WWE: Sheamus sets sights on second Royal Rumble win and first Intercontinental title


Sheamus can never be counted out from picking up a big win when it matters most.

Of the several Superstars who could be considered viable candidates to win the men’s Royal Rumble match this year, Sheamus has to be included in that conversation.

It was 10 years ago to the very day of the 2022 installment in the same city of St. Louis that he won the annual Battle Royal to punch his ticket to WrestleMania. He went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Daniel Bryan in a whopping 18 seconds and cement his status as a certified main event player.

A decade and many more championships later, he still has his sights set on walking out of the Rumble with his hand raised. Whether it’s the WWE Championship he once held, the Universal Championship he’s never held or the Intercontinental Championship he badly wants to hold, he vows to reclaim championship gold sooner rather than later.

Ahead of the Royal Rumble this Saturday night, January 29 on Peacock at 8/7c, Sheamus spoke with Daily DDT about potentially winning his second Rumble, gunning for the Intercontinental title, how he stays motivated at this stage of his decorated career, and more.

Sheamus recalls his first Royal Rumble win 10 years ago

Although he had already been on WWE’s main roster for just over two years by that point, Sheamus hadn’t truly proven himself at an elite level at the time he won the Rumble in 2012.

He already had two runs as WWE champion under his belt by that point, but he gradually fell down the card after each reign was over. It wasn’t until he started endearing himself to the audience that he started to build momentum and become a top star on SmackDown.

“Sometimes it feels like more than 10 years, sometimes it feels like less,” Sheamus said about his first Rumble victory. “I can’t explain it. It was an incredible experience for me. The Royal Rumble was one of my favorite pay-per-views growing up. Obviously, we’ve had a lot of WWE and Universal champions, but very few people can say they’ve had the honor of winning a Royal Rumble. For me to win it in 2012 was incredible.”

He also joked about fans pulling for former WWE competitor Chris Jericho to win the whole thing as he had a ready-made story with CM Punk heading into WrestleMania that year. Despite that, the two had an outstanding finishing sequence that saw Sheamus ultimately emerge victorious.

The four-time WWE world champion had another memorable moment in the Rumble two years later when he returned from injury to a raucous reaction following a six-month hiatus. Like most, he’s a big proponent of keeping things a surprise when it comes to the Rumble.

“I know everybody’s always looking for information and for inside knowledge, but there is a lot to be said about keeping the magic under wraps and finding out as we watch it,” he said. “It’s like going in two weeks before Christmas and opening all the presents and then wrapping them up again. You know what you got. Where’s the crack in that? Where’s the spontaneity in that? Where’s the fun in that? I think too often we have things spoiled for ourselves because we need to know right now. I think the most important thing is to enjoy it and see what happens. You never know what’s coming next.”

Sheamus on his Intercontinental Championship aspirations

The rules of the Royal Rumble have typically stated that you can only challenge for a top title at WrestleMania (or sooner) if you were to win and that includes the WWE Championship, the Universal Championship, the NXT Championship, the Raw Women’s Championship, the SmackDown Women’s Championship, and the NXT Women’s Championship.

However, Sheamus would love to cash in his guaranteed title shot on the Intercontinental Championship instead seeing as how it’s the only piece of hardware of WWE he needs to become the ultimate Grand Slam champion.

“That’s not a bad idea, it’s a great idea,” he said when the possibility was pitched. “I was just thinking about that the other day. It’s the last title I need to become an ultimate Grand Slam champion… I feel like it’s the last thing I need, but it’s the hardest thing to get, which is kind of incredible when you think of everything I’ve won over my career. It’s the one I haven’t been able to get my hands on, but it’s what I want and what I need.”

He feels capturing the championship will cement his legacy and means more to him than the Universal Championship. In fact, he already has a vacancy in his office’s championship collection for when he wins it.

Another thing he’d love to make happen as Intercontinental champion is turning the color of he strap green instead of the traditional black as a nod to his Irish heritage.

“Of course [I’d make the strap green],” he said. “I also love the old school one. Not the white strap thing that was brought back, but the original one that [Ricky] Steamboat wore and [Randy] Savage wore. That’s just an iconic and classic title. I know WWE wants to keep changing the looks of the titles and keep ’em fresh, but I still think there’s a lot of room for nostalgia and that classic look. That and the winged-eagle title are timeless.”

