When Sheamus fulfilled his dream of becoming a top flight WWE superstar, little did he realize that one day he would be seated in the captain’s chair of the multi-million dollar USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier because of it.
“That’s something very few people in this world will ever do,” Sheamus said. “I never thought I would get an experience like that. It was an unbelievable experience that I’ll never forget.”
Sheamus along with many other WWE superstars, divas and associates spent a recent weekend visiting U.S. sailors based in the Norfolk and Hampton Roads area of Virginia during “WWE’s Tribute To The Troops,” a holiday tradition to thank U.S. service men and women for their commitment to the country and recognition of their sacrifices.
It marked the third time Sheamus participated in the worthwhile annual event.
“When I went to do my first Tribute To The Troops show in the United States in Dallas, Texas [at Fort Hood in 2010], I couldn’t believe it. I was blown away,” Sheamus said. “When I got to meet the military people up close and personal, I got to find out how much they sacrificed their lives to keep the country free. They’re away from their families for months on end. I was hooked right away. I just really knew how important this troops’ show was. Getting to meet the families, the kids, the wives and the husbands and getting to give back a little to them through autograph sessions, meet-n-greets and letting them know how important they are to this country.”
WWE joined forces with the USA Network, NBC and Slim Jim to honor them including meet-n-greets, dodgeball and volleyball with them and their kids, a WWE show and more.
“Previous years, the superstars went to meet the troops overseas, and that was great, but now we get a chance to meet the troops – the Marines, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army – in the [United States], and they can bring their families. So it’s a family affair for all the troops, and I think that’s even better now because they can share it with their loved ones.”
Naval Station Norfolk is the crown jewel of the United States Navy, and WWE also visited Naval Station Little Creek and Naval Station Oceana as the Norfolk and Hampton Roads area is home to 125,000 active duty members, 830,000 veterans and many military families.
WWE is not only supportive of the U.S. troops but also very active with Make-A-Wish Foundation, Be a STAR anti-bullying, WrestleMania Reading Challenge, Breast Cancer Awareness, Full-Sail University scholarship program and more.
“When I was on my way to WWE, I had various jobs to fund my dream [to become a WWE superstar],” the red-headed Irishman said. “That’s all I was thinking of, but when I came to America, I realized later there’s more to this business than the stuff in the ring.”
Born in Cabra, Ireland, Sheamus, 34, grew up playing Gaelic football and rugby. He earned a diploma from the National College of Ireland. He ventured to America in 2002, training in professional wrestling at the famous Monster Factory under the guidance of Larry Sharpe in Gloucester City, N.J.
Sheamus returned to Ireland, wrestling for the newly opened Irish Whip Wrestling, based in Dublin. He also wrestled the British indie circuit in Great Britain. In 2006, he inked a developmental deal with WWE, working for the company’s developmental group Florida Championship Wrestling. In 2009, he became a WWE superstar ... and philanthropist.
“I saw the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which John Cena has been a huge part of, the ambassador in a way, and I saw the passion in that,” Sheamus said. “Then Be a STAR to help put an end to bullying. And more positive influences that we try to do to make positive changes, especially when you have the core foundation of family and kids from our PG-product.”
“WWE Tribute To The Troops” is 9 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec.19 on the USA Network and 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 on NBC. It marked the first time in its 10-year history that the show was filmed at a U.S. NAVY installation.
“I was aware of the Tribute To The Troops show that happens every year when WWE was going overseas,” Sheamus said. “I was kind of blown away by that because the superstars were going overseas to Iraq and other potentially dangerous areas and risking their lives to pay tribute to the U.S. troops who keep them safe and allow them and everyone else in this country to live their lives freely without any fear.”
Sheamus, also known as the Celtic Warrior, respects his homeland and new home land.
“Ireland is a neutral country. It’s a different way of thinking over there,” Sheamus said. “The United States has a huge influence in Ireland. Every time the United States military goes overseas, a lot of times they’ll stop at airports in Ireland and then travel on. I remember a couple of times they stopped off in Ireland, refueled and went to Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever they needed to go.”
