Drew McIntyre bringing new edge to Wrestlemania match vs. Seth Rollins

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As he heads into his ninth WrestleMania, where he’ll face WWE world heavyweight champion Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre has never been more in control of his future or comfortable in his own skin.

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In recent weeks, while building toward his match with Rollins, the Scottish-born megastar, whose real name is Andrew Galloway IV, has been throwing fire with his promos during live television, as well as on his social media platforms, taking aim at not only Rollins, but long-time adversary CM Punk in the process.

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Punk, who is injured and is unable to compete at WrestleMania 40 — which happens over two nights in Philadelphia this weekend — will be ringside in a commentating role.

McIntyre, 38, has been treating fans to an edgier version of his character than ever before, dropping sarcasm, taking shots and delivering virtual fire.

For his part, McIntyre said he understands the comparisons fans have been making between the current WWE product leading up to the historic event and its so-called Attitude Era heyday from the late 1990s and early 2000s, but he said what talent is doing today trumps what happened in those days.

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“There’s certainly more of an edge right now,” he said in a telephone interview with Postmedia. “There’s certainly more excitement about wrestling and WWE than ever in history. The numbers are just off the charts for attendance, for profits, it’s just such an incredible time so I understand the comparison to the Attitude Era with some of the things that have been happening recently.

“But to me, (the Attitude Era is) what I grew up on and loved it, and if you watch it back, the crowds are wild and certain characters are so, so hot, and everybody meant something, but the match quality, it wasn’t exactly great most of the time. To me, now, the times that we’re living in, with these deeper, more complex characters and stories we’ve been telling that everybody wants to get in on, this is better than the Attitude Era from every aspect.”

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And with smatterings of the Attitude Era being dropped on TV vignettes and one of its key performers, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, back on board, it’s the best of both worlds, McIntyre noted.

“We’ve even got The Rock back and, who knows, maybe we’ll get Stone Cold, then everything will be complete,” he said. “Some day, we’ll figure out a term for what we’ll call this era because, to me, it’s smashing the Attitude Era.”

McIntyre also said the return of The Rock, who recently joined the board of directors for TKO Group Holdings, Inc., the company formed by Endeavor that merged WWE and the UFC, certainly hasn’t hurt the current product.

The Rock will team with WWE universal champion Roman Reigns on Night 1 of WrestleMania 40 to face Cody Rhodes and Rollins, with stipulations on the line that pertain the main event of WrestleMania a night later for Rhodes vs. Reigns.

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“A few people have said we were doing just fine before (The Rock) came back, which is true. We were absolutely on fire, selling out all over the place, but it doesn’t frickin’ hurt with The Rock back and on the board and being a featured character on the show.”

In fact, McIntyre noted, Rock’s presence has not only enhanced the product itself, but his direct involvement bolsters the company’s rising global presence, as it continues to grow the brand outside North America.

“I mentioned it in one of my interviews on TV recently, Seth Rollins has to force himself into the spotlight because he wants to be part of that Rock spotlight and work against him because he thinks that’s going to get him the most attention and I’ve said that’s not the way to go about it at all. Just think about the history of wrestling: It started in carnivals, in smokey armories and worked its ways to arenas, where we sell out all the time, and stadiums that we’re selling out.

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“The next evolution is working together with one of the most powerful people on the planet and seeing where we can take wrestling because where we’re at now, nobody could have predicted. All the paintings and preconceptions people have of professional wrestling, it is clearly one of the most popular things on planet Earth and The Rock is going to help us get to that next level.”

Personally, McIntyre heads into his match with Rollins — which will be his sixth straight WrestleMania appearance as one of the main matches on the card.

In 2020, during the pandemic, McIntyre won his first WWE Championship over Brock Lesnar. In his current run, he also has faced Reigns, former WWE champion Bobby Lashley and last year faced Intercontinental champion Gunther and longtime tag-team partner Sheamus in a triple threat title match, to name some.

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McIntyre said that early in his career he didn’t appreciate those WrestleMania moments like he does nowadays. A decade ago, he was released by WWE and spent three years working the independent circuit before he was rehired by WWE on his current, hall-of-fame-worthy run.

These days, he’s soaking it all in.

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“I really don’t remember too much too early because it was go, go, go, stress, anxiety, not being present and in the moment,” he said. “Now, I very much make sure that I’m present and in the moment when I wrestle a big event like WrestleMania. I look around and I take it in because I do know one day it will all just be memories and I’ll be sitting on my couch or rocking chair, thinking I did it, but everything will still be clear in my mind because I was present that whole time, I enjoyed all those big moments and it was worth every sacrifice, mine and my family’s.”

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Asked what WrestleMania memories that he wasn’t involved in personally have stayed with him in his life, McIntrye, who is as much a fan today as he was as a kid, named two off the top of his head.

“Bret Hart versus Stone Cold Steve Austin, WrestleMania 13, is one of my favourite matches of all time,” he said. “Stone Cold was in the Sharpshooter, Bret’s finishing move, wouldn’t quit, was covered in blood, pushed himself up one more time, and the blood ran down his face as he passed out. It really helped elevate Stone Cold to the next level, which elevated the industry to the next level.

“And then you’ve got The Rock and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18 in Toronto, with the wild crowd. If you turned off the volume, the match wasn’t up to much, but that’s not what our industry is all about, it’s about emotional attachment and it’s about the fans being involved.

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“The fact that The Rock went in as ‘the good guy,’ and Hulk Hogan went in ‘the bad guy,’ the live fans told them ‘Hey, we’ve reverted back to children and we’re Hulkamaniacs again,’ and they decided Hulk was their guy and the guys in the ring were such professionals, they switched it because the crowd told them this is what we want.

“And that’s why our industry is the greatest on Earth. We have to be able to improvise, even on the biggest stage, and listening to what our fans wanted that night, they gave them a match they never forgot, and it still stands the test of time and something that showed the people what wrestling’s all about.”

Personally, McIntyre’s nearing the end of his current contract with WWE and speculation has been rampant for months about whether the company would get him re-signed. While he refused to discuss his contract status, McIntyre vowed he has plenty of gas left in his tank.

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“I’m in my prime, I’m having fun and I intend to continue having fun. I’m very proud of my body of work and that will continue, no matter what, in some form or another,” he said.

If this were his final WrestleMania, McIntyre was asked, how would he like to be remembered?

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“I want people, I guess, if they think about Drew McIntyre to think when wrestling needed somebody to step up, Drew was there, for the fans and for wrestling, be it when I was fired and independent wrestling needed a face and I kind of stepped up for multiple companies, along with a couple of other guys along the way, and it led to wrestling becoming the healthiest its ever been.

“I’m very proud of stepping up during that time. And obviously, when the world shut down (due to COVID), stepping up as world champion when they needed somebody who had the experience and the lack of fear to take on the unknown, I’m obviously very proud of that.

“When wrestling needed a hero, I think Drew was always there.”



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