Monday, 5 November 2012

Bell Time

The old Wembley Stadium had Bret Hart versus The British Bulldog in one of the finest matches of both men's careers and company history. That was at SummerSlam '92. A little over twenty years later Wembley Arena hosted Big Show versus Sheamus.
It was not as special.
Unfortunately due to a combination of my inability to read bell times printed on tickets and work being carried out on multiple Underground lines Dan Pryce and I arrived late to the show. We were in time to see a spirited finishing sequence to the Intercontinental title match. 'Wildcat' Kofi Kingston beat current chief rival The Miz. It was well received and the fans seemed very into Kofi, which was nice to see. Hopefully Kofi will continue to be presented as a key figure for a long time and this latest push won't peter out.

I wasn't the only one taking pictures
The showdown between 'The World's Largest Athlete' and 'The Celtic Warrior' was next. The London Irish rugby team were introduced first. They were accompanying Sheamus to the ring. He was introduced next, and received an impressive reaction from the crowd. He cut a promo about starting his career in London working for All Star Wrestling, which was nice but probably a lie: I'm pretty sure Sheamus first appeared in Irish Whip Wrestling. I could be wrong though.
World champion Big Show got a solid amount if heat when he made his entrance. Dan and I cheered him though. It's always fun to cheer bad guys at live events and neither of us are wild about Sheamus. Based off of their ring entrances alone you would have been entitled to expect a gripping encounter.
That wasn't what we saw. The match was filled with stalling, a ridiculous number of rest holds and overselling from Sheamus. It's fair to say the challenger spent most of the bout on the mat. He has shown far more resilience in his televised encounters with the giant. He didn't here because Show can't handle a fast pace on a regular basis.

That's what a world champion should look like (maybe)
The quality of the match made me wonder whether Sheamus can be considered one of WWE's best yet. Kids in the audience reacted to his comebacks and everyone reacted to his entrance. He wasn't able to win people over during his long sell jobs though. Clearly Big Show was never going to so the responsibility of keeping the crowd engaged should have fallen on babyface Sheamus. Cena or Orton would managed this through crowd engagement. Sheamus didn't really bother.
The Irishman has been receiving a sustained push since he won the Royal Rumble in January. His loss to Big Show was his first clean one of the year. WWE has done everything they can to protect Sheamus on his rise to the top. He beat Daniel Bryan in eighteen seconds (which was disappointing but did get the Brogue Kick over as a devastating move). He didn't lose once to Alberto Del Rio in their near six month programme and he routinely battered guys like Dolph Ziggler in matches designed to make the champion look like the star. His loss to Big Show at Hell in a Cell was his first clean one of 2012.
What they have failed to do is create a character for him.
Sheamus is nothing more than a collection of catchphrases, quirks and moves. All of these things gain reactions in their own right but they make him a two-dimensional character with no motivation beyond enjoying a fight and wanting to be a champion. Isn't it true on some level that all wrestlers enjoy a fight? They wouldn't have chosen this profession if not. They all want to win championships too.
As is the case with many of WWE's top talent at the moment Sheamus needs a change or a rest. Considering how light the current roster is a rest seems unlikely. Unfortunately a change doesn't look like it's coming any time soon either. WWE have not spent months presenting Sheamus as a marketable babyface only to turn him heel again, no matter how many fresh opponents and feuds it could create and the good it would do his career in the long run.
It's what they should do though. A year ago I thought Sheamus had what it took to get over at the highest level in WWE. He's had the chance and though he's proven popular he has not developed enough character or had enough great matches to show that he has staying power. Last night's apathetic crowd, along with similar reactions in his recent televised outings, proved that.
Back to Wembley. Sheamus won the match via DQ when Big Show wouldn't break a hold (or something equally heelish (although he didn't appear to have done anything wrong from where I was sitting)). 'Great White' had already hit a White Noise during the match so the post-match move had to be a Brogue Kick. Show sold that nicely and the former champ minced around ringside slapping hands to send fans home happy.
Next time you go to a wrestling show I recommend double and triple checking bell times.

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