WWE’s Irish superstar Sheamus is more than holding his own in the world’s biggest sports entertainment company, and on Sunday he’s ready for the fight of his life at the WWE’s signature live event, Wrestlemania XVIII. DEBBIE McGOLDRICK catches up with Sheamus to talk strategy.
He's been known for inflicting a fierce “Irish Curse” on his opponents in the ring, but WWE warrior Sheamus is happily counting his blessings these days.
The Dublin-born Sheamus, 34 – given name Stephen Farrelly – has been a WWE headliner for nearly three years now and has accumulated several titles, including the coveted WWE Championship which he captured from huge fan favorite John Cena back in 2009.
On Sunday, April 1, Sheamus is determined to add another belt to his collection, the World Heavyweight Championship, when he faces long-time foe Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXVIII in Miami, the WWE’s top pay-per-view showcase which annually attracts millions of viewers from around the world. The event will take place at the Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, and live attendance will top 75,000.
Put simply, Sheamus can’t wait to make an April Fool out of Bryan.
“This will probably be the biggest night of my life,” Sheamus told the Irish Voice during an interview last week.
“Bryan is very tricky. He’s quite talented, a smaller guy but very tough and aggressive. He’s quicker than I am, but all I need is one second to catch him with my brogue kick. A size 13 boot to the face has done wonders for my winning streak!”
Sheamus has amassed a string of victories since moving from WWE’s Monday Night Raw to Smackdown, which airs on Friday night on SyFy. He’s also earned an army of fans thanks to a change in persona – Sheamus was bad to the bone on Raw, but he’s everyone’s favorite Irish charmer on Smackdown.
“Well, I’m still a big Irish brute,” the 6’4” carrot top laughs. “But Bryan’s not going to be champion much longer when I get my hands on him.”
Sheamus says he’s pleased with how his career has progressed with the WWE, knowing full well that for every wrestler who makes the grade, a countless number are on the outside looking in.
Though he’s one of the WWE’s best-known faces – a shock of red hair and milky white skin help to make him an unforgettable tower of power – Sheamus takes nothing for granted.
“My WWE career has been amazing,” he says. “It took a lot of time for me to get here, and you never stop paying your dues. I’m never satisfied with what I’ve achieved.
“I want to create a legacy for myself, like those who are going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this weekend. The way you do that is by wining championships and staying hungry and focused.”
Sheamus remains the only Irish-born WWE star, though the company, capitalizing on its growing worldwide popularity, features wrestlers from all over. The pressure is intense to perform at the highest level during several live events each week, but Sheamus says he doesn’t mind the grind.
“I seriously love what I do,” he says, mentioning that he and a number of other WWE superstars recently returned from a tour of Australia.
“I’m hoping that my career lasts another 10 years minimum, so after 10 or 15 years I can chill out and relax.”
Sheamus returns home to Dublin infrequently due to his work commitments, but the WWE tours twice a year; shows in Dublin and Belfast are scheduled for next month.
Before he became Sheamus, Farrelly worked a number of jobs in Dublin, including information technology support and as a bodyguard at top nightclub Lillie’s Bordello (Bono was among those under his watch.) But a professional wrestling career was always the goal, and the Farrellys back home couldn’t be happier.
“My family watches all the time,” says Sheamus. “They actually love the WWE. They don’t just follow my matches. They watch it all.”
The economic recession in Ireland, it seems, has affected everyone, including Sheamus’s sister, who would love to leave.
“She keeps asking me if she can be my personal assistant or PR girl or something,” Sheamus says. “She is desperate to get out of Ireland. It’s really a shame.
“When I left in 2001 the country just started to go south a bit, and it’s been tough on a lot of people. They are the ones paying for the mistakes of a small minority who had all the money. It’s depressing and really terrible.”
Sheamus got out just in time, and his WWE profile shows no signs of receding. He even has his own Mattel action figure (“It’s not a doll!!!” he laughs), and promoted it during an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s NBC talk show in December.
“It’s not too bad,” he says when asked if it’s a good likeness. “They took a camera and went 360 degrees around my head.”
The action figure, when it’s updated, will need to include the World Heavyweight Championship Sheamus plans on capturing from Bryan on Sunday. After his victory he plans on watching all the other top matches on the Wrestlemania card, including the highly anticipated Cena vs. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“No one could be brave enough to call that one,” says Sheamus. “I’ve gotten punched in the face before by Cena. His hands are like rocks. He can take a beating and come back.”
Sheamus is hoping that he’ll be inflicting a beating of his own come Sunday. Don’t count him out.
(For more information on Wrestlemania, including order information, visit www.wwe.com .)