Originally I wanted to write this article on the night Sheamus won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Survivor Series. I waited, however, because WWE fans tend to have a knee jerk reaction to booking without seeing a long term plan. That said, after sitting on it for a week, I still think booking Sheamus as champion was one of the worst moves creatively in years. WWE has a habit of taking huge opportunities and completely dropping the ball on them. WWE has lost some of it’s top guys in recent months including John Cena, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins, and it has created a large gap in the top of the card. While someone like Vince McMahon might have seen this as a terrible series of events, wrestling fans around the world saw this as a huge opportunity for some of their favorite Superstars to receive the push they’ve been hoping for. Wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Bray Wyatt, maybe even Damien Sandow. Sadly, as always, WWE dropped the ball.
Roman Reigns may not have been at the top pick for most wrestling fans as the guy to get the first big push, but he was certainly on the list. At this point most people had been sold on Roman Reigns, but there was lingering “top guy” polarization. Many feel Roman was in the wrong place at the wrong time last year at the Royal Rumble and then when it was looking like he was going to beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Since cutting his teeth more in the midcard all year, many were ready to accept Reigns as champion this go around. WWE had a golden opportunity with Ambrose fighting Reigns to have one of them turn heel. One man turns and we get a Reigns vs. Ambrose rivalry and the icing on top was the WWE World Heavyweight Championship being the prize they fought over. It was an easy layup that would be a fan pleaser at the same time. WWE just had to follow through with it, but in typical WWE fashion they missed an easy shot.
The question is, why was Sheamus such a bad choice to become champion at Survivor Series? There were several reasons that things went so wrong. First and foremost is the booking of Sheamus since his return to WWE after injury. Sheamus has been consistently booked in the the middle of the card at best. Most of the time, Sheamus doesn’t come out on top either. Off the top of my head Sheamus has battled (and lost) to Dolph Ziggler, Neville, and had a long, and honestly, boring rivalry with Randy Orton. In fact, Sheamus was only on the pre-show of last month’s Hell in a Cell Pay Per View and lost. At Night of Champions the month before that, Sheamus wasn’t even featured in a match. How is anyone supposed to take a wrestler who is booked like a glorified midcarder at best seriously as WWE Champion?
The next reason fans are bucking so hard on putting Sheamus over as champion is their lack of voice. Like I mentioned earlier, fans were hoping that with a large amount of top talent out that one of their favorites would get a chance at the top. Instead WWE went with one of “their” guys. Most fans feel that as time goes on they have less and less of a voice. Even when WWE is in a spot where they are practically forced into pushing someone the fans want, they refuse. As the years go on fans say more and more that Vince McMahon has lost his touch with the fans. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make an argument against that. The argument was that having Sheamus cash in on Reigns after he won the title would make the fans more empathetic. While that may work to get Roman over a bit more, is it worth the amount of fans who wipe their hands clean of WWE?
The final reason that fans are tapping out is something I tried to avoid putting in this article because I try not to be harsh on wrestlers I don’t feel deserve it. Sheamus is a solid worker, through and through, but he is not the guy to carry the company, the ratings, the sales. Sheamus is, as Triple H would say, a solid B plus player. There is nothing wrong with Sheamus as a performer, but nothing stands out about him either. It’s a problem when you’re working with a shallow rosters as it is. This is supposed to be a time when you’re putting faith in new guys to take the ball and run with it, not restarting, again, with Sheamus. There are guys out there with more personality. There are guys who are better in-ring technicians. There are certainly guys who are both. There are at least 5 other guys who would be a better champion at this point in time.
WWE sent a message to fans by having Sheamus cash in a Survivor Series; We know what you want, and we don’t care. Well fans heard that message loud and clear, and they sent their own message back with the lowest viewership on Raw in nearly 20 years. WWE fans are some of the most loyal in the world, and unfortunately I think Vince McMahon takes advantage of that fact. With WWE being the only game in town, so to speak, we have no alternative. They know that as fans it’s either WWE or don’t watch wrestling, so they can do what they want and only listen to fans when it’s convenient. The problem is, fans can only feel voiceless and be force fed programs so many times before they just decide it’s not worth it anymore. It certainly seems like we’ve reached that point. I can only hope that ratings stay down this week and the next week and the next until WWE hears the message loud and clear. As Richard has said, if you want to hurt WWE, complaining on social media will do nothing, you have to hit them where it hurts...their wallets.