Drew McIntyre – The First Ever Scottish Born WWE Champion

drewwwwwwwToday Drew McIntyre is the fighting pride of Scotland. A hero who brought good news in a time where you would have been forgiven for forgetting is existed. There was once a time where not everyone in Scotland loved Drew Mctinyre. As unfathomable as it might seem now, there was a time where not many people believed what happened at Wrestlemania 36 was possible. When Drew was released from WWE in 2014 his stock was low. He’d admit it himself. If he continued to just be happy to be a part of the show then that’s all he’d have ever been.

Happy is a major stretch but I don’t think Drew was on the verge of quitting at the time his release came. It might have taken another year or two before he finally broke but the company done the hard bit for him and cut ties. For the first time since he was 20, Drew McIntyre was officially Drew Galloway again and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He needed to be Drew Galloway again. For himself and for the people who did still give a shit. He needed to give them reasons to keep believing and he needed to find ways to get the rest on board.

The best wrestlers are able to create a feeling with their work. A feeling that draws the audience in even if that audience hates you. Drew understood that after his release there would be a period he’d be wildly popular, but it wouldn’t be everlasting. People get it. We’ve all got eyes. He’s comfortably six inches taller than every other person in Scotland. He looks like someone made a sculpture of a greek god out of granite and taught it how to decapitate folk with dropkicks. No matter how successful it got for Drew in his time outwith WWE it was always his destiny to go back. How long it would take was entirely up to him.

He knew he needed to work harder. He took on a travel schedule that bordered on insanity when you don’t have a major company setting everything up for you. By his own admittance he had to grow up and learn how to do it all on his own. If he had to be in Glasgow 24 hours after a booking in New York, he’d be in Glasgow ready to go. If he needed to be in Australia 45 minutes after he’s main evented the Citadel in Ayr, yer man would make it down under in time to help the crew set up the ring. He was just everywhere. Somehow. People were invested even if they weren’t fully sure if he was their guy. They wanted to find out.

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He became a figurehead for a plethora of companies but the one that mattered most to him was always ICW. The first company he wanted to appear for after his release was ICW. Fuck the 90 days, let’s do it now. The bandwagon all of a sudden was hurtling towards The Barrowlands as Drew looked to dethrone the champion who had reigned supreme for a year. His best pal Jack Jester. He was one of the folk who still cared when times were hard and Drew wasn’t even on TV pre 3MB days. A true friend who saw that Drew just wasn’t the same guy who had left for the WWE. Drew Galloway wasn’t this big surly guy who instantly mistrusted anyone he didn’t know, but Drew McIntyre was. Drew Galloway wasn’t a guy who was settled in his role as comic relief on Monday Night RAW, but for a time Drew McIntyre was. He had to find that guy again and start kicking down doors.

The 3MB stuff wasn’t completely useless. He bonded with Jinder Mahal both in 3MB and when they were both released on the same day. If you’d have told them they’d both win the WWE Title within 6 years they’d have laughed at you. Jinder might have anyway. Drew would have joined him but in the back of his mind he’d have known it was possible. He just had to make it possible. The tools were always there. The other purpose 3MB served was Drew discovering the heid removing scud missile that is the Claymore. 3MBs trouser situation was very leathery and very very shiny, Drew slipped and basically fell into a big single leg dropkick and it looked good so why the fuck not? Fast forward six years and the big man has whole arenas counting down from 3 before he hits it.

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That’s what Drew does better than most. He makes people give a shit. When he papped Brock Lesnar out of a Royal Rumble he was dominating it was an announcement that the time for fucking about was over. No more aimless stables. No more “one of the favourites” for the Rumble. No more assumptions that he’d make it to the top one day. It was happening NOW. His first World Title win wouldn’t be on one of the weekly shows, or a wee run of the mill PPV with a mad gimmick. It was happening in front of the biggest crowd wrestling pulls on a yearly basis. 70 odd thousand in a stadium. Millions gripped at home or in the pub. All eyes on the moment Drew slayed The Beast. Then it happened. It all changed. Fuck.

When the whole thing started I think most people assumed Wrestlemania would happen whenever it could happen in front of an audience. It was admirable that WWE were giving it a go and doing the weekly shows in the safest environment they possible could at The Performance Centre but it didn’t seem likely that Wrestlemania 36 would still happen.

While I’m not entirely sure why it actually did go ahead, they done an excellent job making it something that didn’t make the current blanket depression we’re all suffering from feel worse. It often made life feel normal at a time when it…well….isnae. It was occasionally gripping at a time where the only thing you can remember gripping you is the fear. The cinematic stuff was proper escapism and certainly in Taker and AJs case, still very much felt like wrestling. Drew’s moment deserved an audience but more than anything else it just deserved to happen.

