In light of one of the worst and most embarrassing burials in wrestling I can remember, I thought this would be an interesting question to ask: Just what did Sheamus do to deserve to go from monster main eventer and world champion (who even got the credit for taking out HHH for almost a year, remember?) to job guy within a matter of months? He's become a comedy figure in skits with Santino, lost clean to Mark Henry, and his expected program with Triple H quickly cancelled; then he was totally and utterly destroyed on this week's Raw, first by HHH and then by a returning Evan Bourne. It's a stunning demotion for a guy who, while pushed far too soon, was emerging as a decent worker and character.
It is even more startling when you consider that Sheamus had also seemingly immersed himself well into the main event scene politically too: HHH has always been a fan and the two are friends (the Irishman hangs out at the gym a lot , you see, concrete proof of his dedication to the business as far as Hunter is concerned.) Dave Meltzer also noted in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter at the time of his push that the in-ring work of Sheamus had received praise backstage from John Cena and Randy Orton, who enjoyed working with him and also supported his main-event push. And just ask Mr Anderson or Kofi Kingston how damaging a bad review from either of those guys can be.
So what happened? Well, there are a few reasons, it seems. Firstly, producer Kevin Dunn is not a fan at all. As Dave Meltzer wrote about in the 21/2 edition of the Wrestling Observer:
Apparently one of the reasons for Sheamus being moved down is because Kevin Dunn is not a fan. When Sheamus ran away from Nexus, apparently this led to Dunn having the idea that Sheamus should be wearing the outfit he now wears
While his name isn't as well known to fans as Vince McMahon or Triple H, and, sans a few appearances of Tough Enough, he has never had a prominent on-screen role, make no mistake about it: Dunn is one of the most powerful people in the company. Dunn has worked for Vince since the 1980s, heads the production department and is considered one of his most loyal allies. He was also the brainchild behind the Diva Search contests and Tough Enough; Kevin believes beautiful people and soap-opera style reality television are the way to turn business around, you see. Who knows why he dislikes Sheamus. The fact that Sheamus isn't leaking spray tan wherever he goes (surely a prerequisite for anyone who wants to be a star in WWE these days) and has such a distinctive look may be factors.
On his now famous blog , former WWE writer John Piermarini also speculated a few weeks ago: "Not sure what happened with Sheamus, but I think his push might have went to his head." Reliable scuttlebut indicates that this was also the reason Jack Swagger was demoted after his title run last year. Per reports, he had gotten too arrogant, turned into a pain backstage, and was swiftly shoved down the card. Responding well to the punishment, young Jack has learned his lesson, and is being given another chance by management (as anyone who had the misfortune to watch this week's Raw will know, he's Cole's new trainer and will likely play a prominent role in Cole's feud with Jerry Lawler.) It's possible that the damage has been done, though.
Once again talking about Sheamus, Piermarini reinforced arrogance as the reason this week, stating on his blog: "I had seen a change in him from the day he won the WWE title, apparently, I wasn't the only one." Piermarini correctly noted that WWE had "invested a year in a character that they just killed off in 2 minutes" and went on to say:
How I’d Book It: You gonna tell Triple H you don’t like what he has planned for his segment? But seriously, the promo explained last week, and if Vince wants to deflate the career of Sheamus this is pretty much how you do it. He will learn his lesson real quick spending each week like this.
The combination of ego issues and problems with Kevin Dunn seem to be the best bet. If Sheamus was becoming a problem backstage, then this was something WWE needed to nip in the bud. However, the problem with this punishement is that it is simply something the Irishman cannot recover from. If WWE wanted to punish Sheamus, maybe it would have been smarter to send him on some tiresome P.R tours, job him on house shows, put him on every autograph signing they could find, or heck even take away his first-class airline seats and demote him to the dreaded business class (this has apparently happened to Rey Mysterio after WWE got irritated by Rey's complaints about how much he was getting paid.) But burying Sheamus, and Swagger too for that matter, on television, and embarrassing them to the point they become a joke for viewers at home and are beyond salvaging is the epitome of cutting off your nose to spite your face. There are not that many talented young guys in WWE (especially ones who are the size Vince likes) and, with business the way it is, WWE simply don't have the luxury of burying talent for petty reasons anymore. It's a shame they haven't figured this out yet.