Sheamus has undoubtedly been one of the WWE’s breakout stars of 2012, but a once very bright future has suddenly become a little cloudier.
After dominating the main event scene this year by winning the Royal Rumble and following it up with a 210-day title reign, “The Great White” now finds himself at a crossroads.
He will challenge Big Show for the World heavyweight championship at WWE TLC on Sunday, but since his lengthy championship run just ended, the widespread expectation is that he won’t leave the pay-per-view as World champion again.
In fact, Sheamus doesn’t really figure into any World title or main event plans in the immediate future.
Or does he?
While Sheamus may not be competing in any World heavyweight championship matches come the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania time, he’s still one of the WWE’s biggest babyfaces and will likely still hover around the top of the card.
He may not be the World heavyweight champion after WWE TLC, but he’s not going to instantly become a forgotten midcarder, either. In fact, he’s likely going to transition into what will still be a main event-caliber feud.
With so many potential World title and main event scenarios that could play out over the next several months, there’s really no telling what direction Sheamus will go in next week, much less next month.
However, one major rivalry is just waiting to happen: Sheamus vs. Randy Orton.
Rumors (from F4WOnline.com, via WrestlingInc.com) have been swirling for months now that Orton “desperately wants to go heel.” It’s safe to say that, given how Orton has sort of coasted by as a face lately, those rumors are probably true.
That’s why a potential feud between Orton and Sheamus makes a lot of sense.
Notice that when CM Punk turned heel earlier this year, he did so while feuding with John Cena—or, in other words, a top babyface? This was likely done because Punk had grown to be so popular that the WWE wanted to ensure that he’d get booed as a heel by having him feud with a top face.
The same scenario could play out with Orton and Sheamus.
Orton continues to be ridiculously over, so whenever he does turn (when, not if), it’s going to be difficult for the entire crowd to start instantly booing him. That’s where Sheamus comes in.
Sheamus has evolved into one of the WWE’s top good guys this year, and the fans are behind him now more than they’ve ever been. There are only a handful of guys who can make the crowd turn on Orton, and Sheamus is one of them.
If the WWE realizes this, the odds of seeing the beginning of a Sheamus/Orton feud in the immediate future are probably pretty high.
Orton seems to be lost in the shuffle at the moment, with no clear-cut future feud lined up for him. What's more, he and Sheamus have a ton of history together. They’ve feuded over the WWE championship multiple times in the past and seemed to ignite a bit of a rivalry earlier this year that ultimately went nowhere when Orton was suspended.
It won’t take a whole lot to pick back up on that rivalry after TLC, though.
Since Orton doesn’t have a real feud and Sheamus will likely be moving on from The Big Show, both superstars will be transitioning into 2013 with nothing of note to do. Thus, that will be the opportune time to start the slow build for a feud between the two.
Orton could instantly turn heel and feud with Sheamus. He could remain babyface and feud with Sheamus. Heck, he could even turn heel in the middle of the feud.
With WrestleMania 29 rapidly approaching and neither Orton nor Sheamus really figuring into any rumored matches, it might be logical to simply have these two feud with each other before meeting on the grandest stage of them all.
They have the star power, and they have the chemistry. Now, all they need is the creative team to make this rivalry happen.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!