On Sunday night at Survivor Series, World Wrestling Entertainment crowned a new WWE World Heavyweight champion, only to take the belt away from him.
After defeating Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns celebrated in a hurricane of confetti as COO and leader of The Authority HHH came out to try and congratulate the new champion. Reigns decided instead to hit HHH with the spear, which was enough delay for the Celtic Warrior Sheamus to run out, Brogue Kicking Reigns and cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Sheamus was previously involved in the traditional Survivor Series match on the card in a losing effort. He needed a second Brogue Kick to seal the deal and steal the spotlight from Roman Reigns.
Much of the speculation going into Survivor Series was if we would see a heel turn to decide the new face of the Authority. It seemed to make sense for WWE to just repeat history with a member of The Shield turning on his partner to take Seth Rollins spot. Later on when Rollins returns, he could play the babyface hating the fact he lost his spot to a Shield brother. Instead, Ambrose and Reigns stayed true to themselves and stayed on the side of the WWE Universe.
As pointed out in the Survivor Series predictions and analysis, the WWE hasn’t put much thought into the tournament leading to crowning a new champion. They ended up just repeating their fatal four-way to decide the number one contender, right down to Roman Reigns winning. The only difference was swapping Dolph Ziggler out for Dean Ambrose. The question ended up being how the WWE handled the next top heel in the company. Would the Roman Empire burn for The Authority? Would Dean Ambrose become the Corporate Lunatic?
These were questions that not even the WWE knew how to answer only hours before the main event on Sunday. Instead of making a significant change to the WWE landscape, they went to an old hand in Sheamus. Sheamus had been holding the briefcase and very few were excited to see him cash it in. Sheamus tried changing up his look a bit with a Mohawk and beard braids, but he was the same old Celtic Warrior that got stale back in 2012 as the Smackdown World Heavyweight champion. Sheamus and his pale skin warrior look has been needing a significant face lift, and a few braids were not going to do it.
The handling of Sheamus at Survivor Series was bizarre as well. First he got shunned by his New Day teammates for saying “Jiggy” when being the closest embodiment to symbolizing male whiteness the company could offer (Paige does the trick for the women), only to see New Day walk out of the Survivor Series match when Big E was eliminated. Sheamus was all alone against the other team. With WWE knowing (at least we think they knew at this point) that Sheamus would be winning the title later, why didn’t they have him go over strong against The Ryback and two split tag teams? Instead they hit multiple big moves on Sheamus and pinned him. In an odd way, this was WWE trying to make Sheamus look strong. He only lost because he was alone. It felt like less making a heel strong and more preparing for a face turn.
It didn’t go over well, as his return hasn’t gone over well either. He was supposed to come in as a top guy in his return and instead crashed to the midcard. It at one point looked like he’d be a makeshift tag partner of King Barrett. Instead, he sits at the top of the WWE as World Heavyweight champion, even if Intercontinental champion Kevin Owens and United States champion Alberto Del Rio have more heel heat than him (even after losing matches clean without their belts on the line). It’s actually pretty interesting that right now, only the Divas championship is held by a babyface. Simply put, WWE has a very hard sell now in making Sheamus the top heel of the company when the fans couldn’t be bothered to care about him even when he won Money in the Bank.
It’s unfortunate because Sheamus has always been a hard worker, even when perceived as having the eye of Triple H. This could work in his favour if the WWE drops the Celtic Warrior gimmick and embraces him as a corporate sellout. The pale warrior stuff needs to go, as does the ginger punk grooming. Let him wear a suit (okay, you can make it an emerald green suit) and be a reflection of Triple H. Let him be something new for the first time since his debut in 2009 (Celtic King doesn’t count). Let him embrace the claims that he was HHH’s gym buddy for years and that’s why he got so many opportunities.
Survivor Series took the path of least resistance in deciding the final four for who got Seth Rollins WWE World Heavyweight championship, and then took the path of least resistance by having the Money in the Bank briefcase holder cashing in and winning the title to end the show. Now the WWE stares at Sheamus as their champion and realizes that by making these choices, they created the path of the most resistance: getting anyone to believe in Sheamus.