Drew McIntyre finds himself in the world championship picture at what he thinks is the perfect time. The 36-year-old Scotsman, who will be at the Nassau Coliseum for ‘SmackDown on Friday, is in the early stages of a feud with undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. He will team up with Riddle and Randy Orton to take on Reigns and his cousins Jimmy and Jey Uso at WrestleMania Backlash on Sunday (8 p.m., Peacock).Ahead of a big week, McIntyre — a two-time WWE Champion — took some time to have some questions with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski.
(Edited for clarity and length)
Q: Why was it a good time to bring yourself back into the world title picture and finally put yourself in front of this version of Roman for a real feud?
A: When I passed SmackDown (in October 2021), I felt like I had to hit the reset button. I had done so much on Raw. I was champion for a long time even though most of the time technically we didn’t have fans there. I felt like I was floating towards the end. I had to take a few steps back to take a few steps forward. The timing was perfect. I moved to SmackDown and had the opportunity not necessarily to start from the bottom, but to pick myself up again, which I’ve always been happy to do at this point in my career.
It’s about re-establishing Drew McIntyre and who he is before returning to the main event title scene, especially with Roman, who was our best player for years but now operates on a different level. He always talks about it because it’s true. I think with this weather we had to reinstate McIntyre, based on reaction, character development, etc. seems like the perfect time I came out last week to help RK-Bro and I’ve heard the reaction and felt the moment and it felt like something special that might not have felt so great if we had done it a few months ago.
Q: You talk about Roman working on a different level. What does it feel like as an artist knowing that when you go over there you’re going to have a guy who works at such a high level on the mic and in the ring trying to meet him over there?
A: That’s what I want. It’s such a fun day in the office if you need to step up your game. You don’t want to constantly bring people up every time you’re there, be in a game or be on the mic or be in character perspective. As much as I’m proud to be a leader and a general and to pull people up, when I’ve had the opportunity to be with someone where I’m wow that person is very good I have to stay on my toes. Maybe not so much in the ring, it’s a place where I feel very confident. There are very few people who can surprise me with the ring that I can’t keep up with, but mostly with the character and the microphone and being on a roll like Roman is right now.
The last person I remember being on such a roll was Randy when I was champ. He finished the thing with Edge and he was already one of the best ever but somehow he took it to another level with Edge during this time in 2020 and he was just on fire in every possible way, especially at the microphone. I remember saying this was my chance to step up and prove that I belonged on the main stage of the event. If I can’t keep up with Randy, especially during this time, then I don’t belong on the main stage of the event. I was able to swim with him and I’m very proud of that time. And if I’m lucky enough to be in there and around Roman, it’s the same opportunity to prove to myself and everyone else that I belong on top.
Q: You talked about the dream scenario of wanting to beat Roman at the Clash at the Castle show in the UK in September. Why is this storyline so appealing to you then maybe a match with a Tyron Fury there?
A: The fact that it’s in the UK in a huge stadium that I’ve been pushing for for years. I had my big moment at WrestleMania (in 2020) and got two of three things I imagined as a kid. Imagined Main Event WrestleMania for the title and winning the title in front of tens of thousands of cheering fans. I am very proud of this moment. I’m very proud of my title reigns, but I didn’t have anyone there during those. So to seize an opportunity and a scenario that I couldn’t even have imagined when I was a kid, because I was always imagining WrestleMania, a giant WrestleMania-like event in the UK in the main event against somebody one as Roman for the championship. To be able to win that big game, lift that title in front of so many people, probably family and friends, people I grew up with would be an absolute dream scenario.
Q: Even more than a match with Fury?
A: It’s an attraction match. It would get a lot of attention not just in our industry, but outside of our industry. The ball is in his court. He has to pick up the phone. He has our number. Maybe he can grab my attention for a second because I’m obviously focusing entirely on The Bloodline and Roman right now. But if he distracts me, it would be big. It would be special. We talked about pulling people up, me being the veteran, I would pull him up. At the same time, he’s a top athlete, he’s an artist, that would be great. But if you make me choose, I’m still going to choose the title match.
