Drew McIntyre Shoots on Being a Top Guy in WWE, John Cena, Fan Backlash and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2021

Drew McIntyre Shoots on Being a Top Guy in WWE, John Cena, Fan Backlash and More

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    Between his newly released autobiography and another WWE Championship match on the horizon, Drew McIntyre is living his best life right now.
    Between his newly released autobiography and another WWE Championship match on the horizon, Drew McIntyre is living his best life right now.Credit: WWE.com

    Even with everything he's accomplished so far, Drew McIntyre has shown no signs of slowing down any time soon.

    The two-time WWE champion's first book, A Chosen Destiny: My Story, available now wherever books are sold, details every step of the journey that led him to the main event of WrestleMania. He writes about how a die-hard wrestling fan from Scotland has not only had the chance to live out his dream but also excel at the highest level.

    More impressively, the Scot has had the tough task of leading WWE through a pandemic and serving as the face of its flagship show, Raw. His initial title reign lasted over six months, with his most recent run ending shortly before WrestleMania 37.

    Despite falling short of regaining the gold on The Grandest Stage of Them All, the new author will have another crack at the championship when he battles Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman in a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania Backlash on Sunday.

    McIntyre has remained a regular on Raw over the last year and for good reason; he's one of WWE's biggest success stories of the modern era and a prime example of a new star being made.

    Fresh off the release of his critically acclaimed autobiography and ahead of WrestleMania Backlash, The Scottish Warrior spoke with Bleacher Report about getting his story published, what he learned from John Cena, the possibility of fan backlash, and more. 

    Check out the complete video of the interview on the next slide and read on for the highlights.

Writing His First Book

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    Despite growing up reading almost nothing but pro wrestler autobiographies from Mick Foley and The Rock to Kurt Angle and Bret Hart, McIntyre never thought he'd write one of his own.

    However, that opportunity presented itself around the time he won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36 and proved to be a rewarding experience for him.

    Seeing his new book on the shelves at Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble and other retail stories hasn't completely sunk in for him yet—and there's a good chance it never will.

    "I actually can't wrap my head around the idea that I go through the local Target here and see myself on the book shelf," McIntyre said. "At heart, I'm the biggest mark of all time. I think that's what people saw in the last year and started to relate to our fans: 'Oh, he doesn't look like all of us, but he is one of us.' Stuff like that still blows my mind to this day."

    The Scot as big of a fan of the business as anyone and recalls reading books Paul Bearer put out years ago, which helped him score a great grade on a school project.

    "I gave a talk to my English class one time on wrestling, and I remember—I talk about it in the book—the secrets of wrestling books by Dennis Brent and Percy Pringle [Paul Bearer]," McIntyre said. "I kind of used them as my template to put together my talk and I got two different VHS players and put together my own highlight video and played a CD in the background.

    "Years later, I told Percy Pringle, 'Hey, I kind of plagiarized part of your book and I got an A.' He thought that was pretty cool."

    The feedback to the book, specifically from his father and brother, has been overwhelming for McIntyre. He'd be open to writing another autobiography down the road after putting pen to paper for this one brought back a ton of memories.

    "The process was really cool," he said. "There's a lot of stuff in there I don't think about often and probably haven't thought about since it happened. The WWE life moves pretty fast, and you kind of have to be present in the moment. To go back over my life over the past 13 years, especially my time in America, was awesome."

What He Learned from John Cena About Being a Top Guy in WWE

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    John Cena provided the blueprint for many main event players in WWE today—Drew McIntyre included.

    The two have never squared off one-on-one in a WWE ring before, but the Scot insists the 16-time champion in WWE is someone he specifically took notes from after his release from the company in 2014.

    "I always talk about John Cena as someone I patterned myself after, after I was released rather than learning from him in the moment when I was there on the roster," McIntyre said. "Instead of working to better myself on the roster, it took getting fired and bettering myself personally before I thought of who I could look up to in this business and whose mentality I needed. I thought about John and how relentless he was with everything he did: be it in media, the gym, in the ring and every aspect of his life."

    The Miz mentioned in his most recent WWE 24 documentary on Peacock that he went out of his way to ask for every media opportunity the company had when he first joined. It was an attempt to make himself as big of a star as possible, and McIntyre has adopted that same formula.

    "[Cena is] such a workaholic and The Miz followed that exact same path," McIntyre continued. "I said to myself, 'I'm going to be that guy, too.' Whether it was outside of WWE or inside WWE, whenever I was given any kind of position where I was able to take the reins and get the media opportunities and they wanted to speak to me, I was going to take full advantage of it. The second I had that title, I said, 'Give me it all! I'm that guy now, there's no excuse, I want every little bit of it.'"

