Sheamus picked up his biggest victory since winning the United States Championship the night after Extreme Rules as he successfully retained his title against fast-rising star Cesaro at Payback Sunday night.
WrestleZone.com broke down how the match ended:
Sheamus picked up the small package victory after being swung 20 revolutions? Yes. Yes he did. #Wrestlezone— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) June 2, 2014
Former WWE ref Jimmy Korderas broke down how Sheamus was able to finish off Cesaro:
Good match to start off Payback. Sheamus wins with a small package/inside cradle. The giant swing returned!— Jimmy Korderas (@jimmykorderas) June 2, 2014
The Brooklyn Brawler snapped a photo of Cearo swinging around Sheamus by the legs:
Robert Littal of BlackSportsOnline wasn't a huge fan of the finish:
Cesaro swings Sheamus 21 times, then gets rolled up? Sort of a blah ending #WWEPayback— Robert Littal (@BlkSportsOnline) June 2, 2014
The official WWE Twitter account captured a photo of Sheamus after the match:
The Celtic Warrior and the Swiss Superman had been embroiled in a feud for several weeks leading up to the pay-per-view. After using dirty tactics to defeat Sheamus in a recent match, Cesaro refused to shake his opponent's hand.
That led to plenty of bad blood between them as Sheamus was clearly miffed by Cesaro's antics:
In keeping with his newly minted heel persona under the guidance of Paul Heyman, however, the King of Swing showed no remorse:
Cesaro ultimately paid for his actions Sunday, though, as Sheamus got the last laugh by preventing Cesaro from becoming a two-time United States Champion.
Sheamus and Cesaro had a couple entertaining matches leading up to Payback and their pay-per-view match didn't disappoint. Sheamus and Cesaro are two of the better in-ring workers in WWE today and that was on full display in what was a hard-hitting affair.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing surrounding this clash, though, is where both men go from here. Neither Sheamus nor Cesaro are currently in the main-event scene, although they are certainly capable of reaching that level if booked properly.
Sheamus has been there before having won the Royal Rumble as well as both the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships. Sheamus has been stuck in the midcard since returning from injury at the 2014 Royal Rumble, but he has the ability and fan support to be much more.
Was this the right booking decision?
As for Cesaro, he is regarded by many as one of the next big stars in the business. WWE's decision to pair him with Heyman suggests that the higher-ups agree. Even though Cesaro lost at Payback, one defeat to a guy like Sheamus won't be much of a setback at all.
In fact, things could turn around quite quickly for Cesaro with the Money in the Bank pay-per-view looming. Cesaro has to be considered one of the top contenders to take the briefcase that guarantees a world title shot.
Perhaps the fact that Cesaro didn't win the United States Championship is a clue that he is being set up to win Money in the Bank. Winning the strap wouldn't have disqualified Cesaro from winning it by any means, but he certainly wouldn't need both the title and the briefcase.
There is no question that Sheamus and Cesaro have great chemistry and could put on an entertaining long-term feud, but this feels very much like a holdover. It isn't often that WWE invests a lot of time into midcard storylines since the goal is usually to push Superstars to the top.
The loss may not mean much for Cesaro, but it can be argued that the win is significant for Sheamus. He has not been a focal point of WWE programming in recent months and he wasn't even featured on the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
Being booked to beat what looks to be a surefire top in Cesaro at Payback could provide a huge boost for the Celtic Warrior moving forward.
There has been so little emphasis on midcard titles in recent months and even years, particularly when it comes to the United States Championship. Although Dean Ambrose held the strap for 351 days, it didn't add any prestige since he was hardly ever asked to defend it.
Sheamus has been a fighting champion, though, and he continues to look impressive in each passing match. Maybe he is the guy who will finally make the U.S. title seem important again.
His performance in Chicago at Payback was an excellent start, but there is plenty of work left to do.
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