The main reason for writing this series was to shine a spotlight on the wrestlers who don’t get the credit they deserve. And despite the star power and tenure of this week’s pick, I still feel that “unsung heroes” is an appropriate description for Cesaro and Sheamus. They’re a big act already, I hear you say. They’re the tag team champions, you cry. But when you look at how they are always the “other” attraction in the programs they are in, with all the focus and plaudits being aimed towards their opponents, you may begin to realize that they haven’t been given the praise that is owed to them.
It all started nearly eighteen months ago when both men, billed as singles competitors at the time, were unhappy with their place in Raw’s hierarchy. General Manager Mick Foley felt the best way to settle this would be a best of seven series, with the winner being awarded a championship opportunity. When the series ended in a stalemate, Foley thought the best option would be to pair them up and aim for the tag team titles. At the time, it must have felt like a slap in the face for the characters. In hindsight, putting the two men together was the best thing for them.
The comedy aspect of their “good cop bad cop” act was humorous enough, adopting the gimmick that The Miz and “Mizdow” used to get cheers for one and jeers for the other. They were petty at times and individually wanted the limelight all for themselves. But the real success came when they started to take their run together more seriously. They quickly put aside their differences and became a very well oiled machine inside the ropes, as well as in their backstage segments or promos. They had each other’s backs in a way that few partnerships do. That reliance upon and the chemistry between each other was what helped them become a credible force in the tag team division. But despite this, has their work rate been appreciated as much as it should?
Look at their lead up to Wrestlemania, where they were an afterthought in the never-ending saga between Gallows & Anderson, and Enzo & Cass. Look at their conflict with The Hardyz after Wrestlemania, where their half-hour iron-man and tag team cage matches were much better than they should have been. And lastly, look at their excellent feud with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins over the Summer and Autumn. The Bar’s singling out and attacking these two characters was the catalyst the former warring brothers reuniting, and for any Shield fans out there, they should be thankful for that act alone!
The point I’m trying to get across here is that the above programs have increased in stake as the year has gone on, as has the quality of bouts. The Bar has been the common denominator the whole time. A constant in the wobbly world of WWE’s lack of consistency.
The Bar vs Seth and Dean at Summerslam this year was touted as the match of the night, and their re-match at No Mercy the following month was considered even better by some. I have no problem with the Shield members being critically praised for these matches because they should be. Their chemistry together is insane. However there was another team in those matches, in case anyone forgot., It’s clear to me that Dean and Seth’s victories wouldn’t have been as emotionally uplifting if it wasn’t for the adversity that Cesaro and Sheamus brought to the feud.
Allow me to break down the wall of Kayfabe for a moment, and discuss Cesaro putting Beachball Mania to sleep at that Summerslam match. This angle was a major selling point for the “Big Four” PPV. It was given a lot of time on Raw leading up to the show, was a championship match, and it was the story of the reunion of Dean Ambrose and Seth Freakin’ Rollins, for crying out loud! Surely that’s enough to garner the attention of one and all. Frustratingly, the match started with a portion of the crowd decided throwing a beach ball around the arena was more exciting than the reasons mentioned above. Like myself and many others, Cesaro saw this as an insult to the story that had been told over the last few weeks, and the story that was about to be told in the ring. This was an amazing moment, and Cesaro should be applauded for it. He should also be applauded for somehow managing to rip apart a blown up beach ball. That’s up there with ripping up a telephone directory for sure!
Another instance of The Bar being treated as an afterthought came last month in the build to Survivor Series. I was one of the many fans salivating at the prospect of pitting two-thirds of The Shield against The Usos, who are currently enjoying the form of their career. When Cesaro and Sheamus dethroned Dean and Seth on Raw a few weeks ago, many fans were unhappy that they wouldn’t be getting the aforementioned match. I would have loved to see that match as well, but remember that The Bar has been the common denominator in Raw’s tag team scene this year. There was no reason to think that they wouldn’t put on a good show with The Usos at Survivor Series. It wasn’t the best match of both teams’ 2017, but it was still a solid affair. Its only downside for me was that it would probably take a few more meetings between the four men before they delivered a classic, of which I’m confident they would have been able to do.
As we approach the end of 2017, the future for the current tag champs is something of deep concern. News has surfaced that Sheamus is dealing with spinal stenosis; a condition that had a devastating impact on the careers of Edge and Steve Austin. If the reports are true, then this is heartbreaking news for a man who has had one of the more successful and critically acclaimed years in his time with the company. For his own health, it is best that Sheamus lightens his schedule – maybe even take some proper time off – to get the treatment he needs to ensure his career isn’t cut short far too early.
This may mean the end of a tag team that has brought me much enjoyment, and if Sheamus does indeed need time off, then I can’t see Cesaro being given the same amount of exposure in singles competition that he’s had as part of a unit. The main event scene is as crowded as ever, so it’s anyone’s guess what 2018 could hold for the Swiss Superman. It’s definitely a disappointing outcome for Cesaro as well as Sheamus. This calendar year has had more tag teams break up than I care to think about, and I wouldn’t want to add another to the list due to injury.
Tag team wrestling on the main roster in 2017 has thrived, and it would be unjust to believe that Cesaro and Sheamus weren’t an important factor in that. Cesaro and Sheamus didn’t just set the bar. They raised the bar.
You can read more of my columns right here on socialsuplex.com, as my “Unsung Heroes of 2017” draws to a close in time for the new year.
Additionally, you can hear my opinions on all things WWE in “The Ricky & Clive Wrestling Show”, one of the podcasts that make up the Social Suplex network.