WWE Survivor Series featured a controversial outcome, once again drawing a massive amount of criticism from the Internet Wrestling Community. Literally thousands of people have voiced their displeasure for Roman Reigns going over Dean Ambrose in the finals of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament, only for Sheamus to “cash in” and walk out as the new “face of The Authority.” Criticism didn’t go unnoticed from the WWE brass as Road Dogg, who works as a producer with considerable backstage stroke, tweeted this:
I'm a wrestling fan! If we're not your thing, check out something else. But.. You'll be back, I assure you, you'll be back! #OUDK
— Brian G. James (@WWERoadDogg) November 23, 2015
In other words, they know you’re pissed off but they know you’ll be watching Raw tonight. In fact, "pissed off” is exactly what WWE was looking for and it’s why I wrote this on the Facebook page of the Miami Herald’s Jim Varsallone on Saturday morning:
I wasn’t making a prediction but operating on what I knew from behind-the-scenes information we first reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium a couple weeks ago and recapped shortly after the pay-per-view.
I knew that Vince McMahon was extremely stubborn about turning Reigns heel and that he saw Sheamus as a viable replacement for Seth Rollins. And believe it or not, I don’t think it’s the worst possible scenario. I agree with several of you and those within WWE that the BEST choice would have been to turn Roman Reigns, however, it’s just something Vince McMahon has refused to do.
Think about it. Vince went to extraordinary measures to make Roman Reigns a babyface at Royal Rumble — evening bringing in The Rock to draw a pop that didn't happen — and has remained persistent ever since. Vince is the type of guy where he would rather fans boo or cheer the guy he wants them to boo or cheer than dictate his characters based on the reaction of the audience. While that may sound backwards, I truly believe that’s his mentality.
Having written that, with Vince intent on pushing Reigns as a babyface, it only made sense for Sheamus to replace Rollins. Reigns was the heel against Dean Ambrose and the time and resources have not been invested into Ambrose to strap him yet. He still lacks identity, needs his own set of ring gear, and if we’re honest, will probably need to add 10-15 pounds to really be the “type” Vince and Triple H see as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
It was either strap Reigns and have him run with it or have Sheamus “cash in” Money in the Bank and hope the chase of Reigns can finally solidify him as the company’s top babyface. That brings me up to points of agreement with the IWC and points of disagreement with the IWC:
Where I agree with the Internet Wrestling Community:
Despite being Mr. Money in the Bank, Sheamus has not received a high level of protection since returning to WWE from injury. Some will argue Sheamus is more “mid-card” today then he has been since shocking everyone by going over John Cena for the WWE Championship in 2009. This was evident earlier in the Survivor Series pay-per-view when he was part of the Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Match that was meant to be an undercard spot fest. Not only did Sheamus get pinned by Ryback but he didn’t even get a proper introduction. I was caught so off-guard by that, I figured they had abandoned any plan for Sheamus to “cash in.”
Knowing what we know now, Sheamus was probably strategically “underutilized” and then pinned to try to keep the “cash in” as big of a surprise as possible. The story they were trying to tell was that Sheamus was abandoned by The New Day and that triggered loss, not that Sheamus couldn’t handle it. I don’t really think it worked and completely buy the criticism that Sheamus isn’t in a good position to be champion.
Where I disagree with the Internet Wrestling Community:
*Sarcastic tone* Sheamus is WWE World Heavyweight Champion, that’ll fix the ratings problem! Of course not and WWE isn’t hoping that it will. They’re hoping the chase of Sheamus is what is going to fix the ratings problem. They’re hoping the money is going to be in Roman Reigns going after Sheamus, telling the story that he was screwed by Rollins at Wrestlemania 31 and now Sheamus at Survivor Series. Vince wants the guy he sees as his next top babyface to have a redemption story and the only way to tell that story is through a heel champion. It was supposed to be Rollins but a severe knee injury nixed that.
If you are upset or “pissed off” over Sheamus being champion, you’re playing directly into WWE’s hand. People will argue it’s the “wrong kind of heat” but as long as they’re “pissed” and still watching, they're doing exactly what WWE wants them to do. That’s why I opened with Road Dogg’s tweet. They did it because they knew they could get away with it. It’s the story Vince wants to tell and he’s determined to tell it, even if he has to do so with the most vocal portion of his audience kicking and screaming.
The reason Vince takes the IWC with “several grains of sand” (I actually heard him describe it as that) is because he knows they’re the most committed portion of his audience that is impossible to run off and they’re going to watch no matter what. Another thing he, and most of us know, is the IWC likes to complain. Before I wrote my first article on professional wrestling, I used to be a reader just like you. And the websites or newsletters I read back in the 90s were so negative I often wondered why they just didn’t do something else? Seriously, if you hate it this bad, why do you even do it? I'd never seen so much energy dedicated at the sole purpose of being critical.
And that’s the trap I try to urge readers to stay away from. You’re not going to like everything WWE does, in this case, they don’t want you to like it! But it’s important to not be overly critical, especially when you are still going to devote your time and resources towards the product. Remember the #CancelWWENetwork movement? I’m sure the majority of those people watched the pay-per-view last night and will watch WWE TLC next month.
What’s far more concerning to me coming out of Survivor Series is how flat Paige vs. Charlotte fell after so much time and effort and controversy was poured into that. That is what I think should be causing the IWC to wonder what’s up, not so much Sheamus the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. We have to realize WWE sees titles and champions and win/loss records differently than we do. They don’t mean as much in their eyes and if we’re honest, it’s always been that way.
WWE knows why the IWC loves NXT and they know why the IWC is so critical of the main roster. Believe it or not, I was actually hoping Eva Marie would win the WWE NXT Women's Championship at last week's tapings just to see how the fans reacted. Good heat is hard to get and it seems like Sheamus has it. This gives Reigns a big opportunity to get across as a legitimate babyface, so let's see how things play out. Feel free to direct any feedback on our social media pages or in the comments area below.