    The Scottish Warrior has been in the upper echelon of WWE for over a year now. Not only has he gotten used to the pressure, he also thrives under it and enjoys the extra responsibilities he's had to take on as one of WWE's top-tier talents.

    "Every new chance I get, I learn more about the company and all the different areas and how many people it takes to keep this global juggernaut running," he said. "It's truly unbelievable. It gives me a greater appreciation for the company, and I get afforded the opportunities to do the really cool stuff like the charity work and the virtual hospital visits."

If He Was Surprised by the Reaction He Received at WrestleMania 37

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    Before WrestleMania 37, McIntyre hadn't worked in front of fans since March 2020. He's had many ups and downs as a two-time WWE champion in that time and that was sure to affect how people perceived him.

    Most notably, he got his first taste of WWE world title gold in an empty Performance Center in the main event of WrestleMania 36. He made the most of an unfortunate situation, but it was essentially the story of his life and therefore fitting.

    "The only thing I've been missing the last year is the live fans in attendance," he said. "A lot of big moments over the last year I would've loved to have live with the WWE Universe in person, but as we talk about in the book, my journey made me the man I am today. It made me the only man to lead the company during a worldwide pandemic because there's nothing I haven't gotten through and nothing was going to faze me when I finally reached the top, including a worldwide pandemic."

    McIntyre's second WWE title reign came to an end at the hands of The Miz at Elimination Chamber in February. Bobby Lashley taking the title from The A-Lister soon after was met with almost universal acclaim online from fans, which seemed to indicate he'd be the fan favorite in his encounter with the Scot at Raymond James Stadium this year.

    McIntyre was unsure of the reaction he'd receive that night in Tampa, Florida, especially with how frequently he's been featured on WWE TV throughout the pandemic era.

    The WWE Universe typically gets tired of people who are in such a prominent spot for so long, so he knew there was a chance he'd be booed, if only by a portion of those in attendance at The Show of Shows.

    "I didn't know what to expect to be honest with you," he said. "You mentioned I've been in the WWE title scene since January 2020. Literally a year and a half of constant Drew content. Drew's normally opening the show, main-eventing the show, multiple segments. He's all across social media. You're seeing a lot of Drew.

    "In the past when that's happened, sometimes our fans look for the next cool thing and their attention span wavers and perhaps they're not going to stay into that person because they're like, 'OK, we like this person, but what's the new thing I can get into right now?' Or even reject the person who's supposed to be the good guy.

    "I really didn't know. All I knew was that I didn't mind. I've been around long enough where as long as they care, one way or another, as long as there's no silence when I walk out there, that's all I care about. I'll roll with the punches and adjust on the fly. When you have live fans, you're about to do that and adjust to how they're reacting. It's how you dictate the pace of your match and interviews, etc. But just to walk out and hear the cheers initially blew my mind."

His Thoughts on WrestleMania Match with Bobby Lashley

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    Despite being pushed back due to an untimely rain delay, McIntyre's WrestleMania match with Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship was an entertaining, hard-hitting affair.

    The two have always worked well together, so it came as no surprise that they were able to produce another gem on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

    The crowd wasn't completely against the Scot as he first feared. Rather, it was a 50-50 split between him and Lashley, which made for an electric atmosphere in Raymond James Stadium. It also told the Scot that his storyline with The All Mighty had been a success.

    "Bobby came out, I heard the reaction for him too, and thought, 'Cool, what we're doing with him is working as well. This is great,'" he said. "We're taking up a lot of TV time right now, and being on the show as much as we are, you want fans to be digging it and care and react and be emotionally involved. To hear the response for each of us and for that match really was a cool moment for both of us out there."

    McIntyre beating Lashley to reclaim the championship, this time in front of fans, was the expected finish. Instead, The All Mighty forced his opponent to pass out, retaining his title in the process.

    McIntyre felt the shocking outcome was the perfect way to close out the contest, though.

    "Everybody thought I was going to win and have that moment," he said. "It kind of caught them off guard when I went down to the Hurt Lock. Just like the book tells you, nothing ever goes to plan in Drew's life. Everybody just assumed, 'Finally! Drew's going to get his moment with the fans and have the title.' Raise it up, big firework display after last year of not having any fans. But nope, Lashley wins, we cement ourselves another top level main event performer in Lashley, and it goes with the Drew story of another obstacle I have to overcome."

