It was not a great year for feuds in the WWE in 2012.
Most of the company’s rivalries last year were badly built and poorly executed, such as the dreadful “embrace the hate” angle between Kane and John Cena or the awful World Heavyweight title feud between Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus.
Other feuds, like Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk, were pretty good, but didn’t seem like intense and bitter rivalries as much as they seemed like a series of great matches.
Meanwhile, major WrestleMania rivalries like The Rock vs. John Cena and Triple H vs. The Undertaker were built largely upon animosity that was built up between two guys throughout 2011, not 2012.
But one big rivalry that many thought would be terrible has actually turned out to be a great one. In fact, it was the best rivalry of 2012.
That feud? Sheamus vs. The Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship.
As mentioned before, it wasn’t exactly a banner year for the WWE in terms of its major rivalries. But Sheamus vs. Big Show is the one feud that’s managed to remain entertaining throughout.
At the heart of this rivalry was Big Show, who had only recently turned heel, looking to avenge the worst loss of his career: losing the World Heavyweight Championship to Daniel Bryan at WWE TLC 2011 after holding it for just 45 seconds.
Big Show was hellbent on proving that his embarrassing loss was nothing more than a fluke and that he, “The World’s Largest Athlete,” was the most dominant Superstar in the WWE.
It could have been really easy to dismiss Big Show as nothing more than the world’s biggest joke. After all, he’d been booked so badly by the creative team over the last couple of years.
However, the WWE did a great job of making us forget about that by booking Big Show to be the dominant big man that you would expect a man of his size to be.
Suddenly, Big Show began looking like the strongest heel on the roster, and he became a surprisingly enjoyable challenger to the then-World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus.
As we all know, Sheamus spent the first nine months of 2012 being the most dominant Superstar in the WWE. He hardly ever lost, and here are the statistics to prove it.
Whether by default or by design, what resulted from Sheamus’ impressive first half of 2012 was an epic clash with The Big Show—the old “unstoppable force meets the immovable object” rivalry, if you will.
In the latter half of 2012, Big Show emerged as the unstoppable force and was headed straight for the immovable object, Sheamus, who could not be moved off of his World Heavyweight Championship throne.
While the feud has certainly had its lows (remember that “debate” on Raw?), it became an incredibly well-fought battle between two guys who were booked stronger than anyone else on the WWE roster in late 2012.
This led to the highlight of the rivalry—a World Heavyweight Championship match between the two at Hell in a Cell.
Not many fans seemed to expect much out of the match, but it wound up stealing the show, and in hindsight, it was probably one of the best World title matches of the year—a true slug-fest between two beasts.
What made the match so special was that it gave us the feeling that either Big Show or Sheamus could win and do so cleanly, which is something that’s rare in the WWE these days.
Usually, we expect the face to win clean or the heel to cheat his way to victory. But not on that night.
The match ended with an amazing sequence that saw both Sheamus and Big Show kick out of each other’s finishers, only for the bout’s shocking finish that saw Big Show knock out Sheamus with the KO punch.
It was perhaps one of the most unexpected match finishes of the year, and that’s precisely what made it so damn entertaining.
We got an awesome brawl between two behemoths, and it ended in a way that very few saw coming. That’s what happens when you build up an evenly balanced rivalry, though.
Far too often, the WWE gives us feuds that are too lopsided. The babyfaces typically dominate, and generally speaking, the heels either look like idiots or cowards.
But the great thing about Show vs. Sheamus is that two out of their three pay-per-view matches ended with the heel beating the face in 100-percent clean fashion.
While Show vs. Sheamus at Survivor Series ended with a lame non-finish (Show pulling the ref into the way of the Brogue Kick), it at least served a purpose, which was to build to a third match between the two at WWE TLC.
At TLC, the WWE gave us yet another slug-fest that once again had an unpredictable outcome: Would it be Sheamus who regained his title, or would Big Show stand tall again?
Ultimately, Big Show wound up retaining with a clean victory after a great brawl between the two, and it was yet another pleasant and enjoyable moment of this rivalry.
Like with the first two matches between these two, the WWE gave us the sense that anyone could win and that the two men involved would give everything they could to emerge victorious.
To this day, Big Show is still holding the World Heavyweight Championship, but based on recent happenings between him and Sheamus, it appears as if this rivalry is far from over.
Perhaps this feud should have ended by now (or at least end soon), but it’s hard to complain about a rivalry in which both guys are built up as evenly matched opponents.
Of all the bad rivalries the WWE had last year, Big Show vs. Sheamus was the one feud that felt like a real rivalry and not just three months of the babyface dominating the heel.
That’s precisely what makes it stand out above all the rest as the best feud of 2012.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.