Since dropping the World Heavyweight Championship to Big Show at Hell in a Cell, many fans have reflected on Sheamus' title reign. Reviews are certainly quite mixed, but "The Great White" proved that he will be a main-event player for many years to come.
When Sheamus turned face in the summer of 2011 and eventually won the Royal Rumble, the crowd support behind him was immense. Sheamus had been a heel for his entire WWE tenure, but the fans really bought into his face turn and elevated him to a level that he had never experienced before, even as a two-time WWE Champion.
Sheamus capturing the world title at WrestleMania was a foregone conclusion, but he did it in shocking fashion as he defeated Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds. This caused backlash to some degree, but for the most part, it got more fans talking about both Sheamus and Bryan. At that point, it seemed like Sheamus was en route to becoming one of the faces of the company.
However, Sheamus was unable to maintain that momentum. The biggest culprit was the fact that after a rematch with Bryan, he entered into a multi-month feud with Alberto Del Rio. The WWE has done a terrible job of building Del Rio up as a top heel ever since he lost to Edge at WrestleMania XXVII, and he sucked the life out of Sheamus' run.
Once that feud finally came to an end, Sheamus transitioned into a program with Big Show. That particular rivalry hasn't been as bad as many anticipated, but Big Show isn't a guy who is going to inject life into a stagnant title reign. With that said, Big Show taking the title from Sheamus is ultimately going to be a good thing for "The Celtic Warrior" moving forward.
Not only did a lack of credible opponents keep Sheamus' title reign from being all that it could have been, but the manner in which he was booked was detrimental as well. Rather than making his challengers appear to be on equal footing, Sheamus essentially breezed through everyone and didn't lose a match cleanly until CM Punk beat him in a champion vs. champion match on the debut episode of Main Event.
Now that losing to Big Show has humanized Sheamus, however, he should be much better for it. The prevailing thought was that Sheamus had turned into a light version of John Cena. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing in some respects, but most fans disliked his suddenly bubbly demeanor and penchant for winning essentially every match that he competed in.
Aside from that, Sheamus did a lot of good over his seven-month run with the World Heavyweight Championship. Not only did he cement himself as the No. 2 or No. 3 babyface in the company, but he established himself as one of the WWE's best in-ring workers.
Most fans were pretty lukewarm about Sheamus' wrestling ability early in his career and even just prior to his face turn, but he has taken things to another level. Men his size are generally all about power and can't put on a well-wrestled, sensible match, but Sheamus has proven capable of having an entertaining contest with pretty much anyone.
His final-two dual with Chris Jericho in the Royal Rumble match was fantastic, his two-out-of-three falls match with Bryan at Extreme Rules was a joy to watch, and his bout with Big Show at Hell in a Cell exceeded the expectations of pretty much everyone who tuned in.
With smaller guys like Bryan, CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler making pure wrestling skills more important now than they have been in decades, Sheamus is suddenly a rare breed. Not only is he a physical specimen with the type of look that Vince McMahon desires, but he is technically sound to the point where he can have wonderful matches with superstars of all shapes, sizes and skill levels.
Perhaps Sheamus didn't establish himself as well as many had hoped, but it's now apparent that he possesses all of the tools necessary to be a main eventer for years to come. Having some time away from the world title scene should be beneficial, but he'll have gold around his waist plenty of times down the line.