By Jonathan Williams
As a former WWE Champion and United States Champion, Sheamus has been one of the fastest rising stars in WWE history. The Irish-born grappler has dominated top tier talents such as John Cena, Randy Orton and, most recently, Christian. But on the Halloween edition of the Raw SuperShow in Atlanta, Sheamus (and the rest of the WWE roster) will face something they’ve never faced before: the Muppets. I recently spoke to Sheamus for a Creative Loafing article about this madcap match-up, but you can read the entire interview here on Wrestling with Pop Culture. You can also listen to Georgia Wrestling Now at 8 p.m. Oct. 30 to hear the full interview and more about the Raw SuperShow featuring the Muppets.
Obviously you came up in Europe as far as your wrestling background goes, but you have had some pretty important moments in your career in Atlanta. First, at the Royal Rumble last year you had a successful WWE title defense against Randy Orton. Then this year at WrestleMania you defended the U.S. title successfully against Daniel Bryan.
Atlanta is somewhere that I travel through an awful lot, actually. I fly from Tampa, so I always know that Atlanta goes wherever I need to go. Of course, a lot of superstars live in Atlanta, and past superstars like Fit Finlay, are from Atlanta as well. So it’s up the road, but if feels like a local town.
Is there anything that sticks out to you about your matches in Atlanta or coming to Georgia?
The Royal Rumble was very special for me just because I hadn’t been on the road very long. I think it was my third pay-per-view and it was a very unique match. That was, I think, really when Randy Orton started getting real positive feedback from the crowd. Randy had been getting a lot of negative response from the crowd, especially during his feuds with Triple H and Cena. But I remember being in there and the whole Atlanta crowd started chanting, “RKO! RKO!” It was special to me because it gave me a chance to go against a competitor like Randy Orton when he was getting his first positive response. It was pretty cool to know they hated me that much.
Of course, the local guy Cody Rhodes got involved in that match, too.
Yeah, he jumped up there to get a cheap shot at me.
Things have changed quite a bit for you. Like you said, in that match you were clearly not the fan favorite. Coming back for Raw on Halloween, do you know yet what your match will be?
No. We don’t really know until we get to the building. Sometimes we have advertised main events on Raw, and there’s always the dark match that goes on after the show goes off the air. It is a Raw/SmackDown SuperShow and I was on Raw for a long time. Actually, my career started on Raw, then I was traded to SmackDown. I’m a workaholic, I like to do as much as I can. Careers don’t last forever, so I like to do what I can. And the Muppets are going to be there. I’ve been a big fan of the Muppets since I was three years old, so I’m very excited about that. Even Beaker’s going to be there, so maybe Sheamus and Beaker can tag team together. Who knows? It’s going to keep everyone on their toes, including the superstars.
I was going to ask if you know how the Muppets thing is going to work. And it’s on Halloween, so that throws another whole element into the mix. Of course I’ve thought about the Miz and Kermit, Vickie Guerrero and Miss Piggy, but I hadn’t even thought of you and Beaker teaming up.
You’re on the ball, fella. I actually forgot that the Miz looks like Kermit. Kermit’s better looking, though. Miss Piggy and Vickie is a great one, too. I don’t know who Animal would be with. Maybe John Cena. But I definitely hope me and Beaker run into each other during the show. There’s so much variety, especially with them hosting the show. It’s fun to keep things fresh and mix it up. With some of the Muppets and WWE superstars, it could be super chaos in the form of entertainment.
Were the Muppets big in Ireland when you were growing up? Did you see them as much as we saw them here?
I’ll put it this way, me and all me mates, when we were in kindergarten and grade school, the Muppets sold duvet covers, posters, school bags, it was everywhere. Muppets was as big in Ireland and the U.K. as it was in America. There was Muppetmania all over the globe.
What would Sheamus normally be doing on Halloween if it wasn’t the Muppets hosting Raw?
I’m just a normal fella sporting a beautiful Irish tan and spikier hair. I love this time of year, fella, because I don’t have to wear sunscreen all the time. It’s my favorite time of year when the sun goes away, the days get shorter and I can walk around Florida in T-shirts and shorts when everyone else is covering up. During the summer I’m covering up while everyone else is wearing T-shirts and shorts. But this Halloween, Sheamus will be making Christian’s life a misery. If I can keep doing that, I’ll be a happy man.
I know you’ve been a big part of WWE’s anti-bullying campaign, but it wasn’t that long ago that you were one of WWE’s bigger bullies. Why have you had the change of heart over the last few months?
The first thing about it is, we’re global entertainment and what we do onscreen and what we do away from screen is not exactly the same. We are real people and a lot of what happens on television isn’t exactly the same as what happens away from the screen. Our biggest audience is kids and families and we’re trying to give them a positive message to let the kids know that bullying is wrong. We want kids who are getting bullied to talk to adults and talk to teachers, trust them and let them know what’s happening. We believe we have a responsibility as superstars with the voice that we have across the world.
As far me and my character, after I got in that feud with Mark Henry, I think my character has just relaxed a lot more. I felt I had something to prove or felt that the world was against me for a long time there, but now I’m just enjoying the crowd, enjoying the experience, enjoying being on television every week and looking forward to being back in Atlanta on Halloween night with the Muppets at the Raw/SmackDown SuperShow.
Raw SuperShow. $24-$93.05. 8:15 p.m. Oct. 31. (also on the USA Network at 9 p.m.). Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive, Atlanta, Ga. 404-878-3800, www.wwe.com.