What Sheamus Can Do That Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan and Others Couldn't

Justin LaBar@@JustinLaBar Featured ColumnistDecember 27, 2012

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08:  The Celtic Warrior Sheamus during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

Sheamus is one of the best performers in wrestling who can play both a heel and face who is a draw.

Fans debate and formulate a lot of rankings. Best in-ring performer. Best on the mic. Best entrance. Best heel or best face. How about talking about a current WWE star who can really play both heel or face?

Chris Jericho, Triple H and CM Punk are some names in the modern era that play both babyface and heel roles well. They might enjoy or stand out better as one or the other, but they can be a valuable draw as either.

Daniel Bryan became a surprisingly good heel. I always knew he would be a good heel and suggested for months before it happened that he needed to take on a rabid, vicious, stiff heel character who can brawl or beat you on the mat technically. One similar to Chris Benoit in his prime (leave the jokes alone). 

I didn't think he would sell me as a heel who was the cocky piece of crap that he became before the YES chants led to him being loved. When he was a terrible boyfriend to AJ Lee, he was a solid heel to pay to see get beat on.

If anything Bryan still needs to work on his babyface role being marketable. His merchandise is a big sell, but I don't know if he's been given the opportunity with his character to be a babyface people really want to pay to see win. I think he's got great chants, the best in-ring performer to many hardcore fans, but there is still much growth to sit back and enjoy watching.

Sheamus has proven a lot in a few years. He came in and had a similar welcome to critical fans as Ryback did in 2012. Ryback was pushed as the all mighty good guy and Sheamus as the baddest man since Tyson. Many at first, myself included, felt Sheamus quick push from ECW right up to facing off with John Cena was too much too soon for someone not worthy.

He proved us wrong. His attacks on Triple H and Jerry “The King” Lawler were well done. Well-timed and booked. He even got whatever honor there is in being the one to retire Jamie Noble before he took a full-time backstage role.

2009 to 2010 saw Sheamus as a true heel. Not a cool heel. Not a goofy heel. A heel. In every since of the word. He looked like someone easy to hate while intimidating. He's big. Looks and can act violent. He's a believable Irish tough guy.

In the same award of how good of a heel Sheamus quickly developed in is the same on how amazed I was on the organic and successful nature he became a face.

It wasn't forced by WWE and it wasn't rushed by fans. We got to see Sheamus battle many of WWE's top faces. Fans waited long enough to start warming up this genuine tough guy and didn't cut him off any valuable feuds with faces that seemed to be in line. His face turn was real and on time.

Now as a face, he's over. I don't particularly care much for him as a face. I don't hate him, but I don't go crazy when he comes our or deem his segments as destination, must-see television. But I'm not supposed to. He isn't marketed to me.

Sheamus looks like something out of a comic book when presented in the good guy light. Kids enjoy him. They like the way he talks. The fact he can pick up Big Show. He's a prototype for a top babyface on the Smackdown brand.

Sheamus being able to legitimately get over as both a top heel and top face with less than five years experience in WWE is pretty remarkable. Look at how many greats can't say that.

Stone Cold Steve Austin was perhaps the biggest face ever in wrestling. While his legacy isn't harmed, many remember the terrible attempt at heel run in 2001.

Hulk Hogan is a babyface all day. He might want to be the cool heel to make himself feel 20 years younger, but the fact is the machine of New World Order made him a heel. I'm not taking away any success he had as a heel, but his heel run also played off decades as the ultimate face.

Hogan was shock value. It would be same as if John Cena became booked as a heel.

Many will say, “What about Randy Orton?” To me, Orton is proven to be a great heel cause that's his natural calling. As a booked babyface he gets cheers from the women who find him to be their ideal guy to run away with. What else does he do? He slides around on the mat like a face. His face work is too repetitive for me. He can't push the bad guy in him aside cause that's what he truly is and wants to be.

Sheamus has filled the roles well and doesn't have a long WWE resume. Sheamus has been able to make his look work in his favor in both good and bad guy capacities. His accent in his favor for both good guy and bad guy promos. His physicality both in a bully mentality and a defend against all evil superhero kinda way.

He isn't the only one to hold success on both sides of the fence.

CM Punk has shown us he can do both.

Chris Jericho plays both well and played both well back when he had less television years of experience on him as Sheamus does right now.

The Undertaker before becoming such a novelty was able to play both roles well. Huge fan favorite face, but I think some of his heel work in 1998 and 1999 where he's basically portrayed as the devil was phenomenal supernatural bad guy stuff.

Point is, look at the company Sheamus holds with those who can do what he's doing. All those who hold legendary status. Sheamus has a long way to go. Many more WrestleMania moments and title reigns before entering any levels of Jericho or Undertaker.

In some regards I want to view Sheamus similar to Batista. Right now, I think that's the closest comparison. Sheamus is 34, he still has time to push past Batista's level. I hope he does.

Take what we've been given so far to help foresee what the future could hold. At the very least, fella, appreciate the talent the “Great White” has and his success in whatever role he's been put in.