LOP on Facebook LOP on Twitter LOP on Google Plus LOP on Youtube LOP's RSS Feed

Home | Headlines | News | Results | Columns | Radio | Forums | Contact

Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: April 7, 2013 - Sheamus Shows That "Be A Star" is More Than a P.R. Campaign
By The Doc
Mar 8, 2013 - 7:27:19 PM

April 7, 2013

“It was good being at the top,” he would often tell himself. A year ago, he had reached the peak of the mountain. He thought back to the hours that followed Wrestlemania XXVIII when he was in his hotel room, by himself, just staring at the big gold belt. The World Heavyweight Championship was the richest prize in the business when he was getting his feet wet in the industry over in Europe. Triple H was “The Man” back then and when the Irishman came to the WWE, he wasted no time in making his intention to one day wear it crystal clear to the chap that had made it famous. Winning the WWE title in 2009 and again in 2010 was thrilling, but his specific goal upon signing was to become World Champion and be like Hunter, with whom his relationship had blossomed into friendship and mentorship. The WWE knew how much it meant to him; he knew that they knew because they had gone out of their way to make sure that the plate emblazoned with his name had already been fastened to the title before the post-Wrestlemania party. He must have sat there for an hour straight, the television on in the background playing he-could-not-remember-what, just looking; in awe of the accomplishment.

Sheamus was bullied as a child. His complexion was the same as it is today, long before he had grown into an imposing physical specimen. He never quite felt like he fit in until he found kinship with his fellow professional wrestlers. As he sat at the hotel bar, enjoying the post-Wrestlemania party a year ago and having a pint with his lad, Triple H, who told him how proud he was to see how far he’d come, it was one of the first times in his life when he actually felt like he had a family; when he had peace in knowing that he fit in and had gone to the right place. Personally and professionally, he was on top of the world.

Then along came Wade Barrett…

On camera, Barrett was the leader of The Union, a controversial faction that had heavily blurred the lines between reality and storyline by “suing” the WWE for its claims that its superstars were independent contractors and not employees, thus negating the WWE of its responsibility to provide medical benefits. Since the group consisted of international stars whose livelihoods were more intertwined with their WWE paychecks than their American counterparts (if they could not work, not only could they not get paid but they would also be forced to abruptly leave the lives they were trying to build in the United States), it was only fitting that they approach the World Champion last spring and urge him to join their forces. Sheamus did not oblige, which made him a target. Barrett had cost Sheamus the title, had prevented him from getting it back, and had sent his character tailspinning in a direction that he was not fond of.

Behind the scenes, Wade’s increased screen presence and his greater importance to the company’s bottom line had brought out his true colors as a human-being. The Union was no longer just an angle on TV; it was a clique that the Celtic Warrior was not a part of. After the success of the Survivor Series PPV in London, Wade was viewed as a legitimate draw by the higher-ups. Sheamus had known for months that he was supposed to face Barrett at Wrestlemania XXIX, but the plan had originally been for the Great White to finally emerge victorious after months of losing. The talk heading into the New Year was that Barrett needed to win and Wade was openly campaigning for it to anyone with any shred of influence over Vince.

The last couple of months have been strange for Sheamus. He never had any political machinations. In fact, he could not stand the games, the pandering, and the butt kissing. People may have thought that his friendship with Triple H had been born out of those things, but nothing could be further from the truth. He admired Hunter; “The Game” was his inspiration to get into the business just as Ric Flair had been Helmsley’s. The two of them becoming pals was the thrill of a lifetime for Sheamus; not the end result of a scheme or a plot to gain leverage with the future Chairman of the Board. Unfortunately, he was feeling pressured into using that connection to the gain that, perceptionally, he had tried to squash for so long. He thought that it was his only way to fight back since Barrett’s maneuvering was bordering on the “Kliq,” as one of the guys who had been around for a long time had commented. They had a lot of smart people in Wade’s crew, some with some serious clout with Vince. Del Rio had always been one of VKM’s favorites. Otunga was a Harvard grad. They had amassed a huge group that varied from main-event players to lower-mid-carders. The company had sequestered them from the rest of the locker room to help play up the “Union” angle, but it had inadvertently created a powerful backstage stable.

