World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus is a guy who has all the tools to be a top guy in the WWE—and I believe that he will be at some point—but his run as SmackDown's main face since WrestleMania has certainly left something to be desired.
Sheamus' size, solid in-ring ability and serviceable mic skills all suggest that he should be a credible world champion, but that hasn't really been the case. Sheamus had a lot of momentum several months back, as he won the Royal Rumble and beat Daniel Bryan for the world title in 18 seconds at WrestleMania, but things have cooled down for him as of late.
Whether it's a case of him not being a believable top face or a case of him not having good enough competition is up for debate, though. Arguments could be made for either side, but Sheamus hasn't quite lived up to expectations any way you slice it.
I feel like part of the reason why he hasn't come along as quickly as hoped is the fact that his character changed so dramatically so quickly. Sheamus was once one of the most dastardly heels on the roster, but all of a sudden he was cracking jokes, singing Irish drinking songs and hanging around with Hornswoggle.
Sheamus goes back to his roots on special occasions when he loses his temper, but for the most part, he is too smiley and goofy for my liking. Many are comparing Sheamus' face run to John Cena, and in a lot of ways, it makes sense.
Since Sheamus won the Royal Rumble, I have a hard time remembering him losing a singles match by pinfall or submission. I know that he lost a match to Alberto Del Rio by disqualification not long after WrestleMania in order for Del Rio to become No. 1 contender, and he dropped one fall in a two-out-of-three falls match to Daniel Bryan, but that's about it.
Younger fans enjoy the dominant faces, but the core fanbase simply hates it when one guy dominates to the point where it doesn't seem like it's possible for him to lose. Cena was like that for several years, and while he has been much more tolerable without championship gold around his waist, Sheamus has filled the unstoppable face void.
Perhaps that is out of necessity, though, due to terrible opponents. Bryan was a good challenger, but he got his one rematch against Sheamus and moved on. Since then, Sheamus has been feuding with Alberto Del Rio. It's incredible to think that a rivalry that had no legs to begin with could last as long as it has, but somehow it has endured.
Sheamus' win over Del Rio at Night of Champions probably put the angle to bed once and for all, but this feud seems to have nine lives, so I wouldn't put it past the creative team to find a way to continue it. Del Rio hasn't done Sheamus any favors, though, because he was booked poorly from the start and never seemed like a legitimate threat to The Great White's perch atop SmackDown.
There are some faces who can get over regardless of their opponent, but it generally takes two to tango in the wrestling business. Right now, since Sheamus isn't fully established as a can't-miss top face, he's only as good as his opponent, and Del Rio very clearly isn't good at this point.
That isn't to say that Sheamus is doomed, because he has plenty of potential, but he needs to move on. Del Rio was booked to look weak, and having Sheamus constantly beat him was a disservice to both men. Interest in Sheamus and the World heavyweight Championship is fading fast, so a real contender has to emerge.
The problem with that, however, is that there aren't a lot of main-event-level heels on the roster. Because of that, Del Rio was put in a position he probably shouldn't have been in. I suppose Randy Orton could be turned heel, but that would leave a major face void, so I feel like the best option right now is for Sheamus to feud with Wade Barrett.
Barrett has only been back from injury for a couple weeks and needs to be built a little more to look like a top contender, but he has all the potential in the world, much like Sheamus. If Barrett is handled correctly over the next couple weeks, there is no reason why he can't push Sheamus.
If Sheamus can vanquish a guy who looks like he can truly beat him, then it will do wonders for his status as a top face. Barrett can match Sheamus in size and physicality like few others and could very well be the guy who puts Sheamus over the top.
Poor booking has been Sheamus' worst nemesis thus far, but if that improves to the tune of Barrett being shaped into a credible contender, then both Sheamus and the world title can get back to the level they should be at.