The fans inside Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center counted down from 10 and a loud buzzer sounded over the PA system. "Written In My Face" played and the arena erupted into a huge ovation as Sheamus made his return to WWE, entering the annual Royal Rumble match at the No. 17 position.
The Celtic Warrior had been sidelined with a torn labrum, missing the second half of 2013 and losing a great deal of momentum as well.
Injury is never beneficial for a Superstar, but in Sheamus' case it allowed fans a break from his one-note babyface character. Back and re-energized, he figures to play a role in the upcoming WrestleMania XXX event.
But with such a crowded main event scene thanks to the returns of major (part-time) stars, it leaves WWE's Great White without a clear direction or major story to really sink his teeth into.
With so many talented Superstars on the roster, however, even a match significantly lower on the card than someone of Sheamus' star would hope for could result in a potentially show-stealing performance.
Who could the former WWE and World Heavyweight champion find himself across the ring from on April 6?
Let's take a look at some of the more intriguing and most likely candidates.
In 2012, Sheamus and Del Rio engaged in a rivalry that stretched from May until September. They fought one another in four pay-per-view World Heavyweight Championship matches and completely burned out audiences on both of their acts.
While Sheamus took a different path during his limited action in 2013, Del Rio remained part of the title picture, reigning as World champion for the majority of the year. After losing the title to John Cena last October, he has been left without any direction.
The idea of the two longtime rivals clashing at WrestleMania may be the least exciting idea since, well, Batista versus Randy Orton for the WWE title in the night's main event. But the history is there and throwing together a story for Sheamus and Del Rio would be simple.
They also have solid chemistry with one another. Regardless of how tiresome their first feud became, the matches were typically very good. With both growing as in-ring performers in the year-and-a-half that have followed, the likelihood that those matches would be improved is high.
Both men are deserving of a spot on the card—if that comes as opposition for one another in a meaningless undercard match, then so be it.
Like Alberto Del Rio, Christian has a storied past with Sheamus, one dating back to 2011.
Fresh off a phenomenal program with Randy Orton over the World Heavyweight Championship, Christian was one of the top heels on the SmackDown brand and found himself programmed against the surging, freshly turned babyface Sheamus.
They met in two consecutive pay-per-view events, Hell in a Cell and Vengeance, both of those matches won by the Celtic Warrior.
The matches themselves were very good. Christian did a superb job of helping Sheamus grow and develop as a babyface, and his cheating and underhanded methods really helped build sympathy for the Irishman, who still maintained the size and strength advantage over Captain Charisma.
Their dynamic worked well and there was potential for a very entertaining rivalry, but injuries to Christian put a halt to the feud.
Reigniting the rivalry would not be difficult.
Both Superstars are involved in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match, so booking an interaction between the two that could lead to a defined rivalry leading into 'Mania would be no trouble at all.
For the feud to be as effective as possible, however, one of the Superstars would need to complete a heel turn.
Sheamus would be fine but the Celtic Warrior has been a far better worker as a babyface than he was as a heel. Christian, on the other hand, has thrived as a villain for most of his career and would have little trouble flipping the switch and rediscovering his inner baddie.
The matches between the two, if given proper time, would deliver on the big stage that is WrestleMania, and the company would have a feud it could build upon and stretch out for a few months while it gets its booking plans in order.
The level of stardom that Sheamus enjoys in today's WWE, coupled with the success he has achieved over the last three years, makes him a perfect candidate to help elevate Superstars who have the potential to find themselves in a similar position.
One of those Superstars with great potential is the Swiss-born, former United States champion Antonio Cesaro.
On Sunday, February 23, Cesaro will compete in his first pay-per-view main event as he enters the WWE title Elimination Chamber match as one of the five challengers to Randy Orton's championship. It is the biggest match of his WWE career and his very first opportunity to challenge for the top prize in the sport.
With every other Superstar involved in the bout having experience as a WWE or World champion, there will be a noticeable spotlight on Cesaro as everyone watches his performance to see how well he hangs with some of the top stars in the sport.
As is the case with Christian, it would be easy to instigate a rivalry between Cesaro and Sheamus via an interaction inside the Chamber.
It is a relatively fresh match, despite a few televised wins for Sheamus over the former U.S. champion, and the Superstars' sizes and styles mesh well together. A feud between the two would instantly elevate Cesaro, and a match with Sheamus would have great potential to be one of the more physical matches in WrestleMania history.
Zeb Colter could even point out Sheamus' nationality and his status as a non-American citizen.
While Alberto Del Rio, Christian and Antonio Cesaro would all make suitable opponents for Sheamus in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, I predict that Sheamus will keep himself busy by feuding with the current Director of Operations, Kane.
The Big Red Monster appeared poised to feud with CM Punk prior to what seems like Punk's departure from the company. Sheamus has replaced Punk in advertisements for upcoming live events, so why not go the distance and have him replace Punk in his current angle.
It would not be difficult. Sheamus speaks out against The Authority in a backstage promo, draws the ire of Kane, and suddenly the creative team has a feud it can build heading into WrestleMania.
The two have competed against one another in the past, but Sheamus is a much better wrestler in 2014 than he was when they met before. It would be interesting to see how Kane, who is leaner and in better shape than he has been in years, would perform in an extended match.
As has been the theme throughout this article, neither man has anything else better to do and both are deserving of a spot on the biggest card of the year. A match between them, especially when the feud can be so easily written, makes sense.