Drew McIntyre: Behind Blue Eyes

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Our stories are inscribed in hard chapters. 

We are bound to make mistakes and forge antagonistic relationships. We push the Sisyphusian boulder up a never-ending mountain and the day is done. 

What do we have to show for it? Nothing but a sickening reminder of ours and life’s failures. Sometimes there is no power and sometimes we have all the power. What we choose to do with it makes all the difference.

A perfect example is one of the most compelling characters in WWE today, Drew McIntyre.

Drew became endearing and relatable when he found himself in the 2019-2020 timespan. Granted, when I look at him, it is hard to relate. I mean, look at the dude. He looks like he’s three normal-sized people inside a big person’s skinsuit. He’s hairy and blue-eyed and has a badass accent. He looks like a warrior who fights enormous animals in his free time. By all metrics, this man is not normal. When you look at his scowl and hear his gravelly voice, you end up feeling that you’re going to hope that the places you visit from then on are wheelchair accessible. 

Yet at the time, he was intact with his feelings and knew his purpose. He knew he had to win the WWE Championship and must strike soon. Little by little, he dropped the facade of that asshole in a spiky leather jacket and started cracking jokes with the fans every week. His moves still had an impact, but he seemed chill about it; he wasn’t playing dirty or anything. He was just smacking fools around. You know, a Claymore here, a Glasgow Kiss there (to the delight of Samoa Joe, no less).

And then, something amazing happened. In the middle of 2020’s Royal Rumble, Drew eliminated a man who had long since dominated the match and held a vice-like grip on the WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar. Fighting through Seth Rollins’s group of miscreants, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns, and the newly returned Edge, McIntyre charged and left triumphant. He was set to take on Brock Lesnar and fulfill a prophecy as a once-deemed “Chosen One”.

What a future, what a moment it would be. An epic clash of beasts, roaring and biting and gnawing until there was but morsels of flesh, bruised skin, and one standing tall and victorious in the rush of a cheering crowd; tears that would go unfelt in the adrenaline and catharsis of a moment.

All those years, fighting for redemption. Winning over fans in ICW and Impact Wrestling and so many other places. All the disappointment of days past for the benefit of future past. Everyone would be so proud. Scotland would hail his name, and the pantheon of professional wrestling would respect the names of Drew Galloway and Drew McIntyre. Broken dreams soon to be repaired. The stage was set for WrestleMania 36.

Then the world fell apart. A silent enemy that no hero could foil ran rampant across the globe. People were forced to remain in their homes and to wear masks. Scientists were scrambling to find a cure. Family members sat behind screens to watch births, surgeries, and deaths. Once normal people were being corrupted by misinformation and conspiracy theories. Not a single being knew what had yet to come of the world except the next day, and even that wasn’t guaranteed.

Fortunately for Drew McIntyre’s dream, bitter as the situation was, he still had the opportunity to chase his dreams. The only problem was it would be in the empty warehouse of WWE’s Performance Center. What resulted was a standard match. Echoes of thuds and smacks and grunts and yells. Paul Heyman pleaded desperately for his client to fight out of Drew’s grasp, only for him to eventually crumble to the warrior’s might.

Claymore Kick. One, two, three.

Instantly McIntyre was sobbing as the final bell of the match reminded him that this moment was real and it was his. He would have to lead a new and scary era. The responsibility and reward weighed upon him as he held aloft his new prize – the WWE Championship. He roared into the sky, ready for this; the strain and stretching of his vocal cords supported this sentiment. As the show went off-air, he reached out to the camera, his eyes a blue ocean of heartbreak and jubilation. We weren’t there, but he felt us. That was enough. Yes, it was more than enough.

(Then he faced Big Show immediately after, making the giant baldy a two-time WrestleMania main eventer, no biggie. Thank you, Drew.)

McIntyre’s reign lasted for most of the lockdown with defenses primarily against Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, and Randy Orton. The latter resulted in a feud that seemed to stretch on for quite a while. Orton would gain the title at Hell in a Cell 2020 during the Thunderdome Era, but it was a short-lived reign when McIntyre won the WWE Championship back at Clash of Champions thanks to Christian, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and The Big Show, all of whom were accosted by The Viper.

In the meantime, Roman Reigns had returned for the first time since the Friday Night SmackDown before the COVID-19 lockdown, assaulting “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman during SummerSlam, won the championship from Wyatt at Payback, and began the alignment of The Bloodline after Clash of Champions. This is important to note for later.

Back as champion, McIntyre fought and fought again and again. As Sasha Banks and Bayley carried WWE during this hard time, so did McIntyre, but the responsibility was growing too heavy. 

As Survivor Series approached, Drew McIntyre was set to become the next in line within the path of the Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns. Champion versus champion. Bragging rights. Oh, how he fought valiantly. Roman may have a new chip on his shoulders and an aura about him, but Drew’s been there and done that. And he would have won that match, had it not been for the interfering Jey Uso. One of many cheap wins during Roman’s run.

Soldiering on, McIntyre successfully defended against AJ Styles and The Miz at TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs and Goldberg at Royal Rumble, but a daunting Elimination Chamber match at over 30 minutes would see him beat down by Bobby Lashley for The Miz to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase (which Lashley won a few weeks later).

Now, Drew was stripped bare of his gold, unable to face the masses with it around his waist. After a brief yet awesomely hard-hitting detour with Sheamus, the Scotsman challenged Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship once more but was unsuccessful.

