When Drew Galloway saw the card for the Royal Rumble, his eyes immediately turned to one match: AJ Styles defending the WWE championship against John Cena.
“When you integrate someone like Cena, who has been ‘The Guy’ and especially the big match guy for the past 10 years, with someone like AJ, then you have a complete recipe for success,” said Galloway. “The response Cena elicits from the crowd is unreal. And critically, AJ Styles has been considered one of, if not, the best in the world. Together, it’s magic.”
Galloway formed a friendship with Cena during their time together in WWE, and still considers him a mentor in the business.
“I used to be around John Cena all the time in WWE, and I watched him and the way he worked,” said Galloway. “John is a guy who has been at the top longer than anyone else in history, and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to train at Cena’s gym and go to him for advice. The questions I ask him deal with how to conduct myself as a businessman and how to truly get over in wrestling. My goal is to actually top him, and be bigger and busier than John Cena.”
Cena defeated Styles to win his record-setting 16th WWE world championship, but Galloway credited “The Phenomenal One” with adding another level of prestige to the title during his 140-day run as champ.
“AJ Styles is the best in the world,” said Galloway. “We’re seeing in WWE what everyone who had already watched him kept saying: there is no one better than AJ Styles. AJ is the man.”
Styles lost in the finals of the tournament for the inaugural 5 Star Wrestling championship last January, which is where Galloway worked this past Saturday on a card in Dundee, Scotland, that was broadcast on Spike TV in the United Kingdom. Galloway battled John Morrison, who defeated Styles for the belt in January of 2016.
“The 5 Star show on Saturday was great,” said Galloway. “It was one of the greatest reactions I’ve ever had in my entire life, and being part of that experience showed people how much wrestling’s reach has expanded. Before, we aspired to go to America. I was at the 5 Star show with John Morrison, Rey Mysterio, and Carlito, and they are three of the best wrestlers in the world, and it’s so cool to see guys want to come wrestle in the U.K.
“I beat John Morrison in 2009 in WWE for the Intercontinental title, and we’ve had a lot of years away from each other, but Saturday night was the best match we’ve ever had together. We’re at such a different point in our careers, and we’ve really found ourselves. John countered all of my DDTs and beat me in the second match of the eight-man tournament, then beat Mysterio in the finals. Once he had his moment to celebrate, I got in the ring with him and shook his hand. I told him, ‘If it couldn’t be me, I’m glad it was you,’ then I dropped him with the DDT and raised the title to many cheers. I’m not going to sit idly back while John gets all the credit in my country, so we have a lot to look forward to in 5 Star.”
Randy Orton won the 30-man Royal Rumble, presumably paving his path to a world title with match with John Cena at WrestleMania 33. Seeing Orton stand tall at the end of the pay per view brought back some pleasant memories of “The Viper”.
“Randy was bred for this business,” said Galloway. “He is a third generation star, he looks the part, talks the part, and is the complete package in the ring. As most people know, Randy has always been brutally honest, which is why we clicked when it came to conversation. We were never afraid to express our real opinion on wrestling. This business is the one thing Randy truly understands. He is always evolving and adapting to what is relevant in the modern TV era.”
Much to the delight of the crowd at the Alamodome, Orton won the Rumble by eliminating Roman Reigns, who had already competed earlier in the night when he lost—due to outside interference—in an otherwise stellar match with Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal championship.
“Roman looks great, has incredible stage presence, and he is solid in the ring,” said Galloway. “The issue is he’s been positioned as the ‘chosen guy,’ and when you spoon feed that to the fans, generally they don’t respond favorably. But he gets a huge response either way, which means they care and speaks to his overall talent much like Cena.”
Kurt Angle was heavily rumored to appear as a surprise entrant in the Rumble after the WWE pulled him out of the guest commentary role for Saturday’s 5 Star show, but Galloway felt no hard feelings toward the 1996 Olympic gold medalist.
