WWE star Sheamus talks Money in the Bank, Raw's historical highlights and Ireland's Euro 2012 woes.
Last Updated: 11/07/12 10:15am
Irish eyes really are smiling on WWE Superstar Sheamus.
The Dublin-born fighter won the Royal Rumble match in January and the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania and is currently in the midst of an unbroken three-and-a-half-month reign with the much-vaunted belt.
Sheamus will defend his strap against Alberto Del Rio at July's Money in the Bank pay-per-view and he told skysports.com how he plans to keep his title away from the Mexican Aristocrat.
While the Great White attends to his business in Phoenix, Arizona's US Airways Center, a host of WWE's finest will lock horns in the hotly-anticipated Money in the Bank Ladder Matches, with each wrestler involved hoping to pluck the briefcase containing a contract for a guaranteed title shot.
SmackDown superstar Sheamus has prior experience of the contest and revealed how brutal the multi-man bout can be, while with WWE's flagship programme, Monday Night Raw hitting the 1,000 episode mark in a few weeks' time, the grappler recalled some of his favourite moments from the show's history.
And as a big football fan, the Irishman also gave a frank assessment of his countrymen's showing at Euro 2012. Let's just say he wasn't too impressed...
Hi Sheamus, you will put your World Heavyweight Championship on the line at Money in the Bank against Alberto Del Rio. Are you looking forward to the match?
SHEAMUS: I sure am. This match has been put off the last two times; firstly it was made a Fatal Four Way with Randy Orton and Chris Jericho and then Del Rio got concussed against The Great Khali and I faced Dolph Ziggler instead. So I am looking forward to tearing it up with Alberto as we are both fairly new to the WWE and have had a lot of success in a short space of time. But after he jammed my head in the trunk of a Rolls Royce on last Tuesday's Super SmackDown I am looking forward to bringing the fight to this fella and kicking his head off.
What sort of contest are you expecting against Del Rio?
SHEAMUS: Alberto is very tricky and is a skilled technician. He has got years of experience behind him from his days in Mexico and the arm breaker he has can be absolutely lethal and has won him a lot of matches. I am going to have to be aware of that as well as his nasty streak, while his movement for a big guy is pretty good, too. He will also have his ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez skimming around ringside so I am going to have to keep my wits about me. But I am champion and I expect to have to overcome all sorts of obstacles to keep my title.
Do you relish the expectation that being champion brings?
SHEAMUS: As champion there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and every time you go out there you have to prove why you're champion. I was drafted to SmackDown last year after being in limbo on Raw and missing out on a match at WrestleMania 27 and since I've been on the blue brand I have had a new lease of life. I won the Royal Rumble, became World Heavyweight Champion in 18 seconds at WrestleMania and it's up to me to make sure I keep bringing it. I can't rest on my laurels, whether it's a SmackDown main event, a pay-per-view or a non-televised live show, I've got to go out there and put on the best show I can.
You burst on the scene in 2009 and swiftly won the WWE Title? What have you learnt and how have you improved since then?
SHEAMUS: When I became WWE champion I was brand new. I was star-struck and I was a little out of my depth, if I'm being honest. I was thrown in at the deep end in a case of sink or swim. It worked out alright but there were times when I was WWE Champion that I didn't feel that comfortable. It is now three years since I debuted in ECW and the amount I've matured in that time has been incredible. I am more relaxed in the ring, I love performing and I'm not worried about certain things. I'm not pretending to be someone else up there, I'm just being me, albeit with the volume cranked up, and I think that's the trick. I don't think people buy it when you're playing a character but the crowds relate to me because I'm just a guy going out there and having fun.
Can you describe how you felt after winning the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 28?
SHEAMUS: It was an incredible feeling and made all the more special by the fact my family were in the front row. I would have liked the match to last longer than 18 seconds but I knew Daniel Bryan would do anything and everything to walk out of 'Mania as champion, so I couldn't take that risk. As soon as he turned his back on me to kiss [his ex-girlfriend] AJ, I saw my opportunity and knocked him out with the Brogue Kick and became World Heavyweight Champion. We showed at [the following pay-per-view] Extreme Rules that we can have a great match, but the night of 'Mania was all about the moment and it was a great buzz becoming champion on the biggest stage of them all.
There will be two Money in the Bank Ladder Matches at the next pay-per-view. What is it like to compete in one?
SHEAMUS: Your body takes a real pounding in that match. I was choke slammed off a ladder when I was in the bout in 2011 and when there is steel involved and you fall from a great height, it's an awful lot of punishment to take. But it's worth it because the prize - a contract for a guaranteed title shot anytime, anywhere - is so great. I wasn't the same for a couple of weeks after my ladder match appearance and that's why we make such a big thing of telling the people at home not to try what we do.
You could face the winner of the World Heavyweight Title Ladder Match, which features Santino Marella, Christian, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd, Damien Sandow and Tensai? Which of those eight would you most like to combat?
SHEAMUS: There are a lot of talented guys in that match but I would love to face Tensai. I faced him on Raw in Hartford, Connecticut, a few weeks ago and it was one of the most physical fights I have ever been in; he had bruises all over his stomach, while my nose got busted open and my whole face looked swollen from the amount of punches I took. The crowd were so into it and a match between me and Tensai for the World Heavyweight Title would be a brutal.
Raw celebrates its 1,000th episode on July 23rd. What moments from the show's history do you remember most fondly?
SHEAMUS: There have been a lot of great moments, especially with D-Generation X and Bret Hart. I also loved it when Stone Cold Steve Austin drove his beer truck into the arena and fired beer at Vince McMahon as it was so creative and so new. I liked it when Triple H came back at Madison Square Garden in 2002 after recovering from a severe quad injury; the reaction was so electric. I've never heard anything so loud in my life; the speaker in my TV nearly blew up. Raw during the aftermath of the Montreal Screw Job was exciting, too, and was when WWE became more unpredictable and more edgy.
At the 1,000th Raw, Brock Lesnar will reveal whether he will accept Triple H's challenge for a match at SummerSlam. Is that a bout you'd like to see?
SHEAMUS: Definitely. People forget how physical Triple H is; he is a proper fighter and when we matched up at WrestleMania and Extreme Rules in 2010 we had all-out brawls. They weren't the most technical or acrobatic matches but they were old-school fights. Brock Lesnar is similarly physical to us and has a big reputation, having been UFC world heavyweight champion and engaging in that brutal match with John Cena at this year's Extreme Rules event. If Lesnar and Triple H do have a match at SummerSlam it will be one hell of fight - and I have no idea who would win. Brock is in prime condition, but Triple H is a veteran who has been in every type of match you can think of and faced every big name you can think of. This would be a great match to see at SummerSlam and I really hope it happens as it will be a fight for the ages.
And finally, did you catch much of Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign?
SHEAMUS: Yes, it was a disaster! I thought they would do a lot better than they did, but due to a few goalkeeping errors from the usually-reliable Shay Given and the team not really performing we finished bottom of our group and went out early. Damien Duff did as best as he could but Robbie Keane never really stepped up and it was hard watching it. I watched the glory days when Jack Charlton was in charge and this current team are nowhere near the class that we have had before. Having said that, however well we had played I doubt we could have kept up with Spain, who are just in a different league as they proved when they dismantled Italy in the final. Their team is half Barcelona, half Real Madrid - probably the two best club teams in the world - and I think it will be a while before they are knocked off their perch.
Don't miss WWE Money in the Bank, 1am, Sunday, July 15 (Mon), live on Sky Sports 2 HD.