In recent months, World Wrestling Entertainment has attempted to create in it's World Champion, Sheamus, a babyface character they hope can carry the brand just as John Cena has for the last seven months. While the Celtic Warrior is very popular with the WWE Universe, it remains to be seen if he can truly live up to the high expectations set for him.
Sheamus' in-ring skills have improved ten-fold since he debuted on the WWE's main roster in 2009. He is a bona-fide main event talent and a worker capable of backing up his spot on the card. Matches with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio have been of high-quality and have established the current World Heavyweight Champion as the best big-man worker in the company.
He also boasts an incredibly marketable look. He does not appear out of place on WWE merchandise and has a fair amount of popular items for sale on the company's website.
One worry spot for Sheamus is his promo skills, which have been noticeably lacking since the direction of his character was changed in the summer of 2011. No longer the badass Irishman simply looking for a fight—he began telling Irish tales, spouting off corny jokes, overusing the word "arse" and obsessively smiling. He replaced meaningful promos with pandering to the fans.
The fan-friendly promos are far from a major issue, however. John Cena and Rey Mysterio have made a fortune off of cutting the same type of interviews so it is a tried and true way of presenting yourself.
The biggest roadblock between Sheamus and realistically becoming the company's "next John Cena" is credibility. The fans buy Sheamus as a top star, that much is a fact. Doubt it? Listen to the reaction the crowd gives him. Where the problem lies is the fact that, as World Champion, Sheamus will always be looked at as the champion of the "B-show."
Do you believe Sheamus can realistically be WWE's next John Cena?
When Sheamus is the champion opening pay-per-views and being buried in the first hour of Monday Night Raw, it is very difficult to sell him as the eventually successor to the company's most popular star since the days of Steve Austin and The Rock.
The company must actively promote Sheamus as a star on the level of Cena. They have to move him far away from the heat-killer that is Alberto Del Rio and place him in programs with the likes of Big Show and CM Punk, two main event-caliber heels the fans buy as legitimate stars.
If programs such as those are not in the realm of possibility, then simply elevating the World Heavyweight Championship's prestige would allow fans to see Sheamus in a new light. Allow the title to be defended in the main event of Raw or on pay-per-view. Let the "Brogue Kick Hooligan" be the last Superstar fans see on a given Monday or Sunday night.
Only then will Sheamus be viewed in the same league as John Cena.
WWE has a tremendously talented professional wrestler under contract in Sheamus. He is a fantastic spokesman for the company, as seen in the numerous Be A Star campaign videos the company airs during its broadcasts. He is capable of carrying a main event match and can work with the best sports-entertainers in the world.
Masking his only weakness (promos) by allowing him to be more himself, and making the World Heavyweight Championship equal—in terms of value—to the WWE Championship, and years from now fans may be celebrating the "Celtic Warrior" in the same way they do the leader of the "Cenation."