Drew McIntyre defeated Randy Orton this past week on Raw to regain the WWE Championship, and he now meets Roman Reigns this Sunday at the Survivor Series.
If the match serves as the show’s headliner, which it is primed to do as of Saturday, then it will mark McIntyre’s second consecutive pay per view main event. That territory is the spot on the card that he wants to claim as his property, which is no easy task when sharing the terrain with as transcendent a performer as Reigns.
“Roman is fully embracing his character, without restrictions, and he’s gone to another level,” said McIntyre. “He’s got Paul Heyman by his side, and he’s genuinely so compelling. This is the ultimate opportunity, in the ring with him, to prove I am the top guy in WWE.”
The 35-year-old Andrew Galloway, best known as the charismatic, monstrous McIntyre, has been operating on an entirely different level since January’s Royal Rumble. While he has not yet reached Reigns’ tier of stardom, he is certainly picking up ground. Reigns and McIntyre met less than two years ago at WrestleMania 35, and this Sunday’s matchup marks a perfect indication of how far McIntyre has evolved since April of 2019.
“That was Roman’s moment, returning from illness and showing the world he was back,” said McIntyre. “I was thankful for that opportunity, but it needed to be all about Roman. This is way different than 35. He’s done a lot since then, but I have risen up the card, too. I have a lot to prove to him this Sunday.”
The gravity of Sunday’s match is not lost on McIntyre. He has wanted a chance to share the ring with Reigns, WWE’s Universal Champion, since his return in August at SummerSlam. But the two operate on different brands, with McIntyre on Raw and Reigns on SmackDown, making those opportunities limited.
With the exception of Sasha Banks, who is the current SmackDown Women’s Champion, Reigns has few other peers on the roster when it comes to charisma. For McIntyre—who still has not forgotten the taste of his WWE release in 2014, not far off from the time Reigns began his ascent to superstardom—this is an opportunity to make magic with Reigns, as well as further cement that he also belongs among the top performers across the entire industry.
“All eyes are always on Roman,” said McIntyre. “This is my opportunity to prove I’m better.”
Even before regaining the belt, it felt as though WWE was hinting at a McIntyre-Reigns match at Survivor Series. That became official when McIntyre won this past Monday, defeating Orton in a hard-hitting bout that also signaled the end to their four-month feud.
“I needed to keep up with Randy Orton to prove I’m in the top tier of WWE,” said McIntyre, whose wife was part of the virtual ThunderDome audience to watch his title win. “And it needed to end the way it did, with a Claymore. I got him with the quick backslide at SummerSlam, the legends got their revenge at Clash in the Ambulance Match, and then Randy capitalized with an RKO at Hell in a Cell after I crashed off the cell. I needed to get a definitive pin on Randy to show I am the man on Raw, and it was only right that I did it with a Claymore.”
Orton briefly recaptured the title at October’s Hell in a Cell for his 14th run atop the company, but that reign did not even last a month. His role was to help further elevate McIntyre. Their match on Raw was physical, with Orton’s respect for McIntyre apparent as he bumped and sold with a passion to put over the new champ.
“I still hear how Randy doesn’t want to get too physical or take too many bumps, so for anyone that thinks he’s soft in the ring, that’s just not true,” said McIntyre. “He went above and beyond to make me look as good as possible. We both worked our butts off, and I’m very proud of that match, as well as the chance to once again be WWE Champion.”
Raw also featured a backstage moment between McIntyre and Sheamus. While the two are destined to battle over the WWE Championship, the brotherhood displayed on-screen was far more fact than fiction.
“I met Sheamus when I was 19,” said McIntyre. “We exaggerated the truth on Raw with the chest and the sword, but our history is real. He’s known my family for so long that he’s one of us, and he was the best man at my wedding.
“I’ve got the title back, I’ve got my kilt and a sword, and I love how we started that story with Sheamus. I’m excited to see where we go next.”
The storyline with Sheamus will soon be the focal point of Raw, but there is a different focus for this Sunday, which is the showdown against Reigns.
McIntyre has proudly represented Raw all throughout 2020, but the flagship show no longer holds the same sizzle when compared to the fast-moving SmackDown. That only gives extra incentive for McIntyre to bring a must-see feel to Raw every Monday, restoring an edge to a show that was playfully mocked last week on SmackDown by Reigns and Heyman for its lack of viewership.
“I love representing Raw,” said McIntyre. “That’s the show I grew up watching, and the one that defines wrestling. Roman and Paul can think whatever they want, but just know that I love proving people wrong.”
This Sunday, McIntyre seeks to create an unforgettable moment with Reigns, showing that he is every bit equal to the star he will be sharing the ring with—and perhaps proving he is even more captivating a performer.
“Roman has been the man for so many years in WWE,” said McIntyre. “There is something so special about his presence. He’s phenomenal in the ring, he’s a leader in the ring, and he’s reached this level for a reason.
“I’m putting in the work, and I’m going to keep doing that. When you think WWE, you think Roman Reigns. I want people to think of Drew McIntyre, and they’re going to after Survivor Series.”