This Is Happening
Alright, so this isn’t breaking news: I’m a fairly large man.
And since I’m built like I am, and I’m a WWE Superstar like I am…. I think people tend to assume that my size is what drove me down this path. They probably imagine me bouncing at some bar or some club, then getting discovered after a talent scout walked in and asked about “the guy with the muscles.”
But that’s not my story at all.
Don’t get me wrong, it helps to be my size. And I live for the physical aspect of what I do. But in terms of what drove me to wrestling, originally — and how I first fell in love with it? It was actually less of a physical draw, and more of a mental one. And it was as much about what went on behind the curtain, as it was about what went on inside the ring.
Or to put it another way: Some kids fall in love with wrestling.
I fell in love with the wrestling business.
It started when I was around five or six. I grew up in Ayr, this small town in Scotland — and one day my family was over at our cousins’ house, and some of the older kids were watching TV. My younger brother, John, and I, we’d do this thing where we would sort of sneak behind the sofa and try to watch what they were watching, almost from between the furniture. I forget what they had on at first…. but then sure enough, one program gave way to the next, and all of a sudden there was wrestling on.
I was totally mesmerized.
I can still remember the exact feeling — it was like we’d stumbled onto this different planet. You had Hulk Hogan…. you had the Macho Man…. you had the Ultimate Warrior…. you had the Undertaker….. you had all these larger than life characters, giving these charismatic speeches, and putting on these wild matches, with the live audience eating right out of the palm of their hand. I mean, these crowds were losing their absolute goddamn minds.
My favorite Superstar at the time was Bret Hart — who’d been a tag-team specialist, but was just now starting to break off on his own as a solo star. I think for me, and for most of the kids around my age, Bret was our guy. Nobody was cooler, with those pink sunglasses. But also nobody was realer. There was just something so authentic to Bret, that made you want to be like him. It was like his character was himself.
After a few more trips to our cousins’ house, I felt the timing was right to make a truly major announcement. I got my parents, my nana, and my brother all together in a room.
And then I broke the news.
“Dad…. Mom…. Nan…. John….”
(Dramatic pause here, I’m sure.)
“I’m going to become a professional wrestler.”
“Okay, Drew.” “Sounds great, Drew.” “What’s that??” “Good for you.”
I probably should have mentioned that I was still only six at this point — by which I mean, if you know what six year olds are like, then you know that pretty much everyone at that age has some outlandish plan for when they’re grown. Basically all of my friends wanted to become a wrestler, or a footballer, or a rugby player or what have you. So I think as far as my family was concerned, you know….. there wasn’t really much cause for worry. I was just another kid with some crazy idea in his head.
Except here’s the thing about that.
Six turned to seven, which turned to eight, which turned to 9, 10, 11….. and what I remember is, right around that age, I’d say 10 or 11 years old, most of my friends in Ayr started to get a lot more realistic about their ambitions. A few kids in our class stuck with rugby, a few stuck with football. But for the most part, all of those chest-out declarations from a few years prior had faded away. Now it was more like — “My uncle has a job waiting for me,” or, “I’ll probably start working for my dad soon.”
I suppose my dream missed the memo about fading away.
By 11, I was more committed to becoming a wrestler than ever before.
Now the only real question left was…. what can I do about it? Watching television on Saturday with my cousins, it wasn’t enough for me anymore. Imitating moves with my brother on the sofa, that wasn’t going to get me noticed by Vince McMahon. It was like — I’m 11 years old, dammit.
I needed to get serious.
Training? No, I’m afraid that was out of the question. I had the best parents you could ask for, as open-minded as they come — but they weren’t about to let their son go Full Hart Dungeon at 11 years old.
So my bright idea was that if I couldn’t get started with my body, I would get started with my mind. I figured that wrestling would be no different from any of the subjects I’d studied in school: I’d read the material, learn everything there was, and then lo and behold I’d be an expert. Which I hoped would give me a leg up for when I finally was old enough to train.
The first thing I did was buy some proper magazines. No, not the mainstream wrestle mags. Come on — I’d already devoured each of those. Instead I saved up some pocket money and splurged for the good stuff. The insider stuff. The mags that went deeper than the storylines on TV, and “revealed” the “inner-workings” of the business. The ones that gave you all the “backstage” drama.
OK now these people were speaking my language — and I was intoxicated with every word of it, to be honest. Anyone reading this who loves wrestling, I’m sure they can relate. When your brain first grabs hold of that “secret” vocabulary…. it’s just unlike anything else in the world. It’s like suddenly you’re a member of this club. This highly exclusive, underground club, that no one else knows about.
I basically became an addict, you know what I mean??
I needed my wrestling fix — and I kept craving something more and more substantial. After I tore through the insider mags, I used my last remaining bit of pocket money (really drained out the ol’ savings here, didn’t I) on this series of American books I’d stumbled on: The Inside Secrets on How You Can Enter the Exciting World of Pro Wrestling!, Vol. 1 & 2, by Dennis Brent and Percy Pringle (better known to WWE fans as Paul Bearer). Sent away for them in the post….. got them a few weeks later…….
And frankly there’s only one way to put it: This was the motherlode.
I learned everything from those books. How characters are developed, how storylines are put together, the structure of a match, the psychology of a live crowd…. all these amazing bits of info and tricks of the trade. And yet NONE of those lessons compared to the biggest one of them all — a lesson presented in the books as though it were holy scripture. It read:
WRESTLING IS A BUSINESS OF SECRETS — SO YOU’VE GOTTA. KEEP. THE SECRETS.
You’ve gotta keep “kayfabe.”
Remember, I was only 11 years old at the time, and I’d never once seen that word before. So I actually pronounced it (don’t laugh) “keh-fah-bey.” But I took it so seriously, man. As far as I was concerned, knowing about kayfabe put me on the level of possessing state secrets.
Of course the other students at school weren’t insane people like yours truly, breaking the bank to send out for Secrets of Wrestling volumes. And so when we talked wrestling, they would all still be discussing it in storyline terms, believing everything they’d seen on TV. And let’s be honest: I absolutely loved that. I couldn’t have felt more superior. I was like, Oh, wow — I’ve got to keep the secrets from these guys. They don’t know the business like I do. I’ve gotta keep keh-fah-bey.
So I did what I had to do. Every morning when I woke up, I took my pair of books, placed them in a PADLOCKED briefcase, climbed up on a chair, and hid that thing above my closet, nice and secure.
Then, and only then, could I go forward with a clear conscience and talk about wrestling with the kids at school. It was never as interesting as my books, to be honest — but I like to think I never let on. I couldn’t let on, you know? I had responsibilities now.
My mates, God bless ’em….. but they were just fans.
I was a professional.
Most people, if they know any part of my story, it’s this:
That on the September 25th, 2009 episode of Smackdown, WWE CEO Vince McMahon walked down to the ring and introduced me as “The Chosen One” — a “future World Champion” he’d personally signed to a lucrative contract.
And that from there I pretty much crashed and burned.
I think this is the part where I’m supposed to cut through the various nuances of fate, explain how there was more to the situation than meets the eye, and so on, but honestly — I’d kind of argue there wasn’t!!
In all seriousness, here’s the thing: I think I was legitimately talented, with great size, a good look, and a deep love for the sport — and WWE wasn’t wrong to see big-time potential in me. But no matter how “big-time,” what they saw was still just that. Potential. In terms of where I actually was as a performer around then? I mean, it’s not complicated….. and we don’t have to be polite.
I was crap.
