumbered. They are.
But, of course, Sheamus was not always this tough.
The image I have burned into my mind is that of Sheamus backstage on Monday Night RAW, running away from the Nexus.
Now truth be told, I could not get all that upset at him for doing that. He was a heel at the time, and heels, at their core, are cowards. When faced with a challenge stronger than he can handle, a heel will usually head for the hills.
But, when it happened, I remember thinking that it was a real shame. For me, Sheamus had never looked more weak than he did that night, and for a guy who had always been presented as a tough, no nonsense brawler, he instantly seemed to take a step back.
And, therein lies the issue with the notion that he is the toughest in the company today.
Not the bit involving Nexus, that was a long time ago, and time has all but forgotten Sheamus’ yellow streak.
The fact is, the gimmick that Sheamus has demands that he be considered tough. It is implied in the way he carries himself in the ring, and it is evident in his physically aggressive offense.
He has the reputation of being a bruiser, and a big reason for that is because WWE has almost always portrayed him in that light.
But, for him to truly be considered the toughest man in the company, perhaps more should be done with Sheamus to put that over.
And no, I’m not talking about having Undertaker throw him off a Hell in a Cell cage. No disrespect to Mick Foley, but yeah, that dude is crazy.
I would love to see Sheamus in a grueling, hard-fought Iron Man Match. Or, perhaps a good, old fashioned street fight, with both workers taking the match all the way to the parking lot.
Perhaps dropping the smile and being more intense with his character is what would help The Great White’s image more than anything else.
Or maybe the combination of intense matches and physically demanding rivalries, over several more years, will help fully establish Sheamus as the toughest man in WWE.
As of now, I would guess that Triple H, John Cena or even Undertaker would be considered the toughest. The time they have each put in, along with the many matches, return from injuries and overall longevity, all make them candidates for the title of WWE’s toughest wrestler.
I believe that Sheamus, if he does not now, will one day deserve mention in that rank.
In a company full of chiseled Superstars who all look as though they could more than take care of themselves, Sheamus, at times, gets lost in the shuffle. We know he’s tough, we know he’s rugged.
But, Sheamus’ ring work has steadily been improving since his WWE debut in 2009, and now all we really see is a hard-nosed world champion who, at times, can blend right in with everyone else.
Sheamus is a genuine tough guy, and though he is not always overtly shown in that way, there is no denying that when it comes to workers who can bring the brawl, The Celtic Warrior is among the best.
But, he has nothing on Ole Anderson.