AC: Obviously, it's been a whirlwind year for you. It really is incredible how fast you've moved up the ranks. In kind of an overview, what the last year been like for you? I imagine a year ago you wrestling in front of 100 people somewhere in Florida, right?
Sheamus: That's right. A year ago I hadn't even debuted yet. I was still down in the developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, still dreaming of performing in front of the WWE Universe. But, honestly fella, I couldn't have dreamed a better experience for me so far. It's been phenomenal. I've been WWE champion. I was in Mania against Triple-H. And I have this Fatal 4-Way coming up with thereof the top names you'll ever see in this business – Edge, John Cena and Randy Orton. It's going to cap off an amazing year. It'll be capped off even better when I walk away with the WWE championship.
AC: Is it important for you in this year, 2010, to prove that 2009 wasn't a fluke? You had your world title run and some main events during those few months, but then obviously moved down the card a little bit. Is it important for you to entrench yourself now as a top tier player up there with Randy Orton, John Cena and the top names.
Sheamus: Yeah, and Fatal 4-Way is the perfect chance for me to show that I'm there – as good if not better than the rest of the performers. But I have to say this. I don't think I ever left the top tier. I went into a feud with triple-H and I've been in a feud with Orton. I mean, yeah, I was out of the title picture, which was basically taken up by Cena and Batista. But to be honest with you , fella, every year is important. I mean you really can't ever look back on your achievements. I'll look back at me achievements when I'm 60 and when I'm not doing this anymore. For me there are so many hungry athletes or performers coming up. Like you watch all these new guys on NXT paying their dues and coming up. All these guys are just as hungry as I was. But I believe that I'm hungrier than everybody in the company. But these people are after top spots. And for me, when I first came here, I never wanted to be just … I never wanted to just say, "Oh yeah, I'm a WWE entertainer, a WWE superstar. It's great and I'm just happy to be here." I've always wanted to be the best in the world I'm in. Like I said, I believe I'm better than anyone in the company. I believe that the rise I've had in the first year is because I've worked harder than anybody. And this year is going to be running through everybody who doubted me or thought it was a fluke. And I'll do that every year until the day that I retire. That's just my attitude. That's the way I think. Us Irish are kind of like that. We're hard grafters. We like to prove everybody wrong.
AC: Do you think it's that attitude that allowed you to climb so far, so fast. I'm sure a lot of the guys that you worked with are still down in Florida, or maybe now in NXT or that kind of thing. What do you think separates you from them?
Sheamus: I think – and I'm not being big headed here, fella – but it's the attitude man. I think it's the fact that I've never waited around for a person to come to me and tell me what to do. I've always taken the bull by the horns and tried to push as hard as I can and make the most of an opportunity. In FCW, I pushed as hard as I could and became Florida heavyweight champion. And when I was given an opportunity in WWE, I ran through ECW and then was given an opportunity on Raw. I just took it and I didn't stop. I think if you cower around in this life especially to do anything… Us Irish, because we're hard and we're grafters we've always had to slog for everything we've got. And I've felt that that attitude has helped me an awful lot. You won't see me waiting around for anything, fella. I'll always work hard. I think if someone worked as hard as me, I'd just work harder. That's my attitude, and I think that's what's made me successful. I just keep pushing and I won't let anybody outdo me, ever.
AC: Another big change in WWE in recent months has been this concentration on new faces. I think about a year ago now, there was definitely a sentiment from fans of "We want to see some new guys. We like Randy Orton. We like John Cena. We like Triple-H. But we've seen them now for a while." And I think there was a clear response to that and sometime in the last quarter of the year you saw a bunch of guys come through the top, and more in recent months. You mentioned yourself, and obviously Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre. A bunch of guys who weren't that much on the radar a few months ago are now headlining shows. What do you think that says about WWE and what do you think about moving in that direction of creating all this new, young talent?