I think WWE’s philosophy, as far as how to turn my potential into reality, was to put my feet to the fire, so to speak. That was surely their thinking behind Vince going on TV and declaring me his Chosen One: They figured I’d learn how to succeed on the job. What I think was less understood, though (both by them and by me), is that the thing I most needed to learn about in a training environment, it wasn’t success — it was failure. I’d really only known success. Whether it was in IWW or BCW or RQW or wherever else: at pretty much every single stage of the journey, from my first day of training through that introduction Vince gave me on Smackdown, I had basically been treated as if I were destined for greatness.
This meant I’d never really faced professional adversity. And I think even more importantly, it meant I’d never really faced professional pressure.
In other words, hell yes I should have felt the pressure after Vince’s “future World Champion” promo. Vince McMahon himself just gave me the damn ball!! If that isn’t pressure, man….. I don’t know what is.
But I don’t think it ever quite registered with me in that way.
And whether that was due to talent or execution or creative or attitude or just plain luck — in the end, I have to say, I think it’s a little immaterial. The answer to me is almost always “some combination.”
I think WWE put me in countless, generous positions to prove everyone right.
And it turned out all I needed was the chance to prove someone wrong.
In 2012, when I was 27, my mom passed away — certainly the defining heartbreak of my life so far.
But instead of writing about how she died, I’d rather use this space to tell you how she lived.
Angela Galloway was stricken with a rare illness when she was about 18 years old. She’d been living a totally normal life at the time, keeping a job and so on — when all of a sudden this condition kicked in called Cerebellar ataxia. Cerebellar ataxia is brutal. It just attacks you and attacks you, essentially until a part of your brain dies. My grandparents took her from doctor to doctor, and every prognosis they got back was the same: Angela would be like that for the rest of her life. Debilitated, unable to walk, absolutely unable to have kids. Just living out her days in a wheelchair as her brain deteriorated.
But my grandparents refused to give up. My nana worked as a call-center operator, and she managed to get Angela an appointment with a renowned brain doctor. And through experimentation with a few different medicines, this doctor got my mom to the point where she could walk some on her own. (My mom had this great sense of humor about it, and would always joke about how her form of walking made it seem like she was a drunk — she said bars wouldn’t let her in, even stone sober.)
A few years later, Angela met my dad, Andrew, and they fell in love and got married. She was adamant that they were going to have a family together, regardless of what any doctor advised. Soon after getting married, my mom got pregnant — which really put this directive to the test. Even my nana, at this point, who was my mom’s fiercest advocate, told her not to go through with it.
But my mom ignored them all. “I’ll die before I don’t have this baby,” she said.
That baby, yeah — it was me.
And then a year later, the same story, with John.
I’m not sure how my mom knew it, at the time, but she must have known somehow — that she was born to be a mom. Out of all the things that I’m thankful for, right at the top of the list has got to be that my mom was the person she was.
I never felt like she was anything less than there for me. We lived in (what I now understand to be) this extra-small apartment, so that she could balance on the walls — and she was like a magician in that place. Truly, she could do anything with those walls: carry something from the kitchen, or down the concrete stairs, balance it on her lap, then from the lap to the wall, and the wall to us. To me and my brother this was all perfectly normal. When friends would come over, it was funny — they’d see my mom doing her thing, and then they’d yell at us for not helping her out. But they didn’t know that my mom wanted it that way — that she took so much damn pride in being able to function around our tiny apartment. They didn’t know that she was an honest-to-God superhero.
And anything that actually was a challenge for her due to her condition? Mom would just use that as a way to bring us closer together. Those would be the times when she and I became a team….. the hero and her loyal sidekick. Grocery shopping, for example, that was always our “thing” — to use a trusty wrestling metaphor, we were one of those tag-teams who knew each other’s every movement by heart. She would get a balance on me, I would get a balance on the cart, we’d both get a balance on the other, and so on. I know that’s a bit of a random activity, but for us it was the time of our lives.
I had so much fun with my mom. I felt so loved.
And maybe more than even that, I felt understood.
