Irish Cursed: Analyzing the Rise and Potential Fall of Sheamus in the WWE
The expression “too much, too soon” comes to mind when thinking of the current condition of WWE superstar Sheamus’ relatively young career.
It was just about one year ago when the pale, red-haired, relative unknown began to make himself known as a serious threat to anyone on the WWE roster. After an impressive stint on the now defunct ECW brand, Sheamus was brought onto Monday Night Raw.
Within two months, he ended the career of Jamie Noble, put on a dominant showing as part of The Miz’s team at Survivor Series and established himself as a top contender for the WWE Championship by winning a "breakthrough” battle royal.
When Sheamus got his shot at John Cena for the title at December’s TLC pay-per-view, hardly anyone expected to see the Irish upstart put the face of the WWE and arguably the most popular superstar of the past decade through a table en route to winning his first ever WWE Championship.
Once he did, the reaction from fans varied from excitement over a fresh new talent in the main event picture to disgust that the creative team would put the company’s premier title on essentially an unproven newcomer.
Regardless of how you may have felt, Sheamus had arrived. He became the first-ever Irish-born WWE Champion and it was clear that the powers that be saw something special in the unique competitor from Dublin.
Over the next two months, Sheamus would retain his championship with questionable disqualification wins over John Cena and Randy Orton. “The Celtic Warrior” eventually dropped his gold at the Elimination Chamber PPV in February, which kick-started a feud with Triple H.
In his first WrestleMania appearance, Sheamus was bested by The Game in a match that would only serve to continue their rivalry. The next month at Extreme Rules, Sheamus would put Triple H out of action with a vicious assault prior to their street fight match.
Within six months as a member of the Raw roster, Sheamus had already worn the WWE title and took out one of the biggest names in the history of the promotion. His status as a monster heel appeared to be fully cemented.
Sheamus would go on to capture the WWE Championship once again, this time surviving a Fatal 4-Way match over Cena, Randy Orton and Edge at the PPV of the same name. The win was controversial, once again, as he would capitalize on the Nexus’ interference to score a pin fall over Cena.
If fans were upset by Sheamus winning the Championship the first time around, they were likely even more annoyed that he would wear the title once again.
As his second title reign progressed, it became evident that the creative team wanted to keep Sheamus in the main event picture but for whatever reason were determined to make him appear to be a weak champion.
During his two reigns, he only managed to score one successful title defense via pin or submission. The match? A five-second squash over Zack Ryder on Raw, which essentially was nothing more than a bad joke.
Instead of booking their young, physically impressive champion as a powerhouse or a dominant force, Sheamus was made to look like a coward who could only win with the help of outside interference or illegal methods.
Despite being able to claim that he is a two-time holder of the most sought-after championship belt in professional wrestling, many fans still see Sheamus as a joke of a champion because of the relatively short length and awkward booking of his combined 161 days as WWE Champion.
Since losing the title to Randy Orton in the six-pack challenge at the Night of Champions PPV, the purveyor of Pale Justice has been floundering on Raw with seemingly little direction.
A feud with John Morrison seems to be building, based off their encounter on Raw last Monday night. After defeating Vladimir Kozlov, Sheamus was set to put a hurting on Santino Marella before the Shaman of Sexy intervened.
Sheamus and Morrison battled in an entertaining falls count anywhere match on the September 13 edition of Raw that saw the Celtic Warrior win after Chris Jericho assaulted Morrison with a steel chair. It was one of the better matches on Raw in recent memory and shows the potential that a program between these two rising stars could have.
While a feud with Morrison could produce some good matches, it seems as this point that the main purpose of the rivalry is to help push Morrison into the main event scene. By allowing the Monday Night Delight to hold his own over a two-time WWE Champion, his credibility increases but it does not do nearly the same for Sheamus.
This may not be a bad thing for the stagnant main event scene on Raw, but it does have a somewhat negative effect on the already damaged credibility of the once dominant Sheamus.
His dominance will likely continue to be damaged once Triple H makes his return to Monday nights, inevitably looking for revenge against the man who put him on the shelf.
When The Game returns, it seems a give-in that he will go after Sheamus and reignite their rivalry. While Triple H gaining revenge in the form of a victory may not be a foregone conclusion, chances are strong that when all is said and done, Trips will come out on top of this feud.
Where does that leave Sheamus in the big picture of the WWE main event scene?
Could the WWE be guilty of giving Sheamus too big of a push, too early in his career? After reaching the top, where does he go from here?
There may be no two-time WWE champions with the questionable standing of the “Celtic Warrior.” Despite his impressive size and powerful smash mouth offensive style, some fans still have a hard time accepting Sheamus as a major player in today’s wrestling landscape.
How the WWE handles Sheamus’ direction over the next few months, especially after Triple H returns, will be critical towards the remainder of the 32-year-old’s career.
Is Sheamus an example of the luck of the Irish or is he going to wind up, much like one of his signature moves, a victim of the Irish curse?
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