Sheamus Will Legitimize the United States Championship

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2014


Now that Sheamus is the United States champion, the WWE Universe can speculate on everything from who he will challenge next to who will defeat him and what it will all mean when his title reign is complete.

Is this going to be the start of a glorified run with the belt or is it a disaster waiting to happen?

Will Sheamus tarnish the United States Championship's legacy, or will he restore it back to prominence?

The concept of the midcard titles in WWE not having any true value comes up so frequently on the internet that it has developed a pattern.

Whenever a championship changes hands, there is a group of people that support it due to either not being a fan of the former champion or specifically liking the new one.

Then, there are those that are displeased with the new champion, oftentimes for the opposite of the former reaction and out of their preference for someone else to have been given that spot.

One way or another, the same topic comes up in discussions: Is this person going to help legitimize the title?

Essentially, it boils down to a perception from the fans that a particular championship has been misused so much to the point where it has lost all of its value as an unattainable prize that these wrestlers should strive for.

Perhaps it changed hands too often with transitional holders, making it seem like anyone could win it at any time and it is no longer special.

Another potential roadblock stems from the actual person chosen to be champion and whether or not they are special just by themselves.

Your mileage may vary on whether or not you like Sheamus, but he is someone who can be a solution to both of those problems.

Sheamus may deny reports that he and Triple H are workout buddies, but he can't deny that he has been treated fairly well during his tenure in WWE.

He has only been on the main roster for five years, yet he has won three world titles, a King of the Ring tournament, a Royal Rumble and this is his second reign as United States champion.

There are dozens of wrestlers with arguably far more impressive verbal or technical skills that have been around longer than he has, yet haven't touched remotely close to his level of success.

Some of these accomplishments came extremely early in his career.

A particular example is his first WWE Championship title reign, which came only 166 days after his debut and involved him dethroning someone who is continually unbeatable: John Cena.

The reason this benefits the United States Championship is because it illustrates how WWE views Sheamus when it comes to the titles.

He is not someone like Kofi Kingston, who is regularly given transitional reigns as a means to eat up some time before the flavor-of-the-month heel can beat him.

Rather, Sheamus is someone that WWE wants the fans to believe in as a champion.

As such, WWE's creative team will go out of its way to ensure that Sheamus is not booked as a weakling who only retains his title through flukes.

His current character is a brute who welcomes a challenge and will take on all comers, which is exactly what a babyface champion should be.

When WWE puts a title on someone that they feel is important, then suddenly, the championship is given more focus just by association.

The United States Championship often gets lost in the shuffle when the major selling points of pay-per-view events revolve around the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and a few other top-tier feuds.

The only reason those feuds are so highly valued by the crowds is because they have been marketed as such by WWE—who, in turn, only promote them so much because they see that value in those wrestlers.

By giving the United States Championship to someone that they value in Sheamus, WWE has effectively thrust it back into a position where fans will end up seeing it more often and care about it.

It can be surmised that Dean Ambrose was only champion for such a long time because WWE had no better alternatives in mind, judging by how few times he defended the title against worthy challengers.

The less he defended it, the less it mattered that he even had it in his possession.

Once that happens, it no longer serves a credible purpose and loses value, as people want the trophy that you win—not just the participation trophy everyone gets for showing up.

After returning from injury at the Royal Rumble, Sheamus has struggled with a lack of purpose in his own right.

Most of his matches were randomized and purely for the sake of getting him on the card, just to get him out there.

Perhaps Ryback will be the first feud for Sheamus
Perhaps Ryback will be the first feud for SheamusCredit:

Now that he has the United States Championship, he has a purpose to wrestle these matches.

At any time, a new challenger can show up to face him and attempt to take the title off his waist.

That situation has a built-in upgrade for the title's value, as people are actually fighting for possession of it instead of wearing it like it is just a regular piece of their costume.

Another huge factor that Sheamus brings to the table is his background as a main event wrestler.

The WWE Universe and the Internet Wrestling Community often talk about the prestige of a title in relation to its current champion.

The higher up on the food chain that you are, the more value your title has.

This works in reverse as well, and when a complete idiot, low-level jobber of a character is your champion, then it doesn't quite seem like it measures the best on the roster.

With the unification of the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship titles, several main event wrestlers have taken a step down to become upper-midcarders and Sheamus is one of them.

This does not negate his past as a top champion in the company, however, and WWE can always remind fans of his accolades to reiterate that point.

If Triple H were holding the Intercontinental Championship at the moment instead of Bad News Barrett, it would seem like a bigger deal, would it not?

Sheamus holding the United States Championship is a big step up from people like Ryback, Curtis Axel, Titus O'Neil, and others who may have been given this spot just two or three years ago when the roster had to spread itself thinner.

The Celtic Warrior can feud with other former top stars like Alberto Del Rio and Big Show over a title that was surrounding itself with people like Santino Marella and R-Truth for far too long.

Before the unification, he would have been classified as being above the title's credibility.

By taking a step down amongst people on the same playing field as he is, Sheamus is much less downgrading himself as opposed to upgrading the championship.

A former multi-time world champion who the company wants to succeed and will show off the title in more matches than it has seen in a year is a recipe for success that you can basically put on autopilot and let it run its course.

The only way this can turn south is if WWE gets distracted and loses focus.

The bottom line is that a bad actor can ruin a good movie, but a good actor cannot save a bad script, as that is the fault of the writer and director.

Jobbing Sheamus out to the shiny new toy of a pet project such as Rusev too fast will do more harm than good.

Keeping him off the card or saddling him with mediocre programs to avoid putting any real work or effort into it will also be damaging.

Anything that makes Sheamus seem like a weak individual and a character the fans shouldn't invest time in means that they shouldn't invest time in the United States Championship, either.

Sheamus has all the tools in front of him to make this work and help boost the credibility of the United States Championship and the only thing in his way is the foundation WWE's management is responsible for providing to support him.

Do you think Sheamus will help or hurt the United States title? Leave us a comment below!

Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.


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