I took my mom’s death extremely hard. WWE couldn’t have been more understanding — they made sure I knew that I could take all the time I needed, and the space I needed. But there are simply no units of time or space that seem to matter much when you’ve lost the person in life who you loved the most.
I don’t think I need to go into too many details here, but I was a proper mess: grieving without any compass to keep me on track. I took it out on myself in the worst ways. Started drinking to excess. Started disengaging from my relationships. Stopped caring about much of anything — and that included work, for sure.
But of course when anyone attempted to reach out: Oh, no — I’m fine. That would become my stock answer. Curt and distant and blank.
I missed my mom being in the world.
And I just sort of turned my back on this version of the world that she wasn’t in.
Television wise, at this point, I wasn’t really doing much of significance. Or rather: I went from not doing much of significance, to not doing much, to not doing anything at all. And frankly that was fine by me. I was just in this depressed haze.
When they did eventually come to me with a new direction, well…. it definitely…. was…. that. A direction, that was new, for sure. It was called “3 Man Band,” or “3MB” for short. A comedy group consisting of myself, Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. We were members of a fake band together. Sort of a Bill and Ted situation. Tight leather pants. Lots of air guitar. I think you’re getting the picture.
Apparently I had such a reputation for being a hothead, that the writers actually drew straws to see who was the one who’d have to deliver me the 3MB news. (Which I can chuckle at now, thankfully…. but to have carried that rep is not something I’m proud of.)
It really can’t be said enough here: 3MB, for what it was, held its own. We lasted three years, we played our parts well, we’d do a little comedy, they’d bring someone in to beat us up, the crowd would cheer, rinse and repeat, it worked — which is far from nothing in this business. And the friendships I forged with Heath and Jinder will last a lifetime.
But it was what it was. A few years earlier, they were grooming me to be the next leading man in WWE. Now I was the jokey best friend who does pratfalls. I see you, “jokey best friends who do pratfalls” of the world. I see you and respect you. But for me it was a long way down.
And then the story of the day I got fired…… looking back, this pretty much says it all.
I remember that as soon as I woke up, I already had texts from a bunch of coworkers, telling me they’d been fired. Oh, that’s too bad, I remember thinking to myself, after each text.
I remember that Jinder, my own partner, was one of those people texting me, telling me he’d been fired. Oh, that’s too bad, I remember thinking to myself, after Jinder’s text.
I remember that I missed a call in the morning from Talent Relations, with a message asking me to call them back. I should probably call Talent Relations back, I remember thinking to myself, after that.
Alright so let’s recap: I’m contributing nothing to the company, seven years in. My demeanor is awful. A bunch of my coworkers are getting fired. Literally my partner is getting fired. Talent Relations wants to talk.
And yet — did it even cross my mind that I might be getting fired?
Not really no.
That………… is probably as good a summary as you’ll ever get of the Drew McIntyre 1.0 Experience.
I think one of the things that really saved me, in terms of getting back on my feet so soon after my release, was that I didn’t have much choice in the matter.
Kaitlyn — who is now my wife, and we’ve been together for about seven years now — was my girlfriend at this point, and we’d only been together for about 11 months. But we had just (and I mean just, like three days earlier) moved into our first apartment together, when I got let go. And as much as that’s a nightmare scenario, in one sense? In another, like I said, I really think it saved me: because for the first time since my mom had passed, I actually had a life that I was engaged in. I had my relationship with Kaitlyn, and this thing that we were building together — and I badly wanted to make it work.
So with Kaitlyn’s help, I scribbled down a Drew McIntyre 2.0 mission statement.
Here were the broad strokes:
- Dominate the UK wrestling scene — and help put it on the map such that dominating the UK wrestling scene really starts to mean something. (More specifically, go to ICW, an indie promotion back in Scotland that was catching fire.)
- Let the world know who you — you, yourself, Drew Galloway — are as a character. (No more cartoons, you know what I mean? I was going to be the Bret Hart of UK wrestling.)
