What's the only thing Irish World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Sheamus wants for Christmas?
The coveted WWE championship belt, of course — but he’s not relying on Santa to bring it down the chimney.
Dublin-born Sheamus is hell-bent on winning his gift on Sunday on the WWE pay-per-view event "Tables, Ladders and Chairs" (TLC), where he’ll take on reigning title holder and fan favorite John Cena in a table match in which the winner will be declared after slamming his opponent through a rock-hard table.
Cena, says an ultra-confident Sheamus, doesn’t stand a chance.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to walk out of TLC as WWE champion,” Sheamus boasted during an interview with the Irish Voice on Monday.
“I’m ready. I want to make history. I want to be the first Irishman to become WWE champion — and I will.”
What makes this 31-year-old former actor, bodyguard and information technology expert from Dublin City so sure he’ll dethrone the popular Cena, a seven-time WWE champ who has proven his toughness in the ring time and time again?
Sheamus easily manhandled Cena a couple of weeks ago during WWE’s flagship "Monday Night Raw," scooping up the former college football star and flinging him through a table, with a stunned WWE legend and governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, looking on.
Cena was also humiliated by the Irish newcomer on last Monday’s "Raw" when Sheamus delivered a couple of swift kicks that knocked Cena out cold during a joint ring appearance moderated by guest host Mark Cuban, the outspoken, petite owner of the Dallas Mavericks (and former "Dancing With the Stars" contestant), who took it upon himself to sucker-punch Sheamus to the ground — only to be tossed through a nearby table as punishment once the Celtic Warrior recovered.
Sheamus is mad, and he has no problem admitting that he’s also quite bad.
“I’m going to put Cena through a table. I’ve already done it once and I’m gonna do it again,” he says.
“All the time I’ve been with WWE, I’ve been making statements, you know what I mean? I retired Jamie Noble. The fella can’t even walk properly. I’m not a nice guy!”
Poor Noble! A WWE veteran, he was on the wrong end of Sheamus’ potent "Irish Curse" kick during the Nov. 2 "Raw" show, and a subsequent pummeling from the Celtic Warrior put Noble’s career to rest for good.
That’s all in a day’s work for Sheamus, who’s had a meteoric rise in the WWE since he was promoted from the company’s ECW brand to the top-rated "Raw" broadcast in October. Although he’s been part of "Raw" for less than two months, being WWE champion is a role that Sheamus has been preparing for most of his life.
Born Stephen Farrelly in Dublin, he was raised in a Georgian apartment by his parents (he also has two sisters) and grew up watching British wrestling broadcasts on Saturday afternoons with his grandmother. He also remembers watching WWF shows (WWE used to be known as WWF) — and quickly becoming hooked.
“I wanted to do this my whole life,” Sheamus says.
Sheamus first pursued a wrestling career in Ireland and throughout Europe in independent leagues. “I did whatever it took to get noticed and get experience,” he recalls.
“I traveled in shows throughout Ireland, the U.K., Italy and Portugal. I honed my craft and proved my experience.”
Sheamus also had other skills he was working on simultaneously. A fluent Irish-speaker who attended Irish-speaking schools for both grammar and high school, Sheamus has been employed as an information technology professional, an actor and a security official at Lillie’s Bordello, Dublin’s trendiest nightclub, where he used to personally ensure that regular customer Bono was unbothered by other club-goers.
But wrestling was always No. 1. “People said I was crazy, I was working all the jobs back home,” Sheamus says. “But anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”
The WWE eventually took notice of the flame-haired, ambitious Irishman. The world’s most-famous and profitable pro-wrestling business stages tryout shows in the U.K. a couple of times a year, Sheamus says, and in April 2007 he earned a contract.
It took six months to process a U.S. visa for the new Irish hopeful, but by the end of the year Sheamus was ensconced in the WWE’s Florida Championship Wrestling league, which servers as an incubator for potential WWE stars.
He’s been proving himself ever since, and clearly, WWE boss Vince McMahon has liked what he’s seen. As Sheamus pointed out during Monday’s "Raw" broadcast, it took Cena years to get a crack at the WWE championship, while Sheamus’ ascent has been much quicker.
The life of an elite pro wrestler is hectic to say the least. Sheamus has only been home to Dublin twice for brief visits since relocating here in 2007 — but he’s loving every minute of it. On the road performing in WWE shows at least four nights a week, Sheamus spends most of his waking moments concentrating on what he needs to do to be the best.
“I eat a huge breakfast every morning,” says the nearly 280-pounder. “I do a lot of work at the gym, a lot of power-lifting, a lot of cardio, and I study wrestling tapes.
“I just love it,” he adds. “In my dreams I always wanted to see the United States, and this is a great way to do it.”
Sheamus is a WWE villain, and that’s just the way he wants it. He’s in a rush to the top, and nice guys don’t always finish first when it comes to professional wrestling.
The chorus of boos that greet him upon each ring entrance? So what!
“To he honest with you, for me it’s all about making an impact. There’s no point dilly-dallying around being a nice guy,” Sheamus says. “What I want is the gold!”
But the Irish star is also determined to use his fame to portray his home country, and particularly its history, in a positive light — something he says the WWE is also happy to do.
Sheamus is known as the Celtic Warrior, and he takes inspiration from Irish mythological figures like Finn MacCool and Cuchulainn. Portraying these legends in a negative or stereotypical light would be strictly off-limits, he says.
“That’s one of the things that’s motivated me to get this far. I’m sick of stereotypes like drinking and drunken paddies,” said Sheamus.
“I want to give Irish kids something to be proud of back home. I want to bring out a stronger image of Ireland, instead of 'Irish Spring' and 'Lucky Charms' and all that rubbish.”
Although wrestlers of Sheamus’ stature don’t get much free time, Tampa, Florida, is his home base, although he envisions a move north to New York or Boston at some point — “someplace where it’s a bit cooler,” he says.
His aversion to the sun isn’t surprising. Sheamus’ skin is whiter than white; one fan in the "Raw" audience on Monday night held up a sign saying “Sheamus Glows in the Dark.”
He laughs at this typical Irish condition. “Yeah, I’m like an alien in Tampa. I’m the whitest man there, and I’m always going around in hoodies,” he says.
A championship belt would also be a welcome addition to Sheamus’ attire. Only a fool would bet against a Gaelic speaking Celtic Warrior who will stop at nothing — NOTHING — to achieve the ultimate goal.
“Cena has never met anyone like me before. Sure, he’s gone up against the best in the world, but he’s got a tough fight on his hands,” Sheamus says.
“This is just the start, the beginning for me. I don’t plan on going anywhere soon. I plan on staying around for a long time, and I want to be WWE champion for a long time.”
"Tables, Ladders and Chairs" airs on Sunday, December 13 at 8 p.m. on pay-per-view. Visit www.wwe.com for more information and how to order the show live.