One of the WWE’s most shocking moments of 2009 came when the relatively unknown Sheamus defeated John Cena in a Tables Match at WWE TLC to win the WWE Championship.
Sheamus hadn’t even been around for six months at the time, so needless to say, it was a huge surprise to see him beat the face of the WWE on pay-per-view for the company’s most prestigious title.
Sheamus and Cena would cross paths a number of times throughout 2009 and 2010, before their lengthy on-and-off rivalry concluded in the summer of 2010 with Sheamus once again walking away as the WWE Champion.
Since then, though, Cena and Sheamus have, for the most part, stayed away from each other, due at least partially to the fact that Sheamus turned babyface late in the summer of 2011. As two of the WWE’s top three babyfaces, Sheamus and Cena have remained apart, too busy with the company’s top heels to worry about each other.
Inevitably, that will change in the near future.
Though the fact that both Cena and Sheamus are babyfaces makes some fans think that they’ll continue to stay away from each other, the WWE hasn’t shied away from face/face feuds over the years.
We have, of course, seen a number of WrestleMania rivalries involving two good guys, including The Rock vs. Cena and Undertaker vs. Triple H/Shawn Michaels. We’ve also seen them at other times of the year, like when Punk and Cena feuded in the summer of 2011 and then followed that up by kicking off yet another feud earlier this year.
When the timing and situation is right, face/face feuds featuring major stars can and will happen in the WWE. This is evidenced by the somewhat friendly rivalry that’s been built up between Sheamus and Orton in 2012.
But perhaps a better way to put things is that the WWE loves to put its top stars in feuds with each other.
From 2007 to 2009, WWE programming was dominated by an on-and-off rivalry between its top two stars at the time, Cena and Orton. I honestly have no idea how many times they faced each other during that span, but I’m sure it’s a very high number.
Of course, we also had about 75 different manifestations of feuds involving Orton, Cena and…Triple H. We got Cena vs. Triple H, Cena vs. Orton, Orton vs. Triple H and Orton vs. Cena vs. Triple H so many times from 2008 to 2010 that I’m not sure anyone wants to ever see any of those matches again.
Similarly, we are still seeing the lengthy rivalry between Cena and Punk continue to grow, with the two already having faced each other in three epic PPV singles matches and at least another one or two PPV matches looking very likely.
You can sum up my point in layman’s term by saying this: The WWE’s top stars constantly feud with each other, regardless of face/heel alignment.
Looking at the way the WWE is currently constructed, Cena and Sheamus are probably the No. 1 and No. 3 stars in the company, respectively. When you have two top guys at odds with one other, whether someone is a heel or face doesn’t matter. Being the best does.
That’s what has become the focus of the Punk/Cena feud, with Punk demanding that he be called “the best in the world” because he thinks he’s proven that (and I agree) with his performances over the last year or so.
Though in a different light, that’s exactly what can be the basis of another Sheamus/Cena feud. Cena has been at the top of the WWE for quite a while now, but Sheamus’ current push has booked him just as strongly as Cena.
Sheamus has been next to unbeatable, and in a way, it’s worked because he’s turned into arguably the second-biggest babyface on the WWE roster. Still, Sheamus wants to be the best, and just like the legends keep telling Punk, you have to beat Cena to be the best.
I think that those within the WWE realize that, and after the creative team has done a fantastic job of building Sheamus up into a top star over the last year or so, it now has to take the next step.
It will when Sheamus feuds with Cena next year for the first time since 2010, and Cena steps into the ring with someone who might be an even bigger challenge than Punk has been for him.
Sheamus almost always wins, and so does Cena. The next time they face each other, something’s gotta give.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!