By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
McIntyre on WWE Day 1: “I think it’s awesome. We have an event on New Year’s Day. Everybody’s looking for some entertainment on New Year’s Day. Probably nursing a pretty bad hangover — if you’re over 21 in America, over 18 in the rest of the world — and it’s cool that we’re providing that entertainment with the Day 1 event. For me personally, I’m very glad I gave up drinking a few years ago, so I will not be hungover on Day 1. I strongly suggest Madcap [Moss] also stays away from any alcoholic beverages on the 31st because it is his first big pay-per-view match. He’s going against former two-time WWE champion Drew McIntyre. My big size 14 is looking to connect with his face, so he better be on his game.”
On wrestling Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar in 2022: “I’m not rushing to get to that match. I’ve learned patience over my 21-year wrestling career, especially in WWE. We’re 52 weeks a year. No re-runs, no off-season. I’m enjoying what I’ve been doing on Smackdown, almost reintroducing everybody to Drew McIntyre and I can hear that things are working. Every crowd I walk out in front of, be it television or non-televised event, I feel that we’re on the right path.”
Winning back WWE fans: “I remember that particular time. It was amazing that the fans stayed so positive for such a long time and the only way we could gauge it was social media. Generally, they are the harshest critics. So they were positive for such a long time until I think I had wrestled with Lashley a couple of times. Even though it had technically only been maybe two matches, it felt like it’d be going on for a long time. Perhaps we didn’t do as many interesting things as we could and should have done to keep fans invested. I think they were just over that particular storyline. By the time fans were coming back, there was still a bit of a feeling like we’d had a lot of Drew in our face, which we had.
“Realistically, we had Drew McIntyre at the top of the card for a year and a half, which in today’s day and age might as well be 20 years with the short attention spans that people have. I was aware of that fully when the crowds were coming back, especially at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view… So as soon as I got the opportunity to cover for all earlier in the night, I had the money in the bag. If you go back and watch it, you hear the initial reaction. When I appeared, I was just glad to hear the noise. Like there was a lot of cheers, but also some booze mixed in there as well, which. Like had before.
“If you watch the duration of the promo, I was back to being just regular Drew. I wasn’t trying any outside-the-box things like ‘Story Time with Drew’.I instantly dropped that crap the second fans came back because I knew it wasn’t gonna work with a live audience. You could hear them cheering by the end of the interview. From that moment forward, I kept with what I know works, what brought me to the dance as a main event player, which is just me with the volume turned up. I had fun on the rest of my time on Raw with a live audience being there. Outside of the title scene, fans really started paying attention again and the move to Smackdown was like a whole fresh coat of paint all over again. That was the kind of rebirth again of Drew McIntyre.”
The freedom of the mid-card scene: “Yeah, for sure. You get to try new things. When you’re the champion, you really want everything to hit. You’re expected to have everything hit. You can throw some things against the wall when you’re not the champion and see what sticks. What works and what’s not working, there’s not as much on you when you’re not involved in that title scene. Also for the fans, it gives them a chance to see you in a different light. See you doing something else. And eventually, hopefully, they get to the point where they’re like, ‘Why is this guy not in the title picture? This is driving me crazy. I want to see him there again…’
“It’s cool to get away, add some layers to the character. Maybe get a new hold as they like to say in the wrestling industry and have the fans start rallying behind you and chase the title. Cause you know, the interest and the money, generally, is in the chase as opposed to holding the title.”
Reflecting on his Jinder Mahal match at SummerSlam: “No, definitely not. I didn’t expect Becky to return. The match prior gave the crowd that reaction, that moment. Then when they expected the lengthy match with Becky and Bianca [Belair], it took the wind out of the sails by having the match be 20-something seconds. To walk out after that, the crowd was a bit deflated. It wasn’t quite what I hoped reaction was. Perhaps it wasn’t what I was hoping for match-wise, but, it gave Drew McIntyre the big win on a big stage, a very dominant win. Even though sometimes I’m like, ‘I want to go out there and have the best match possible and do all the cool near falls and stuff,’ sometimes, you have to be saved from yourself and protect the character and elevate the character. That was about elevating Drew McIntyre and it did do that on a huge stage.”
McIntyre on his WrestleMania run: I’m satisfied with everything I’ve done in my career, especially since I returned to WWE. I want it absolutely. I’ll work for it, but there’s only so much I can control and I work as hard as I can at all the things I can control. If it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be. But I will get a significant moment on Mania, maybe not in the final match, but it will be in the final match. I’ll be making that happen, but I’ll be having that significant moment… Two years ago I won the title with nobody there. It meant the world to me and was necessary during those times. The following year, I’m fighting for the title. Once again, my goodness, two years in a row, what are the chances. A limited capacity crowd at Raymond James Stadium, I’m going to have my moment. Then I get choked out, so I don’t get my moment in front of the fans. So maybe Mania might not be my greatest luck charm, but I’ve got a good feeling there’s going to be a significant moment for Drew at a Mania. I’ve got many years left in me. Everybody thinks I’m in my forties already… Even though it feels like I’ve been around forever, I’m still 36. I’ve still got plenty of time left.”
His early memories of wrestling the Honky Tonk Man, Marty Jannetty and D’Lo Brown: “I think it was 16 or 17 when I wrestled Honky Tonk Man. He was willing to take one fall. I remember him telling me, ‘Choose your one bump wisely.’ And then he didn’t go down on his own finishing move, The Shake, Rattle and Roll. He wasn’t willing to bump on his own finish, but he gave me one bump earlier in the match, which I’m very happy about.
“Marty, I remember putting in a heck of a shift. D’Lo Brown, it’s still floating around backstage, doing some producer work. I’m sure he’d be ready to get back in the ring. I was absolutely crapping my pants. I was like a 16-year-old kid in my first match against the Honky Tonk Man. He made me feel comfortable in the time was spent around each other outside the ring. He was super nice to me. He knew I had a passion for the industry. He kept calling me Clint because he thought I reminded him of a young Clint Eastwood.
“D’Lo, that was somebody who had watched when I was more like 13, 14, 15. He was on WWE. He was Intercontinental champion European champion… So getting in the ring with him, like he’s a little bit older than me, but closer in age and somebody where I was like, ‘If I can hang with this guy, I can hang with the WWE superstars when I get that opportunity.’ I felt like I did hang with him and there were a couple of his punches that hurt like hell. I was like, ‘Oh, so this is how hard I have to hit people. Okay. That’s what I’m going to do.’ I was very happy after that match because I felt like D’Lo was a guy who’s just been in WWE. If I had a good match with him, I could have a good match with anybody.”