If they were going ahead with Wrestlemania 36 in front of an audience of Mojo Rawley, Mojo Rawley if he was in the NFL, Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and JBL then having Brock Lesnar beat Drew would have been the worst climax to a Wrestlemania ever. It just wouldn’t make sense. Brock is at his very best when he’s just beat the guy everyone wanted to win and crowd is sickened by it. With no crowd it could only be Drew. People needed the moment. They needed to feel something that wasn’t deflation.

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If you’re Scottish the feeling was nothing but joy when the ref counted three after the last Claymore. The match would have gone a lot longer and would have been a hard hitting work of art if it was in normal circumstances but for the time they had, they managed to tell a story. A guy who was F5’ed out of his loafers in the final throes of the 3MB days managed to take 50 of the fucking things and still kick out.

When Drew re-signed with WWE he returned to a name that had once represented everything he hated about his career. It was attached to unfulfilled potential despite the early success he had with it and he needed to turn those failures into titles. He needed the name to provoke excitement rather than indifference followed by the faint sound of an air guitar. He needed the name to be taken seriously again. Winning the NXT Title was the first step but then an injury robbed him of the best part of a year of this redemption. Lesser folk might have let it get to them.

Waiting all that time to get back to the big time just to see all his momentum derailed must have been crushing. How often have we seen it as wrestling fans over the years when someone who had the world at their feet is never quite the same after an injury when they were heading for the top? Drew wasn’t letting it happen this time. Coming back from an injury is nothing when you’ve come back from the dead. He left a silhouette of that 3MB guy behind him, forgot how to shave, and learned how to boot the utter shite out of folk again.

Brock Lesnar’s role in the whole story should never be understated. Think what you like about Brock, he maybe gives a shit what 4 or 5 people actually employed by WWE think so the idea of him giving a fuck what people on the internet think is hilarious. He comes in for his shift, sells everything thrown at him, leathers folk he doesn’t like, has one of the best talkers of all time do his talking for him, and he goes home to ride Sable as your World Champion.

What he done for Drew at the Royal Rumble was unprecedented. No one who isn’t already a legend in wrestling has got the better of Brock so decisively the first time they properly went toe to toe. It would have been 100% believable if Brock went on to win the whole thing so the fact that Drew crashed the party half way through and booted him clean over the ropes (assist to Richard O’Shea for the wee baw boot beforehand) before staring through him as if he was saying “Ye sure there’s no one worthy of a shot of that title?” was remarkable. A huge moment in an era where not a lot feels so significant.

The whole story from the start was designed to make Drew looked as strong as possible. Brock almost scoffing at the locker room and deciding to win the Royal Rumble when he already had the Title just for the fuck of it was begging for someone to dislodge his jaw. He needed to be put in his place but the fact that the guy who done it had never even had a shot at the WWE Title never mind won it made it special. It was Drew’s arrival at the top table as the expense of one of the most dominant forces to ever step inside a wrestling ring. Whenever Wrestlemania was going to happen the moment was always going to be he is and as much as the official attendance will always be an eerie wee zero, we were all there with the big man in spirit. The World Champion is from Ayr, Scotland and that will never be anything other than a beautiful thing no matter how chaotic the world gets.

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Drew McIntyre’s Road To The Wrestlemania Main Event

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When Drew Mcintyre was released from WWE in 2013 there was no precedent there for a return that could yield any real success. Sure WWE had re-signed guys in the past and used them but never to any kind of meaningful extent. The biggest part of that is probably due to many of these talents not having a wrestling background or any kind of real love for wrestling before they were signed, so once the WWE journey was at its end, so was the wrestling one. Any released talents with a bit of name value will give the indies a wee taste of the exact act they seen on TV for years (rumour has it some will even refuse to lose on said indies because it would send shockwaves round the wrestling stratosphere if Chavo Guerrero loses in Saltcoats) but won’t make any big attempt to deviate from that act. Even guys like Cody Rhodes, who has since gone on to re-invent himself and revolutionise wrestling in many ways, struggled to separate himself from his WWE past when he first started making appearances outwith WWE. It was never the done thing until Drew took approximately an hour to lick his wounds after his release before deciding the only way to respond was to really fucking respond. Attack is the best form of defence as they say, so Drew decided to defend his reputation by attacking the whole wrestling world.

He started in the most natural place possible. Glasgow. In front of a 1,000+ crowd who were all there for ICW pre Drew Galloway. They had been there for many months before as ICW worked towards one of the biggest shows in their history, yet few could have anticipated the change of gears that was to come for the company on that night. As good auld JR would say, business well and truly picked up that night when just a few short days after his WWE release, TAFTKA Drew Mcintyre re-emerged as Drew Galloway and threw petrol on the already roaring ICW fire, taking the company and his own career to another level. Few would have predicted that night that Drew was just 6 years away from Claymore Kicking Brock Lesnar out his boots and out the ring on the way to winning the Royal Rumble, but you could feel something special was happening. It was like the shackles had been taken off and years of frustration melted away in the form of the absolute tanking he gave the NAK that night. Seemingly in aid of his auld pal Jack Jester before he turned on him as well and kicked off one of the most engaging feuds in British Wrestling history. Jack Jester vs Drew Galloway headlining the famous Barrowlands Ballroom for the ICW Title.

