You can’t watch a television commercial in eighteen seconds. You can’t make a bag of microwave popcorn in eighteen seconds. But at Wrestlemania 28, WWE Superstar Sheamus was able to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Daniel Bryan in eighteen seconds.
Understandably, Mr. Bryan would like a rematch.
I spoke with the Great White in the days leading up to his two-out-of-three-falls rematch at Extreme Rules and got his opinion on his opponent’s new-found popularity, the grudge match between John Cena and Brock Lesnar, and his work with the Be A STAR anti-bullying campaign…
Gordon Holmes: At Wrestlemania you defeated Daniel Bryan in only eighteen seconds. At Extreme Rules you’ll be facing him in a best-two-out-of-three-falls match. Is it your goal to end this match in thirty six seconds?
Sheamus: (Laughs) Absolutely. The first person to get two falls wins. Who knows what’s going to happen?
Holmes: I couldn’t tie my own shoe in eighteen seconds.
Sheamus: It wasn’t what I was expecting. Daniel Bryan beat Big Show, Mark Henry, Randy Orton…he went through a lot of guys. And he’d been using AJ or any means necessary to get himself disqualified to hold onto the World Heavyweight Championship. And the Monday before on Raw, it was me and Randy Orton taking on him and Kane and I was preparing to kick his head off when AJ figured into the match. It basically cost me the match. So, when I saw him kiss AJ (at Wrestlemania) I wasn’t sure if he would try to use AJ again, so when I saw the opportunity I kicked his head off because I wasn’t going to let him screw me out of the World Heavyweight Championship. He got too cocky and that’s what happened.
Holmes: Since then, Daniel Bryan has amassed a huge cult following with his “Yes” chants. Are you worried that you’re going to be facing a hostile, “Yes”-crazy crowd in Chicago at Extreme Rules?
Sheamus: I wouldn’t expect anything else other than a hostile crowd in Chicago. That’s what makes performing so fantastic. The crowd makes up their own minds, they’re as much a part of the show as we are.
Holmes: How does the Windy City usually react to you?
Sheamus: Chicago is a fantastic place to perform. The first time I ever got the crowd behind me was at Money in the Bank last year when I put Sin Cara through a ladder. The more unpredictable the crowd, the better. I’m expecting a hostile crowd. I’m expecting lots of “Yes” chants. I’m expecting it to be a great night, and me and Daniel Bryan are going to steal the show.
Holmes: The other big match this Sunday is of course John Cena squaring off against the returning Brock Lesnar. It seems like Cena’s had a rough run lately with a large portion of the fans turning against him and his Wrestlemania loss to the Rock. What’s your take on what he’s been going through lately?
Sheamus: You know, John raised his game in taking on the Rock. Cena’s done everything in about eight years in the WWE. He’s created an incredible foundation. People come to see him whether they want to boo or cheer him. And everybody has ups and down. But Cena always bounces back. I think he’s going to bring it Sunday against Lesnar, I think it’s going to be a great match. It’s exciting times for everybody.
Holmes: You’re excited to have Brock back in the fold?
Sheamus: I think it’s great, man. It creates a buzz around what we do. It brings attention from outside of the WWE Universe back in, like people who have strayed away, it brings them back. And I think that’s only a positive thing. People will tune in to see Brock Lesnar taking on John Cena, but guess what, there’s going to be a two-out-of-three-falls match between two of the most exciting superstars right now in the WWE, that’s Daniel Bryan and Sheamus. And we’re also two of the most hard-hitting superstars.
Holmes: John Cena had given the Rock some grief about being a part-time wrestler. The same could probably said for Brock Lesnar. When people like the Rock and Brock come back and don’t go on the big tours, is that something that bothers you at all?
Sheamus: It doesn’t me in the slightest, fella. These guys coming in are bringing attention to the WWE and attention to the product. I thought Rock coming back was great. As far as I know, I think it was the highest grossing Wrestlemania ever. How positive is that? That’s incredible. For me, it’s fine, it happens. People come and go.
Holmes: You’re in a fascinating business. You’re backstage and you’ve got people in crazy costumes and guys like the Big Show and guys like Hornswoggle. What’s been the most surreal moment for you?
