It was a decade ago Sheamus punched his ticket to WrestleMania by winning the 2012 Royal Rumble. This year one of the most decorated superstars in WWE looks to repeat history in the same host city of St. Louis. The “Celtic Warrior” and 29 others will participate in the men’s match including Jackass’ Johnny Knoxville.
Each participant enters in time intervals. Eliminations take place by sending opponents over the top rope with both feet hitting the floor. The last one standing earns a title shot in the main event of WrestleMania 38. Here Sheamus revisits his past Rumble victory and talks about potentially having the opportunity to come full circle.
It’s crazy to think 10 years ago you won the Royal Rumble. What do you remember about that day?
Sheamus: I was going into the biggest moment in my career, and I woke up with a stye in my eye. It was the most stressful thing ever. It threw me off for most of the day. I tried to use a hot rag. It didn’t start out too good, but the match went great. I had the thing with [Chris] Jericho at the end where it went a couple of minutes. It was a great ending. I’ve won multiple championships, but not many people can say they won the Royal Rumble. To me, in the grand scheme of things, becoming a Royal Rumble winner is the hardest thing to do.
I think what made it even more meaningful was the fact you were a fairly new talent. Having you win definitely showed the company saw a lot in you long-term.
In our business, it’s a rollercoaster. For talent coming in, I remind them that it’s not plain sailing. There are a lot of ups and downs. Anyone that looks at my career, this is what it has been. I worked my ass off to get back on top. You find yourself working 10 times harder than you did, in the beginning, to keep yourself relevant, fresh, and involved in as many major storylines as possible. It has been an incredible journey for me. I let new talent know it’s not a race, it’s a journey. You have to stay the course and work your ass off. Don’t get complacent. Here we are, and I feel the best in that ring.
Having been through so much, what do you make of the current landscape of WWE today? Do you think the way the company looks at talent and its business model has changed?
When I moved out from Ireland to FCW [WWE developmental Florida Championship Wrestling], it was a huge thing for me. I was working in IT. I had a really good job. I basically quit the job and went there for $500 a week. It seemed crazy, but this is what I wanted to do. I was only there a week, and there were cuts of six or seven people. It threw me back. It has kind of always been that way. There was a time where there were a lot of talents coming in, and talents weren’t being released. I think over the last year or two people have been coming and going. Since I started a lot of talent has also come back. Drew [McIntyre] and Jinder [Mahal] for example.
You just have to stay focused. A lot of those decisions are out of my control. I think for the guys and girls that are there, we just get on it. We’re passionate about what we do and love what we do and perform every week. There will be a time I’m not there. It’s the way the business works since the beginning. There is always a new crop of talent hungry and ready to come in. For me, my thing is to be hungrier and more focused than anybody else. You have to kill it every single day and stay sharp.
WWE has entrusted you to help emerging talent over the years like Ridge Holland. How does it feel to be in that role as a veteran?
I’m a firm believer in helping talent. I’ve never been one of these people worried about my spot or what if he comes in and becomes more popular than me. I’ve done a lot. There is one thing I haven’t done, which is winning the IC [Intercontinental] title. Something on my radar right now. I will say I’ve been doing that a lot—working with young guys. I think there is a lot of great potential in Ridge. He has such explosive power and speed. He looks the part. He is from England, so now there is another person to get behind. I want to help him in any way I can. That’s my role, and I enjoy it.
I was in the ring with Rick Boogs a couple of weeks ago on live events, and I enjoyed it. The first night wasn’t great. The second night in Boston I had a lot of ideas to help make his performance better, and what would suit him. I’m not only thinking about myself but the guys I’m in the ring with. That’s the way it should be with everyone. [William] Regal did that for me. I got to work with Batista, John Cena, Triple H. They were always helpful to me…I want to do what I was taught, especially the ones that want the help and are passionate. I enjoy that part of the process as much as doing my own thing in the ring. I feel like I’m in a great place and spot.
What would it mean for you to win this year’s, Royal Rumble? A day after your birthday no less.
I’m going in to win it. There is no doubt about that. It has been 10 years. I only realized a couple of weeks ago it was the same city, the same day. All the stars are aligned. I think right now I’m better than I was in 2012 in in-ring ability. I’m looking forward to seeing who I’m gonna throw over the top rope and how far.
You have an interesting name in the Royal Rumble this year: Johnny Knoxville.
I’d love to get Johnny Knoxville and see how far I can throw him over the top rope. Maybe him and Sami Zayn. That fella never shuts up. It would be great to eliminate as many people as possible. There are a lot of records in the Rumble that are there to be broken.
WWE Royal Rumble, January 29, 8/7c, Peacock, and Pay-Per-View
WWE SmackDown, Fridays, 8/7c, Fox