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He spent the next 3 years of his career conquering the wrestling world. Putting himself through a schedule that would make WWE talent wince. Putting his physical and mental health in jeopardy to chase this dream all over again. This time Drew wasn’t going to rest on his laurels. He no longer existed as a wrestler with a steady job, frustrated but almost content to wait for a proper opportunity to come along as part of the WWE family. Drew knew that if he was ever going to achieve what he wanted to in wrestling that he was going to have to show them why they were wrong. He was going to have to show them exactly how Drew Galloway makes wrestling companies better. Particularly the ones who show enough faith in him to have them leading the charge as their champion. Every company he touched in that time he made better. ICW done incredible numbers and had some of the most memorable feuds in their history happen while he was there both as champion and in his time without the title, following Grado’s victory over Drew in front of an unprecedented 4,000 strong crowd at the SECC.

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ICW would go on to top that number the following year after pulling 6,000+ in at The Hydro but the feud that took ICW to a 4,000 sell out well in advance of the show was Grado vs Drew. Never has a more effective portrayal of the battle between good and evil been portrayed in a wrestling ring as the towering madman prepared to behead ICWs favourite son only be be thwarted by a herculean effort from Grado that sent the SECC wild when he eventually dethroned the champion a year after he’d taken the title from Jack Jester. Many bigger foes, both in size and reputation, had tried to take the title that Drew had turned into a World Title during his reign but none had the almighty pull of 4,000 fans almost unanimously wanting you to do it. It takes a special kind of villain to make that kind of scenario possible. It takes a special kind of wrestler to turn people shedding tears of joy at the sight of you, to them baying for your blood in just over a year, but that’s what Drew is. Special.

His impact was felt all over the world as he took the Evolve Title soon after his release and was a mainstay there until his re-signing with WWE. Drew sent the video of his ICW return to Mick Foley who was so taken aback by the reaction and subsequent kicking he handed out that he texted Triple H and told him to keep an eye on that big Scottish unit they’d just released. Ironically the same Mick Foley would help Grado end Drew’s ICW Title reign as he took up the role as commissioner for the night, but he has forever been one of Drew’s biggest advocates. The more you look at Drew’s tenure away from WWE the more it looks like a hugely impressive audition tape to be a main guy in WWE. Dealing with an insane amount of travel, making an impact in locations on all corners of the globe, and having a genuine will to study the game he was already better than most at to become one of the very best on the planet, which he undoubtedly is now. Suddenly there was an upside to being released that few had ever seen before. Sure working with WWE is the most secure job you can have as a full time pro wrestler, but there is so much more to the pro wrestling world than one massive company. There’s audiences all over the world looking for talent that makes them stand up and take notice. Drew didn’t take his release as the end of the journey, more of a diversion than was still leading him to where he wanted to be. Something that felt like it was destined for him from the moment he stepped in a wrestling ring. Becoming WWE Champion.

The Greatest Royal Rumble? 

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WWE Champion Brock Lesnar entered the 2020 Royal Rumble at number one, insisting that no one on the roster came close enough to be considered for a title shot on that show. He was booked for a shift anyway and when you’re on that rota, even if yer Brock Lesnar, you better haul your arse in tae work. Brock decided not to fuck about, and if there was to be no title match he’d just go ahead and win that big battle royal everyone goes on about. Perhaps earning himself a night off at Wrestlemania this year when he secured the main event spot against himself. If they insisted on having him compete that night he could pull Michael Cole up from the announce desk for a game of heiders while Brock vs Brock plays out to a time limit draw.

It was all going swimmingly for Brock as he produced a masterful display. Eliminating 14 competitors consecutively and selling absolutely everything all 14 of them were about. Elias had his sing song interrupted by pure unfiltered rage. John Morrison was launched all the way back to the Impact Zone. Keith Lee was given the respect he undoubtedly deserves as Brock looked in genuine awe at the sight of the big man, asking Paul Heyman “Who’s this motherfucker?!” in the first moment that had looked like anything approaching worry since the match kicked off. The heartwarming reunion with Shelton Benjamin made you genuinely believe Brock Lesnar actually has friends for a minute before he tossed him out. Kofi Kingston and Big E made you believe in magic for a minute but he was too smart for all of them. Even when Braun Strowman joined Keith Lee in the ring, they decided fighting each other was a better move than joining forces to get rid of Brock and they got what they deserved. Despite his amazing music that Brock bopped along to like a King of all the Da’s, MVP was never a threat. It all looked a bit too easy until Ricochet appeared.

