Surprise returns are part of what makes the Royal Rumble match so special, and there seems to be no more likely candidate for a return at the event this year than Sheamus.
It has been more than five months since Sheamus was on WWE television, following a torn labrum sustained during the Money in the Bank ladder match in July and aggravated over the following weeks. In a WWE.com report on the injury back in August, it was suggested that Sheamus would be out of action for four to six months—perfect timing for a return this Sunday.
As reported on late last year, the fact that Sheamus is making an appearance at a motoring convention in Pittsburgh this weekend adds further warrant to speculation that he will also be appearing at the Rumble, which is also taking place in Pittsburgh.
If Sheamus is indeed ready to return to the active roster, it would make most sense for his return to be before WrestleMania season gets into full swing. A decent showing in the Rumble and perhaps the beginnings of a feud with another one of the 30 competitors would certainly be an efficient way of reintroducing the Celtic Warrior just in time for a WrestleMania match.
However, it doesn't seem like Sheamus has much of a chance at winning the Rumble itself, despite coming out on top back in 2012. Betting site Paddy Power is offering odds of 33-1 for a Sheamus win, which puts him as something of an outside chance—although it should be said he has the lowest odds of any wrestler who is not currently on WWE TV.
Winning or not, the odds of a Great White sighting at the Rumble this weekend look very good. However, it remains to be seen what follows the Rumble for Sheamus. Since his departure, the main event scene is arguably more densely populated with fan favourites than it has been in some time, especially with the return of Batista this past Monday on Raw.
If Sheamus does indeed make his return at the Royal Rumble this Sunday, could he be coming back as a heel? The Rumble seems like an apt place for a major character change like this, with a shock elimination of someone the crowd is really behind (dare I say Daniel Bryan in a callback to their WrestleMania bout two years ago?) capable of quickly changing audience opinion of the Irishman. Could Sheamus align himself with the Authority? We will know on Sunday.
Is it the right time for Sheamus to make his return? If so, what's next for him after the Rumble?