Once upon a time, the “cool” thing for wrestling fans to do was complain about how John Cena needed to turn heel.
But since most seem to have given up on any chance of that happening anytime soon, the new trend is for WWE fans to whine and moan about the supposed need for another superstar to go bad.
That superstar is none other than the former world heavyweight champion, Sheamus.
Especially in recent months, fans who have grown tired of Sheamus have taken to their keyboards and loudly broadcasted their feelings on “The Great White.” More often than not, those feelings are that Sheamus has to turn heel and that he has to do it soon.
But let me ask those who are in favor of a Sheamus heel turn one little question: Do you actually remember Sheamus as a heel?
I do, and what I remember is that Sheamus the heel wasn’t anywhere near the star that Sheamus the babyface has become.
For roughly the first two years of his WWE career (June 2009 to mid-2011), Sheamus was a bona fide villain. He quickly rose up the ranks of the WWE, feuding with guys like Randy Orton, John Cena and Triple H and winning two WWE titles along the way.
But not once during that span was he ever really taken seriously as a main-event-caliber guy, nor did he exactly perform like one. His two WWE Title reigns were both rather lackluster, with the first lasting just 70 days and the second lasting not much longer at just 91 days.
Both reigns were marred by the fans’ inabilities to view Sheamus as a viable main-eventer and by Sheamus’ average performances as a heel wrestler. After all, Sheamus didn’t exactly set the world on fire as an in-ring performer while he was a heel.
Aside from a WrestleMania 26 match with Triple H and that No. 1 contender’s ladder match with John Morrison at WWE TLC in 2010, Sheamus had remarkably few memorable in-ring performances during his run as a heel, and even after winning two world titles, he still wasn’t considered the top-level heel that the WWE wanted him to be.
But fast forward to SummerSlam 2011, when Sheamus stepped up to try to take down the seemingly unstoppable Mark Henry. It was the first real time that Sheamus was portrayed as a babyface, and it began what has been a magical ascension to super-stardom over the last year-plus.
Say what you want about Sheamus’ mic work as a face (I agree that he’s pretty corny and over-the-top in that role), but it was his surprising babyface turn last year that took him from upper midcard heel to arguably the second biggest babyface in all of the WWE.
Since going good, Sheamus has won the Royal Rumble and the World Heavyweight Championship (on the grand stage of WrestleMania, nonetheless), a title that he just loss after a lengthy reign that lasted 210 days—the longest world heavyweight title reign since Batista held it for 282 days from 2005 to 2006.
What has been perhaps even more impressive about Sheamus’ babyface run, however, is just how much he’s improved in the ring and how over he’s gotten along the way.
Once viewed as only an average big man, Sheamus has evolved into arguably the WWE’s very best big man over the last year or so. He’s developed into a fantastic brawler and has put on a long line of great TV and PPV matches since late 2011, with everyone from Chris Jericho to Dolph Ziggler to Randy Orton to Wade Barrett.
In fact, Sheamus’ two-out-of-three-falls Match against Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules back in April was one of the top five matches of the year, and his 27-minute TV match against Orton on SmackDown is arguably the best TV match we’ve seen in all of 2012.
Although Sheamus’ brawling style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it’s hard to deny that he’s been “on” in the ring throughout 2012, developing into one of the most consistent in-ring performers in the WWE. Perhaps that’s why he’s grown to be arguably the second-most popular babyface in the entire company.
Which role do you prefer Sheamus in?
Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but it says a lot about Sheamus for a pasty redhead to become so damn popular. In grammar school, the “gingers” are the kids who get picked on. In the WWE, its resident gingersnap has overcome all stereotypes to solidify himself as the company’s No. 2 babyface.
It’s been borderline remarkable to see how much the crowd has grown to love Sheamus, which is a stark contract to his heel character that often drew crickets from the crowd.
Some WWE fans want Sheamus to turn heel, but I don’t see any benefit in turning a guy who has proven to be leaps and bounds better and more valuable both in and out of the ring as a babyface—especially when you consider that turning him heel would just add another bad guy to an already heel-heavy WWE.
I know it’s hard to watch some of Sheamus’ promos as a babyface, which can be pretty lame at times. But if you asked Sheamus himself, I’m sure even he would admit that he’s been significantly more successful as a face than he ever was as a heel.
Why change that? Just because some fans are clamoring for Sheamus to go bad again?
I don’t think that’s a good enough reason to do it. Sheamus is a top babyface now, and in a WWE that doesn’t have enough of those, he’s one guy the company simply can’t afford to turn.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!