Daniel Bryan losing in 18 seconds at WrestleMania has become one of those embarrassments that WWE has collected over its long history. Its a minor embarrassment, as the damage seems to be non-existent with Daniel Bryan today, who is arguably the most over superstar on the roster. In fact, it only seemed to get him even more over and now he is on the verge of reportedly main eventing Money in the Bank against the era's superstar prime, John Cena.
The focus, of course, has been on Daniel Bryan, who was the one who did the quick job on the biggest stage in wrestling. This is the kind of loss that can kill a wrestler's momentum dead, but Bryan's talent and ability to entertain could not be held down, not even by WWE. However, there was significant damage done, but it was to the momentum of the man who got the quick win, Sheamus.
Sheamus has floundered considerably in his face role. It has gotten to the point where he will be wrestling on the pre-show to Payback, while the Miz and Wade Barret get to wrestle on the main card. Ouch. Most of this is probably due to the creative direction of the character, who at times comes off as an unlikable bully. There was even a point at a recent SmackDown, where face commentator Michael Cole uttered the words "might makes right," in support of Sheamus and his behavior. The fact that this was said while Sheamus was beating on Damien Sandow for outsmarting him makes it all the more disturbing.
But John Cena's face behavior has been appalling on a number of occasions, yet he is still the top babyface of the company. So while the dastardly dickface dynamic may be off putting for some fans, it doesn't appear to be much of an issue for a large segment of WWE's audience. So how did Sheamus go from being John Cena's replacement to working the pre-show of a B-level PPV? Sheamus' 18 second win at WrestleMania killed all of his momentum that he built up since his face turn. Momentum that he has not been able to get back in the year and a half since.
When Sheamus won the world heavyweight championship in 18 seconds, all of the focus went on Bryan. He was the one everyone was talking about. That WrestleMania was the first wrestling show my brother had seen in years' he didn't even know who Daniel Bryan was. But all he could talk about was how bullshit that quick loss was and how bad he felt for the man who had finally achieved the ultimate apex in wrestling and didn't even get a chance to show his stuff. Fast forward to today and my brother is a big Bryan fan and is now watching Raw semi-regularly, mostly for Bryan and The Shield.
Bryan became a megastar overnight while Sheamus, who won the belt and the match, became a footnote in WrestleMania history. Sheamus went from being the next John Cena to being the guy who happened to be in the ring when Daniel Bryan got screwed at WrestleMania.
Bryan is one of the greatest wrestlers ever. The guy is incredibly talented. He would have his chance to show just how good he was in the ring over the next year and half since that 18-second job. Sheamus is a bit more limited. Like Cena, Sheamus can do great work in the ring when he is paired against the right guy. He needed a big, show stopping match at WrestleMania to cement his place at the top of the ladder. Bryan was the perfect guy to give it to him. Sheamus didn't get that, though; he got a quick win and a belt that barely means anything.
No one cared about Sheamus and his win because we were given no reason to. A passionate, hard fought victory over one of the best wrestlers in the world at WrestleMania would have given Sheamus the kind of credibility and momentum to really cement his place. What he got was a belt thrown at him and quickly shown to the door so Flo Rida could perform some shitty music that no one likes.
It was Sheamus' chance to earn every wrestling fan's respect by having an incredible match against one of the best wrestlers in the world. That didn't happen. Sheamus will always be that guy now. Daniel Bryan was always going to be okay, he was just too talented to be kept down for long. Sheamus however, is struggling and may not overcome that stupid decision a year and a half ago. Anything now will be too little, too late. Bad creative and one idiotic finish at WrestleMania cut the legs off of his face run.
Daniel Bryan is now rising while Sheamus is falling. The 18-second match had the exact opposite effect that it was intended to have. It made Bryan stronger while it made Sheamus weaker. Looking back on it, it seems to me that Sheamus was the one who really got screwed there.