How Evolving Has Helped Him Avoid Fan Backlash Thus Far

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    McIntyre's first two years back on the Raw roster were spent as a heel, the role he portrayed throughout his original run with the company.

    It wasn't until around WrestleMania season in 2020 that he started to endear himself to the fans, specifically when he won the men's Royal Rumble match to a raucous reaction. A year later, a portion of the audience is ready to see him out of the title picture because he's no longer considered a fresh face there.

    All in all, though, McIntyre has managed to keep a majority of the audience on his side, something that is extremely rare for babyfaces in WWE nowadays.

    "I'm not the fresh cool kid on the block, but everybody knows who I am and what I'm about," he said. "I'm going to continue to be Drew McIntyre. I know exactly who I am as a character and it's not far off from the real person. I'm going to continue to be me and evolve the character, add more layers wherever I can."

    That evolution of his character will ensure he remains relevant for a lot longer. Being in chase mode will help as well.

    McIntyre noted that his biggest mistake at 'Mania was allowing himself to be distracted by MVP at ringside. As seen on Monday's Raw when he faced Lashley in a rematch, he isn't going to let that happen again come WrestleMania Backlash.

    "We've seen good guys in the past get massive, massive boos, but people are emotionally invested one way or another," he said. "I think it's pretty crazy that from what I gather, people have been pretty much digging what I've been doing for a solid year and a half. That's not lost on me with how difficult that is to do in this day and age."

One Positive of the Pandemic Era He Plans to Continue Once Fans Return

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    No one is more aware of what the pros and cons of the pandemic era in WWE have been more than McIntyre.

    He's served as the flag-bearer for Raw and was WWE champion for close to a year, all without fans in the building. Despite the less-than-perfect circumstances, he's persevered and done some of the best work of his career, both in the ring and on the mic.

    During his lengthy title reign, it felt like McIntyre finally figured out what worked for him and honed in on that. He's been everything one would want out of a main event player in WWE and has excelled in the role, even without any fans to feed off of at ringside.

    When the pandemic era comes to an end and WWE goes back on the road, he hopes to continue getting away with looking straight into the camera on WWE TV and breaking the fourth wall.

    "I'm always looking down the camera, and I used to love when wrestlers did that back in the day," McIntyre said. "I noticed in WCW in particular a lot of guys would do it, and maybe too many of the guys would do it. For our show, it was the first thing I did because I thought we need to reach our fans, we need to reconnect with them. We don't have them in the building, especially in the Performance Center, a warehouse with no fans.

    "I was the first one looking down the lens. I did it at WrestleMania when I won the title and still use it when I'm directly talking to someone or punctuate something, or when I want to deliver a specific message to everyone at home.

    "Not everybody does that, or perhaps is supposed to do that, but I do it and will probably continue to do it because I remember what it was like from when I was a kid. I never lost that fan aspect.

    "I remember when people would look at me right down the lens, especially if it was something particularly emotional or trying to drive a point home. I felt it because they were talking right to me. That's something I'm definitely going to keep doing."

If We'll Ever Hear 'Broken Dreams' Again

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    One question McIntyre has been continuously asked by fans since returning to WWE in 2017 is when, or if, he'll bring back "Broken Dreams" by Shaman's Harvest as his entrance theme.

    He used the popular tune as his walkout song from 2010 through 2012 when he linked up with 3MB. Once he re-signed with WWE and joined NXT four years ago, he debuted a new theme by CFO$ called "Gallantry" that was later remixed on the main roster.

    Interestingly, the lyrics of "Broken Dreams" perfectly match the story of his career, but the song itself doesn't fit his current character. But the two-time WWE champion hopes to use it again at some point—if only for a one-off.

    The WWE Universe has been begging for it for so long that if the song is met with silence when the time comes, he'll be disappointed.

    "Leading up to WrestleMania, I'd hear about it every day, every year," McIntyre said. "The only time we used it was the buildup video for myself and Bobby Roode for the NXT title. We managed to get it in there. As far as I'm aware, the company does have the rights to use the song. Eventually, it will happen. I don't know when it will happen, but people want it enough.

    "Here's the thing: If I push forward it and it does happen, I expect an arena full of people to know every single word because the way that everybody has tweeted me for years, you'd assume everyone knows every word. So, don't let me down if that happens. I expect everyone to have that lyric sheet learned."

    Drew McIntyre's Chosen Destiny: My Story is now available.

              

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.

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