After being sidelined in November due to injury, Sheamus returned to WWE television on the post-WrestleMania episode of Raw. He attacked Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, which cemented his much-anticipated heel turn.
All it took was once simple segment for Sheamus to become more relevant than he has been in years.
Early on in his WWE career, Sheamus was an unrelenting villain, a role that he played exceptionally well. He viciously attacked performers such as John Cena, Triple H and Jerry Lawler, and was absolutely ruthless.
When he originally became a baby face character in 2011, it was deemed a necessary transition in order for Sheamus to remain relevant in the midst of WWE’s star-studded roster. Although he has always worked better as a heel character, Sheamus had been stale for so long at that point in his career that a character shift was desperately needed.
WWE began to build him up as an unbeatable “good-guy” character, and the WWE Universe loved his feuds with Christian and Mark Henry. For quite some time, Sheamus was a fan favorite. It wasn’t until he began referencing his Irish heritage in promos, tried lame attempts at comedy, and beat Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship in an astounding 18 seconds, that the WWE Universe slowly began to dislike him. As a baby face, his character became dull, annoying and stagnant, which had the audience begging for a change to the character once again.
Despite his successful run as WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2012, Sheamus became an afterthought once his reign came to an end. Aside from an unimpressive reign as United States Champion, he did nothing noteworthy for the next two years prior to suffering a shoulder injury in November.
When a performer is off of WWE programming for a prolonged period of time, it usually ends up hurting their character’s momentum in the long run. However, in Sheamus’ case, being sidelined from action was an opportunity to revive his character and give it more fire than it has ever had before.
It had been heavily rumored leading up to WrestleMania 31 that a heel turn was in the works for Sheamus. When he finally returned the next night on Raw with a drastically different look, it was a breath of fresh air for the mid-card title scene. The success of Sheamus’ new character was very dependent on timing, and the timing of his return was perfect.
WWE has been lacking depth on their main roster for months now. Recently, this has improved a bit with performers such as Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and Roman Reigns emerging as top tier, main event talent. However, the heel side of roster is still lacking a good amount of solid characters. Every “good-guy” needs a “bad guy” to go up against in storylines, and that is an issue WWE is still struggling with today.
The WWE Universe is tired of seeing Big Show and Kane in the main event scene week after week. Bad News Barrett has been given terrible storylines since winning the Intercontinental Championship in January, and ended up losing it to Daniel Bryan in a 7-man ladder match at WrestleMania. The previously undefeated Rusev has now been beaten, and lost his United States Championship to none other than John Cena at WrestleMania. Heel characters are now starting to feel weak and replaceable. Having an upper echelon performer such as Sheamus transition into a heel character is exactly what WWE needed at this time.
The best thing about Sheamus’ repackaging is that WWE has fully gotten behind it. His new appearance and entrance music, paired with a ferocious attitude, has enhanced the credibility and value that the character brings to WWE programming.
As long as the company continues to place Sheamus in meaningful feuds and storylines, his career renaissance has the potential to bring an immense amount of value to WWE’s programming for the foreseeable future. If booked correctly, the opportunities for Sheamus to obtain success really are endless.