After being out of action since August with a torn labrum, former World Heavyweight and WWE Champion Sheamus returned to action Sunday night at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
The WWE Twitter feed has the news:
As WrestleZone.com notes, Sheamus was challenged right away:
Sheamus ended up finishing third in the Rumble after getting eliminated by Roman Reigns. Batista took home the victory.
Since his debut with the company in 2009, the "Celtic Warrior" has been one of WWE's most consistent and reliable Superstars. His in-ring work has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and he has developed into one of the most popular competitors in professional wrestling.
With that said, Sheamus' absence might have been a good thing.
His character had grown stale prior to the injury. It has been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that was proven true; Sheamus received a great reaction from the crowd upon his return.
Sheamus appeared to be on the fast track to reaching a John Cena level of popularity in 2012 after winning the Royal Rumble. He was on an absolute roll, and he went on to beat Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVIII in just 18 seconds.
Rather than Sheamus receiving a major bump from the win, though, it was Bryan who truly benefited. Sheamus was never really able to gain his footing as World Heavyweight Champion, although much of that was due to a boring and drawn-out feud with Alberto Del Rio that went on well beyond its expiration date.
After dropping the strap to Big Show at last year's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Sheamus acted as somewhat of a rover. He feuded with The Shield, Mark Henry and Damien Sandow before his labrum injury ultimately became too significant to work through.
Despite Sheamus' need for rejuvenation, it was certainly a big loss from WWE's perspective. Not only was he among the top faces in the company at the time of his injury, but he was an absolute workhorse. Sheamus regularly wrestled on Raw, SmackDown, pay-per-views and even Main Event. He was also capable of having a great match with anyone regardless of their size and skill level.
Sheamus even managed to get a passable match out of Great Khali, which is the ultimate compliment when it comes to in-ring ability.
The complexion of the company has changed significantly since Sheamus has been out, so it should be much easier for the creative team to make him fresh and meaningful. There are a number of intriguing feuds that he can be placed in, and his presence adds more depth to the card as a whole.
There were certainly some mixed feelings among WWE fans when Sheamus initially went on the shelf, as he has his supporters and detractors like anyone. After so much time away, however, there is truly no downside to Sheamus reentering the picture. He's an extremely versatile performer for WWE, and he gives the writers plenty of options.
A number of Superstars really stepped up in his absence, including Bryan, so Sheamus' return means that there are more viable stars on the roster now than there were when he got injured. WWE has struggled with a lack of roster depth in recent years, but that is clearly no longer an issue.
It remains to be seen if the creative team is willing to put Sheamus back in the world title picture already, but regardless of what the company decides to do with him, his return is nothing other than a major positive.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter