In June 2009, Sheamus first graced the WWE Universe with his presence when he arrived on the ECW brand. Less than six months later, he was headlining pay-per-views against John Cena as WWE champion.
Sheamus is among an elite few that have captured a world championship within months of their debut. Going against the popular saying “the faster they rise, the faster they fall,” he has maintained stability as a performer over the last five years, still achieving success to this day.
From his series of matches against Goldust on ECW to headlining WrestleManias with Triple H and Daniel Bryan, Sheamus has seemingly done it all in brief period of time with WWE, but he still has a lot left to accomplish.
In light of this special anniversary, I’ll highlight the top 10 moments in the WWE career of Sheamus over the last five years. One can only assume that these moments are only the beginning of his tenure going forward.
Debuting on ECW (June 30, 2009)
A part of then-ECW General Manager Tiffany’s New Talent Initiative, Sheamus debuted for the ECW brand on June 30, 2009. He quickly squashed local athlete Oliver John, crushing him with his patented Irish Curse backbreaker maneuver.
Sheamus was a standout athlete down in WWE’s developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling and it was only a matter of time before he was brought up to the main roster. ECW at the time was less about the “extreme” and more about the future, serving as the stomping ground for Superstars such as CM Punk, Jack Swagger and others.
During his time in the Land of Extreme, Sheamus mixed it up with the likes of Shelton Benjamin, Yoshi Tatsu and Tyler Reks. He and Goldust competed in a series of great matches that really put Sheamus on the map as a force to be reckoned with.
“No land, sea or any other obstacle can stop The Celtic Warrior, because I’m here to claim ECW as my own,” Sheamus said in his first ever promo. We’d soon learn that he was looking to dominate not only ECW but WWE as a whole.
Winning the WWE Championship (December 13, 2009)
By October 2009, officials wasted no time in moving Sheamus over to the Raw brand. He arrived on the flagship show on October 26, crushing Jamie Noble in his debut match.
In the weeks that followed, Sheamus decimated everyone that stepped in his path of destruction. From Santino Marella to Finlay to even Jerry Lawler, no one could put a stop to Sheamus’ reign of terror.
On the November 23 Raw, Sheamus emerged victorious in a No. 1 contender’s Battle Royal for the WWE Championship. Most fans figured then-WWE champion would plow through Sheamus much like he does with everyone else, but they would soon be proved wrong.
At the inaugural WWE TLC, Sheamus defeated Cena in a what one of the biggest upsets in recent history. Granted, it was a Tables match and not a standard singles match, but not many people can say they’ve beaten the face of the company in a marquee match at a pay-per-view.
The shock factor was certainly there, but was Sheamus being set up to fail with his premature title win?
Winning His Second WWE Championship (June 20, 2010)
Despite making a major impact upon capturing the WWE Championship in shocking fashion at 2009’s WWE TLC event, Sheamus’ reign as champ was less than spectacular. He was greatly overshadowed during his reign by the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton and D-Generation X and his only two successful title defenses ended in disqualification.
He dropped the strap at the Elimination Chamber event before transitioning into a feud with Triple H, whom he lost to at WrestleMania 26. However, before Sheamus could embark on a losing streak, he bounced back in a big way with a win over Triple H at Extreme Rules the following month.
From there, Sheamus began to regain momentum going into the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view. He qualified for the WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way with a win over Mark Henry on the May 24 Raw.
Although the odds were stacked against Sheamus in the matchup, he still managed to leave the show as champion with a little help from The Nexus. From there, Sheamus would run roughshod over the Raw roster for the remainder of the summer as its champion.
Becoming the 2010 King of the Ring (November 29, 2010)
Sheamus’ second reign as WWE champion came to an end at 2010’s Night of Champions pay-per-view. He failed to regain the gold at Hell in a Cell the subsequent month before moving into a feud with John Morrison in early November.
Although he came up short against Morrison at Survivor Series, he vowed to exact revenge in the weeks that followed. Both competitors earned their way into the 2010 King of the Ring tournament, making it to the finals where they were forced to face off against each other.
Similar to at Survivor Series, Sheamus and Morrison worked a great match, but the end result this time around was different. With a three count on Morrison, Sheamus became the 2010 King of the Ring and the final winner of the tournament to date.
Unfortunately, instead of being a milestone in the career of Sheamus, the King of the Ring ended up becoming a curse. He started sporting a crown and cape following his big tourney victory, donning himself King Sheamus.
Winning the United States Championship (March 14, 2011)
Sheamus’ King of the Ring victory ended up being his last for many months. He embarked on a massive losing streak that saw him come up short against the likes of Randy Orton, John Morrison, Mark Henry and even Evan Bourne.
Following a count-out loss to Daniel Bryan on the March 7 edition of Raw, Sheamus offered Bryan an ultimatum: If he were to defeat Bryan in a rematch the following week, he would become the new United States champion. If he lost, however, he would quit Raw.
With the stakes higher than ever, Sheamus was motivated to give Bryan his all. The two unsurprisingly had an instant classic that saw Sheamus connect with the Brogue Kick on Bryan in mid-air to score the victory and the star-spangled prize.
Being a former two-time WWE champion, Sheamus instantly brought credibility to the strap. However, his first reign with the belt was ultimately forgettable since he hardly did anything of note as champion.