Sheamus, a 6-4, 267-pound strongman, understands the principles of America.
“It’s a different mindset [compared to Ireland],” he said. “The United States goes out and does everything it can to protect the freedom of not just the people in this country but the freedom of people all over the world. The United States is the big brother, the one who’s looking out for everybody.”
• About the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) which Sheamus visited during “WWE Tribute To The Troops.”
The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) is the 10th and final nuclear propelled Nimitz-class supercarrier of the United States Navy. Home-ported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., the carrier is named for the 41st President of the United States and former Director of Central Intelligence George H.W. Bush, who was a naval aviator during World War II.
Sheamus also spent time with the U.S. military on the USS Porter (battleship) and USS Boise (submarine).
“Our ships are great, our airplanes, our submarines are great. There’s no doubt about that. We have some pretty neat technology, but at the end of the day it’s all about the people,” said U.S. Rear Admiral Tim Alexander, Commander, U.S. Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. “I think the opportunity for the WWE folks to meet our Sailors, to see them in their workplaces and to learn a little bit about what they do, and then for our Sailors and their families, who are big [WWE] fans, to have multiple opportunities to meet the folks in WWE and to talk to them, to get autographs and to do all the things that they enjoy doing was a huge hit.”
Sheamus said: “I’m from Ireland, but I reside in the United States of America. This country has given me the greatest of opportunities. It’s given me a chance to live my dream with WWE, and all these men and women protect us, make sure my life and home is protected.
“So anything I can do to give back to them or just to make sure I can go face-to-face and tell them thank you for all they do. They sacrifice so much. They’re at sea or at service overseas for great chunks of the year or years on end. Their families are home waiting for them.
“That sacrifice they make for us. It’s a great opportunity for me to tell them thank you.”
WWE conducted its stellar brand of sports entertainment at the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Va.
“The Sailors and the Marines here in the Hampton Roads area and their families were absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to meet the members of WWE and to be able to show them around the bases when they toured the bases and then to attend the main event downtown at the Norfolk Scope,” U.S. Rear Admiral Alexander said. “So it was a real treat for us to be able to host this group of wonderful people, and we look forward to doing it again whenever they’re ready.”
He added: “Whether you’re at home or you’re deployed, it’s always nice to have somebody stop, who doesn’t really have to, frankly, but have somebody stop and say, ‘Hey thanks for what you do. We recognize you make some sacrifices, and we appreciate that.’
“And so we’re grateful to WWE for taking the time to come down and spend some time with us here in Hampton Roads and for making us the subject of the 10th Tribute to the Troops.”
Sheamus teamed with Randy Orton against Big Show and Dolph Ziggler during “WWE Tribute To The Troops.”
“It was exciting, and we wanted to make sure that all the Naval Officers, Marines, everyone in the arena, everyone from Norfolk got the best show they possibly could get,” Sheamus said, “and that’s what we did. We went out there and gave them everything we had, as much as they deserve.”
Sheamus is a former two-time WWE champ as well as a World champ, U.S. champ, King of the Ring and Royal Rumble winner.
“I think they [troops] were the stars that night, too, because they were into every single minute of [the show], and they were an absolute joy to perform in front of,” Sheamus said. “With the crowd behind you like that, it makes our job that much easier and that much better.
“I always remember, hearing back in Ireland, America is the land of opportunity, and that’s exactly what it has been for me.”
• WWE offers free tickets to WWE shows for military personnel throughout the year.
• WWE, USA Network and NBC will honor the United States Armed Forces with its 10th annual holiday special, “WWE Tribute To The Troops,” presented by Slim Jim.
The holiday extravaganza will air on USA Network as a two-hour television special starting at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec.19 and on NBC as a one-hour television special at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22.
“WWE Tribute To The Troops” has become a holiday tradition and is one of TV’s most patriotic and heartwarming shows.
