Last year at about this time I wrote a series of articles about each Royal Rumble and the winner of the match. It was a look back at what led up to the Royal Rumble, and what happened to the winner the year following. It's been about a year since the Royal Rumble, so I thought it was a good time to look back at how these past twelve months have been for Sheamus.
On January 29, 2012, the WWE presented the Royal Rumble from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The dark match had Yoshi Tatsu defeating Heath Slater. The PPV opened with a Triple Threat Steel Cage Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship where Daniels Bryan shocked everyone by retaining the Title by escaping the cage, Big Show and Mark Henry. Eight Divas showed their skills in a Tag Team Match, where the Bella Twins (Brie & Nikki) and The Divas of Doom (Beth & Natalya) defeated Fox, Eve, Kelly Kelly and Tamina. Kane and Cena fought to a double count out when their anger could not be contained. Kane even hunted down Ryder, and dragged him to the ring for a tombstone to show just how big of a scary monster he was at that point. At this point backstage Drew McIntyre asked Teddy Long for a spot in the Royal Rumble Match. Long told him that if he could beat a mystery opponent, then Drew would be entered in the Royal Rumble Match. Sadly Drew could not defeat Brodus Clay and didn't get his spot in the main event. Knowing that CM Punk has been WWE Champ for 423+ days, we all know that he won his match at the Royal Rumble. The Special Guest Ref was John Laurinaitis when Punk defeated Dolph Ziggler, who had both Vickie and Swagger supporting him outside the ring.
The Royal Rumble Match started with Miz and Alex Riley. Riley only lasted 1:15 before Miz eliminated him. Kofi came to the ring followed by Cody Rhodes. Kofi lasted longer a bit longer than Riley, a whole 4:57 before Miz eliminated him. Miz and Rhodes held out through quite a few entrants. Foley came out seventh and Ricardo eighth. Together they eliminated Gabriel, but then Santino eliminated Ricardo and Rhodes eliminated Foley. Eighteen, nineteen, twenty, and twenty-one were Ziggler, Hacksaw, Cole and Awesome Kong. Dolph eliminated Kong, making sure for another year that there wouldn't be a female winner. King and Booker eliminated Cole, ensuring that we wouldn't have an announcer win the Rumble. And Rhodes eliminated Hacksaw ensuring that the very first Rumble winner wouldn't win the Rumble this time.
Sheamus came in at number twenty-two, Orton at twenty-eight, Jericho at twenty-nine, and Big Show at thirty. Big Show cleared house by eliminating Rhodes, then Miz and then Ziggler. Orton then took out Big Show. Jericho took out Orton, then Sheamus took out Jericho to win the Royal Rumble!
I have to say that Sheamus has had quite the interesting year since winning the 2012 Royal Rumble Match. Sheamus had turned face toward the end of 2011, so people were wondering which title he would be going after at WrestleMania as Punk was still face at that point. After Bryan retained the WHC at the Elimination Chamber PPV, Sheamus attacked him, confirming he'd be going after the WHC. Anyone who's followed WWE wrestling for more than a year knows what went down between Bryan and Sheamus in their 18 second match – thanks to that kiss from AJ. In April Sheamus defeated Bryan in a 2 Out of 3 Falls Match at Extreme Rules, and then beat ADR, Jericho and Orton in a Fatal 4 Way Match to retain in May at Over The Limit. On June 17th, at No Way Out Sheamus defeated Ziggler, then on the June 29th episode of Smackdown Sheamus defeated both ADR and Ziggler in a Triple Threat Match, and then in July Sheamus beat ADR at MITB to retain the WHC. He really seemed to be on a role, no matter who he faced, he managed to overcome.
ADR beat Bryan, Kane and Rey to become the number one contender for the WHC, and while he'd been fighting against Sheamus for a bit, their feud stepped up a notch. First Sheamus 'borrowed' ADR's car, then ADR fought back by attacking Sheamus with a group of 'police officers'. Things got so ugly that Booker had to step in and take the #1 Contendership away from ADR. Sheamus asked for the match to go on as planned and he defeated ADR at SummerSlam. After that ADR changed tactics and went after Sheamus' brogue kick, claiming it was too dangerous after ADR, a ref and Otunga all had a taste of the finisher. After much back and forth, right before their Night of Champions, Booker re-instated the move. Sheamus used it to defeat ADR and continue to retain his WHC.
After ADR was all well and done, Big Show went after Sheamus. They had a great feud. Sheamus went into it all with a smile and a silly joke, but was always ready to fight. He kept Big Show on his toes and pissed off. Sheamus went into Hell In A Cell confident, but ended up losing to Big Show after 210 days as World Heavyweight Champ. Even after he lost the WHC, Sheamus had a smile on his face and continued to piss off Big Show at every turn. Sheamus was proud of their match at HIAC, and rightfully so. The two continued to fight, both verbally and in the ring. Big Show lost at Survivor Series to Sheamus, but it was through a forced DQ, so Sheamus didn't win back the WHC. The two men continued to argue and throw jabs – ever see a ginger snap? - through the following month and into a just wonderful Chairs Match at TLC where Big Show only won when he brought out his big boy chair.
The numbers are in and Sheamus had a stellar year. While holding the World Heavyweight Championship for 210 days, Sheamus also wrestled in the most TV main events – 29, the most TV/PPV matches – 98, with the most wins – 77. While Sheamus didn't retain the WHC for the time Punk's retained the WWE Championship, he has been a very entertaining Superstar who has grown and changed immensely in 2012. His feud with Big Show and how he's worked as a face is something to be remembered. Above and beyond those wonderful things, Sheamus has been a work horse and has more than proven that he's a Superstar to be reckoned with for years to come. 2012 won't be the last time we'll see Sheamus with gold on his waist. He might not be the face of Smackdown right now, but he's right there on the fringes and will be back fighting for those big titles again before long.