It would not have been as big a problem for Sheamus had it not been for Wade beginning to act like a bully. That really struck a nerve with him and brought old memories flooding back. Barrett had openly teased Justin Gabriel after his announcement several weeks ago that he was gay. Sheamus thought that it took a ton of courage for Gabriel to come out on national television and to be a beacon of hope for people around the world to be themselves without fear. To see Wade teasing a member of his own group of friends, constantly behind his back and quite often to his face, was despicable. That had been the final straw for the Irishman. He went to Hunter the very next day.

When they sat down to talk and Trips had heard him out, the enduring message that Sheamus received was that he had to respectfully stand up for what he believed. Nobody knew of cliques better than Hunter, himself a member of arguably the WWE’s most notorious version. He told Sheamus that men like Wade were determined to be at the top of the business, just as he was when he joined the group led by Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash. In the 90s, Bret Hart had tried to rise up against the group, leading the faux revolution against “The Kliq” but, in Hunter’s opinion, he did so like a spoiled brat being upset about having to share his favorite toy. “You don’t complain about guys that are trying to become the best, you step up and show them that you are; or at least try.” He advised Sheamus to take the role that Undertaker had back in those days; the Deadman divorced himself from all the drama and just kept working hard and being the stable presence that the locker room needed. “He made himself invaluable in his own right and he got his; and none of us would cross him.”

So, the Celtic Warrior heeded the advice. He pulled Gabriel aside and told him, personally, that if anyone tried to mess with him or if any of the boys tried to give him a hard time, then he had his back. He walked right up to Wade and told him, to his face, his opinion of the teasing. Hunter took notice of it. He made sure that Vince did, too. It did not stop Wade from being an asshole and it was not designed to, but Sheamus’ words carried weight. He was forthcoming and direct and the locker room thought him better for it.

At Wrestlemania, Sheamus and Wade told the on-screen version of their real life story. The Union was put on the backburner until after the big event, to maximize the effectiveness and earning potential of the angle in a time when there were not so many major stars around. Barrett vs. Sheamus was about mistreatment of your fellow man. Wade and his cohorts had annihilated Gabriel in a highly rated segment on Raw that garnered a lot of negative mainstream attention. Misunderstood, the dramaticization of “the bully beating up the homosexual” put a lot of heat on Barrett and a dark spotlight on a company that advertises being in opposition to such acts of violence, but also provided an opportunity to give the WWE’s involvement in the “Be a Star” program a chance to be more than just good publicity. Sheamus was the driving force behind ending the tale in a way that would turn the tables on the doubters in the media. He was healing some longstanding wounds in the process.

During the climax of the match, Gabriel came down and connected with his 450 Splash on Barrett. Sheamus did not bother trying to gain back the shine, immediately pinning the Englishman and celebrating with Gabriel afterward. It was a narrative against bullying and the right side won.

People often forget, through their overt criticisms of what they see on television, that there is a lot more than meets the public eye to these superstars. Sheamus, for instance, went through many highs and lows over the last year. He went from having all the effort put toward making him the new leader of a respective WWE brand to being the guy used by the WWE in their attempt to get somebody else to that level. Success is a double-edged sword. He then saw the star that he was helping turn around and become a pain the padded ass backstage, harassing him and others using his newfound sway as a shield from reprisal. Yet, at a Wrestlemania that displayed a company transitioning to its next batch of top stars, Sheamus emerged as one of the leaders of a new generation, both on camera and behind the scenes. He is a character and a man that commands respect from the fans and his peers.

  • Doctor’s Orders: No! The Yes! Movement is NOT Over! (Plus, The Ultimate Deletion)

  • Doctor's Orders: The Top 50 Cruiserweight Matches in WCW and WWE History (#21-#30)

  • Doctor's Orders: The Top 50 Cruiserweight Matches in WCW and WWE History (#31-#40) - The Neville Section

  • Doctor’s Orders: The Match That Defines YOUR WrestleMania Experience (w/ Raw Thoughts)

  • Doctor's Orders: The Top 50 Cruiserweight Matches in WCW and WWE History (#41-#50)

  • Doctor’s Orders: RAW…IS…Promo Class - How Monday Night Changed the Tone of WrestleMania Season

  • Doctor’s Orders: If Only Vince McMahon Liked Ice Cream

  • Doctor’s Orders: Monday Night Rollins – The Architect Offers Raw’s Most Memorable Performance In Ages

  • Doctor’s Orders: The Great Irony of My Wrestling Fandom

  • Doctor's Orders: Polarizing Strowman Comedy, The 3-Hour Advantage, & Other Monday Night Raw Thoughts