About a month ago, I wrote an article stating that if Sheamus is going to be taken more seriously, he’s going to have to sharpen his edge and dull his wit.
Judging by his performance on this week’s SmackDown, the Celtic Warrior is returning to his character’s fighting roots.
Normally when he is introduced, Sheamus comes out, beats his chest and glad-hands fans on his way to the ring. This time, however, he stormed down the ramp, paced back and forth in the ring and angrily called out Big Show.
He was not joking around. He was not making wisecracks.
Sheamus was serious.
And the crowd loved it.
Later, when he came out for a tag match against Big Show and Wade Barrett, Sheamus again stormed down the ramp, tore off his shirt and tossed it into the crowd. He and William Regal were men on a mission.
They were going to kick Big Show’s “arse” for attacking them the night before in a pub.
Again, the crowd loved it. Sheamus got one of the biggest pops he has ever received since turning face last year.
Granted, the pub fight was part of a storyline. But could this signal a new and improved Sheamus?
It’s too early to tell. But I hope so.
One of the biggest knocks against Sheamus the babyface has always been that he lacks the edge of Sheamus the heel—the Irish brawler who always is on the lookout for a fight. Where Face Sheamus was jovial and self-deprecating, cracking jokes on his opponent as well as himself, Heel Sheamus is all business.
His World Heavyweight Championship title reign was decent but booked poorly overall. Aside from the feud with Daniel Bryan, his time with the belt was fairly uneventful.
Until WWE put the Big Show in the title picture. Then the booking improved greatly.
This feud with the Big Show was the best thing that ever happened to Sheamus. Instead of being the overpowering figure, Sheamus became the underdog. Even though their battle at Hell in a Cell was not the main event, it was the best match on the card.
It was the story of David vs. Goliath coming to life, with Sheamus finding himself in the David role. Only instead of a slingshot, he had the Brogue Kick. And while he lost the belt, Sheamus won over the WWE Universe with his performance against the giant.
With his no-nonsense approach at this week’s SmackDown, it should be apparent to Sheamus and WWE management that you do not have to slap hands with the fans in order to get them to cheer you in the ring. As long as you produce, the cheers will come.
You need not look any further than Ryback’s current run to see that fan friendliness is not necessary to guarantee a popular reaction from the crowd. John Cena does not slap hands on the way to the ring, either, and he is WWE’s top star.
Nobody doubts that Sheamus is a nice guy out of the ring. He always takes time after shows to shake hands and pose for pictures. He also is heavily involved with WWE’s “Be A STAR” anti-bullying program, and the kids idolize him.
WWE needs to play to Sheamus’ in-ring strengths. At the top of that strengths list is, well, his strength. Did you see him deadlift Big Show up on his shoulders and drop him with the White Noise move? The crowd went crazy.
Imagine the reaction if Sheamus had hit the High Cross on him.
Time will tell if this harder-edged Sheamus will continue. It probably will go up at least until WWE Survivor Series 2012, when he gets his rematch with Show for the title.
If the WWE Creative Team were smart, they would look at the recent crowd reactions and see that fans prefer it when Sheamus kicks arse and takes names. While I do not think Sheamus will regain the title at Survivor Series, I do think that a post-PPV feud with Wade Barrett is in the cards. They already have worked together in some good matches, and I think it is time to take that feud to higher levels.
Barrett is a tough, no-nonsense character, which means if this program is going to go over with the fans, Sheamus is going to have to be even tougher and meaner. And that sets the tone for future programs after that.
The formula to Sheamus’ future is simple: less talk and more bite from ol’ “Great White.”
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.