For the first time, WWE had an entire pay-per-view event based around the concept of tables, ladders, and chairs. While not every match was contested under those rules, it proved to be a different and interesting concept.
Two items were of note tonight that involved rising Superstars on much different tracks. Kofi Kingston went one on one with Randy Orton in the early portion of the card. In one of the main event matches, Sheamus squared off with John Cena in a Tables Match for the WWE Championship. Both matches came up with different results.
Kofi lost his match to Randy Orton. Sheamus, however, was successful in his bid to become WWE Champion. Let's examine these results for just a minute.
First, let me say that so many articles have flown up since the end of the pay-per-view, that it would be much easier for me to author this piece than write a slew of individual comments. Forgive me if some of these points have been covered previously in those works.
We all remember Kofi’s breakthrough moment. On an edition of Monday Night Raw, Kofi cuts a promo while standing on Randy Orton’s NASCAR stock car. At the end, Kingston pours orange paint all over the car and says that Randy “never looked better.”
It was a watershed moment for Kingston, without question. It was the first time we really heard him cut a true promo, and he did well with it. It, as well as his involvement in the title match between John Cena and Orton the night before, started a feud with undoubtedly the most hated heel currently in the WWE.
The men squared off in three separate matches, with Orton winning two of them including the match at TLC. One of the matches that Orton won was by the typical cowardly heel tactics, as Legacy mates Rhodes and DiBiase attacked Kingston first, then Orton pretty much had his way with him after that. The men split the other two wins, which were clean wins for each.
Kofi’s build has been slow, but effective. We began (which is the key word here) to see depth to his character that we have not seen before. The Ja-fake-an accent is gone, which is a huge plus for him. We know he’s athletically talented as we’ve watched what he can do in the ring.
But Kofi still has work to do. He needs to further evolve his character and continue to grow from here. It’s important that the WWE handle that correctly going forward. Kofi is better than he was, without question, but he is not yet where he needs to be in order to be the fresh new main-event face that fans want to see.
Kofi didn’t need the win to be over tonight. He is over, and he has separated himself from the other mid-carders on the roster in this feud with Orton. The next step is going to be a very careful one for WWE and Kingston, as they cannot let this be the point at which Kingston falls back into mid-card obscurity and jobbing out to the lowest members of the roster.
He has good momentum building now, and it would be a shame to let that falter as WWE seemed to do with The Legacy after their DX feud this summer.
On the other hand, we have Sheamus as the new WWE Champion, after he defeated John Cena. Sheamus has only been on the Raw roster since Oct. 26.
In the time Sheamus has been on Raw, we’ve watched him squash Jamie Noble. He ran through Santino Marella like Montezuma’s Revenge. He did very little in the Breakthrough Battle Royale, yet won it to get his title shot tonight. And tonight, he did what only some thought he would, and that was defeat John Cena for the title.
Sheamus is being pushed to the top very rapidly. It almost puts you in the mindset of another Brock Lesnar, and how quickly he became a main-event player. There is no doubt that Sheamus is talented, as he has had fantastic matches in other organizations (IWW against Drew McIntyre comes to mind). He has great size and power, and can wrestle well, contrary to the squash matches we’ve watched him in up to this point.
Sheamus’ win tonight has set the opinion columns ablaze. Some say that it was a botched finish. Some say it was the right move because Cena sucks. Others are just stunned in general.
Fans clamored for a new face in the title picture and they got it. Did they get it too soon, and will Sheamus be a credible champion? That remains to be seen.
We've seen so much more of Kofi Kingston than we have of Sheamus, as Kofi held the US title for an extended period of time. Sure, one can point to Sheamus' independent work to speak to his qualifications in the ring, but wrestling alone may not be enough to be the face of a brand in WWE.
Much like Kingston, Sheamus needs to develop further and it appears that WWE would wish to do that "on the fly." We’ve only seen so much of him in terms of his character. While his strength and power cannot be denied, he hasn’t shown us much else. We have seen a little bit of promo work here and there, but an overall convincing body of evidence that he can be “The Man” of the brand isn’t really there.
A rapid push can work, but it takes more forethought and it takes the right performer. Sheamus has ability and I think he could benefit from a rapid push, however right now there are other factors that play in that could derail him.
There’s a problem here that WWE has to figure out. Where does Sheamus go from here? He’s a heel, holding the major title of the brand. If rumors that Cena is going to take some time off for filming are true, there will be no rematch with Cena.
This could be the start of the downfall of a rapid push for Sheamus. If Cena does have a rematch clause and Sheamus loses quickly, say before the next pay-per-view, have they squashed Sheamus’ credibility as a champion? Has all the rapid momentum to push the Celtic Warrior to the top been for not?
Some would point to the obvious (and to some fans also annoying) choice of Randy Orton as Sheamus’ next opponent if Cena were not to invoke a rematch. However, that would take very careful scripting on Creative’s behalf, as it seems heel vs. heel feuds do not work out very well otherwise. Given the fan base and their disdain for Sheamus after beating Cena, Orton would almost be over as a face in that feud.
Who else really is there for Sheamus to take on if neither of the two above are a viable option? WWE may have a very difficult time working their way out of this predicament now. Sadly, it could also derail the rapid push that we’ve watched Sheamus take to the top.
So after tonight, where do we stand? As I see it, we are watching two men who someday will be the face of the WWE take two very different paths to that goal. Only time will truly tell how well either path will work out for these two.