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Ricochet’s role in launching Drew towards the biggest moment of his career cannot be understated. It was the perfect moment. Hurting from the embarrassment Brock had inflicted on him on RAW the previous week, Ricochet was in no mood to be dumped out quick and had Brock reeling before Brock overpowered him. Only this time he was out of time. The next guy was due in. No time to get Ricochet out before then, deal with him in a minute eh. When the next guy is 6 foot 5, built like a brick shithouse, and absolutely not fucking scared of you, it becomes a whole different ball game. Drew was not having it and if Brock had to be one of the men he took out to get to where he wanted to go, so be it. The assist from Ricochet was just an opening for Drew that he was always looking for anyway. A thunderous boot in the baws from Ricochet stunned Brock, and with him perched just a few yards from the ropes, Drew went for it. Like a predator catching a glimpse of the jugular of its prey, he swooped in in what felt like a millisecond and Claymored the beast over the top rope. 14 consecutive eliminations. Looking like he was going to make good on his promise to chuck all 29 other competitors out. All gone in an instant. All gone because a big guy from Ayr with a degree in seizing the fucking moment decided this was his time.

Here’s the thing about Brock. Brock’s incredible at this. He always has been. Disliking him for having enough name value to be a pro wrestler on his terms is cutting your baws off to spite your dick. Enjoy what he does rather than moaning about what he doesn’t do. He is absolutely capable of phoning it in and producing below par matches but even that stuff has more to interest you than most of what goes on in wrestling. His selling is better than most because he knows selling is about more than making offensive moves look good. Its in every single thing you do opposite an opponent. Getting wide eyed and giving it “A big boy!” when Keith Lee came out is selling the fuck out of Keith Lee’s attributes. Fly kicking John Morrison in the ribs is selling the fuck out of John Morrison deserving a kick to the ribs. Bopping along to MVPs tune is selling the fuck out of MVP having an absolute banger as his tune. Its all selling and his appearance was a masterclass in the art but none of it was more masterful than how he sold Drew eliminating him and that’s why they could potentially have one of the most hotly anticipated WWE Title matches in Wrestlemania history. You could have picked Paul Heyman’s jaw off the floor as he gazed at the big ride that had made short work of his client. Brock managed to tell a story all in facial expressions, as shock turned to anger, anger turned to grudging respect, and grudging respect quickly turned to a need for revenge. Brock Lesnar has had matches with months of build that didn’t feel as significant as this

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The reaction when Drew chucked Roman Reigns over the top to secure his place in history was such a heartening one. It wasn’t the roar of a crowd that was 100% with him and expected his victory from the start. It was a crowd who felt change in the air.

Despite an injury derailing his run as NXT Champion, Drew had done nothing but show the WWE top brass from the moment he was re-signed that he was ready for this. Taking on any and all media stuff the company asked him to do. Producing high quality matches in the ring, although at this point that part its probably the easiest bit for a guy who has wanted this since he was merely 6 foot tall 15 year old. Becoming a constant reminder to the roster that there’s no excuse for not giving this everything. No excuse for becoming complacent and picking up a wage for doing little or nothing. His promo work has been scathing since his return but so it should be. As much as the company is very capable of making questionable decisions at the end of the day its up to the performer to make or break their own career. If you have the audience with you, the opportunities will be there. What each individual does with those opportunities is on them. There’s no doubt Drew was given a big opportunity at Wrestlemania last year when he was put up against the companies golden boy Roman Reigns in his first big match since returning from beating cancer and Drew provided the villain Roman needed that night. He was defeated but just having that match was enough to at least give you the feeling they were considering giving the ball to Drew and the big man was more than ready to Claymore that ball right in to the top corner.

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RAW the next night told you all you need to know about how people feel about Drew being the man to face Brock at Wrestlemania. He got an ear bursting reaction as he emerged to address the crowd and let them know who he intended to face and wasted little time in telling everyone he is not afraid of Brock Lesnar. Respectful of him and wary of what he can do physically but there is not one bit of fear in the man who must feel the long road to becoming WWE Champion is nearing its end. As he looked to the heavens after his win, no doubt paying regard to his mum who always believed he’d get there and his old mate Lionheart who would have been so proud to see someone from the same wee town in Scotland as him fulfilling his dreams, you could tell he felt the hard work was finally getting him where he wanted to be. There’s only one thing left for the big man to do. Slay the beast. Become the main man WWE sorely need to lead the next generation. If there’s one thing Drew has proved beyond any reasonable doubt is if you are a wrestling company and you put your faith in him, good things happen.

 

WWE Wrestlemania 32 Preview/Predictions

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