“I told you when we spoke last week that I’d be the new WWE champion, and I was right,” exclaimed the newly crowned Sheamus to the Irish Voice on Tuesday afternoon during a phone interview.
It’s never a good idea to doubt the fighting words of a 6’6” Irishman with boundless ambition, as the former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) champ John Cena discovered to his cost on Sunday night.
Sheamus, a native of Dublin, did exactly what he said he’d do – he slammed Cena through a table to win their “tables” match during the WWE’s pay-per-view Tables, Ladders and Chairs broadcast, and promptly hoisted the ex-champ’s golden championship belt in the air to confirm once and for all that there’s a new superstar on the scene who means business.
The wonderful world of Sheamus got even better 24 hours later on the WWE’s Monday Night Raw show broadcast live on the USA Network when he won a Slammy Award as Breakout Star of the Year, beating other notables such as Scotsman Drew McIntyre and Abraham Washington.
As if they stood a chance against the 31-year-old newly christened champ. The way Sheamus sees it, he’s going to be king of the WWE hill for a long, long time.
“Yeah, I’m cleaning up for the Irish!” he says. “When I came to the WWE I sacrificed an awful lot to get here. I didn’t come here to be a number. I didn’t come here to blend in with the crowd.
“I came here to make a statement, to be the top wrestler in the world. That was the goal, and the goal has been achieved. It’s the start of the New Year as the Celtic Warrior!”
The champ admits that Cena inflicted a beating during their 16-minute Tables match, but Sheamus had no problem coping with the physical pain. The prize at the end was more than worth it.
“I’m pretty beaten up,” Sheamus admitted. “It was pretty crazy. There were a lot of tables used, rafters used. I’m a bit battered but it doesn’t really matter. The fact that I’m the first Irish WWE champion – that overwhelms everything.”
The road ahead will hardly be an easy one for Sheamus now that he’s the man everyone wants to beat. But Sheamus is undefeated since he debuted on the top-rated Raw broadcast only two short months ago. His rise to the top has been meteoric, and he’s ready to take on all comers.
Cena will undoubtedly want a crack at winning his belt back. Sheamus, though, says he’s not worth worrying about.
“He’s got a rematch clause,” Sheamus says. “It’s just a matter of when he wants to use it. I’ve beaten him once and I’ll beat him again.”
Cena was uncharacteristically somber on Monday’s Raw, apologizing to his fans for losing the belt and congratulating Sheamus for the victory. The new Irish champ thinks he’s full of it.
“It was a moving speech, but at the same time it didn’t really move me,” Sheamus says. “Cena underestimated me, he never took me seriously. I’ve been saying that for weeks!
“The thing is, Cena never met anyone like Sheamus, he never met a lunatic Irishman like myself, someone who will fight to the death. He really got his comeuppance!”
Can the villainous Sheamus build up the fan base that the popular Cena has established? The new champ was booed and jeered when he picked up his Slammy Award, but being Mr. Popularity is last on his list of things he wants to accomplish in the WWE.
“I really don’t care,” he says about fan opinion. “The fact is that I’m the WWE champion. I’m the best in the world!”
One aspect of his new reign that Sheamus does care about is projecting his Irish heritage as a strong warrior intent on quashing the put-downs that the Irish have endured in the past.
No more Lucky Charms. “And no more Darby O’Gill and the Little People!” Sheamus says.
“I’m hoping to bring a strong Irish presence to the world through the WWE as well. I want to bring a positive Irish message, and I’m hoping that a lot of Irish Americans who tune in to Raw see a strong representative of the Irish, even if they’ve never been to the home country. If they tune into Raw they’ll see what us real Irish are all about.”
Sheamus, who was born Stephen Farrelly, has plenty of family and friends back home in Dublin who cheered him on against Cena, and he says the feedback he’s received has been incredible.
“My family stayed up until 3 a.m. watching the show,” Sheamus says. “They are in their element. I’m getting response from people I haven’t heard from in years.”
Everyone wants to hang with a champ, and no doubt Sheamus will be mobbed when the day comes for an Irish return. He’s hoping that will be sooner rather than later, and that he’ll headline a WWE show in Dublin as the top star.
That’s not far fetched, as the WWE travels to Ireland every year and regularly sells out its shows. “We go to Dublin a lot, and I guarantee you I will walk in there as champion,” Sheamus promises. “Not one man can touch me.”
There is one group of warriors who Sheamus has the utmost respect for, though – the U.S. troops who are representing their country on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For the past seven years WWE superstars have traveled to visit the troops on the front lines, and the annual broadcasts of the performances have always drawn big ratings. This year’s holiday show will be broadcast on NBC on Saturday, December 19 at 9 p.m., and Sheamus for one will be tuned in.
“It’s a big show on NBC,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for the troops. I know there are a lot of Irish Americans who go to war and I’ve met a lot of them. To put your life on hold to go and serve your country, well, no matter what, you’ve got to have a lot of respect for that.”
Christmas has come early for Sheamus, and the New Year’s resolution is for more of the same success.
“I’ve brought the bacon home,” he says. “I’m always hungry and I won’t get complacent. John Cena, Triple H, Shawn Michaels … they’re all secondary to me now. I’m going to rule the WWE for a long time!”