Ottawa wins over Sheamus as 7,000 fans get star treatment
TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
|Sheamus holds aloft his World Heavyweight title Tuesday night in Ottawa during the Smackdown taping. Photo by Matthew Usherwood, Ottawa Sun/QMI AGENCY
Whenever WWE comes to town, you can count on plenty of physical behaviour, a little comedy relief and some shenanigans.
About 7,000 fans were on hand for Smackdown Tuesday night at Ottawa's Scotiabank Place (the show will air on The Score, Friday at 8 p.m.).
And they got everything they paid for ... and then some.
There were WWE superstars aplenty, including Randy Orton, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Kane and Kofi Kingston.
And then there was the WWE world heavyweight champion, Sheamus, the Celtic Warrior whose belt I got to sling over my shoulder earlier in the day.
Sheamus (real name Stephen Farrelly) is hearing cheers these days. Not so long ago, he was a 6-foot-4, 270-lb. bad guy, a protagonist to the likes of Orton, John Cena and Triple H.
Now, Sheamus, a second-soprano choirboy as a kid, is a "face," a wrestler who doesn't act any less aggressive, but he's having a lot of fun when he steps between the ropes.
"One thing I've noticed, it's weird, with the way I look ... red hair and white skin ... kids have taken a shine to me," he said. "Maybe it got a bit stale, stagnant, where I was as a bad guy. People just started to get behind me. My personality is coming out more and more. I'm all about reactions. As long as I get reactions, that's all that's important to me.
"If people like what I do, if kids want to dye their hair and beards red, that's flattering to see them do that.
"I'm not the most technical, I'm not the biggest guy, I'm not a high flyer, but what I do bring is aggression and intensity and a hard-hitting style. I guess fans like something I'm doing in there."
Sheamus took a liking to Ottawa, greeted by several fans, including a young girl who presented him with a pet rock and a stick, on a media tour Tuesday morning.
"The fans in Canada are great," he said. "They pay their money. They want to be entertained."
He's embracing his stardom, but not tripping on it. He's a contributor out of the ring, a strong supporter and poster boy for WWE's anti-bullying program.
"It's incredible," he said. "I worked the door (in a nightclub). A lot of celebrities would come in. I see people come and go in a flash, pop singers and stuff like that, who got carried away with their fame. They got arrogant and looked down on people. Two months later, they were gone -- one-hit wonders.
"I've learned over the years you have to be humble, you have to be appreciative of what you've got because it could all end tomorrow. You have to be grateful and happy for each day as it comes. A year down the line, I could be working back in IT or doing something else.
"I always treat people the way I expect to be treated. I had an Irish granny and she hammered that into me every day, God rest her soul. Irish grandmothers are the toughest grandmothers you can possibly imagine. She made sure I appreciated everything I got."
As a champion, as a guy who proudly holds the belt high in front of appreciate fans all over the world, Sheamus wants to make his WWE stay memorable.
"You look at John Cena, Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin -- those guys are icons. That's what I want to be. I want to be an icon. I want to be Hall of Famer. I want to be remembered forever. I want to make an impact on WWE.
"It would be cool to know future WWE superstars wanted to be wrestlers because of what they saw Sheamus do in the ring. I want to create a legacy. And I want to have a lot of fun doing it."
Sheamus bio and story archive
Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!
Sheamus orders you to look at his stuff!
Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.