For the last few years now—especially every Tuesday and Saturday morning—a small clique of wrestling fans loosely termed the International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) has congregated on the Internet. They tell each other that the WWE needs new blood, that it needs some young talent, and that it needs some fresh faces in the world title scene.
At times this has been a somewhat puzzling sight to behold, because the WWE has been gathering exactly that talent over the last few years under the guise of more high profile examples like Randy Orton (the youngest ever champion when he won his first title), CM Punk, and Jack Swagger.
But on December 13, 2009 in San Antonio, Texas, the WWE gave the fans Sheamus—exactly what they had been screaming for, and what was the reaction?
The fans screamed even louder. They told the WWE that they were crazy for pushing a man who was too young (Sheamus is actually 32 years old), but pushed he was, and pushed he stayed.
Then something happened.
As you went from site to site, from community to community, people slowly started admitting that maybe Sheamus did look okay in the main event scene, and maybe the WWE was right to push him like they did.
I have to say that I wasn't personally surprised to see Sheamus pushed. Although relatively unknown to the American wrestling television audience, he is far from unknown to the wrestling world, or indeed to the general public.
Sheamus actually moved into wrestling at quite a late age compared to some wrestlers, but at 6'6", and with a sporting history that included Gaelic football for the Erin's Isle team where he was declared Sportstar of The Month, and a spell playing rugby for the National College of Ireland, his strength and fitness weren't in question.
After graduating from College he decided to attempt a career in wrestling under the guidance of Bret Hart. Sheamus began training in Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory wrestling school in April 2002.
Sharpe is a respected trainer in the business, and previous graduates include Bam Bam Bigelow, D'Lo Brown, The Headbangers, Kevin Von Erich, and Raven.
Sheamus was seen as an exceptional talent during his time at the factory, and he developed a true understanding of the sport. On his return to Ireland he wrestled with the newly formed Irish Whip Wrestling (IWW) and became head trainer.
His early matches were so impressive that he was quickly booked to participate in a guest match for the Frontier Wrestling Alliance (FWA) British Heavyweight Championship, and the following year he was picked by Raven as his tag team partner for an exhibition match.
With a growing reputation Sheamus was increasingly invited to travel to Great Britain to make appearances on the British independent circuit, including spots in Wales' Celtic Wrestling promotion, London's LDN Wrestling to appear on their Capital TV show, and with Brian Dixon's All Star Wrestling, whose previous tour had included a young "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson.
During this time Sheamus was becoming a fixture on Irish television, appearing regularly on a number of news and sports shows.
In fact, he was becoming such a celebrity that he began receiving film offers, making his debut in a small role in the 2006 Irish film 3 Crosses . The photo above shows Sheamus at the Sundance Film Festival, for the premiere of the movie The Escapist in which Sheamus played the role of Two Ton.
Aware of his athletic prowess, aware that he could wrestle, aware that he was a respected trainer, a TV celebrity, a movie actor, and a man with a considerable wrestling fan base, Sheamus was offered a developmental contract for WWE. So he relocated to the United States.
Sheamus debuted for the WWE developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) with the class of 2007, which included Drew McIntyre, Joe Hennig, and Jack Swagger. He was considered to be the "breakout star" of that year.
Complementing his already extensive wrestling knowledge and pedigree with an education from the WWE, Sheamus was booked to defeat John Cena at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view to win the WWE Championship.
He was an overnight sensation several years in the making.
As the dust settled, and the IWC came to terms with the sudden change in the main event scene, the Sheamus hating subsided, and the universe began to accept him.
Looking back on the WWE developmental territory class of 2007, Sheamus having been crowned a world champion, Swagger currently carrying a world title belt, Drew McIntyre having held the IC title, and even Joe Hennig holding a spot on the current NXT roster under the ring name Michael McGillicutty, it appears that the WWE has given the IWC exactly what they asked for.
But is it really what they want?
Over the last eight years the WWE has given fans the world's youngest ever world champion, they've given them other fresh faces in the main events such as Sheamus, CM Punk, and Jack Swagger. They've served up David Hart Smith (23), Evan Bourne (27), The Miz (29), Tyson Kidd (29), Zack Ryder (25), Trent Barreta (23), Curt Hawkins (25), Ted DiBiase, Jr. (27), and Cody Rhodes (24), alongside the cast of two series of NXT giving the WWE one of its youngest ever rosters.
On the other hand, as you wander the highways and byways of the Internet viewing the opinions of the IWC alongside this near universal call for new, fresh, and ever younger talent, you find a number of these same people calling for specific wrestlers to be given a push.
Amongst these darlings of the IWC, who they clamor to see pushed, you frequently find the names of long term roster members Chris Jericho (39), Kane (43), Matt Hardy (35), Christian (36), and even on occasions MVP (36). If we don't exclude non-WWE employees then there are even those calling for people like Batista (41), and Sting (51), to be brought into future pushes.
It's confusing, isn't it?
What does the IWC really want?
Does the IWC really know what it wants?
And was the WWE wrong to push new talent, such as Sheamus, or was it just a case of WWE knows best?