WWE: Why Sheamus Brings Legitimacy to the World Heavyweight Championship

Bryan HaasFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

In the roughly three years since World Heavyweight champion Sheamus debuted in the WWE, he has established a foothold at the top of the mountain that few competitors could also lay claim to.

After winning the WWE Championship from John Cena around six months after his debut, many questioned both the quickness with which that event took place and whether or not Sheamus was in the business to stay. 

Now, as reigning World Heavyweight champ and with reigns as WWE champion (twice) and United States champion, as well as winning the 2010 King of the Ring tournament and the 2012 Royal Rumble, it seems as if the company is firmly behind Sheamus as a firm fixture.

And at 34 years of age, he still has several good years left in the tank.

He competes at a high level, with a great deal of energy, and there seems to be no reason why that should end anytime soon. Placing him in feuds with younger, more talented or more seasoned competitors only aids in making him better at this point.

Right now, he is engaged in a feud with the somewhat bland Alberto Del Rio, who is actually a fairly skilled worker in the ring. But while Del Rio's character suggests greatness, and he speaks about his destiny, the Mexican superstar has yet to really set the WWE Universe on fire with his grating persona.

This is of little consequence in this case, though, since Sheamus has shouldered the load and carried it to main-event status.

And though he has had runs as a heel, Sheamus's current face persona is the one that he seems more suited for.

Everyone is used to the classic monster running around creating havoc in the ring. But seldom is it that the monster is a pasty, six-and-a-half-foot Irishman. Sheamus also does a great deal of appearances for the company, with a great focus of them on school-aged children, for whom he is built to serve as a role model.

As much as John Cena is a huge draw, especially among children, Sheamus has the potential to be even bigger. He's foreign, so his global appeal is automatic. He is also somewhat of a gentle giant, so that makes him lovable as well.

Could Sheamus become this generation's Hulk Hogan?

Well, he doesn't have a deep tan, so the answer is no. But the comparisons between the Irishman and Hogan should not end there. They actually do have several similarities.

When Hogan returned to the WWF in the early 1980s, he quickly defeated the Iron Sheik for the WWF Championship. As mentioned, it only took Sheamus six months to capture gold.

Both are also fans of calling everyone by one-word terms. Hogan used "brother," while Sheamus prefers "fella."

The two are also somewhat "cartoon-ish." Hogan, a huge bleached blonde who told kids to say their prayers and take their vitamins. Sheamus has orange hair and his skin is so pale that it nearly glows in the dark.

Clearly, both men are also of above average size. It is no secret that Vince McMahon is a huge fan of huge wrestlers—hence WWE experiments like Mantaur, Bastion Booger and Giant Gonzales.

And let's not forget the Great Khali.

But let's be honest here, Sheamus is not Hulk Hogan. Frankly, no one will ever be Hulk Hogan. His accomplishments and contribution to the business can never be measured by modern scales. His mainstream appeal in an age where wrestling was criticized for being "fake" kept wrestling relevant.

Gone is the age of dominance in professional wrestling.

Right now, Ryback is carving a path through the competition, but he has yet to face a significant challenge. WCW was able to keep Goldberg (another former World Heavyweight champ) on a roll for nearly 200 matches, but even his run had to come to an end eventually.

However, Sheamus offers something rare to the WWE Universe because he is able to portray a charismatic character with a certain amount of swagger, while at the same time being able to firmly back it up.

Make fun his accent all you want, knock the lack of tan as much as possible, but at the end of the day, you can't question his accomplishments or his contribution to the company.