Q: From a creative standpoint, do you like the idea of a united champion and having one guy as the champion as opposed to how the titles have been split between brands?
A: If we have separate rosters, I sort of prefer the idea of a champion for each show. At the same time, we had just had WrestleMania and we needed a huge match. Brock had one title, Roman had the other title. It made for a really interesting… I don’t want to use the word prodigious, but it made for a really, really big match and now we’re sort of with the downfall of this huge match, this huge WrestleMania and we’ll see this that is happening. I like the idea of a champion representing each brand. We have these separate brands, so someone has to pull Roman at least for one of these titles.
Q: How did Randy Orton help you get in and out of the ring and how is it to watch this version of him having so much fun with Riddle?
A: Working with me and advising me in action and after action, the finer points of this industry that no one would know about unless you have reached that next level. It’s one thing to get advice from people who’ve been there a long time, but no one can teach you that high level, main event pacing, and ability to connect emotionally with our fan base. and things that are hard to articulate with someone who hasn’t been there. It’s amazing sometimes when he says things that seem so simple to him and a light bulb goes on in my head and I leave, I never thought of it that way. And I will, of course, I didn’t think of it that way because you’re Randy Orton. You have fought the best of the best at the highest level for years. Now I just got my doctorate. this high level and learning from the best, so there were many light bulb moments around him and working with him.
I remember at that time he didn’t accept the fact that he was a locker room manager. So I was always cheering him on, you know Randy you’re the guy here. He was like, ‘Oh come on.’ I was like whether you like it or not, you were the boss. You have been here a long time. We are all counting on you and he has started to grow in this leadership role. He always taught. I think now that he’s agreed, we’re looking to him for advice.
Having been there a long time and having matured as he has matured into the man he is today, the fun he is having today is great fun to watch. I don’t think he’s ever been so relaxed on screen or behind the scenes. I think a lot of it has to do with Riddle because the person you see onscreen as the character is one hundred percent him. These guys get along so well. Riddle can relax absolutely anyone, no matter how tense they are, what kind of day they’re having. You talk to Riddle for two seconds you laugh.
Q: When Cody Rhodes came back, your name and that of Bobby Lashley and Jinder Mahal came up as guys who left the company and were able to come back and get into the main event slot they wanted. What’s it been like to watch Cody’s journey back to WWE and do what you and the others did to find your way back?
A: It’s great to watch and see how far he can go. I remember when I left WWE and started to carve my own path, it got to the point where my brother told me that it became a verb to do a Drew, leave the WWE, reinventing itself and becoming a bigger star. Then you asked Cody to take a chance, leave WWE on his own accord and he not only reinvented himself, but he took it to the next level and created an entire company during that time. Everything I’ve been able to do outside of business and set a model of what you can do using social media, using a lot of faith in yourself and the opportunities you’ve been given. He took it to the next level and did an amazing job, grew as a person, grew as a performer. Now to see him back in WWE getting the return to Mania and the perfect platform to maintain that spot so far has been pretty cool. Hopefully it can continue for months and years to come.
Q: You were the first person to kick out Baron Corbin’s End of Days finisher in WWE. What prompted the decision that your match at WrestleMania 38 was the right time to do it?
A: You’re gonna retire and that’s gonna be the thing, nobody gets kicked out of the move or you can find the right time and the right person and the right feud. Realistically, Corbin and I had been arguing for six months by then. These days, it’s a lifetime. It might as well be 10 years with people’s attention spans.
Corbin and I avoided a singles match this entire time until WrestleMania, the first real WrestleMania in a few years, everyone came together after the world was shut down for so long, a special WrestleMania. If it’s going to happen anywhere, why not this match and have people say, “Oh my God, Corbin is really going to win,” because I think a lot of people thought Drew was going to win that one. [He’s] the big good guy he’s probably going to go on for the title is probably in their head.
The very moment I went to get the Claymore, I missed it, and Corbin hit the end times, everyone in that building thought, “Oh my God, Corbin won.” That’s what it’s about. It’s about making people, no matter what they think they know, forget for a second and get lost in that emotion. That’s what the End of Days kick did at that time.
New York Post