- Create some buzz on the mic. (Speak from a place that IS real in order to tell a story that FEELS real. This would soon become my calling card.)
- Create some buzz on social media. (I may be in my 30s….. but these Twitter fingers can still go viral.)
- Put your working boots on. (I remember my first time wrestling back on the indies was at an EVOLVE show, and they had me going on last. And so before my match, I ended up watching all the guys on the undercard. The card was stacked…… I just had no idea. Like, Ricochet was out there making jaws drop. Roderick Strong was out there blowing people’s minds. I hadn’t been familiar with them at all — but I sure was after that, you know?? And that’s when I realized that a few slick promos wouldn’t be enough. I had to be able to get in the ring with guys of that caliber and bring it.)
- Become the busiest guy on the planet. (I took every booking that came my way, simple as that. Basically I ceased to have a life. Scotland, Australia, Germany, Denmark — you name it, I was there, grinding, getting better.)
- Prove yourself outside of WWE — at a level that the people inside of WWE can’t ignore. (And then re-sign with WWE, make a triumphant return, headline WrestleMania and win the World Title.)
Easy stuff!! Not remotely ambitious.
It felt good, though, to be making those types of plans, you know what I’m saying?? It was almost like 11-year-old Drew had taken back the keys of this thing. It was as if everything I’d written down in my mission statement could be reduced to a single, overarching idea — a one-point plan:
Fall in love with wrestling again.
What’s crazy is, my plan almost worked too well: I was doing so well during this stretch on the indies, and we were creating so much buzz, and selling so many tickets, that ironically it stopped being a foregone conclusion that I’d even want back in to WWE at all. I was making pretty good money now — enough that Kaitlyn and I were able to pay for our wedding and our first house. I was part of an actual movement in the UK, which felt amazing.
And most of all….. I was just happy.
In early 2017, I started weighing my options — and was leaning toward signing a part-time deal in Japan. That meant I would work a set number of dates in New Japan Pro Wrestling, one of the top promotions in the world, while also getting to keep up my indie dates and general UK presence. It seemed like the best of both worlds: stability, money, excitement, prestige.
But before I could sign, I got a call from a friend — William Regal. He had a modest proposal: No pressure….. but before I make up my mind on anything, just take a phone call from Triple H.
I said yeah, sure, of course, why not. Triple H, great guy, always treated me really well. Would be nice to catch up.
Got on the phone with Hunter, talked for about 45 minutes. And just on a personal level, given how much respect I have for him — it was one of those conversations that meant everything to me. He told me that he’d been keeping his eye on me, keeping an eye on my progress, and just how proud he was of me for how far I’d come. Not only as a wrestler, but as a man.
And as we got to talking, and it was clear that there was mutual interest in a reunion between WWE and myself — something happened that made me feel like the stars had finally aligned. Hunter told me that everyone wanted me back…. but there was one thing he wanted to run by me first. At the same time, I told Hunter that if I was going to come back, there was one thing I’d have to run by him first.
I put my cards on the table. “If I’m going to come back, brother….. I really do think it has to be with NXT. NXT has those hardcore fans, it has that indie spirit — and that’s where I’ve been building so much of my momentum lately. Of course who knows what the future holds. But right now, for this moment? I belong in NXT.”
Hunter didn’t miss a beat.
“Drew, that’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about….. I was thinking the same thing.”
In August 2017, at TakeOver: Brooklyn III, I beat Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship.
In November 2017, at TakeOver: WarGames, I dropped the NXT Championship to Andrade — and tore a bicep for my trouble.
Had to have surgery, which put me on the shelf for a few months.
Crucially, when I made my return, I’d moved from NXT on to Raw — and was now teaming up with Dolph Ziggler. DZ and I have a great run together. Tag champs, feuding with the Shield, pretty much imposing our will on that show. I mean, I got Roman in a singles match for his return at WrestleMania, coming back from leukemia. I can’t even tell you how big that was for me — just to be trusted at that level, to be given that spot. It was an awesome run.