Sheamus: It’s kind of funny, you see all these people and they’re kind of like family now. We see each other more than we do our families. But I remember when I first started, I came up to UK for a tryout and I remember walking back and seeing everyone from Triple H to Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Big Show…all the superstars there. It was unbelievable. It was very intimidating. You try not to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. It’s very important to make a good first impression. But now it’s business as usual. They’re a great bunch of guys and I’m happy to be working with them.
Holmes: You’ve been on the main roster for about three years now; you’ve held two WWE Championships, the World Championship, King of the Ring, Royal Rumble. All of this, and you’re still a young guy. Are you worried that there are less stories to tell or less places for you to go?
Sheamus: I don’t worry about that at all. I’ve had a lot of success early, which is fantastic. But there are a lot of superstars I haven’t really mixed it up with yet. Like Punk or Jericho really, a lot of superstars coming up from FCW like Claudio Castagnoli and Ryback. Lord Tensai has come in, Brock is back, Alberto Del Rio is back. I don’t see any shortage of stories. There will always be interesting stories. And that’s all that matters.
Holmes: Which superstars do you think have the potential to break through and be the next big thing?
Sheamus: It’s difficult to say, there are a lot of guys on the cusp. Alberto Del Rio, he’s got an incredible resume. I think you’ve got some tremendous talents like Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes has a lot of promise as well. Wade Barrett is coming back. There’s potential in Drew McIntyre too. His work is incredible. Of course Claudio, Ryback, Lord Tensai…it literally could be any one of them. Whoever steps up. All of those guys could bring it.
Holmes: You’re a super huge guy. Like a big, walking muscle with pale skin and bright red hair. What’s something you could tell me about yourself that would shock me? Do you knit?
Sheamus: (Laughs) I’m a pretty laid-back fella. I know it sounds like a cliché, but when I get home I chill out and relax, I’ve got two dogs. I like reading Celtic mythology or chilling out to music. I literally am enjoying every moment of this job because I scraped so hard to get to it. It’s funny, and this might be going off topic, but when people talk about ROH (Ring of Honor, a popular independent wrestling organization) they talk about Claudio and they talk about Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, the indie darlings and stuff like that. But funnily enough, myself and Wade Barrett and Drew McIntyre, we were on the indies in the UK. Obviously we didn’t get the exposure that they did in ROH, but we worked for free and we paid for flights to the UK and Ireland. We worked as much as we possibly could to get experience. But now that we’re here we appreciate everything we do and we’re loving every minute of it.
Holmes: You do a lot of work with the Be A STAR anti-bullying campaign. What inspired you to get involved with that initiative?
Sheamus: It’s very important to me. I volunteered for that program because of my experiences as a kid being bullied. I didn’t always look the way I look now. I was a small, chubby kid with red hair. I was an introvert so I was an easy target. I had a tough time. I can relate to a lot of the cases that are going on now. I see some tragic stories with kids taking their own lives. I’ve met some kids at the schools, I had one kid actually who had a stroke as a teenager. He was being bullied and was pushed down some stairs by three or four guys. Having a stroke as a teenager? How tragic is that? These things are happening to kids. We feel like we have the ears of these teenagers and we’re trying to bring a positive message. A lot of bullies don’t know what they’re doing because they’ve never been in these situations themselves. So, we’re trying to educate them and we’re trying to teach kids to stand up to bullies in a non-violent way. We’re trying to tell these kids not to be ashamed of themselves because they’re not the problem.
Holmes: You recently returned from an international tour of Europe. What was it like to compete in front of your hometown crowd?
Sheamus: That was unbelievable, man. It took a lot for me to hold back my emotions. It was an incredible feeling. I used to stand in that arena, the O2 Arena in Dublin, working security or whatever. And just to see the superstars up close was like a parallel world. And to go from that to working in front of a packed house as World Heavyweight Champion, that was just a really special thing for me. It was probably one of the highlights of my entire life.
Holmes: Are Irish fans any different than US fans?
Sheamus: They did those “Ole Ole Ole” chants that were made popular by the Irish football team, or soccer team as you call it. It was incredible. I can’t tell you how proud I was.
Holmes: You aren’t a tiny guy. Those international flights have got to be rough.
Sheamus: (Laughs) Yeah, but you kinda feel bad when you look around and see Khali and Big Show. I don’t know how those guys do it.
Holmes: Not to get too graphic on you, but can you guys even fit into those tiny lavatories?
Sheamus: It’s a struggle, fella. But, it can be done.
Watch WWE: Extreme Rules, Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes