By Royal appointment
Irish star looks ahead to his big match at WrestleMania
Last Updated: 01/02/12 1:25pm
In 2011, WWE Superstar Sheamus was denied one of the biggest moments of his life when his match at WrestleMania was dropped at the last minute.
But this year the Irish warrior will finally get his chance in the spotlight after winning the Royal Rumble and booking himself a Championship match at WrestleMania.
Barely 48 hours after the Royal Rumble, the former WWE Champion spoke exclusively to skysports.com about one of the most significant triumphs of his career.
The big question is whether he will now go after the WWE Championship, currently held by CM Punk, or the World Heavyweight Championship, held by Daniel Bryan?
But as you'll see, a still-buzzing Sheamus wasn't giving much away about his 'Mania plans...
The Royal Rumble is one of the most prestigious events in professional wrestling. How did it feel to throw Chris Jericho over the top rope and win the match?
SHEAMUS: To be honest with you, when Jericho hit the deck I can't really explain how I felt. This is something I've wanted my entire life, it's a dream of mine that I've had ever since I was a kid and it still hasn't really sunk in. There were a lot of emotions running through me.
What meant more to you, winning the WWE Championship or winning the Royal Rumble?
SHEAMUS: When I won the WWE Championship against John Cena at TLC in 2009, that was incredible, too. I was standing in the ring with the title and everything was so surreal, but Sunday night was, for me, even bigger. I can't explain it, but all I can say is right now I'm the happiest man ever.
So was this the biggest victory of your career?
SHEAMUS: It was huge. There's not many people that have won the Royal Rumble and there's everything that comes with it. WrestleMania XXVIII is around the corner and it's probably going to be the biggest WrestleMania of all time with Cena and The Rock headlining. To know that I'm going to be in there now with a main-event match is just incredible.
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Everyone wants to know who you'll be facing at WrestleMania. Can you give us a clue?
SHEAMUS: Ha! Not a chance. There's no way I'm letting that one out of the bag. I've got plenty of time between now and WrestleMania to decide which title I want to go after. There's also a huge pay-per-view coming up called the Elimination Chamber and both Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are going to be in there with their titles. They may not be champions by the time WrestleMania rolls around, so I'm going to wait and see. Take it to the wire and keep everyone guessing. That's another thing that will make me happy.
Can you give us a timescale on when you might let it out of the bag?
SHEAMUS: After Elimination Chamber, fella. I'll let you know then what's going on. You've only got a couple more weeks to worry about it. Sorry Sky Sports!
Which belt holds more prestige in your eyes, the World Heavyweight Championship or the WWE Championship?
SHEAMUS: To be honest with you, I think both titles are huge. The World Heavyweight Championship holds the prestige that goes back to the days of people like Ric Flair and the WWE Championship is something special and I've held that twice. To hold either Championship would be a huge honour for me and a huge achievement and, to be honest with you, I've no preference between one and the other. To me there is no second-class championship and both of them are equal. Both have prestige, both have a wealth of legends behind them. I know you're asking me the question to try and get me to tell you which title I'm going after, but I'm not telling you! I'm not giving anything away!
You were scheduled to face Daniel Bryan at last year's WrestleMania, but it was left off the main show at the last minute and was only shown online. Did that upset you?
SHEAMUS: Absolutely. I've had some incredible ups and incredible downs in such a short time. I remember being excited about that match with Daniel because we knew that we could tear it up and have a match like nobody else. We were young Superstars ready to go out there and do what it takes, so when we found out it was going to be a dark match it was definitely a real kick in the gut. This was the big moment that we'd worked hard all year for. We work hard anyway, but WrestleMania is the moment to go out there and become legends - or try and become legends. When we were told it was huge disappointment to us.
That must have been a real blow for both of you?
SHEAMUS: I remember being at Axxess [a fans' event in the build-up to WrestleMania] before and people were telling us they were here to see the match and had travelled from all over Europe and all over the world to see me and Bryan. Then it got pulled and became a big fiasco lumberjacks / battle royale match. But in the WWE from one year to the next anything can happen and from there last year to being in a main event match at WrestleMania is just unbelievable.
Would it be nice, theoretically, to face Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania and put that right?
SHEAMUS: It would be great to go in with Daniel Bryan, especially after what happened last year, for one of the biggest prizes in the game. But also Punk has been on an incredible high, too. I think I had a really stellar second half of 2011 and Punk's been on fire as well. I'd love to take on Punk; it's a match that's never happened before, a match that nobody's ever seen, so either one would be a great attraction.
You took part in WrestleMania in 2010. What's it like being in that ring on the biggest stage in your industry?
SHEAMUS: It's surreal. I use that word a lot - and I have since winning the Rumble - but I remember walking out there against Triple H and I looked around the arena. I've done city arenas with 20,000 people all over the world, but when you walk out there in front of 80,000 people the noise and atmosphere hits you all at once. I won't lie, when I walked out there I thought my knees were going to buckle. It's something I have never experienced before and I don't think many people have. It's the best feeling in the world.
The one match that is confirmed is John Cena vs the Rock. Is there pressure on the other guys to live up to that one?
SHEAMUS: I think there's pressure on them to live up to the hype. People are saying it's going to be the biggest WrestleMania ever and I agree. The Rock is coming back and there's two different generations on top of their game. I think the pressure's on them.
Can your match be as good as theirs? Can you steal some of their thunder?
SHEAMUS: Everybody at WrestleMania wants to steal the show. Whether it's Punk or Bryan or somebody else, whoever wins the Elimination Chamber match, I know that we can go out there and tear it up. It would be great to go out and put on the best show on the night. I want people to walk away from WrestleMania XVIII saying 'we went to see Cena and the Rock, but man, that match Sheamus was in was the best match of the show.' That's what I want to do.
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The WWE will be touring the UK and Ireland shortly after WrestleMania. What would it mean to you to win the belt and bring it back to where it all started for you?
SHEAMUS: That would be incredible. There's two dates in Ireland, Dublin and Belfast, and to walk in there as World Heavyweight Champion would just be unbelievable. I used to work security at the O2 Arena just to watch the shows. I'd work during the day, too, and watch them in the ring to try and get more information about how they train. I spent a lot of time in England, learning my craft in All-Star Wrestling working with legends like Robbie Brookside. To go back to the UK, somewhere I learned my craft, as the World Heavyweight Champion, would just be an incredible feeling and an incredible thing to do.
So have you already peaked for 2012 or can it get even better from here?
SHEAMUS: Haha! Definitely not. I really hope I haven't peaked at the Royal Rumble! I hope this is only the start of one of the most incredible years of my life. It's going to be massive for me.