Sheamus is ready for WWE fans to return for (safe) live-action entertainment

Highlights 01 March 2021

WWE superstar Sheamus talks about ThunderDome, COVID tests and why fans are so important for adrenaline action in the ring

When it comes to WWE fame, Irish-born Sheamus is at the top of the game on SuperSport (DStv channel 236). He might’ve “only” spent 6 minutes in the Royal Rumble ring at the end of January (and it took the behemoth Braun Strowman to throw him out), but Sheamus always gives it his all in the WWE ring. “There is absolutely no doubt that I go in there 100%. Every match. No match is any different in terms of what I do. I want to win. That’s what I know. I give it my all in fights,” says the 43-year-old WWE star whose real name is Stephen Farrelly.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, especially for live sporting events, but Sheamus and his WWE co-stars are making sure that they’re putting on a show for the viewers at home. And with pay-per-view events like Fastlane and WrestleMania 37 coming up in March and April, there’s no better time than now to get in touch with your WWE wild side…

Rewatch the 2021 WWE Royal Rumble on Catch Up here

New house rules

You’ve gone from travelling to stadiums across the world to working in the same arena week in and week out. Is that different?

Sheamus: Working in the WWE ThunderDome is definitely different (to having a live audience) and going to a new setup each week. It’s a whole new ballgame. Not just for us, but for every sport across the board. We’re all feeling it. One thing I really miss is the adrenaline from the crowd, it carries you through anything and everything. You can really see that with football matches (in the UK)… or soccer as they call it here. At certain times in a match, the adrenaline from the crowd will pump the guys up, we’re definitely missing them (the audience). There are some pumped-through crowd noises (played through speakers) like with every other sport, but we don’t really hear them that much. It’s more for the people watching at home.

ThunderDome has video screens with fans watching the matches… but that’s still not live like you’re used to.

Sheamus: It’s trickier trying to get your own adrenaline up when you don’t have thousands of fans screaming. That has actually maybe suited me a little more because when I wrestle and I fight, I try to bring my own aggression on my opponent, and that and my adrenaline carries me through. We’ve been in this (COVID-19 restrictions) so long that it’s becoming sort of the norm. When we go back to a crowd, man, that’s going to be so weird. We are so out of that loop (of having a crowd). I think every sport, every athlete feels that way. In saying that, with the screens in ThunderDome, that’s the closest we’ll have to a live crowd for some time until we’re back in a major arena.

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What were your first thoughts of ThunderDome?

Sheamus: We’ve been in this for some time now, so when we first walked into ThunderDome, we were all like, “This is awesome!” It’s the norm now, every week in the same arena, going into the ring. But it’s still a sight to behold. We go in, get tested – we get tested for COVID-19 probably more than any other sport in the world (twice a week at least) – and ThunderDome is our home, it’s the norm. It’s an incredibly impressive setup and it’s sad that our fans can’t experience that right now. I think that does carry through though – our viewers get to see something amazing and incredible and that's what ThunderDome is. It’s what you expect from a WWE show.

The wrestler’s life is on the road, so it must be odd working only in Orlando, Florida, for the last year rather than flying across the country each week?

Sheamus: The irony of working only in ThunderDome in Florida is that I now live in Nashville, Tennessee. I lived in Florida for 10 years and now we’re down there every week. I’m still flying every week (from Nashville to Florida, then home again). What I really miss is getting to see my family back in Ireland. I haven’t seen them in over a year now (due to bans on international travel) and the hard lockdowns in Ireland. I’m lucky that I’ve got everything at home, I’ve got my own bar, so I’m all set up here. But the family thing is the hardest for me. Being home a lot more is great, but there are a lot of drawbacks to that too. You have to make the most of what you’ve got because this is a global situation.

Ready to rumble

How do you get ready to go into the ring knowing there aren’t live fans?

Sheamus: I miss my steak dinners down at the pub with my friends, having a good time. COVID-19, you know, it’s changed a lot of the way things happen in the world. It doesn’t matter where you wrestle, as a WWE Superstar, every time you get in the ring, be it Royal Rumble, Raw, SmackDown, another pay-per-view special, you always go into the match to win. That’s what we’re here to do – compete at the highest level and win. We are professionals so, you know, we don’t have to psyche ourselves up. We do what we do.

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Royal Rumble is unique, with the 30 wrestlers coming in at intervals. How do you prepare for that? And is it different to another pay-per-view?

Sheamus: One of the things that sets the Royal Rumble apart from upcoming pay-per-views like WrestleMania is that you can either have a hard night’s work or an easy night, depending where you’re drawn. You find out the day of (the Royal Rumble) where you’re drawn for the event. And don’t believe it when people go on about “preparation” for the Rumble. You can only prepare yourself because you don’t know what other people’s numbers are. It’s not like you can work out a game plan to work with any specific person (in the Rumble) – you go in, do your thing and hang on and hope for the best. Obviously, if you’re in there earlier, you don’t want to go in there and use up all your energy too early. It’s like a CrossFit workout – you figure out what exercises you’re going to do and you do them in a sequence that works best for you. You don’t just walk in and go wild. I made a mistake with doing CrossFit with (WWE Superstar) Seth Rollins once. He laughed when I got on the bike and went hard as quick as I could. By the third round, I was dead. You have to gauge your energy and be smart.

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Are you not entertained?

What do you say to people who fob off WWE as being fake entertainment?

Sheamus: People need entertainment. There’s only so much TV you can watch. There are only so many shows you can stream. People say wrestling is fake. I prefer to reword it as “predetermined outcome” – if you watch any of my matches, there’s nothing fake about it. Neck injuries, shoulder injuries, bad concussions… I’ve had worse injuries doing this (WWE wrestling) than I had playing rugby. Yes, the virus slowed us down, but we made a stand and said “We’re gonna trudge on” and give people entertainment. Because that’s what people want and need. You’d go crazy stuck at home with nothing to take your mind off current life. We were back before everyone in sports – MLB, NBA, NFL, Premiership football, they all followed our lead. We obviously work under a lot of precautionary measures, medical work – getting tested all the time. That’s what we (the WWE) do. It’ll be great until the fans come back and even better when they do.

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And what is your entertainment fix?

Sheamus: I’ve got into NFL a lot over the past 2 years. When I first got here (to America), I was very against it. Now I love it, I love (college team Notre Dame) and I went to a Tennessee Titans game a while ago, they had a limited crowd. I was into football – the Premiership (I’m a Liverpool supporter), German Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, definitely Celtic in the Scottish league. I’ve seen a lot of comments on Twitter about people moaning because I follow so many clubs, but I just love sport. I also watch Bohs, my hometown team Bohemian FC from Cabra in Dublin. I finished (watching) Netflix about a month ago. So sport keeps me going.

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Watch WWE matches on SuperSport WWE (DStv channel 236) and get more on Catch Up including pay-per-view specials like Royal Rumble and documentaries like Undertaker: The Last Ride.

Watch SuperSport WWE  Watch Royal Rumble Watch Undertaker: The Last Ride

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