WWE SummerSlam 2010 was marred by disqualifications and questionable finishes.
Among the many unsatisfactory conclusions of the night, one match featured a finish we have become all too familiar with.
At the conclusion of the WWE Championship match between Sheamus and Randy Orton, Sheamus was booked to be disqualified, thus allowing him to once again retain his WWE Championship without actually beating a top star.
The reasoning behind the booked disqualification completely defeats the purpose of Sheamus being WWE Champion in the first place. And on a pay-per-view (the second or third biggest pay-per-view of the year) where the stipulations mandated that nobody could interfere on Sheamus' behalf and that this would be Randy Orton's last shot at Sheamus' WWE Championship if he lost, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility to ask for a clean finish .
In fact, a clean finish was all but implied and following what was an entertaining contest leading up to the finish, I felt duped. As should you.
After suffering through yet another tainted Sheamus victory, I thought long and hard about the last time Sheamus defended his WWE Championship and went over clean.
Further research revealed a head shaking, if not unacceptable answer.
Sheamus has captured the WWE Championship on two separate occasions. During those two occasions, Sheamus has defended his title a combined seven times. Of the seven times Sheamus has defended his WWE Championship he has never scored a clean victory by pinfall or submission.
When I think of great champions, I naturally think of great championship reigns such as Rob Van Dam's historic ECW Television Title reign that saw him successfully defend the title for almost two years (clean victories and all).
Goldberg, as part of his famed Superman push during the late 90's in WCW, almost always went over clean when defending his title during the most decorated undefeated streak in wrestling history.
Say what you want about Hulk Hogan, he never needed help retaining his heavyweight champions (primarily as a babyface) and that simple fact has helped him become synonymous with pro wrestling royalty.
Granted, the aforementioned examples were all babyfaces, and it is more common for the heel to win using 'heel tactics' thus tainting their victories in order to gain more heat.
Ric Flair perfected this art during his Horsemen hey days.
However Sheamus is a different animal. Sheamus is a young, upstart heel champion who needs clean victories, especially in championship situations against a top guy where a loss will not hurt the opposition in terms of popularity, in order to be built up as a credible champion. As a result, Sheamus' title defenses would become more meaningful.
Many compare Sheamus' early rise up the WWE ranks to a similar monster heel in Brock Lesnar. The difference between Brock Lesnar and Sheamus, a difference that carried a lot of weight in me ranking Lesnar ahead of Sheamus as having a better rookie year in WWE history, was that Lesnar was booked to defeat his opposition cleanly both before and during his eventual WWE title reign.
Sheamus, on the other hand, has not received such backing from the powers that be. The proof is in the booking. The following slides depict all seven of Sheamus' WWE title defenses since first winning the WWE Championship at WWE Tables, Ladders, and Chairs.