In the world of WWE storylines, Drew McIntyre is a villain. He’s good at it, too.
The monstrous, 6-5, 265-pound “Scottish Psychopath” preys upon the weak and vulnerable and offers no sympathy toward those he is obliterating, even going as far as to mock Roman Reigns during his bout with leukemia.
You are supposed to dislike him. But good luck with that.
McIntyre is 33-year-old Andrew Galloway IV, a product of Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland. Despite his massive size, McIntyre is far more David than Goliath.
He debuted in WWE as “The Chosen One” at the age of only 24, and possesses physical traits few other mortals can dream of, yet his run with the company ended in shattered dreams and disarray.
Perhaps McIntyre was too young for the spotlight, but he was also in the throes of a heartbreaking situation. McIntyre was forced to watch from afar as his mother, Angela Galloway, died after an unmerciful, crippling bout with cancer.
“Every Mother’s Day is difficult,” admitted McIntyre, who revealed that his sensitive side comes from his father but that his toughness is a direct attribute from his mother. “It’s been almost seven years now, but that doesn’t change how much I miss her.”
The oldest of two, McIntyre is in the middle of the most meaningful push in his WWE career, and a key part of his success will forever remain his mother.
Angela Galloway lived a life free of physical hardships until her 20s, when she was diagnosed with Cerebellar Ataxia, a disease that causes progressive loss of coordination.
“When it first impacted her, my mother had just got off the bus from work,” said McIntyre. “She was alone and had to crawl over a mile-and-a-half to reach my nana’s house. The balance portion of her brain ceased to work.
“A doctor in London managed to stabilize her and allow her to walk with some assistance. Then she met my dad and they got married, but she was told to never have children. But she said she would rather die than not have children.”
McIntyre’s mother served as the rock of his family. She never complained about her hardships, instead embracing the beauty of the every day.
“We grew up in a small apartment, and she used the walls to move around,” said McIntyre. “My brother and I just assumed that was normal. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized she was a superhero.
“Watching her overcome the odds was incredible. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she never complained. She stayed positive and fought and fought until the very end.”
The death of McIntyre’s mother in November of 2012 coincided with his lowest points working for WWE. The once-promising, can’t-miss star from Scotland was relegated to enhancement work in the Three Man Band before an inevitable release from the company.
Bitterness would have engulfed most people, but not McIntyre.
“The world doesn’t owe me anything,” said McIntyre. “I realized that when I was away from the company.”
McIntyre dedicated himself to wrestling on the independents, and stints with Insane Championship Wrestling in Scotland and a title run in EVOLVE still stand out for some of the remarkable moments McIntyre produced.
Yet the true epiphany on how to reach the wrestling promised land happened outside the ring, during a conversation with his wife.
“Things were bad even before I left WWE,” said McIntyre. “I was going out and partying too often, and I was not dedicating myself to my work. By that point, I’d started working harder, but it wasn’t enough.
Finally, when he broke two vertebrae in his neck in 2016, McIntyre’s wife told me to cut out all of his negative energy.
“She made me realize I still wasn’t where I needed to be,” said McIntyre. “I cut out all the negatives, and I started changing my body. All of a sudden, I was flooded with all these opportunities. Months after that, I was speaking with WWE.”
During his time away from WWE, McIntyre showed the poise, presence, and maturity he once lacked. But in-ring performances are so dependent on the person standing across from you, and McIntyre is grateful for the chance to work with two legends—Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels—who helped him redefine his place as a bona fide WWE superstar.
“I don’t know why, but Kurt chose to work with me for one of his final matches in TNA, but he made me look like a million bucks,” said McIntyre. “Then, a few years later in WWE, he made me look like an absolute killer. I humiliated Kurt and made him tap out to his own ankle lock. I can never thank Kurt enough for what he has done and continues to do for me.”
McIntyre also worked in the ring with Shawn Michaels, but those moments took place off-camera during Michaels’ advanced placement course at WWE’s Performance Center in Florida.
The contract McIntyre signed with WWE in 2017 did not state that he needed to work extra NXT shows or attend mandatory skills classes at the PC, but he took on that extra workload out of a genuine desire to perfect his craft.
“I wanted to be there and I wanted to improve,” said McIntyre. “So I went to Shawn and asked if I could join his class. I would have done anything to get that one-on-one time with him.”
Roundtrip, McIntyre drove four hours to attend Michaels’ classes, and shared that the lessons he learned are a major reason why he is in currently one of the best in the business at capturing the attention of the crowd.
“The first rule of Shawn’s class is that you don’t talk about Shawn’s class,” said McIntyre. “But what I can tell you is it is an environment where everyone pushes each other very hard and you do receive honest criticism.
“No one has the mind that Shawn does in the ring. I looked at that period of time as getting my PhD in wrestling.”
McIntyre is confident enough to believe that this current run in WWE will be entirely different than his first. There are few with his size and experience in the ring, but even fewer who tasted failure and overcame its pungent odor quite like McIntyre.
“I wouldn’t change a thing about my first run in WWE,” said a reflective McIntyre. “Those experiences turned me into the man I am today. It’s all part of my journey. I started young, I worked with a lot of veterans that are no longer here, and I learned how to be a leader backstage. Now I have one other vision, and that is being at the top of the card and helping build talent for the future.”
As he continues to climb toward greatness, the next step for McIntyre is a chance to represent the company as champion.
“I’ve never had a world title shot, ever, in my WWE career, so I’m going to need to win the ‘Money in the Bank’ contract to take that opportunity,” said McIntyre. “In order to spread my message of eradicating complacency to the superstars complaining on social media, I need to become champion.”
Tonight at 8 p.m. ET on the USA Network, McIntyre performs in front of an engaging audience at the O2 London in London, England, aiming to prove he is everything he claims to be—and more.
“People are crazy if they don’t want to watch this show,” said McIntyre. “A big show in the U.K. deserves a big match, and there is nothing bigger than me. I’m going to Claymore someone’s head off.”
Appearances often deceive in the complicated world of wrestling. Though he looks like the prototypical WWE superstar, McIntyre is more of an underdog than most realize. But he holds a secret weapon that is more powerful than his muscular frame or even his intelligence.
McIntyre carries with his mother with him in his heart.
“I had a superhero for a mother,” said McIntyre. “I carry her with me everywhere I go.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.