Sheamus: I think it's brilliant. I think it shows that WWE listens to the WWE Universe – the fans. I think that they know that no matter what industry you're in, things change. There's always going to be new people coming in. I think it's created a whole new, fresh era. You saw back when they had "The Next Generation" with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels and Yokozuna was there. Then they did it again in the "Attitude" era. Austin stepped up. The Rock came in. I think every so often the whole climate changes. And right now it's very exciting. I like to think that me becoming the WWE champion so quickly really set the ball rolling for this whole new wave of talent. And there's a lot of exciting talent coming in. Drew McIntyre, myself, Wade Barrett… Of course you've got Bryan Danielson. You've got Kaval, who's on the way in NXT. The son of Mr. Perfect, too, is coming in. It's exciting times, fella. I'm just really happy to be involved at this time. Like I said, all these guys are coming in hungry – just as hungry as I was. That's the whole thing… It keeps the product fresh. It drives the product forward. Every week we're out there, everyone performs 110 percent. Because if we don't, somebody is just going to step over you. So I think it's good for everyone. Everybody wins. The audience wins. The talent wins. And the product itself – the WWE product – wins. So I think it's very exciting.
AC: As far as the product, I think another thing that has changed over the last couple of years now has been moving back to something that is a little more family friendly. Obviously, the content has been toned down. And you hear from some fans who maybe aren't too happy about that. They want their blood and guts and four-letter words. But obviously, you open it up to a whole other market by doing this. As a father of a young kid, I certainly don't mind having a more family friendly product. What do you think of that direction and where do you stand on it?
Sheamus: I think it's fantastic. You go to a live event, Alfonso, you see that the events are packed to the rafters. I've been at pretty much 99 percent of our live events since I became WWE champion. And they're full of kids everywhere wearing John Cena T-shirts, WWE T-shirts, WWE superstar shirts. I mean, to be honest with you, fella, I came in during the PG era, and I think it's fantastic. I was a kid me self watching the product. And I remember the stars, watching as a kid. And I just think it was a good call. The blood thing and all (WWE's no blood policy) that's happened in the past. Been there, done that. But getting back to the kids and it being family oriented. At the end of the day families want to come out, they want to be entertained. I think they're the biggest market. It's such a good thing to get the kids back in. I think it's a great move. Because, again, you go to any live event and the kids make so much noise. I've got nephews and nieces, too, who'll be at the Dublin shows back home. And they won't sleep for three days after the show. They're so excited. It's just, you bring back something for the family and the kids, and the kids walk away happy and overwhelmed and everything. And to me that's a better feeling. So I think it's a step in the right direction.
AC: Do you look at your unique appearance as a benefit of a hindrance? Obviously, you've got some of your colleagues that poke fun sometimes. You definitely look different than anybody I ever remember seeing in WWE. Are there advantages and disadvantages of that?
Sheamus: For a long time in life, being a ginger was a bit of a hindrance. When I started at the independent scene, I was using the fake tanner and stuff and all that. And then I realized, I'm Irish. You've probably seen some of the pictures around. I realized, "What am I doing? I'm trying to look like everybody else, and I'm wasting my time." What I realized was, why look like everybody else? Why not just be me, because I look completely different than anybody. And that's the thing that really helped me get noticed by WWE. And it's really helped me, especially … John Cena called me a "human jar of mayonnaise"… And I see the signs everywhere, like a cardboard cut out Ronald McDonald with a beard a spiked hair, you know. I've seen Casper The Ghost signs. I mean it's the fans and the people like to have a go of me, and that's great, because that's what we're all about – entertainment and having the fans come out and have a good time. The kids always shout at me, "Get a tan!" They're lucky they're on the other side of the barrier. I tell you that, Alfonso. But it's definitely helped me, fella. It's definitely something that's helped stand out and I'm very happy about and comfortable with. I'm very happy I don't look like anybody else, because that's the goal. If you looked like everybody else, then why would people come out and pay to see you?
For the full interview with Sheamus at Newsday.com, click here
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