If there is a wrestler currently on the WWE roster that I have more of an emotional attachment to than the subject of this blog post, I don’t know who they are. Someone whose journey post his WWE release, and after his return during his time in NXT and beyond, that I have followed closely and been very emotional several times along the way… A man who busted his ass, took everything he was given and gave it his all, and slowly but surely made his way to the very top of professional wrestling, and lead the company during the toughest time in not just pro-wrestling history, but the toughest time in most people’s lives. And a man on who on Saturday night gets his dream, the main event of a WWE stadium Pay Per View show in the UK and in a match for the biggest prize in the business.
But let me go back to the start with the story of Drew McIntyre. So we can really understand why this man’s journey is so special. And why it means so much to me. And why I am DESPERATE to get the big win this weekend…
I’m sure you all know the story by now, but I was a fan and vividly remember watching the very beginning, when “a future world heavyweight champion” was introduced to the WWE world. In terms of a prospect, his early WWE career was actually pretty good; Drew made his TV debut, went back down to OWV, but then debuted a second time on WWE TV in 2009. Drew won the Intercontinental Championship in December of 2009 and would hold it for 161 days.
After that was the steady decline, a string of mid-card feuds would eventually lead to him becoming a part of the ‘3MB’ group with perennial lower-carders Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. Fun? Yes sure. But was he living up to the big-billing he was given? No. And he was drifting further and further away. Until, the dream was ended (for now).
On the 12th June 2014, Drew McIntyre was released by WWE.
But as one door closes, another opens. Or in this case, it is smashed down! What came after was a renaissance of a performer, and one hell of a transformation.
Drew GALLOWAY made his return to the business for ICW (the largest wrestling promotion in Drew’s native Scotland) just over a month after his WWE release.
And we were well and truly off to the races! I could go on and on about Drew’s ‘Indie’ run, but let me give you the bullet points, and then I’ll talk about his final match before his return to WWE, and also my own personal views of his rebirth run…
- Won the ICW title (for the 2nd time, he was also their first ever champion), and held it for 378 days.
- Won the Evolve championship (in his debut match for that promotion). He would hold it for 336 days.
- Won the Evolve Tag team titles (their inaugural champions) with his tag team partner at the time… some dude called Johnny Gargano…
- Went to Mexico to work for the famed AAA promotion. Competing with the likes of Rey Mysterio and Johnny Mundo.
- Had a hugely successful run for TNA Wrestling. He won their World title from Matt Hardy, and was also a holder of their Impact Grand Championship at one point, as well as feuding with the likes of Moose, EC3 and Bobby Lashley.
- Took part in the historic ‘Battle of Los Angeles’ (BOLA) tournament for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
Drew also spent some time working for an independent promotion in England called What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW), which later became Defiant Wrestling. And that was how I got my own look and experience of his amazing run.
In November of 2016, I and my friend Stefan (with his younger brother) attended a WCPW show in a Nottingham Sports Hall called ‘DELETE WCPW’ in tribute to the show’s star attraction, BROKEN Matt Hardy. The main event was a 3 way cage match for the WCPW Championship, with defending champion Joseph Connors, Joe Hendry (a top heel in the promotion) and Drew (a late addition to the original singles match). McIntyre had made his return from injury on a previous version of the promotion’s weekly show, coming back to confront his rival Conners who had taken him out long before, and then cutting one HELL of a promo!!!
And it was in fact Galloway who left with the title, with the finish seeing Drew pin Conners as Hendry tried to escape the cage. In something that would become a theme for me, the first time I went to the show of a promotion, I saw their world title change in the main event. Blessed.
And if you thought seeing Drew (who by this point had become a HUGE star in independent wrestling and widely regarded as one of the biggest names in British wrestling) win a title was special… At the next WCPW show me and Stefan attended, we had the pleasure of seeing Drew as WCPW Champion compete during the WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup English qualifying show in Nottingham in March of 2017… against some dude called… Ricochet!
It really was a great match, of two hugely contrasting styles that produced such magic when put together. I would put it top 10 maybe of matches I’ve ever seen live.
By this point, Drew’s stardom couldn’t be ignored. Every top company wanted him, but Drew decided to go back home. And on April 1st, a certain someone got the classic ‘new star in the crowd treatment’ at NXT TakeOver: Orlando.
