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Exclusive: Drew McIntyre Has Become A 'Better Man' & Wrestler – Next Stop: Roman Reigns' Title

Former WWE Champion Drew McIntyre revealed what it feels like to represent the WWE as a top star.

By Ethan Absler
Photo of Drew Mcintyre

Drew McIntyre is one of WWE’s most popular and dominant Superstars on the roster and has been for the past six years. Between wrestling in the ring, media appearances, and training, The Scottish Psychopath has been one of the busiest and hardest-working performers in the company. Despite working “24/7” according to McIntyre himself, USA Insider found time to catch up with him for an exclusive interview in which he revealed how he’s matured over the years as a wrestler and what it means to represent WWE as a main attraction.

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While McIntyre sits among the top of WWE’s figurative mountain at the moment, that hasn't always been the case. McIntyre originally debuted with WWE in 2007 and was billed as Vince McMahon’s “Chosen One.” The former Chosen One, however, is the first to admit that he was arrogant and didn't the role his all. His self-admittedly underwhelming job performance led to a heartbreaking release for McIntyre that allowed him to reinvent himself, completely change his work ethic, and wrestle his way back to WWE from the indie scene.

Since his WWE return in 2017, it’s been pedal to the metal for McIntyre.

“I’m tired,” McIntyre said. “But it’s very rewarding. When I was fired initially and had to look at myself in the mirror and realize that I wasn’t giving it my all, that frustrated me in a lot of ways — mainly because this has been my dream my entire life. Since the day I was released, I really have been giving it my all. 24/7. I’m trying to be a better performer, a better man. Since my return to NXT, I’ve grown up and I’ve matured and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip.”

Upon his return, he tried to make himself as busy as possible when it came to WWE; he booked himself for media appearances, was working hard in the gym, and doing things behind the scenes for the company.

“I was harassing everyone in every department saying, ya know, ‘What can I be doing?’ and obviously what we see on screen is very important, but no — that’s just the easy part of being a top guy or girl in WWE," he explained. "If you want to be at the top of this industry, the fun stuff and the easy stuff is on TV. What we get paid for is to travel, how we represent the company … that’s really going to set you apart from everybody else. I wanted to be doing as much media as possible and anything I could to shine a light on the WWE product and Drew McIntyre. Now I’ve built up that trust over the years to where I’m now, literally 24/7 working. I get a little tired sometimes but now I can look in that mirror and know that I’m giving it my all and can say this is what I wanted. I feel very lucky.”

McIntyre’s work ethic not only impressed WWE officials but served him well as he became an unstoppable force within the company. At the 2020 Royal Rumble, McIntyre last eliminated Roman Reigns to earn himself a match for the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36. In front of a Thunderdome virtual crowd at the WWE Performance Center, McIntyre defeated Lesnar to win his first WWE Championship in an emotional statement victory. According to the former champ, that moment made the grind worthwhile.

“It very much felt like, ‘This is it. I can’t believe I’ve done it. I’m WWE Champion.’ I allowed myself to enjoy the moment, but I had also learned at that point that you can’t rest for too long. It’s one thing to get yourself in a prominent position, but it’s another thing to stay there. And there is no more prominent position than being the WWE Champion," he said.

To McIntyre, winning the championship meant a lot, but not as much as carrying WWE through the COVID-19 era. He explained how as soon as he won the WWE Championship, he realized he had a responsibility to help people escape the harsh reality of a global pandemic.

“It wasn’t just about being whatever number WWE Champion I happened to be at that point. I was the first WWE Champion during a time when the entire world was shutting down. The entire world was very scared. The WWE was the only original content basically in the world to give everyone that escape and I was the one that was going to be leading the charge. So I enjoyed the moment — [took] a couple of days at home with the Mrs., reflected on my journey, but also started thinking about what I could do to grab people’s attention at the Performance Center and how I could set an example for the rest of the roster," he said.

The COVID era of WWE — as in just about ever other industry — was a period of uncertainty. It had never been done before and as McIntyre mentioned above, wrestling was some of the only original content on TV in the world at the moment. Nobody knew what to do during this unprecedented time, not even WWE legends.

"I’d ask Triple H or Shawn Michaels or The Undertaker for their opinions and they’d all say the same thing, ‘We don’t know. This has never happened before. There is no real wrong answer.’ So I would just go out there on TV and embrace the environment and try to look like I’m comfortable and the people at home will hopefully feel what you’re feeling. It’s something I’m very proud of and proud of WWE for stepping up for the entire world.”

Even after the COVID era and losing the WWE Title, McIntyre has stayed top of mind. The WWE Universe often picks favorites, but that favoritism is usually short-lived. For six years now, McIntyre has remained more than just relevant within WWE, but has retained his fan-favorite status. It’s been a few years since McIntyre has held gold, but he remains a realistic challenger for Roman Reigns’s Undisputed WWE Championship. If McIntyre was named the next challenger, nobody would bat an eye.

“One hundred percent it’s been the story since I returned to WWE: Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns," he confirmed. "I’ve never managed to get that win on him and have done a lot of learning at a top level. I learned a lot being in the ring with Roman. No matter what was happening [in his career], Roman put his head down and worked his butt off. I talked about how it’s not just what happens in the ring, Roman was doing it 24/7 for a long time and that was something that was very inspiring for me. Over the years though, I’ve watched things completely do a 180 for both of us.”

