Drew McIntyre could very well go down as one of the greatest WWE Champions in company history.
But his real-life story is just as compelling and inspiring as his legacy-enhancing victory over Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36.
Winning a championship in the main event of the biggest wrestling show of the year, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, isn’t exactly ideal, but that doesn’t take away the enormity of Drew’s crowning achievement. He became the first British-born World Champion in WWE history.
He was just 21 when he first signed for the WWE, becoming the first Scotsman to ever do so. Yes, believe it or not, the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper was not born in Scotland. He was Canadian.
McIntyre became obsessed with professional wrestling from the tender age of 10, and by the age of 17, he knew he wanted to have a career wearing spandex and entertaining millions around the globe.
While learning his craft, McIntyre would work six days a week on the Independent circuit, in between sixth form and university – If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.
After making a pretty big impact on the Scottish scene, he was snapped up by Vince McMahon, and made his official TV debut at the aforementioned tender age of 21.
When he first burst onto the scene in 2009, as a scrawny 6’4 good looking kid, it’s fair to say most fans scoffed as Vince McMahon personally endorsed him as a future World Heavyweight Champion.
McIntyre was pushed heavily on the Smackdown brand, capturing the prestigious Intercontinental Championship, and was also set to win the Money In The Bank briefcase at his WrestleMania debut, until plans were changed, as is often the case with WWE.
Despite the initial success, fans still weren’t buying into the Drew McIntyre project. Something was missing, but no one knew what. McMahon also lost patience with him, turning him into a glorified jobber to the stars before putting him in a comedy faction alongside Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater, otherwise known as 3MB.
The New Day, this was not. It was lousy, dire stuff that further buried the career of McIntyre. Then, in 2014, Drew’s fate as a WWE Superstar was seemingly sealed when he was handed his release.
It seemed as if WWE fans had seen the last of Drew McIntyre. It wasn’t as if they were clamouring to see him return. If Drew ever wanted to make it back to the bright lights he would have to work harder than ever before, and he did just that.
The first thing he did was bulk up and get in tremendous condition. The guy is no longer a kid. He is a man, and one who looks as if he could feasibly bench press six or seven men. He now looks like a WWE Superstar in the eyes of Vince McMahon.
McIntyre went about making a huge name for himself on the Independent circuit, putting wrestling back on the map, especially in his native Scotland. He also had a successful stint in Impact Wrestling, where he caught the eye of WWE officials once again. Triple H gave him a call, and the rest is history.
A few months later, he was in NXT, back under the WWE banner, kicking ass and taking names. He was here to remove all doubt from the people’s minds who said he didn’t belong.
After an extremely successful period in NXT, where he captured the main title and put on a series of stirring efforts opposite some of the finest performers in the world, it was time to make the step up to the main roster once again.
How would mainstream fans react to him after all the time away?
Very well, as it turned out.
This wasn’t the Drew McIntyre that left in 2014. He was now a superstar who believed in his own ability to become one of the best in the world.
His stint back on Raw wasn’t without complications, however. He was booked oddly for far too long. Being Dolph Ziggler’s lackey, without the payoff of a big babyface turn, to doing the same with Shane McMahon – it just wasn’t working.
His work was outstanding, but the content he was being given to work with was so poor. Fans were sick of booing him, they wanted to raise the roof for this guy who was kicking ass and taking names.
Fast forward to earlier this year, and Drew McIntyre managed to solidify himself as the top new babyface in WWE by eliminating Brock Lesnar and winning the Royal Rumble match, making him the first Brit to ever do that too.
McIntyre broke down in tears of jubilation as the rafters shook from people stamping their feet and applauding their new hero. Drew McIntyre had finally arrived. But it almost didn’t happen at all….
While in the midst of McIntyre’s wilderness tour outside of WWE, tragedy struck that almost ended his career before it could truly begin. During a particular match on the Indies, McIntyre was dropped on his head, fracturing two vertebrae and was confined to a brace for two months. It seemed to spell the end, but McIntyre is an optimist and refused to let this define his legacy.
While recovering, McIntyre turned to alcohol (according to the man himself) and his wife was forced to intervene to remind Drew exactly who he was. The words resonated with McIntyre who quit drinking, got in the best shape of his life and rehabilitated as if his life depended on it, because to him, it did.
McIntyre’s tale is an inspiring one. He got his wish fulfilled at such a young age only to see it all get flushed away, then be forced to start from scratch again. He had to make a name for himself without the marketing juggernaut of WWE backing him, recover from a broken neck, get in the best shape of his life, achieve greatness around the world before finally gaining redemption and re-signing with WWE to capturing their biggest prize on the grandest stage of them all.
McIntyre is a very likeable guy. He works hard at his craft, he is committed to the art, and he is determined to be the best. He is also polite, respectful and full of humour. He is the real deal, and could quite possibly go down as one of the greatest WWE Champions of all time.
Not bad for a guy who got his marching orders from the company six years ago.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @JK_CFC3. Thanks for reading!