Drew’s final match before his WWE return would see him face some guy called Cody Rhodes… and after, once again, he cut quite the promo and one which garnered a huge response online…
Given my attachment to McIntyre, and by that point NXT was my favourite thing in wrestling. So for the two to come together was a dream. But I don’t think any of us thought the run would be so quick. In hindsight we know it was always going to be like that, McIntyre wanted to go to NXT given how hot that brand was at the time, but he was always going to be moved to the main roster quickly, he was too good not to. And as a result he only actually had two TakeOver appearances. The first saw him dethrone Bobby Roode to become NXT Champion, and although the win was somewhat overshadowed by the WWE debut of Adam Cole after, it was still quite the moment.
And his second TakeOver just a few months later saw him lose that same Championship to Andrade. And whilst the result of the match was always the plan, what wasn’t was what happened to McIntyre just prior to the finish. And a return to Raw or SmackDown was delayed by a torn bicep. Drew would be out for around 6 months after.
Drew’s NXT run was indeed over. As on the ‘Superstar Shake-Up’ episode of Raw on April 16th 2018, the fka ‘Chosen One’ was back…
Drew spent his first couple of years back on WWE weekly tv as Dolph Ziggler’s henchman. The would win the Raw tag titles, and Drew would aide Ziggler in winning the Intercontinental title too. The two would also join Braun Strowman as part of a long running feud with The Shield. After Ziggler and Drew’s split, Ziggler would eliminate Drew from the Royal Rumble, before Drew went back into a short feud with The Shield (joining Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley in a 6 man tag match at Fastlane that year, against Seth Rollins (who was heading to WrestleMania to challenge Brock Lesnar after winning the Rumble… see if that story comes up again later…), Dean Ambrose (who was only a few weeks out from his WWE departure) and Roman Reigns who was in his first match after returning from beating Leukaemia. The Shield’s win would lead to our first match between Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 35, with Reigns taking the win. From here… well some BULLSHIT happened… and I’ll let you look into that if you want to be reminded and feel utter pain… but hey it ended alright… As at Extreme Rules in 2019 we got a tag team match that I don’t think in a million years anyone would A. ever imagine could happen, and B. think it could be good. But file this one under matches that were infinitely better than they had any right to be…
This match was also mega cool for two reasons… firstly this tweet from Drew’s brother:
But also this image from the match (the GIF version is even better), which I just think is cool as fuck!
So after that whole thing was done with… Now it was Drew’s time.
He had started to run up a fairly decent winning streak before the 2020 Royal Rumble, and had just begun a babyface turn. And so what followed was… well… Anyone who knows me knows how much I absolutely adore the 2020 Men’s Royal Rumble match. And everyone knows how that match ended. But for me at that time I was going through quite a lot personally, stuff I had never had to deal with and didn’t quite know how to handle it at the time. I was an emotional mess to be honest, and a weekend watching wrestling with my friends was just the tonic. We had no idea then of course that we wouldn’t be able to reunite for some time… but I needed a distraction from my own troubles for a bit… and having a guy I watched wrestle a few years prior in a Sports Hall in Nottingham not only eliminate BROCK LESNAR from the Royal Rumble, but to go all the way and WIN the Royal Rumble… Made me feel a level of emotion I’ve only ever felt a few times watching professional wrestling. Maybe I wasn’t so upset at him winning as much as I needed something to bring me out of a hole I was in at that time, that would subsequently get worse, but to have it be Drew that did that, above anyone in that match… meant the world. FINALLY Drew McIntyre was going to get his chance at immortality.
Released in 2014, the main event of WrestleMania in 2020. Indescribable. I will never ever be able to repay Drew McIntyre for what this Royal Rumble win meant to me.
Throughout this whole thing, Brock Lesnar made Drew McIntyre look like one BILLION bucks… In this picture below for example, after Drew had Claymore Lesnar and the crowd are going nuts, Brock whispered to Drew to pick up his belt, just to get that money shot and to look like even more of a monster. It’s stuff like that that makes me love Brock almost as much as I do Drew.