McIntyre revealed he feels as if he and Roman have switched positions, and that the Head of the Table isn’t working as hard as he is right now.

“Now I’m the one in that position. Working my butt off 24/7 and he’s still on a top level and still has a lot of those eyeballs on him. He’s a huge star, but he’s very far from 24/7 right now. I’m very much filling in that role and hopefully I can finally soon get that big win over Roman Reigns. At Clash at the Castle, I was the first person to have a clear pin on Reigns in his entire storied run. But then Solo Sikoa showed up. Just this past week, Sheamus and I mended some old wounds and it seems like an army is starting to form right now to take down The Bloodline," McIntyre explained.

At Clash at the Castle in Cardiff, Wales, earlier this year, McIntyre challenged Roman Reigns for his Undisputed WWE title. The Scottish Warrior was seconds away from dethroning The Needle Mover with the crowd 100 percent behind him. The build up and the match itself felt very special as McIntyre used his old theme song, bonded with the crowd in a way we haven’t seen before, and tore the house down with one of the best matches of the night.

“The build to that match was just unreal. In the weeks leading up to it, in interviews by myself and with Roman, people just started to believe I could do it. The rumblings … if you look back over Roman’s two-year reign, there aren’t many people — if anybody — that you could point at and say they had a chance. It just felt like, ‘This is entertainment. It’s a fun story. It’ll be a good match. And then they’ll move on to the next guy.’ But I could feel and hear the rumblings leading up to the match where people started to believe I could win. And I had to believe it too. I had the mindset of, ‘I’m gonna win this thing.’ I really went into it like I was running for President almost. I just gave my absolute all.”

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Despite giving it his all, the numbers game was too much for McIntyre to overcome as the all-too-familiar scene of The Bloodline bailing out an endangered Roman Reigns played out before our very eyes. 

“Roman is phenomenal. We created magic," McIntyre mused. "That night at Clash at the Castle, that’s what this industry is all about. I really thought it would be like 70 percent of fans behind me and 30 percent behind Roman, but I was wrong. I walked out there and I could not believe the response. I’m pretty deaf to begin with, but that almost made me completely deaf. Walking out there and hearing my old entrance song — I made sure I embraced that and enjoyed that moment because they come once in a career or never.

“When you have 60,000 people reacting that way to you and then Roman comes out to pure hatred, it was 100 percent venom for Roman Reigns," he continued. "We stood there across from each other and we didn’t even have to touch. The crowd was doing their thing and that’s what this industry is all about. If you really have a story that people are into, then you’ve done your part and the match should be the easy part. You shouldn’t even have to touch because the crowd is just so rabid for what comes next. But we’re professionals and wanted to give fans a good match on top of that moment and I really believe we did that.”

While McIntyre always has his sights set on Roman Reigns and the WWE Championship, he has recently been sidetracked by the returning Karrion Kross and his wife, Scarlett. According to the Scottish Psychopath, though, he’d like to be done with Kross and Scarlett and just move on after his latest victory at Crown Jewel.

“I think I taught Kross a valuable lesson: When you come into WWE to make a name for yourself, maybe don’t target Drew McIntyre right away," he said. "I understand the chip on his shoulder and wanting to make a name for yourself — I’ve been there. Maybe build up to Drew McIntyre, though, or you’re gonna get smacked around. To be fair, they had a game plan. Scarlett the witch was able to lend a little assistance in the first match with the pepper spray, but I got wise to that and came into Crown Jewel with a game plan where I expected her shenanigans. I’d like to think maybe he’ll take a step back and start focusing on some other Superstars. Maybe when we come back together he’ll be more ready and we’ll have ourselves a hell of a third match. But as far as I’m concerned, we’re done for now.”

While McIntyre says he is done with Kross, he isn’t exactly sure what’s next for him. But, of course, that aforementioned WWE Championship is always on McIntyre’s mind.

“I’m taking it as it comes right now. I’d love to say Roman Reigns and the titles [come next], but it’s just not that easy. You gotta take things week by week. Last week was a very cool moment with The Bloodline standing there, as dominant as ever — like this is a faction that we’ll probably never see again in the history of WWE when it comes to success, and then you got the Brawling Brutes coming out with me. They have really found their footing and have the crowd behind them right now. Also the returning Sheamus, and it feels like recently at Clash at the Castle everybody realized, ‘Wait a minute. He’s been around for a while and really worked his ass off for us,’ and his matches with Gunther really rejuvenated Sheamus’ career. Just to be in the ring with the lads from back home felt really cool. I’ve always said that when Sheamus and I are on the same team, we’re completely unstoppable," he said.

In Drew’s eyes, he and the Brawling Brutes are the biggest threat to The Bloodline’s success since their era of dominance began.

“The Bloodline is all about family and being Day One, but realistically, they started wrestling after Sheamus and I did," McIntyre concluded. "Sheamus and I have been wrestling together since I was 19. That’s 20 years together and there have been ups and downs, but we’ve been doing this thing together for a lot longer than The Bloodline has. We know each other just as well.”

You can rewatch the biggest moments in Drew McIntyre’s career like when he eliminated Brock Lesnar from the 2020 Royal Rumble on the WWE Network on Peacock!

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