“It was unfortunate he was pulled for a couple of reasons,” said Galloway. “The first being, Kurt frickin’ Angle is a true legend. And two, he was a mentor to me. Kurt put me over in our matches more than anyone has ever done in my career.”
Galloway becomes wrestling’s hottest free agent in only three weeks, and the 31-year-old is still deliberating his decision regarding his next destination. His options include a return home to WWE.
“As Vince always says, ‘Never say never,’” said Galloway, who is reigning Impact Grand Champion and defends the title this Thursday on POP TV against Moose. “Anything can happen in pro wrestling. There is three weeks to go and I’m nowhere close to making a decision. It’s getting close to the wire, but no decision has been made.
“My goal is to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m blessed with these opportunities. I’m considering becoming a free agent because I have all these unique opportunities. The deal I’ve always had in the past couple of years is to build wherever I can and make the most of each situation. I was part of Evolve as they were beginning to make their name, and I was lucky enough to help it grow worldwide as WWE got involved. Obviously ICW grew, and then WWE got involved. I’m grateful that these companies believe in me to help get their name out there, and I’m happy to lead the charge and get eyes on these companies. I see that as my role—I’m not Vince McMahon’s ‘Chosen One,’ I’m wrestling’s chosen one. Wherever I go, I want to make that company as big as possible, and that’s my goal.”
Galloway left WWE in 2014. He fully admits that he was in a dark place due to the loss of his mother, who helped shape the man he is today.
“I wanted to come home when she was sick and I was in WWE, but she told me no,” said Galloway. “She wanted me to follow my dreams. I can get the words out now without breaking down. She always told me, ‘Keep pushing, keep pushing,’ and she’s the reason I am who I am. She developed a balance disorder in her 20s and was told she wouldn’t have kids, but she still had me and my brother. She inevitably ended up in a wheelchair, but I eventually realized I had a superhero for a mom. She never complained, and that’s the kind of role model I had for a mom. All the travel and bumps are nothing for me. If she were here, I know she’d be very proud.”
The world of wrestling runs far deeper than WWE, and Galloway is thankful to be in such a wrestling renaissance in the U.K.
“5 Star Wrestling commissioned a series for the largest tournament ever, and that’s bigger than anything in American wrestling, Japanese wrestling, or Mexican wrestling,” said Galloway. “There will be around 150 individuals involved and there will be one winner. The series starts filming in June and will be on Spike in the U.K., and the winner is going to have some crazy bragging rights.”
Evolve, ICW, and TNA have all trusted Galloway to be a focal point of their companies and an ambassador, as well as the U.K.’s WhatCulture Pro Wrestling, where Galloway is world champion.
“I wrestled twice on Saturday then traveled the hour-and-a-half from Dundee, Scotland to Edinburgh, Scotland to wrestle Joe Hendry, who is a local hero from Edinburgh, at WhatCulture,” said Galloway. “We followed Jay Lethal-Adam Cole in a Ring of Honor title match, so we wanted to have a great match to follow one of that caliber. The crowd was so invested in the match, and we had a screwy finish where both of our shoulders were down. There will be a big rematch between myself and Joe, and he’s really stepped up his game. I’m excited to be in a program with him and help him step up.”
Galloway looked to have severely injured his neck in a match this past November, but he was thankful that the injury only kept him out of action for ten weeks.
“I made it back for the big ‘Fear and Loathing’ ICW show in Scotland,” said Galloway. “I was cleared three days beforehand, and I made it in time for the biggest independent show in Scotland history. The final image of the big match was Finn Balor hitting me with a pipe. We ended up turning that injury into a huge positive in a really hot angle against Joseph Connors, who I suffered my injury against, where I won the WCPW title.”
Galloway expressed gratitude for all of the support he has received throughout his career, and promised that his journey is only beginning.
“Fans have stuck with me through good and bad times, and they’ve really rallied behind me,” said Galloway. “Without them, I’d be nothing. The fans are the reason I am anything in this business, and I can’t thank them enough. So keep coming with me on this ride, you never know where we’ll end up next.”