Turning Face (July 29, 2011)
On April 26, Sheamus was announced as the final pick in the 2011 WWE Supplemental Draft, being traded to SmackDown. Though he initially brought the United States Championship with him to the blue brand, he’d lose the strap mere days later to Raw’s Kofi Kingston in a Tables match at Extreme Rules.
Upon his arrival on Friday nights, Sheamus was involved the World Heavyweight Championship picture, but was never able to capture the gold. He was on the receiving end of a punt kick from Randy Orton on the June 17 SmackDown, but returned with a vengeance two weeks later, attacking both Orton and Christian.
Still, Sheamus lacked direction on SmackDown. He received a significant amount of cheers for putting Sin Cara through a ladder in the SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder match on July 17 as well as during his match against Wade Barrett on the July 22 SmackDown.
Officials took notice of the loud reactions Sheamus was receiving and opted to turn him face for the first time in his WWE. He interrupted Mark Henry on the July 29 SmackDown and challenged him to a match at SummerSlam, completing his face turn in the process.
Sheamus’ transition into a fan favorite role was a refreshing change of pace for SmackDown that shook up the main event scene considerably. It was also a breath of fresh air for the Sheamus character that had been treading water for the longest time.
Winning the 2012 Royal Rumble Match (January 29, 2012)
For the remainder of 2011, Sheamus embarked on a winning streak that saw him defeat the likes of Christian, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and many others. While it was good that he was building back up his momentum, he desperately needed to reenter the World Heavyweight Championship picture.
Sheamus was the dark horse to win the 2012 Royal Rumble match, yet many fans were surprised to see the bout come down to him and Chris Jericho. Jericho was the favorite to emerge victorious given his pending feud with CM Punk, so many figured that Sheamus would be the runner-up.
Despite that, Sheamus nailed a Brogue Kick on Jericho to be named the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble. It came as a shocking yet logical outcome that set up a match between him and Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 28.
The last Royal Rumble winner to advance to WrestleMania and win a world title was The Undertaker in 2007, so the pressure was on Sheamus to be the one to finally break the curse.
Winning the World Heavyweight Championship (April 1, 2012)
One year after being shafted from the WrestleMania 27 card due to time constraints, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan now had the chance to prove themselves on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Sheamus continued to stack up victories on the road to WrestleMania and he definitely had the edge going into his matchup against Bryan.
Many fans looked forward to their ‘Mania match not only because it would be an instant classic but because they knew they deserved it. Both Bryan and Sheamus had worked their entire careers to get to this point and all their dedication and preservation was finally going to pay off.
Shortly before the event, it was announced that the World Heavyweight Championship match would be kicking off the show. Fans prepared themselves for an amazing opener, but what they received instead was disappointment.
Once the bell rang for their match, Bryan retreated to his corner to kiss his then-girlfriend AJ Lee. As soon as he turned around, he was met with a Brogue Kick to the face from Sheamus that resulted in him losing his world title within 18 seconds.
Fans worldwide were infuriated with the bout being so brief, and rightfully so. However, no matter how frustrating the finish of the match was for the fans, it marked another milestone in the career of Sheamus.
From there, Sheamus would reign as World Heavyweight champion for a whopping 210 days, the second longest reign in the history of the title. He dominated the blue brand and won more matches than anyone else that year.
Returning From Injury (January 26, 2014)
After dropping the World Heavyweight Championship to Big Show at 2012’s Hell in a Cell event, Sheamus was once again left directionless. He took part in various feuds with The Shield, Mark Henry and Damien Sandow in 2013, but never came close to regaining a world championship.
Following a stellar performance in the All-Stars Money in the Bank Ladder match in July, Sheamus was sidelined from action with a torn labrum. He was expected to be out with the injury for four to six months.
Given that he wasn’t doing anything of note at the time of his departure, the injury ended up being a blessing in disguise for Sheamus. His character was extremely stale at that point and his time away from the squared circle allowed him to return fresh.
Sheamus made a surprise return at No. 17 in the 2014 Royal Rumble match, targeting The Shield and laying waste to everyone who stood in his way. While he didn’t end up winning, the pop he received upon entering was thunderous and showed that absence definitely does cause the heart to grow fonder.
Winning His Second United States Championship (May 5, 2014)
Back and better than ever, Sheamus looked to prove himself as a force to be reckoned with once again. He plowed through the likes of Curtis Axel, Ryback and others on his way back up to the top.
However, despite an impressive performance in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber match, Sheamus was back to doing nothing notable. Aside from a brief feud with Christian, Sheamus didn’t have a clear feud set for WrestleMania 30.
Sheamus was one of the final men eliminated from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at The Show and Shows and continued to flounder in the weeks that followed. He wasn’t even a part of the Extreme Rules card, instead serving as an analyst on the pre-show panel.
On the next night’s Raw, Sheamus was announced as an entrant in a 20-man Battle Royal for Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship. In surprising fashion, Sheamus managed to eliminate Ambrose to pick up the win and his second U.S. title.
Since then, Sheamus has successfully defended the star-spangled prize against Ambrose and Cesaro. He has also punched his ticket to Money in the Bank, where he will compete in a seven man Ladder match to crown a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Could Sheamus be wearing three times the gold after June 30? While that remains to be seen, one thing is for sure: Sheamus has had one heck of a career thus far and has shown no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling, and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.