But I still didn’t feel totally satisfied, if I’m honest. And I think that’s because the character that I was playing……. it was still fairly limited. For the uninitiated: I played this big, mean, hairy Scotsman who beats people up. And don’t get me wrong — every wrestling company could use a big, mean, hairy Scotsman who beats people up. (Hell, every company in general could probably use a big, mean, hairy Scotsman who beats people up.) But I just felt like there were only so many places that you could take a character like that, and a hard ceiling on how much you could get the fans to relate. (Sorry to all the big, mean, hairy Scotsmen out there, reading this and yelling, “I could relate!”) I simply needed a change.
And deep in my heart, I still believed there was a version of my character that took the indies by storm — a version of myself, really — that could take WWE by storm as well. I just needed to unlock it.
Which brings us to last year’s Crown Jewel show — where the premise for our big tag match was “Team Hogan” (captained by Hulk) vs. “Team Flair” (captained by Ric). And before we went out there, what I remember is Paul Heyman just kind of pulling me aside…. and saying he had a note for me.
He goes, “You have a great personality. Show it off more!”
Nothing life-altering, on the surface. But that was the start of it, I think. That was the spark I needed. I went out there for our match, and I remember having so much fun with it, in a way that I maybe hadn’t been having previously. I was jawing at the crowd, flexing at Hogan, all sorts of little things like that — still playing the heel, for sure, but doing so now in a way that suggested there was something a little more complicated here, a little more interesting, than just some evil Scottish dude with muscles.
Not long after that, at the end of one of our TV events, I was in this non-televised cage match. And the guys needed a few extra minutes, you know, just to set up the cage and everything — so they asked me if I could go out there and “work the crowd” a little on the mic. Nothing out of the ordinary. Hey, Drew. Go buy some time. No problem.
But then I went out there, and man….. I had so much fun with it. I was just myself, really, the real Drew. The Drew that I was back on the independents. The Drew that I was for most of my run in NXT. The Drew that I was when I rediscovered my love for the business. I was making fun of the crowd, I was telling dumb jokes, the whole deal. Again — nothing so extraordinary. But it’s what you make of it. And I made it like I was having the time of my life.
Apparently the right people upstairs saw my performance that night….. because the first thing I heard after I came backstage was, “Woah — OK. OK. This is something. We have to do that on television.”
And it just kind of snowballed from there. Now, instead of beating somebody up?? I’d cut a quick little promo on the mic, or do a pre-match interview. (And then I’d go beat somebody up.) Like I said, I was still the “bad guy” — still acting like a fairly standard heel. But now I was a heel who was having a laugh about it.
Now I was a three-dimensional person — who you could connect with and relate to.
And for me, that made all the difference.
Quick question for everyone reading this — have any of you seen A Star Is Born?
Great movie from a couple of years ago, really good music, vintage Bradley Cooper performance, Lady Gaga does her thing. Anyway, there’s this one scene — best scene in the movie, hands down — where Lady Gaga’s character is backstage at some big concert being played by Bradley Cooper’s character. She wants to be a famous singer, and he’s a famous rockstar and possibly her boyfriend. (It’s complicated.)
So near the end of the concert, Bradley Cooper, he sees Gaga there backstage (or I guess it’s more like sidestage). And he’s basically like, “Lady Gaga….. watch this.” Then all of a sudden he starts playing “Shallow,” this amazing song that Gaga herself wrote. And as he’s playing the song, he looks over at her, off to the side, and invites her to come onstage with him and perform it. And of course Gaga is over there and she’s freaking out. At first she’s like, No way, man. No way I’m going out there. But then you can slowly see her start to give into it a little. Like — it’s her song, dammit, and now she’s being asked to sing it in front of these tens of thousands of people. That’s her DREAM. And then the camera pans across and we see her face, one more time.
And it all snaps into place.
