He's the current WWE King of the Ring and the newly crowned U.S. Champion, but Irish-born WWE superstar Sheamus continues to be a man on a mission.
His next goal? Sheamus is hell-bent on stealing the show at Wrestlemania 27, the WWE’s annual flagship pay-per-view event that takes place this Sunday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta at 7 p.m.
Despite an all-star line-up that includes the ring return of the legendary WWE grappler The Rock – now a movie star known by his given name, Dwayne Johnson – a marquee match-up pitting long-time stalwarts Triple H and the Undertaker, and the wrestling debut ofJersey Shore fixture Snooki, Sheamus maintains that he’s got exactly what it takes to grab the post-Wrestlemania headlines with a thrilling win over his opponent, fan favorite Daniel Bryan.
“I want people walking away from Wrestlemania talking about our match,” Sheamus, 33, told the Irish Voice on Monday from Chicago, just a few hours before the live broadcast of the WWE’s weekly Monday Night Raw program on the USA Network.
“I’m representing Ireland again, I’m the champion of the United States of America and there are going to be some great matches, but I’m going to give everything I have to steal the show at Wrestlemania. I’m an Irishman who came up from a small little country, followed his dream and now I hold the title.”
Dublin native Sheamus has had an up and down WWE year since Wrestlemania 2010, where he lost a tough match to the iconic Triple H. But the Celtic Warrior, as Sheamus is known, exacted revenge a few weeks later at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view event, where he devastated his opponent to such an extent that Triple H was out of action for 10 months, only recently returning to the WWE lineup.
Putting the smackdown on the boss’s son-in-law – Triple H is married to WWE owner Vince McMahon’s only daughter, Stephanie – might not be the best career path to follow, but the only thing Sheamus is sorry about is that Triple H is back in the ring.
“I knew that to beat Triple H at Wrestlemania was going to be the icing on the cake for one of the best rookie years that ever happened in WWE history,” Sheamus said.
“That was taken away from me, but at Extreme Rules I put him on the shelf . . . It was definitely a nice way to put him out. I was hoping he’d be gone for good, but unfortunately he came back a couple of weeks ago.”
It was a so-so rest of 2010 for the Gaelic-speaking Sheamus – he reclaimed his WWE championship, then lost it again -- until he made a comeback and was crowned the WWE’s 19th King of the Ring during a broadcast of Raw last November.
Earlier this month Sheamus’s WWE star continued to rise when he defeated Bryan to win the United States Championship for the first time. Bryan demanded a re-match, and the bout will serve as the opening to Wrestlemania 27.
“Being the U.S. champion is a big deal for me. Knowing that my ancestors built this country, it’s kind of like, the Irish were treated badly in this country for a long time, with a lot of tacky Irish stereotypes, so to me it’s kind of like a bragging right. I’m enjoying shoving it down people’s throats that an Irish guy is their champion.”
It would appear that Sheamus – all 6’6” and 272 pounds – would have a distinct advantage over his opponent, who stands at only 5’10”. But the Irish star is taking nothing for granted, especially given the fact that Bryan, with his mixed martial arts (MMA) background, is an acrobat who can glide through the air like a butterfly.
“Well, I’m gonna have to try and catch him,” Sheamus says of his strategy. “The great thing about the match is it’s a good story, the big guy against the smaller guy, one of the best stories you can tell.
“For everyone watching the height difference and strength difference we have, it will be an interesting bout. I’ll do my best to try and ground him but it’s very hard to try and catch a flying squirrel.”
The humbler sounding Sheamus, though, has no doubts that he’ll emerge victorious. “He’s up against it. He’s got to beat me; I don’t have to beat him,” he says.
“There aren’t going to be too many happy people in the audience, but that’s okay,” Sheamus adds, in a nod to his villainous persona. “I’m grand once I keep winning trophies. That’s all that counts.”
And, no, he won’t be calling on Snooki for a helping hand if things get tough. “Ah no, I’ll leave her in the match she’s in,” Sheamus laughs. “I don’t need her shouting at me.”
After an exciting 2009 that saw Sheamus take the WWE by storm, winning his first WWE championship after only a few months on the prime-time roster and a Slammy Award for Breakout Star of the Year, the Irish star is ready to fight his way to the next level. The grueling WWE schedule is still year-round with little time for breaks, but Sheamus wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m not happy until I’m going forward and accomplishing goals,” says Sheamus, who’s given name is Stephen Farrelly, and who used to bodyguard the likes of Bono in Dublin before pursuing his WWE dream.
“I’m going to my second Wrestlemania, and from there I just want to keep taking leaps and bounds until I become one of the greatest ever. I can’t complain right now, I’m enjoying myself, the matches are great and I’m making a name for myself. I keep building that Celtic Warrior brand.”
All the wrestling doesn’t leave much time for anything else in Sheamus’s busy life these days. He’s based in Florida during his down time – “I break out the hoodies to deal with the sun,” he jokes about his milky-white complexion – and returned to Ireland last April for shows in Dublin and Belfast.
Sheamus remembers the journey well, not least because he and all the other WWE superstars were grounded in Ireland for four days because of the volcano in Iceland that halted all trans-Atlantic travel.
“The Guinness was good,” Sheamus says of his time back home. “It was great. The crowd was unbelievable, with the ‘ole, ole, ole’ chants. People were wearing John Cena shirts and chanting for Sheamus.”
The King of the Ring knows that the Queen of England will soon travel to his homeland. “Don’t mention my name in the same sentence as hers,” he says. “I’m the only real royal around here!”
No doubt Sheamus will prove that yet again in Atlanta on Sunday.
For more information on Wrestlemania 27, including ordering information, visit www.wwe.com.