Examining Sheamus' Direction, Upside and Long-Term Potential
The warrior known as Sheamus charges into battle with his fists at the ready and a grin hanging on his face.
Should he and WWE rein in his jokey personality, Sheamus will make his case to be included in discussions of the all-time greats. He's a mainstay of the upper part of the card who produces high-quality matches.
Before he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder, Sheamus' direction was lacking.
WWE had him in a short-lived feud with Damien Sandow where he kicked a computer screen and another brief rivalry which had him beat out Mark Henry in a battle of brute force. Neither of these feuds elevated him the way his previous work against John Cena and Daniel Bryan had. He simply seemed to be running in place.
To see what could lie for him on the horizon, one only needs to look at the career of the man he faced at WrestleMania XXVI, Triple H.
Both men are engrossing brawlers with larger-than-life presences. Both men will end up in the Hall of Fame. It will be WWE's ability to find Sheamus the ideal persona that determines if he nets as many world championships as "The Cerebral Assassin."
His current injury is an opportunity for WWE to reconsider just who Sheamus is. With him out for several months, tweaking and adjusting his gimmick in order to maximize his skill set is up for grabs.
Does the company want him to be a goofy, kid-friendly hero, a Cena 2.0, or does it see someone more intense and interesting waiting behind that smile?
People in his Corner
Carlito was outspoken about his distaste for Sheamus' fun-loving persona on Twitter.
What's with these sh*%#ty 1-800-fella promos? Sheamus isnt a comedian, or funny.The best way to use him, is to turn him back into a monster!— carlito (@Bodyguylito) July 27, 2013
That seems to be many folks' biggest complaint about the powerhouse. It's not that he's slid into Brodus Clay comic-relief character territory, but he was quickly approaching it.
X-Pac (Sean Waltman) thinks that Sheamus will soon have to compete with the next line of Superstars.
@OnePaulie I think highly of Sheamus. There's up & coming talent that will be giving him a run for his money.— Sean Waltman (@TheRealXPac) July 23, 2013
That will be true for everyone as the members of The Shield climb the ranks and NXT's prospects begin to invade the main roster. Some men have far firmer positions high atop the WWE ladder, though. Sheamus is apparently one of them.
In 2010, Wrestling Observer, via WrestleZone.com, reported on how "The Celtic Warrior" is viewed backstage. "Sheamus has received high praise from top stars in WWE such as Triple H, Randy Orton and John Cena. The feeling right now is that Sheamus' main event status is a lock, and that he'll be at the top in WWE for a long time to come."
That was just one year into his WWE run, so it speaks volumes that influential names were already on board with him being a main event star. He has since produced in the ring, even if his jokes have gotten more ridiculous.
A Love for Fighting
When WWE wants grace in its matches, it can call on Kofi Kingston. For in-ring carnage, the company calls on Sheamus.
Aggression, power, toughness and realism mark Sheamus' clashes. He has established himself as the best brawler in WWE today with bouts like his ladder match against John Morrison in 2010, his 2-out-of-3 Falls match against Bryan at Extreme Rules 2012 and his hard-hitting bouts with Big Show for the world title.
It's in battles like this that Sheamus gives and takes punishment that makes fans believe in the action on screen.
He pounds his foes with enough force to have the crowd begin to forget that a match is scripted. This skill helps maintain a fan's interest and adds to the drama of his fights.
How reddened and bruised he gets helps in that department as well.
His in-ring ability will appeal to those fans looking for hard hits and intense action. He's not just a bulldozer tearing through walls; he is a fine storyteller as well. That is best exemplified by his match against Bryan.
Here he looked like a predator, a victim, an athlete and a worthy champion. Continuing to have matches like these will make Sheamus a consistent choice for marquee spots.
As violent as his feud with Big Show was in the ring, it was often silly outside of it. Rather than let a giant and a warrior growl at each other, WWE asked them to debate.
Giving Sheamus a personality and having him be more than the Irish version of The Incredible Hulk is smart, but it went too far before his injury. The Brogue Kick is a piece of violent artistry, not a punchline to a corny segment.
The Grin the Warrior Wears
That same move had become the centerpiece to a recent set of comedy segments.
Can you imagine a promoter asking Bruiser Brody to do something like this? Batista, The Road Warriors and Undertaker are like Sheamus, best suited for in-ring destruction over high jinks designed to induce chuckles.
Sheamus was coming off as the poor man's Eddie Guerrero as the humor was laid on too thick.
He's a funny, charming guy, but making the best use of his talents should be the supplementary part of his persona, not the crux of it. A heel turn isn't the answer as much as cranking up his intensity and lowering the dial on his silliness.
That's the Sheamus the audience can take more seriously and allow him to be the overpowering force he was built to be.
His part in his feud with Triple H before their WrestleMania match showed how well he can play that role.
He possesses better mic skills than some folks realize, utilizing good timing and emotion to keep our interest. He is aggressive and angry in his promos, but he is controlled as well.
Sheamus is plenty good enough as a talker to retrace a career path similar to Triple H's.
In just four years with the company, Sheamus has accomplished a great deal.
He's won the Royal Rumble, the World Heavyweight Championship and WWE Championship while making a name for himself as a great fighter. At 35, he has anywhere from five to eight years left to clobber chests and kicks people in the mouth on a full-time basis.
Should WWE find a better balance of humor and intensity for him, he's talented enough to be in several main events over the rest of his career and pile up title reigns.
Expect "The Great White" to add another Royal Rumble to his resume, to challenge Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk and Bryan for the top spot and to headline at least one WrestleMania.
His production in the ring, his look and star power will be how he gets there.
Wash a bit of his clown makeup off, stick him in the arena with the other gladiators and get his tux ready for when he's inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Be sure to check out previous installments in this ongoing series:
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