As part of a promotional tour for Wrestlemania 28 and the August WWE Raw tour, WWE Pro Wrestler Sheamus was in Sydney last Friday. I sat down with him to discuss online social media, gaming, travelling and the IT world — especially as Sheamus has an interesting IT background. When Mark sat down to interview CM Punk — who himself has an upcoming world title match at Wrestlemania 28, albeit not the match that Sheamus is in — they discussed how Pro Wrestlers could use Twitter effectively. In the past year, WWE's use of social media to sell its brand and engage its audience has exploded, with constant mentions by the on-air commentary team of trending WWE-specific twitter hashtags. Sheamus' view, however, is distinctly an old school one:
"My stance on Twitter right now is this. I understand how valuable a tool it is, it's great and all. But to me, when I was growing up with WWE superstars, you didn't have the instant access to them the way that people have to our superstars — or anyone in the pop culture environment now.
It just seems that there's too much direct access, so the mystique is gone. It just feels like that mystique isn't there any more."
People like The Rock, or Triple H, or Stone Cold, they made their name in the ring, in what they did on television, and that's what I want to be remembered for.
I don't want to be remembered for some tweet I said. It could be a comment about something, or "I'm off to eat a banana sandwich right now" or "I just bought a new pair of socks". I just feel there has to be a little bit of a break away from the ring; I want to be remembered for what I do on WWE television in the ring, at Wrestlemania or The Royal Rumble.
I think me not having Twitter, creates a bit of mystique about me, and I think that's a good thing, especially when everybody else has it and I don't. I feel that separates me from everyone else.
I understand the value of Twitter; everybody's on Twitter now and I understand that. Things could change, and there may be a time where I have to go and get a Twitter account."
That doesn't mean that Sheamus is a technology luddite — quite the reverse in fact. If you look up his Wikipedia entry, there's a line in it regarding his early career as an IT technician, but if you follow the link, it's dead. Dead accurate, or a case of Wikipedia misinterpretation?
"Wikipedia's funny. Some of the stuff on there — I go there occasionally — it's unbelievable the amount of stuff that people will write on there. Somebody's started the page and people will add to that. It's amazing that people take the time to go in there and change it. Some of it isn't accurate; it just entertains me when I read it. But the IT stuff is true. I used to work for Symantec AV; I worked as their in-house IT technician, and then I worked as specialised AV support, and then I worked for Hartford life IT, in Dublin and London. I worked in IT from '99 through to 2007."
The irony of this isn't lost on me; a few years back, Symantec spent up big to get mixed martial arts fighter Kimbo Slice into its advertising. If they'd had the idea a few years prior, they could have simply cast their own in-house staff, and allow him to let some steam off at network cables at the same time:
"I remember my first job. I used to have to make CAT-5 cables. That sucked. That really sucked. It's just so trite;even if you crimped them it doesn't matter. I remember spending hours and hours making them. Matching colour codes, measuring them out; that was the first part of my IT experience. Ready made CAT-5 cables were much better. I went from that to using Ghost to image machines; that was a pretty cool product at the time."
Sheamus has, it's got to be said, something of an imposing presence to be just your average in-house IT guy:
"It definitely catches people off, because people don't see me going around fixing Windows XP problems, and network issues, or Novell network, or AV, or whatever else it is; Active Directory and stuff like that. It just gets people thinking; they find it hard to believe that."
IT was solidly a means to an end for Sheamus, however, as his eye was firmly fixed on the WWE.
"You know, the funny thing was with IT, I was never really a tech type of person, I was better with people; good at dealing with people; I had technical experience, I knew the nitty gritty; I could never be a programmer or anything but I knew my way around. Wrestling for me was always something I wanted to do, and it working in IT was just a way to get financially looked after; I went and wrestled on the side because you don't make any money when you're starting off and you don't have any name value."
He's certainly got some name value now, but his IT background is interesting. Would he ever consider using an IT-centric gimmick for his character?
"What?" No!", he laughs. "That would be the worst Gimmick EVER. What would I do, have computers printed on my backside?"
A fair point. Although, he's a guy who knows IT and could if he wished kick your head clean off. I wonder if he'd accept a job around here as a comment moderator? Images: WWE