But of course, as we all know, Drew’s mania moment would be unlike any other before him. Yes he got his main event, yes he got Brock, and YES he won THE title… but he got a mania moment that only looking back on do I realise how beautiful it was…
I needed it. The world needed it. Again I’ll never be able to thank Drew McIntyre enough for what him winning the WWE Championship from Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania meant to me.
So look, people will have their differing opinions on Drew McIntyre’s run as WWE Champion… to me he held down the thought during the toughest time in the history of the business and maybe most of our lives full stop, he had great title matches with Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Lashley before moving into a feud with Randy Orton. He both lost and won back the title from Orton who was having one of the best year’s of his career from a character performance POV, and Drew stood with him all the way. He even got a match at Survivor Series with then Universal Champion Roman Reigns. He would lose the title to The Miz, falling victim to a cash in shortly after retaining inside Elimination Chamber in the February of 2021. But overall I felt Drew was a more than adequate WWE Champion and flagbearer for the company during the most unique, unknown and all-round difficult period in its history. So all the credit to him for that alone! Oh… and he beat Goldberg as well during his time as champion… Just to remind you all of that…
Drew got his chance to win back the title at WrestleMania 37 against Bobby Lashley. And although he didn’t get the W, he did get his wish in being the first WWE superstar to walkout in front of fans since the pandemic first began and confined us all to watching on from home. And given his service during the Covid era of WWE, I couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate to get that spot.
After that Drew really just went on a solid, main event babyface run. Drew lost twice more to Lashley and so had to move on to other things… He would also fail to win the Money in the Bank ladder match after interference from Jinder Mahal and his cronies. He would have PPV matches after with Jinder, Sheamus and Big E. He would also then be moved over to SmackDown in the draft, before beginning a long feud with HAPPY (?) Corbin and MADCAP (?) Moss that would go all the way to WrestleMania 38 where Drew beat Corbin and also became the first man to ever kick out of Corbin’s End of Days finisher.
With the UK’s first PPV in 30 years fast approaching, there were strong rumours that Drew would be in the main event of the show against Roman Reigns. A UK PPV was something he had campaigned for for years, so it only felt right. And seeds were sewn early with a 6 man tag match taking place at WrestleMania Backlash pitting The Bloodline vs RK-Bro and McIntyre (the match BANGED by the way).
Finally, after a few delays, Drew would finally face off with Sheamus to determine who would challenge Roman Reigns in Cardiff. Two best friends who seem to of been born to FIGHT one another… and again the match was GREAT…
And so finally, it was ON! Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. I wont delve too much into the build to the match, because I’m sure you’ve all seen it unfold over the last few weeks. But I think it’s been great, this has been the most excited I’ve been for a WWE match in a LONG time! It feels like such a big occasion, that real MAIN EVENT, BIG FIGHT FEEL! Two absolute specimens, two great wrestlers, two great promos, I just think it’s going to be so so great!
I think Drew is going to win. And I think he SHOULD too!
I am not saying Roman has been bad. He’s INCREDIBLE. This Tribal Chief run has been an all-timer, and one that had turned him into everything WWE wanted him to be all along. BUT… He’s a part timer firstly, and he has BOTH belts. In this new era of WWE we really need a world champion on both Raw and SmackDown every week, and I think Drew is the guy to help us get there. Has there ever been a better time or place or occasion for Roman to lose? Honestly in the last 2 years it just hasn’t felt like it’s someone else’s time… But it just feels like it’s Drew’s time now. Given how much WWE have put into this PPV, I just get a feeling they’re going to want to blow the roof off… and there’s no better way to do that than have the Head of the Table get Claymored and beat.
There’s been two major things in the build to this show that have turned me round to Drew winning… Firstly this insanely good promo segment with KO…
And then this incredible video package…
Honestly… after everything they’ve told and reminded us about his story to get to this point… how can he NOT win? This whole build has been all about Drew, not our champion… They’re not stupid WWE… This surely has been done on purpose… right???…
But hey… whatever happens in Cardiff on Saturday night… I’ll be so immensely proud and behind our man. Someone who as a wrestler has dug me out of so many emotional slumps I can’t even count.
Clash At The Castle. Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns… Do our BROKEN Dreams come true? …