The Sheamus Interview Part 2: Vince McMahon criticised my handshake when we first met

He prefers a firm grip.

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You don’t need to be slammed on your head to understand that we are lucky enough to have WWE superstar Sheamus on board with us for Paddy’s Japan Slam and we were lucky enough to have an extended chat with the big man before he headed off to Japan.

The latest piece in our series charts the Celtic Warrior’s debut in the WWE, the importance of his character to him and what it was like to meet the great Vince McMahon himself got the first time.

Sheamus got his start very late in the run of the universally panned reincarnation of ECW in 2009, but the star of Celtic Warrior Workouts made the most of it and feels there are similarities between that ECW and the current NXT development promotion the WWE uses.

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“ECW then was kind of like where NXT is now,” said Sheamus.

“It was definitely helpful for me though. ECW was taped most of the time back then, but the episode I debuted on was on the West coast and it was live.

So, my first TV match was live and I was just f**king sh**ting myself.

“Because this is your first impression and you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

“The fella I was in there with, Oliver John was really, really good. He took my moves-set awesome and he was just cool. Once I got it done there was a huge sigh of relief.

“I must have watched the match back about 50 times on YouTube afterwards thinking: ‘geeze, I debuted in WWE’, it was really cool.”

Despite mentioning Fit Finlay as a mentor and a friend, Sheamus felt the need to differentiate himself from the type of Irish character Finlay was playing at the time and forge ahead with a different kind of Irish persona than what American audiences were used to.

“It was important to me to be different from Fit, I mean there was no point in doing the same thing,” said the three-time WWE champion.

“The Celtic warrior and Irish mythology, it was none of the stuff that Fit was doing. It was more like being proud of my Celtic and Irish heritage and pulling from folklore and the Irish mythology that we have.

“That was super important, to be two completely different characters, even though they’re both from Ireland. Fit was definitely focused – especially with Hornswoggle – to what Americans thought of Irish people were. I went a different route altogether.”

Starting on the ECW brand Sheamus quickly struck up a rivalry with veteran campaigner Goldust and he feels it was that series of matches that led him to make it to the WWE’s flagship show Monday Night Raw so quickly.

“Goldust was literally one of my favourite feuds,” said Sheamus.

We knocked the s**t out of each other every Tuesday.

“Goldust wasn’t doing anything at the time, so the matches put Goldust, and then put me on the map. He had this new-found motivation in the ring after them too.

“We had actually a main event at ECW after a just couple of weeks, and then that just brought me to everybody’s attention. Raw has just finished off a feud with Randy (Orton) and John (Cena). They had like 700 matches or something on TV, people were just done with that feud altogether, they were sick of it.

“Then they were looking to bring new blood in for Raw. That was like me, (Jack) Swagger and Kofi (Kingston). Then the Breakthrough Battle Royal and all of a sudden, I’m in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at TLC.”

Before making your debut in WWE, you first have to meet the boss Vince McMahon. For Sheamus that big moment came in London of all places and it turned out to be a strange encounter.

“It’s very surreal meeting Vince for the first time, it can be quite intimidating actually going in there to see him. The first time, we were in London and when I shook his hand, he pulled back and said, ‘give me a proper handshake’.

“So, I grabbed his hand and he goes, ‘that’s more like it’. That was the only interaction we had that day, I was like geeze, what happened there?

“I met Vince again before I debuted. I had the meeting with him and he just gave me a pep talk, told me what he expected of me and what he expects of anybody who comes up on a roster.

He has definitely got this aura about him and until you get to know him he can be quite intimidating.

“But, once you get to know Vince he’s grand!”

* You can check out Sheamus and his Celtic Warrior Workouts here and we’ll have more from the big man next week in part 3 of our interviews.

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