You can see it in her eyes. You can see it as she just realizes, Wait. Hang on. This is IT, man! This is literally my moment. It’s happening right now — physically, as we speak. And I have two choices: I can either reach out and grab it, or I can spend the rest of my life wondering what might have been.
OK….. first, hold that thought for a second.
Now fast-forward, it’s like a year later. January 2020. I’m backstage in my gear — waiting to make my entrance at the Royal Rumble.
Earlier in the day, I’d gotten the news. To put it in the parlance of my old Secrets of Wrestling books, the plan was for me to “go over.” I was set to be “getting the big push.” It was incredible news — the culmination of an almost 20-year journey. So why didn’t I feel incredible?? Why was I standing in Gorilla, about to go out there, and silently kind of freaking out? It made no sense for me to be thinking negatively….. but that was my overwhelming instinct right now.
I was thinking about all those times during my first run with the company where one thing was planned, and then at the last minute was changed to something different. Yup — we’re going to audible, and Roman will go over. Or I was thinking about how many past Rumbles have had the crowd turn on the eventual winner, after a popular babyface got eliminated. Yup — the whole damn building is going to boo me after Edge gets eliminated. Man, it was like, out of nowhere, this faucet of pent-up cynicism turned on….. and I couldn’t turn it off.
But then at the last second, right before I was set to walk out — the most unbelievable thing happened. And hand to my life, I swear: It was just like Gaga in A Star Is Born. It was like in that one instant……. my entire career flashed before my eyes. Every moment that had led me to this Royal Rumble, good and bad and in between, it’s like they all came back to me at once. Every failure, every triumph, every insecurity, every ambition. It was the most powerful sensation — just sort of washing over me, and then leaving me with this clarity.
All those thoughts that had been racing through my head? Now they were telling me the same thing, in unison:
It’s now or never.
And they were right.
I’d been told I was the future in this business for so long, you know?? I’d been the future since I was basically 22 years old. And now here I was, getting nerves about crossing into that future, and I just remember thinking to myself, like — Drew!! DREW. My God, man. This is IT! This, literally, is IT. You’re 34 going on 35…. and I’m going to tell you something right now: If you don’t seize this moment, after 12 long years of being the so-called “future”?? Well then you’re about to be the PAST before they ever even get to the present.
Then they hit my music, and I mean — I didn’t have Bradley Cooper gently encouraging me or anything. But it really was this Star Is Born moment. The line that always sticks with me from that scene, it’s when he tells her, “Listen. I’m playing the song with or without you.” And not to put too fine a point on it…. but that’s more or less life for you, isn’t it? They’re playing that damn song, so to speak, with or without you. That Royal Rumble, brother, it’s happening. Like, either way — this is happening. So either walk out there and swim in the deep end and finally take what’s yours, or let it go and stick to the shallow waters and understand that it was never yours to begin with.
I sang my Scottish heart out.
This Sunday night at SummerSlam (7pm ET on WWE Network — quick little plug since we’re all friends here), I’ll be in the main event, defending my WWE World Title in a match against Randy Orton.
Oh, right……. I probably should have mentioned that.
I’m World Champion now ?
More on BEING WORLD CHAMPION (God I love how that sounds) in a minute. But first, a little on the match with Randy — I’m going to put my promoter’s hat on for a second.
This is going to be a great match.
One thing you have to understand about our business is that it’s “evolve or die.” Truly it is. If you get too comfortable, get too complacent, aren’t keeping things dynamic and fresh, what happens next is pretty simple: You get steamrolled. Either by the young, hungry talent coming up behind you, or by the business itself. So to stay on top for even several months in a row, I mean, it takes a serious combination of execution and force of will. To stay on top for a year or two, like a small handful of guys have done? That takes something pretty special. To stay on top for several years? Now you’re talking, like, the innermost circle of the Hall of Fame. The elite of the elite.
