Sheamus won a battle royal to set up a match against Cena at the 2009 TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view. Absolutely nobody thought the Celtic Warrior would dethrone Cena in San Antonio that evening, but the WWE Universe was in for a major surprise.
The two squared off in a tables match, and Cena tried to put Sheamus away off the top ropes. However, The Celtic Warrior pushed Cena off, and the latter fell through the table and lost the match. With that, Sheamus had won his first WWE Championship.
It was the defining moment that put Sheamus on the wrestling map again. And even though he was obviously thrilled about the career-changing victory, other superstars weren't so pleased about the booking decision.
Sheamus appeared on E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness (h/t Ringside News), and said there was plenty of heat on him backstage after he defeated Cena. He said the backlash "was insane," and that "so many of the boys at the time were" enraged. And yet, the veteran WWE superstar understood why he received so much heat at the time.
"I don’t blame them, but yeah, I started with the hardest one...I remember the same night, it was TLC and they were like ‘John’s retaining’ I was like, ‘No worries.
It’s great, I’m in a WWE World Title match in my second pay-per-view.’ Again, it was all mad. It was like being dropped in a tornado. It was a sink or swim type of deal and all of a sudden at the end of the pay-per-view at the end of the match I was holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it was just insane."
Sheamus would hold onto the WWE Championship for two more months before eventually losing it at the 2010 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, where the odds were heavily against him. Triple H eliminated Sheamus during the match, and Cena would go on to retain the title - before dropping it to Batista moments later. Sheamus has since gone on to win two more WWE Championships plus the World Heavyweight Championship. He just needs to win the Intercontinental title to become a Grand Slam champion.
What This Means
Hopefully, Sheamus didn't take all of the heat too personally. At the end of the day, every superstar wants to be the main eventer. They want to hold the most prestigious championships, and they want to headline all the major pay-per-views. There's a reason the likes of Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and Ric Flair made so enemies backstage during their most successful points, after all. At any rate, Sheamus seemed to handle the heat with class, and he's become one of the most popular and admired superstars in and out of the ring during his time in WWE.