Fighting

Sheamus wins World title as Irish taking over UFC, WWE

The new WWE World champ Sheamus with WWE Executive Vice President Talent/Live Events/Creative Paul Triple H Levesque at Survivor Series on Sunday, Nov. 22 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta. William Regal and Triple H are two of the Celtic Warrior’s mentors during his WWE journey.
The new WWE World champ Sheamus with WWE Executive Vice President Talent/Live Events/Creative Paul Triple H Levesque at Survivor Series on Sunday, Nov. 22 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta. William Regal and Triple H are two of the Celtic Warrior’s mentors during his WWE journey. Photo Courtesy WWE

Luck is nice, but it’s not what defines Irish-born wrestling talent Finn Balor, Becky Lynch and Sheamus.

Charisma, dedication and hard work are essential for success in the sports entertainment category, and those three characters are defined by those three characteristics -- as well as passion -- making them very successful in WWE.

Balor is atop the NXT ladder as the NXT champ. Lynch is a top contender for the WWE Divas title, and Sheamus just won the top prize, the WWE World title, at Survivor Series on Sunday, Nov. 22 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta.

So are the Irish taking over?

“Absolutely,” Sheamus chuckled during a conference call the day after Survivor Series. “I’ve said it before. Pound for pound the Irish are the greatest fighters on the planet.”

He continued: “We’re a nation of fighting warriors. You got [Conor] McGregor as UFC champion. You got myself and Finn Balor, the WWE World heavyweight and NXT champions, and Becky Lynch is the next one. Her opportunity will come, and I know she’s gonna take it. We’re taking over. No doubt about it.”

Sheamus also mentioned Fit Finlay, who wrestled in WWE before Sheamus arrived. Finlay, a tough, non-nonsense, brawler -- an Irishman who loved to fight -- helped open WWE doors for Irish wrestlers like Sheamus and Balor.

“[Finn] started his career before me...He got the opportunity with New Japan Pro Wrestling, which he created a legacy for himself there,” Sheamus said. “Obviously, I went the WWE route. WWE was what I watched as a child, and that’s the promotion I wanted to be involved in.”

When WWE courted Balor (Prince Devitt in New Japan) in 2014, he contacted his Irish Deartháir.

Sheamus recalled: “I talked to Finn when he was still in New Japan, and he was asking me, ‘Should I come [to WWE]?’ and I told him, ‘Absolutely. You need to take this opportunity, and you need to come. You need to tear it up here and make a name for yourself [here].’

“I felt like he did everything he possibly could in New Japan, and now was the opportunity to put himself ahead on the world stage, and he’s already done that by literally concurring NXT, and I don’t think it’s going to be too long before he comes up to the main roster in WWE and starts concurring that.”

Balor, 34, got a taste of it recently.

“Finn Balor and myself were on the [recent WWE] European Tour, and for the first week we wrestled each other from Dublin all the way to Leeds, and it was off the charts,” said Sheamus. “The matches we had there were great. It really inspired me again. It was amazing being in there with such a talented superstar. There’s no doubt about it that the future of the Irish is great. Finn Balor as NXT champion is the flagship superstar of that promotion, and he is going to be a future WWE World heavyweight champion.”

As for the present, the strong, tough 6-4, 267-pound Sheamus is the man.

“I’ve been in this position before,” he noted. “I’ve faced a lot of scrutiny as everybody has seen the past couple of years. I’ve been a heel and a babyface, but I’ve been rearing to go for such a long time since winning the Money in the Bank contract.”

Sheamus earned an automatic title shot at any time by winning the Money in the Bank ladder match during the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in June at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Prior, Sheamus injured his arm and neck, leaving WWE in November 2014 and returning in March.

“I had been rearing to come back as a heel, and I started off with Daniel Bryan and [Dolph] Ziggler,” he recalled. “The last couple of months I’d been waiting to go.”

A knee injury to WWE World champ Seth Rollins, his forfeiture of the belt, a WWE World Title Tournament and Survivor Series presented opportunity for Mr. Money in the Bank. After a worn out and distracted Roman Reign won two matches at Survivor Series to become the new WWE World champ, Sheamus seized the moment, cashing in Money in the Bank and taking the title with two Brogue kicks. Ref Charles Robinson counted three, and in a matter of seconds, the celebration quickly switched from Reigns to Sheamus.

“There’s always pressure, but I actually look forward to that,” the new champ said. “The opportunity I have right now is one I’ve been waiting for a long time.”

Fitting that WWE Executive Vice President Talent/Live Events/Creative Paul Triple H Levesque was the first to congratulate Sheamus. In the ring, Triple H offered his hand, but Sheamus didn’t shake it. He hugged him, one of his mentors. William Regal and Fit Finlay are two more.

“I have to mention William Regal, because from day one, he took me under his wing,” a thankful Sheamus said. “We drove everywhere. He watched my matches. He gave me advice. He gave me direction.

“William Regal is very tight with Triple H, too. He helped Triple H in the beginning of his career. He introduced me to him. When I moved onto Raw, Hunter basically watched all my matches, gave me feedback and just kept that whole process going, mentoring me, to help me avoid mistakes that most people make. There was a lot of animosity from a lot of the guys because of that. I had passion. I loved what I was doing, and Hunter saw something in me. I’m not going to turn down advice from a multi-multi-time WWE World heavyweight champion, a man who’s achieved so much in this business. I’d be a fool if I did. It was great. He was there all the time for me. Anything I needed to talk about or anything that he saw that was weak in what I was doing, he helped me out big time.”

Like a proud older brother, a savvyTriple H raised the hand of the new champ with confetti and Reigns prone in the ring.

