It has been a long nine months away from wrestling. But Sheamus is back and – in his own words – ‘better’ than ever.
The three-time WWE champion was sidelined with a lengthy injury and took some time away from the Smackdown brand to recuperate.
He went to the Rugby World Cup in Japan to cheer on his native Ireland and has enjoyed watching his beloved Liverpool canter towards what will be their first league title in 30 years.
But Sheamus – who makes his official big return at Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view live on BT Sport Box Office – has allayed fears that was set to retired from the squared-cirlcle.
As he prepares to take on Shorty G in Houston, Texas, he insists he still has it all to do in WWE, including winning the one championship that has eluded him: the Intercontinental title.
“I’m really excited,” he said, speaking exclusively to Mirror WWE.
“I feel better now and more equipped now to get back in the ring than I ever have. I even feel like I’m in better shape now than when I first started. I’ve still got a lot to achieve.
“I just know that my mindset going into this now is that I have the Intercontinental title left to win to complete the set. If I do that, I would have held every single championship.
“I just want to get back in the ring and really cement my legacy. I have a lot of stuff left to prove.
“I’m not happy where I’m at right now, despite what I have achieved. Some people say to me, ‘You must be crazy.’ But that’s all in the past and I want to achieve more.”
As for the signature 30-man over-the-top-rope Rumble match itself, it is unlikely Sheamus – the winner in 2012 – will enter.
But just to be competing again is good enough for him – and he credits his burgeoning YouTube channel, Celtic Warrior Workouts, for inspiring his return to the ring.
“I don’t know if I will be in it [the Rumble match] as I haven’t been confirmed yet – but I am looking forward to it,” he said.
“I’m just looking forward to getting back to work. I’ve been off for quite a while. And in the meantime, I’ve worked my a*** off to get myself back in shape. “I’ve got my YouTube channel, Celtic Warrior Workouts, which I’m super passionate about.
“It’s inspiring a lot of people. I read the comments. And it’s unbelievable. In fact, it’s so inspirational to see that it’s helping so many people. That was the aim of the channel. You leave your ego at the door and it’s about brave change.
“Then, of course, being back on Smackdown Live and brogue kicking Shorty G and all the backstage promos… I’m really excited.”
The Irish fighter, meanwhile, admits he would love to get back to his native Dublin more often.
In fact, he say it is one of his goals to do so this year, now that the Smackdown superstar’s working schedule has changed.
But he insists moving to Nashville has brought out the best of him after moving away from the heat of Tampa, Florida.
“I don’t get home enough,” the former WWE champion confessed.
“That’s really the bottom line. Especially being in the States for over 12 years now. It doesn’t feel like a long time but when you get home and see your folks, your sister and everything, it’s nice.
“I need to get home more, man. That’s one of my goals for 2020 to do that. Now with the schedule we have with Smackdown on a Friday, I think I’ve got a better chance of doing that.
“I live in Nashville now. Honky Tonk land! Honestly, it’s grand.
“I lived in Tampa for 10 years and it was just not the right weather for me. It was like, oh man, it’s 100 degrees – the one month that it wasn’t, was December. So it burnt me out a bit.
“But Nashville’s great. It does get hot there in the summer. But you do have the seasons and that’s great.
“At Christmas time, it feels like Christmas, you know what I’m saying. Right now, it’s probably the same temperature there than it is in London. The summers can be a bit mad but then again, everywhere in the States the summers can be a bit mad.”
His long-term thoughts are fixed on Tampa for April, however, which we see WWE’s annual showcase WrestleMania hosted at the Raymond James Stadium, home to NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And when it comes to his 'Mania dream match, he reiterates his goal is to win the title he is yet to hold.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but if it’s for the Intercontinental championship, then that’s what I really want,” says the Liverpool-supporting superstar – who cannot avoid referencing his beloved Reds alongside his own ambitions.
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