Sheamus closely monitored where the Intercontinental Championship was going to end up in last year’s WWE Draft because he wanted to end up on the same show as the belt unlike in 2020 when he was moved to Raw and it stayed put on SmackDown.

Thankfully, he was brought back to the blue brand in the Draft and that’s where the title remained.

“Honestly, I was just following where that was going to go,” he said. “That’s what I was doing. I wasn’t sure if Damo [Damian Priest] was going to go to SmackDown because he was the U.S. champ and if Shin [Nakamura] was going to go over to Raw. What brand I was going to was based on where that title was going to end up.”

Sheamus on a recent low point in his career, staying motivated and getting his old entrance music back

Having been on both brands many times throughout his 12-year main roster run with WWE, Sheamus can attest to the drastic differences between Raw and SmackDown in terms of how the shows are structured and what the pros and cons are from the standpoint of the Superstars.

He believes the extra hour on Monday nights gives Raw a significant edge as that was why he was afforded as many opportunities as he was. It was where he developed his character and came into his own as the complete performer we see him as today on WWE TV.

Sheamus has been widely considered to be one of the MVPs of WWE during the pandemic for his exceptional in-ring work and stellar series of matches with the likes of Drew McIntyre, Damian Priest, and Jeff Hardy.

Upon his return from injury at the onset of 2020, however, he found himself at a low point in his career. He had just kicked off a feud with Chad Gable (then Shorty G), and although the two consistently made the most of however much time they were given, the program didn’t meet his expectations.

“That was the biggest disappointment for me as well,” he said, referring to their pre-show match at Royal Rumble 2020. “I’m watching what Chad’s doing now and he’s a phenomenal wrestler. His Shorty G character wasn’t who he was. It just didn’t work. I’m glad he got another bite of the cherry. And he’s with Otis, too. They’re the best of mates for years.

“Coming back, after all, that time off and having a match on the pre-show with Gable, there weren’t even that many fans there because there was some issues with tickets,” he continued. “That was another low point for me. Again, these low points are what spur me on to make things right and motivate me. That really lit a fire under me.”

That led him to have some of the best bouts of his career in the empty Performance Center and eventually the ThunderDome. Regardless of the opponent, he revealed he goes into every match thinking nobody knows who he is and that he hasn’t accomplished anything.

That mindset is what keeps him at the top of his game and staying motivated all these years later.

“That is the biggest career killer: If you go out there every week thinking nobody knows who you are or you’ve achieved absolutely nothing, it keeps you driven,” he said. “It keeps you fresh, motivated, and hungry. That’s something that has stayed in my head for years, especially during my time with Cesaro and The Bar and coming back in 2015 with the mohawk before that. That’s the key to keep being successful.”

Of the many memorable matches he’s had over the last two years alone, the Falls Count Anywhere match with Big E from the October 9, 2020 edition of SmackDown is the one he’s most proud of for what they were able to accomplish, adding that some of his favorite matches ever are ones that he’s lost.

“I brought something out of Big E,” Sheamus said. “He has so much personality and is always having a laugh, but it was a scrap and a fight for our lives all over that place. He hit me over the back of my neck with a broom. It wasn’t gimmicked or whatever they say. I remember saying, ‘Jesus, here we go!’ To me, that was the one.”

In addition to urging fans to adopt a pet and proudly representing the Nashville Human Association as a dog lover himself, he wanted to assure the WWE Universe that they will hear “Written In My Face” again on WWE when they least expect it and that it’s been an arduous process getting it back.

“I haven’t given up on it. [The desire to get it back] is still there,” he confirmed. “When I came back, I really wanted to bring that song back and it was shot down. Vince hates it. Some other people didn’t like it or didn’t agree, but it’s very nostalgic and I haven’t given up on it. I guarantee you I will get that song back. I just don’t know when. Nobody’s going to know when, but I will get a chance to get it back… It’s a bit of a strategic measure going on right now as far as when I can get that back. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of it.”

Catch Sheamus at WWE’s Royal Rumble this Saturday, January 29 at 8/7c on Peacock.