U.S. Rear Admiral Alexander said: “The opportunity to sort of showcase our folks I think is a tremendous opportunity and to reaffirm for Americans what quality young men and women we have serving in our Armed Forces today as exemplified in this show by our Sailors.”
Sheamus said: “When I was on the aircraft carrier, the George H.W. Bush, we had dinner together [with the troops], and we all just talked about our experiences. I talked to one young Officer who told me basically he wasn’t able to go out on the ship anymore because he had a heart issue, but he was very, very dedicated to his role in the Navy, and whenever he could, he would do everything to help with the ongoings of the every day schedule.”
The holiday special will also feature performances by Grammy Award-nominated, international superstars Kid Rock and Flo Rida and appearances by Disney’s The Muppets, the NBA World Champion Miami Heat and TV news personality Katie Couric.
• Flo Rida, who also performed live entrance music for The Rock at WrestleMania 28 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, grew up in Miami-Carol City.
Flo Rida discussing WWE, WrestleMania 28, The Rock, Tribute To The Troops
YouTube (jimmyv3 channel): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcP9gDvmEvc&feature=plcp.
• “WWE Tribute To The Troops” is part of WWE Week on the USA Network.
Monday, Dec. 17: WWE Monday Night Raw (8-11:05 p.m.)
“WWE Monday Night Raw” kicks off the company’s jam-packed week live from Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. The night will be highlighted by the 2012 Slammy Awards, where the WWE Universe will honor WWE’s most noteworthy superstars, divas, matches and moments of the past 12 months. With “WWE Active,” the most interactive show on television allows fans in the arena and at home to use social media to decide matches and stipulations, bringing an unprecedented level of fan interaction to the most-watched and longest running regularly scheduled year-round program on basic cable television.
Tuesday, Dec. 18: WWE SmackDown (live) Commercial Free Special (8-10 p.m.) and “Fast & Furious” (2009) hosted by WWE superstar Big Show (10 p.m.-midnight)
What’s better than a regular episode of “SmackDown?” A live episode of “SmackDown.”
What’s even better than it being live? It’s commercial free.
Tune-in and enjoy. It’s USA Network’s gift to you for the holidays. Immediately following, tune-in to “Fast & Furious,” hosted by World champ Big Show. The 2009 film stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Brian O’Conner (Walker), now working for the FBI in Los Angeles, teams with Dominic Toretto (Diesel) to bring down a heroin importer by infiltrating his operation.
Wednesday, Dec. 19: WWE Tribute To The Troops (9-11 p.m.)
WWE will once again honor the U.S. Armed Forces with its 10th annual holiday special, “WWE Tribute to the Troops,” presented by Slim Jim. “WWE Tribute To The Troops” has become a holiday tradition and is considered TV’s most patriotic and heartwarming show. The special, filmed at Navy installations in the Norfolk, Va. area, will feature performances by Grammy Award-nominated, international superstars Kid Rock and Flo Rida for thousands of military personnel and their families at the Scope Arena in Norfolk. Disney’s The Muppets will also visit to lend some holiday cheer.
Thursday, Dec. 20: Burn Notice guest starring WWE superstar Big Show (11 p.m.-midnight, repeat)
World champ Big Show goes toe-to-toe with the “Burn Notice” tag team of Michael Weston and Sam Axe in USA’s action-packed original series. Only the 7-0, 441-pound Big Show could be bigger in real life than a character dreamed up by the talented writers on “Burn Notice.” Get this—his character description portrays him as a 6-6, 300-pound monster of a man who looks like a grizzly bear with a rap sheet as vast as it is troubling.
Friday, Dec. 21: The Game Plan (2007) hosted by WWE superstar CM Punk (8:30-11 p.m.)
WWE champ CM Punk once again will reign as The Voice of the Voiceless as he hosts “The Game Plan,” which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Krya Sedgwick and Madison Pettis. An NFL quarterback (Johnson) living the bachelor lifestyle discovers that he has an 8-year-old daughter (Pettis) from a previous relationship. What will the WWE champ have to say about The Rock?