Still, the fans were back. He had something to fight for, to gain their adulation once again.

Sadly, despite a few chances at Roman Reigns and later Big E, it was not to be. Instead, McIntyre would be slotted in various gimmick matches like Money in the Bank and Survivor Series Elimination Matches, alongside unpopular feuds with Jinder Mahal and Happy Corbin. Nothing compared to what he was or could be. Not a waste, but a far cry from what could have been. At least, not yet.

Cardiff, Wales. Drew had won an opportunity at the upcoming Clash at the Castle to face Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. He had “Broken Dreams” back as a theme song. He had all of Wales and the UK cheering him on. He had the fire and the intensity and the lightning flowing through his fingertips. 

McIntyre was unforgiving and unrelenting. Borderline superhuman. There was nothing that could stop him. With no Jimmy or Jey Uso to flank Roman, as usual, he had free range. For all that existed within his soul. All that stood in the way between him and Roman was rotten luck in the shape of the newest Bloodline addition of Solo Sikoa, costing Drew the match.

Once again, Drew was screwed.

Months pass, and rivalries saw him not used the way he was once meant to be.

Then, another chance. Facing friendly rival Sheamus and the long-reigning Intercontinental Champion Gunther on the second night of WrestleMania 39, Drew could at least hold something in front of the world. What better way than to defeat a fellow warrior and an unstoppable champion?

The match was brutal and hard-hitting. It was the match of that night. An edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that refused to let up until the final bell, and it rang for the opportunistic Gunther as Sheamus and Drew focused on each other.

Drew had another chance at 2023’s SummerSlam against Gunther but again came up short.

This was where the bitter seeds of contempt festered and grew within the Scotsman. Defeat after defeat at the hands of the inaugural World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and the integration of Sami Zayn and Jey Uso into the Raw locker room veered Drew into the way of abandoning that which once charmed WWE audiences. 

In Chicago, Illinois he and The Judgement Day would take on Cody Rhodes, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, Jey Uso, and a returning Randy Orton. Of course, he and his purple-clad allies lost, much to his chagrin. It didn’t help matters that CM Punk made his shocking return to WWE.

All of this, all of it, boiled up, throwing gasoline that was an already open flame of rage that dwelled in the depths of Drew McIntyre. He’d be damned if others would get an advantage over him. He’s not going to be pushed aside. This is his time.

Drew McIntyre became a creature of spite. On social media, backstage, and in the ring, he regularly cut scathing promos against Jey Uso, Seth Rollins, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, and Sami Zayn. There was no care, no empathy, no quarter given. Of course, there’s a lot of reason for each man to gain his ire. Every meme, every word laced with venom, every witty remark had layers of truth behind it.

Except, as Seth Rollins pointed out, Drew wasn’t the only one who was negatively affected by the lockdown and life itself. In fact, in Seth’s eyes, Drew had it easy.

But did he? Drew was away from home, working his ass off to make every sacrifice mean something. Meanwhile, his loved ones, supportive as they were, grew unhealthy, ill even. Time was of the essence to make final memories happy. Any sliver of catharsis, by any means necessary. And the past four years he was denied so much despite his patience and responsibility.

Eventually, thanks to an Elimination Chamber win, McIntyre had one more opportunity, this time against Seth Rollins’s World Heavyweight Championship. 

Already torn apart the night before by The Rock and Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins was weak, yet resilient. Still, he fell against Drew, and for one beautiful moment, they shared respect for each other. Drew, just as he did in 2020, was reduced to tears. He celebrated with his wife and soaked in the cheers of the fans. All as it is, all as it should be.

But he made one fatal mistake – taunting CM Punk, the man he injured and took out of title contention. Fed up, Punk removed the cast that Drew had so put upon him and laid him out upon the commentary table at which Punk was sitting. To the Chicago native’s delight, the Money in the Bank holder Damian Priest rushed to the ring. Happily obliging, he rolled McIntyre into the ring and Priest ended his reign in very short fashion. For at most thirty seconds, Drew had found redemption, snatched by the sun that melted his waxen wings. 

After two years, Drew is set to rectify these issues in the UK at Clash at the Castle, this time in familiar home territory. The Ayr native is set to lock up with Damian Priest in front of his people. The Pride of Scotland has this golden opportunity laid out before him once more. The shine on his claymore must glimmer bright, The Judgement Day must fall unto night. 

What importance Drew’s story brings is that we all lose our way, but what matters is that we find ourselves back where we need to be. Life will give us setback upon setback. It will be unfair. Things will fall apart in front of us, taken from us like an illness spreads over the lands. 

In all of his persona, Drew McIntyre represents masculinity and the perception of how men should be on either side of the coin. During his time as champion, he felt like a leader. He exuded the kindness and empathy and delicacy and vulnerability that make a healthy man, yet he did not let his kindness be mistaken for weakness. After his turn, he became the opposite, he was just ruthless with his words, brutish in his violence, and stricken afoul at being told “no” while someone gets a spot in front of him. Amidst all of this, however, is the same man with broken dreams behind blue eyes. The light shall return once more to those pupils along this journey. But he has to fight for it.

So, Drew, make every shot count. This is your last chance. Gaun yersel’.

UPDATE: Drew did not succeed. He did not gaun himsel’. Thanks a lot, CM Punk.

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