“So it’s fitting after six years,” Sheamus said. “[Survivor Series] was a great moment for me. Coming all this way from the beginning of my career in WWE to becoming the new WWE World heavyweight champion with Triple H by my side brought back a lot of great memories, and now it’s going to create a lot of amazing memories and moments, too.”

As a WWE superstar, Sheamus, 37, matured into a polished WWE World champion.

“I’m in a different part of my career now. Six years in, I’m a different person,” Sheamus said. “When I first came into WWE, I was like a deer in headlights. Everything happened so quickly. I was in there with Cena and Orton and Triple H. I was learning on the fly. I was taking it all in. There was a huge amount of pressure back then.

“Right now I’m a lot more comfortable where I’m at. I know what I’m doing. I waited for this opportunity for such a long time. I’m not going to let it pass me by. Some superstars are on the sidelines right now. Obviously what happened to Seth Rollins was very unfortunate, but I know he’s going to be back stronger and better than ever because that’s the type of person he is. He’s very committed to what he does. He trains hard. He’s world champ material, and that’s why he’d been WWE World champ for such a long time.

“At the same time I’m not going to let an opportunity pass me by. I’d been on the sidelines myself. So I’m going to take this and run with it as far as I can. I’m going to give it everything I possibly can, because this is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I’ve never felt better and more comfortable in my own skin.”

Since his WWE debut in June 2009, this marks the fourth top title reign for Sheamus, and his passion is at an all-time high.

“I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting, and I knew this opportunity was going to come,” Sheamus said. “I knew when it came, I wasn’t going to let it pass me by. I knew I was going to seize it. I knew I was going to run with it. [Survivor Series] was my opportunity, and fella, I am back, and I have never been happier [laughs]. I’ve got that championship.”

Sporting a unique look, Sheamus is not only good at what he does in the ring but outside it, too. He participated in many WWE community events like Be a STAR rallies, Make-A-Wish, 2K media, hospital visits and Tribute to the Troops. A complete package, he is also a good spokesman, a good company man, earning the right to garner that title again.

“[After Survivor Series] I didn’t let that championship belt out of my sight,” an excited Sheamus said. “I put it on the passenger seat in the car when I was driving 4 1 /2 hours to Nashville [for Monday Night Raw]. It reminded me why I do this. Why I love what I do. Why I keep coming back to do this. Why no matter what happens, I’m going to give everything I possibly have, because I’m proud of myself, and I love what I do.”

A consummate WWE sports entertainer, Sheamus is a very happy WWE World champ who gets it.

“The people who come to our shows are passionate about WWE, and they’re the most important thing,” he said. “We’re here to entertain them, and that’s what we do. As the new WWE World heavyweight champ, I will do everything I possibly can to entertain and have fun. It won’t last forever; so I’m going to enjoy this as the era of the Celtic Warrior has begun.”

Sheamus on his WWE journey

“Patience is the biggest thing here. I’ve been through this a couple of times, since I started,” he said.

“I came in strong -- WWE World heavyweight champion in a couple of months against [John] Cena. After I lost the title to Randy [Orton], I went down. Remember Raw was two hours, too, then, and I was literally involved in like three-minute segments with John Morrison, and that was hard. It was really a very strange experience for me.

“Then me and [Daniel Bryan] went into a program for the U.S. title. We went back to grassroots and tore it up on the live event level all across the U.S. It was great. Being in there with Danny was unbelievable. The matches were great. We weren’t really featured in anything at the time. This was before the ‘Yes’ movement, and I was coming off the two WWE World heavyweight championships. We were just having fun, and we really worked hard.

“Being in a position of being up and then being down and then doing it again. For the most part it’s the faith in your potential and your ability, and patience, patience, patience. Sometimes it’s very, very hard. I’m a very impatient person. There are times I get really impatient and frustrated. You just got to keep your head up and believe an opportunity is going to come back around again, because it always does, especially when you know what you’re capable of. [The wait] was tough. It was hard, but I’ve been waiting for this moment like a caged lion.”

Sheamus burst through the cage and unleashed that ruthless aggression at Survivor Series, and now this beaded Celtic Warrior, this strong red-haired lion is your WWE World champion. How’s that fella.

Fighting Irish with Irish

The University of Notre Dame football team took notice, inviting one of its brethren, Sheamus, to its home near South Bend, Ind. How apropos as the fighting Irishman ignited and inspired the Fighting Irish before their game with Wake Forest.

A week before winning the WWE World title, Sheamus gladly presented a WWE World title belt to a fired-up Notre Dame team, led by coach Brian Kelly. A native of Dublin and proficient in Gaelic, Sheamus did such a good job with the team, not even The Undertaker could help the visiting Demon Deacons. Notre Dame won 28-7.

NotreDameSheamus

Home Court Advantage at WWE TLC

The Celtic Warrior Sheamus will defend the WWE World title against Roman Reigns in the main event of WWE Tables, Ladders & Chairs on Sunday, Dec. 13 from Boston’s TD Garden, home of the NBA Boston Celtics. The show is available on pay-per-view and WWE Network.

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The Royal Rumble, one of WWE’s biggest shows, is Sunday, Jan. 24 at Orlando’s Amway Center, home of the NBA Orlando Magic.

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The Royal Rumble drop kicks-off the Road to WrestleMania with the winner of the 30-man battle royal earning a WWE World title match at WrestleMania 32 on Sunday, April 3 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

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To drop kick off Royal Rumble weekend, NXT TV tapings are Friday, Jan. 22 at the CFE Arena on the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando. The CFE Arena is the home of the NCAA Division I UCF Knights basketball team.

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