Drew McIntyre defeated Sheamus on Sunday night at Fastlane in an extremely physical display of wrestling.
Working with a hard-hitting style and pace, McIntyre and Sheamus hammered each other in and out of the ring, before a Claymore Kick ended the carnage and gave McIntyre the victory.
“I’ve known Sheamus for close to 20 years,” McIntyre says. “We hadn’t worked together in 11 years, and we promised we’d make the most of it whenever it finally happened. We are putting everything we have into these matches, and we want people to have to go to ’90s Japanese wrestling to find anything like the physicality we’re bringing.
“We got the chance to wrestle a few weeks ago on Raw, and the story wasn’t as detailed as we wanted at that point, but we got people’s attention. Then we escalated the physicality that second week in our rematch. Our video package at Fastlane was pretty cool, and we created a match we didn’t want people to forget.”
Fastlane marked WWE’s big-show debut on Peacock, and McIntyre is making it his mission to bring new fans to the product.
“We’re on the same network as The Office, Yellowstone and Parks and Rec, so how cool is that?” McIntyre says. “Sheamus and I, for us, our goal last night was to captivate people by showing them a whole new side of wrestling. That’s what we’re all about, making new fans through our physicality.”
The 35-year-old McIntyre—who is Scotland native Drew Galloway—has firmly cemented himself over the past year as WWE’s top babyface. He has spent the past two decades perfecting the craft, transforming his body into a real-life action figure while also injecting a calm and comfort on the microphone, which has only grown stronger during the pandemic era of WWE.
“The biggest thing is just being myself on camera,” McIntyre says. “I’m not reading a script. I can take an idea, but I need to speak what I believe. That’s why my time away from the company was so important. I cut so many promos away from WWE, to the point where it became second nature.
“When I came back, that time in NXT was designed for me to figure out what I could do in WWE. I was later partnered with guys like Dolph [Ziggler] and Shane [McMahon] that did the majority of the talking, but eventually I got my chance. Now I’m relaxed, I’m myself, I’ll be intense when needed. You are seeing who I really am. WWE is almost like a drama or comedy now without crowds, and I’ve really tried to maximize that opportunity and show people different layers.”
McIntyre’s confidence on the mike was visible this past week on Raw as he referenced MVP making a guarantee earlier in the show, noting, “If you make a guarantee and don’t deliver, fans get upset and sparks fly.” Despite an obvious connection to the underwhelming sparks at the end of AEW’s highly anticipated Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch at Revolution, McIntyre says that it was never his desire to bring attention to another promotion.
“I didn’t have a script,” McIntyre says. “I listened to MVP make a guarantee earlier on Raw. I thought I’d say that when you make guarantees you better deliver, and I would do that by battering Sheamus. People can take what they want from it, but I didn’t intend to do anything beyond that.”
Beyond his work on the mike, McIntyre’s unique presentation designed to connect directly has been with viewers a constant of his main-event run.
“That’s why I stared straight into the camera after I won the belt from Brock Lesnar last year at WrestleMania,” McIntyre says. “We’re not supposed to do that, but it was very important to me to make a connection with the people at home. Vince [McMahon] trusts me enough to go out and do and say what I feel. If I’m believing it, and it feels right, then the fans believe it. I am grateful to be in this position and fight for the people, and I hope that shows.”
That realism was also on display in January when McIntyre announced he had contracted COVID-19. Despite WWE’s initial hesitancy to even mention the virus by name, McIntyre was given the opportunity to speak about it on-screen, providing a voice to many who have struggled.
“I’m so proud I could deliver that message while I was WWE champion,” McIntyre says. “The best way to fight this thing is to wear our masks and stay socially distant. I’m following all the safety protocols to the letter. Sometimes I’m a hermit at home, and I still got it. We are going to get through this; we just need to work together. I’m glad I had the opportunity to speak out and hammer home how serious this situation is.”
Another pivotal moment in McIntyre’s ascension took place in a 150-second span at January’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view, when he demolished Bill Goldberg in a match for the WWE championship. Although the 54-year-old Goldberg is no longer the physical specimen he once was, WWE still presents him as a competitor capable of beating anyone on the roster. Using him in this manner at the Rumble was a smart choice, and McIntyre expressed his appreciation for the chance to work with a star at the magnitude of Goldberg’s level.
“I was grateful for the opportunity with Goldberg,” McIntyre says. “The Royal Rumble is a significant pay-per-view, and Goldberg has a history of coming in and winning the title. People were questioning what would happen. He is a genuine legend; he draws eyeballs and he wanted to go out of his way for me. I am so appreciative to have had that match, and the moment we shared together after the match, too.”
No longer on the fast lane to WrestleMania, McIntyre is now ready for a date at the storied event against WWE champion Bobby Lashley. In addition to pursuing his third reign with the title, he also seeks to deliver a match with Lashley that sets a new standard for physicality between two heavyweights.
“There is no one in the industry like Bobby Lashley,” McIntyre says. “His work speaks for itself, and he has all the momentum in the world right now.
“I’m so excited to have fans back at WrestleMania, and I think people genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen in our match. Lashley has really stepped up and deserves this moment. People are invested, and we are going to give the heavyweight title clash that wrestling is all about.”