By Jeffrey Lutz
Last year I interviewed Sheamus for the Wichita Eagle in advance of a WWE stop in my city. I had interviewed other former and future world champions previously, but this conversation was easily the most confusing. Sheamus went in and out of character and sometimes I couldn’t tell when Stephen Farrelly stopped talking or when Sheamus started.
Not long after the interview, Sheamus turned from heel to babyface, and I have been just as confused by him since. The switch to a good-guy character has caused Sheamus to lose his edge, something the best babyface characters usually find a way to maintain. The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin didn’t lose their edge or change much about their characters when they turned. John Cena is at his best when he ditches the sophomoric humor and gets serious. Randy Orton is still over with fans even though we’re not quite sure what he stands for.
Sheamus, at least, stands for something. We found out a couple weeks ago that he’s in WWE to fight. Even though his explanation of that philosophy left a lot to be desired and even though Finlay could sue for gimmick infringement, "loves to fight" is a good place for Sheamus to start to regain the edge that he had as a heel. There are just a few fixable problems.
If Sheamus loves to fight so much, why is he always smiling? People who love to fight should walk around with a constant chip on their shoulders and shouldn’t have to shift from a happy-go-lucky attitude to find their mean streak.
I buy Sheamus as a tough guy, and there’s something intimidating about a guy who just got beat up showing up the next night smiling. But if the intersection of fun-loving tough guys is to be explored, Sheamus should not be the Pioneer. It is not the precedent the business has set. Harley Race didn’t shrug off major defeats. Stan Hansen didn’t ignore threats from ominous opponents in favor of sharing stories about strange family members from the Old Country. Arn Anderson didn’t express a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about winning.
If Sheamus loves to fight so much, why aren’t we getting better storytelling from WWE writers? How about a Kimbo Slice-like backstory about how he was discovered brawling in the streets of Belfast? Better yet, how about telling Sheamus’ actual story? About how he came up wrestling all over Europe, paying his dues before he got a chance in WWE’s developmental territory. Sheamus has been around a while, but it’s never too late for character development.
Sheamus is plenty over, but he needs something to further connect with the audience, something that makes him more human. WWE thinks we should invest in characters because of hype videos, but the reason acts like Brodus Clay, Tensai or, inevitably, Fandango stall is that WWE never bothers to let fans know anything about who they are. WWE never goes beyond the hype. The human element with Sheamus is there, but it’s not that he has an oddball family. There’s room to grow in "loves to fight" guy, but only as long as we learn more about Sheamus, the person, along the way.
Maybe the new partnership with William Regal, a former legitimate tough guy, will help Sheamus regain his edge. Then again, maybe not. I was discouraged that, in the bar-room-brawl angle from England last week, Big Show was the one who initiated the fight. Sheamus is the one who is here to fight, so why couldn’t he have started it? It’s a small storyline detail that no one will remember in a week, but it could have helped further Sheamus’s character.
I like Sheamus. A lot. He has a great look, he’s above-average, at worst, in the ring and his mic skills are solid when he’s given the right material. But he turns 35 in January, so it’s time for this rocket ship to take off. It’s now or never, and Sheamus has the skills to be the face of the company. But he’s never had a star-making moment. His first WWE Championship victory was a fluky win over John Cena in a tables match. He won the Royal Rumble in January, but more people were talking about Chris Jericho’s failed "end of the world" proclamation. When he beat Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania, Bryan emerged as the bigger star.
Vince McMahon saw in Sheamus the superstar Irish brawler McMahon has always wanted for his company. He’s been endorsed by Triple H, the second most powerful figure in WWE. It’s disappointing, that with such influential supporters, that we haven’t gotten more from Sheamus. Especially because he has so much more to give.
Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lutz's Blog: It's time for Sheamus to show what he truly has to offer
Nov 12, 2012 - 06:00 PM
Nov 12, 2012 - 06:00 PM
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