But to stay on top for over 15 years? Alright well now you’re not even talking about a small circle or some elite level. To stay on top for over 15 years is essentially just never done. It’s a group you count on your fingers. It’s Sammartino. It’s Flair. It’s Hogan. It’s Undertaker. It’s Triple H. That is the caliber of wrestler we’re talking about here.
And that’s the caliber of wrestler we’re talking about when it comes to Randy Orton.
Randy Orton challenged for — and won — the World Championship at SummerSlam 2004. Now 16 years later, at SummerSlam 2020, Randy is challenging me for the WWE Title. And you know what’s scary? Randy’s not as good as he was back then.
For my money, the Randy Orton we’ve seen in 2020, from his feud with Edge in the spring to his reign of terror on Raw over the summer….. this is flat-out the best he’s ever been. From the matches he’s been having, to the promos he’s been cutting, to the unreal character work he’s been putting in, I don’t even know what I’d compare it to. At an age when plenty of guys are slowing down, it’s like Randy has found this unprecedented gear — to the point where, as far as “evolve or die” goes, I think it’s the younger guys who are actually trying to keep up with him.
The man’s a genius, simple as that. Maybe an evil genius, as things stand now, but a genius all the same. It’s been a career highlight to work with him over the past few weeks.
And it will genuinely be an honor to kick his ass Sunday night.
Which, inevitably, leads me back to what I was saying a few paragraphs ago: It happened. Not at 22 — at 34 — but it really did happen. It finally happened.
I’m WWE Champion now.
At WrestleMania 36, in the main event, with the title shot granted to me as winner of the 2020 Royal Rumble, I hit a Claymore Kick (or three!!) on Brock Lesnar, pinned him in the middle of the ring, and became WWE Champion.
A decade-plus after Vince announced me as a “future World Champion.” (Technically true, nice call Vince.)
Of course, because there was no other way, it happened with a typical McIntyre curveball: Due to COVID, and obviously with us having to take the necessary health precautions, this year’s Mania was an empty-arena show. And not just that, but (again, purely out of necessity) it was taped in advance.
So as you might have guessed, that left me in a pretty strange position — one of the strangest positions for a WWE Champion ever, I imagine: I had won the belt, clean as a whistle. I had beaten the WWE Champion, in a WWE championship match, for the WWE championship. I physically had possession of the belt — it was in my office, the one I’m writing this from, same as it is now.
But I wasn’t Champion.
Not officially, anyway. Officially, I wasn’t recognized as Champion until the match had aired….. and the match wasn’t set to air for 10 more days. 10 MORE DAYS!
Were those the longest 10 days of my entire life? You bet.
Did it make the moment any less sweet?
Not a freaking chance.
It’s funny how life works.
You think you have it all planned out. You think it’s going to all go a certain way. And then life — well, it just sort of happens, doesn’t it?? Can’t be planned, can’t be tamed, and seemingly no matter how hard you try….. it’s going to humble the living sh*t out of you.
And I think that when I eventually look back on this part of my life, on my wrestling career or what have you, and I take stock of it all just to see how it went……. I’m sure the verdict will be that it wasn’t perfect. Or even more to the point, that I wasn’t perfect. Certainly mistakes were made, and not much went how I expected it to — and (to say the very damn least) I took the long way around.
But if you caught me in just the right mood, when I wasn’t feeling too hard on myself….. I think I’d probably admit that there are a few things I’m proud of.
And I like to think that Young Drew — he might be alright with how things went as well.
You messed it up for us for a WHILE there, I’m sure he’d tell me. But all in all?? You know what, I’d say I’m not unimpressed. This WWE thing was a pretty crazy dream to stick you with — and yet here you are. You’re not as cool as Hitman Hart, that’s for sure. And your move-set, mate……. it’s deteriorated some from our days on those sofa cushions. But my God, Drew, you MADE IT!!
That’s forever and it’s real.
You made it from Ayr, Scotland, to the top of the world.
And when you lost your way?
You found it back.