Entertainment

Sheamus is riding the wave

More than two years have passed since Sheamus made a surprising run to the top of WWE, becoming one of the company's most anonymous world champions.

It doesn't seem like that long to the Irish professional wrestler. Having now established a foothold of respectability with several notable achievements in the last two years, Sheamus hasn't yet come down from the thrill of his first few months.

Sheamus will perform Tuesday at Intrust Bank Arena when WWE brings its SmackDown television show to Wichita. The show, usually recorded for broadcast on Friday nights, will air live on SyFy on Tuesday night before running again in its usual timeslot.

"I'm riding the wave, big time," said Sheamus, whose real name is Stephen Farrelly, in a telephone interview last week. "To me, I've got the best job in the world. Every time I get the chance to perform in front of a live crowd, it's a blessing for me."

The path Farrelly took from odd jobs in Ireland to wrestling overseas to earning a spot with WWE's developmental territory was much longer than the one he took from relative obscurity within WWE to becoming the company's champion.

Farrelly wrestled in Europe for several years before earning a tryout with WWE in 2006. After a stint in Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE's developmental organization, Sheamus debuted on WWE television in June 2009.

Less than six months later, Sheamus was WWE champion after beating the company's biggest star, John Cena, in a pay-per-view match.

"I came in like a blaze of fire," Farrelly said, partially in character. "I wasn't going to wait in line like everyone else and wait for my opportunity and such. I was there to make a statement. I was there to be successful, and I wasn't going to waste time."

Sheamus' rise to stardom happened as he was adjusting to living in a new country and working for a worldwide company. He wasn't green or inexperienced, debuting on television at age 31, but he wasn't as sure of himself as the cocky, bad-guy character he portrayed, either.

"It was a big, big culture shock for me," Farrelly said. "Living in a different country and not having family there, it was a culture shock. I had to re-learn a lot of stuff to get my style down and hone my style and my craft. It was a huge learning curve for me, but after the first eight months, I reckon I was rocking. I was on a roll, and I haven't stopped since."

Farrelly, now 33, found comfort in the advice and tutelage of WWE road agents and former performers such as Arn Anderson and Fit Finlay, and by developing a relationship with established superstars Triple H and William Regal.

"Once you show the drive and the patience, they're there every step of the way with you," Farrelly said. "Those guys have been very successful in their careers. They were helping me avoid the mistakes they made to get to the top."

Sheamus, nicknamed the Celtic Warrior, is now a two-time WWE champion, and last year he won a one-night, eight-man tournament to become the King of the Ring.

He's one of several international superstars, including WWE champion Alberto Del Rio and co-tag-team champion Kofi Kingston (Ghana). Sheamus, performing as a good-guy character for the first time, has become a known commodity in WWE and is no longer toiling in anonymity.

"As long as I possibly can do it, I will," Farrelly said. "This is all I want to do, it's all I've ever wanted to do."

If you go

WWE SmackDown

What: WWE SmackDown live television taping featuring superstars such as Randy Or-ton, Sheamus, Mark Henry and Christian

Where: Intrust Bank Arena

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $17, $27, $37, $47, $62 at selectaseat.com, by calling 316-755-SEAT or at the Intrust Bank Arena box office.

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