Drew McIntyre has had a reign unlike any other world champion in WWE history. It has been a wild year for the Scottish superstar, who won the Royal Rumble back in January in front of over 40,000 screaming fans in Houston, then transitioned to defeating Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship in less than five minutes at WrestleMania in a WWE Performance Center void of an audience. Moving through these unprecedented times, McIntyre has held his head high and done his absolute best as the new face of the company on Monday Night Raw, and nobody could fault the quality of the work he's put in over the last several months, competing in excellent matches with the likes of Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, Dolph Ziggler, and Seth Rollins.
Now, McIntyre prepares for one of the biggest matches of his career as he is set to defend the WWE Championship against Randy Orton at SummerSlam on August 23rd. ComicBook.com had a chance to speak with McIntyre on Monday morning about his reign as champion, carrying WWE's top prize through a pandemic, and his history with the "Legend Killer."
"No champion has ever been in this position before (working through a pandemic), but I feel like I'm the man that's prepared for the job considering my career of ups and downs and lessons learned," McIntyre said. "I guess as the leader, as WWE champion, it was my job from the get-go, from the moment I won the title at WrestleMania, to start finding new ways to reach the audience at home and show the rest of the roster, like, 'Hey, I know you've been taught a certain way. A lot of you haven't been outside of WWE and you feel like you have to do things a certain way to reach the people at home, like ignoring the camera. But these are uncertain times, so we've got to try things. We've got to throw things against the wall and see what sticks, because we've never been in this position before.'"
He continued, "I was the first guy looking down the lens to reach the fans at home because it was the only way we could reach the WWE universe and connect to everybody. I was saying mad things, like, 'Hey, all you cool cats and kittens down the lane.' Just trying mad stuff, trying outside the box things, and just showing everybody and setting that example of, 'Hey, there is no wrong answer right now, guys and girls. Just do what you want and do what you feel. This is a unique situation right now where we don't have an audience, that all the attention is on you and we can hear what you're saying in the ring, so even if you don't have a promo, you know your character, you know yourself, you can truly develop a character with multiple layers. So when they finally get back in the arenas, if you've done your job, you've taken the time to develop your territory and your promos in the ring with your trash talking, they're going to know you on a deeper level, you're going to be more over for it,' and I think the industry is going to be bigger for it."
Last week's episode of Raw ended with McIntyre receiving an RKO out of nowhere from Orton. McIntyre had just defeated Ziggler in a rematch from last month's Extreme Rules PPV event. What does McIntyre have up his sleeve for Orton on tonight's show?
"You can expect some surprising, or unsurprising to a lot of people, words," McIntyre said. "I guess, getting the RKO out of nowhere is on me. He literally said, 'I'm going to RKO you out of nowhere,' and the RKO came out of nowhere so shame on me. Lesson learned. Won't happen again. But I think... I don't think, I know this is the situation that I've wanted to be in. That I want Randy Orton and I've wanted him for a long time, and the fact that Randy Orton is operating on another level... Randy in general when he's not trying is one of the best. Randy when he's fired on all cylinders as a performer in the ring and as a character is pretty much untouchable. That's the challenge I'm excited about. I'm excited to step up and not just in the ring, but as a character on the microphone. I think the key is just being truthful. That's what I try to do all the time. Drew McIntyre is just an extension of Drew Galloway, the real person, with the volume turned way up.
"I think people that can expect a lot of truths. I've been around for a long time. I was around Randy Orton back in the day when he wasn't exactly the most pleasant person. I'm not saying he's a pleasant person right now, but he certainly wasn't at one point. I was one of the young kids walking on eggshells around him and I'm certainly going to sound off about exactly how I feel about Randy Orton in the past and in the present and what I plan to do to him at SummerSlam."
Orton and McIntyre had their first singles match back in October 2011 during an episode of WWE Raw. Altogether, though, they've only had three singles matches against each other, and that includes untelevised live events. There's been Royal Rumbles and multi-man matches, but even with those includes, the two men have only been in the ring together 20 times in the last decade.
We asked McIntyre if there's any interesting or fun memories that he could share about working Orton over the years.
"During my first run, nothing is PG that I could talk about publicly, but he was certainly an interesting character," McIntyre joked.
He continued, "I think people are surprised, they're like, 'Oh no, I remember this moment and this moment.' I'm like, 'Well, it's cool that you remember those moments,' because there has been so few times, but every time we have been in the ring, especially during the second run, online people responded positively and we've got a good back and forth, a good bit of chemistry with each other.
"The one particular moment, I think it was honestly, it was the Triple Threat (Raw, January 13 this year) and the chop spot we had basically, and everyone keeps talking to me about the chop spot with Randy and I. And that was just on the fly. That wasn't planned. We didn't plan to go in there and talk trash to each other. We chopped, and I chop him harder, then the ringing in his ear and he pokes me in the eye before I had another one. That was just out there. That was just two guys feeling it. I think that's what's missing a lot of the time is just going out there and just seeing what happens naturally.
"All of a sudden if the crowd, you kind of go with how the crowd are responding, and that dictates where you go sometimes. But if you're confident in your abilities, you've been doing this awhile, you get a good feel of this game, you don't need a crowd there. You can still go out and feel it and get the feeling on the microphone in the ring. Randy and I are going to go out there and figure it out as we go.
"One example I can give of that, myself and Seth Rollins at the Money In The Bank pay-per-view. Seth and I went in there and I can assure you, we really didn't have much of an idea of what we were going to do in that match, but we both have a good feel for this. We've been around a long time. We both know our characters. We both know what we're all about, and we went in there and in our heads there was a crowd there and we were just feeling it. If you know what you're doing, you really can maximize this opportunity even in the environment we're in today with Randy. I think some cool stuff's going to come. I know the question originally was a funny story but I like to go on these tangents."
Since becoming the WWE Champion back in April, McIntyre has headlined PPV events working with Rollins, Lashley, and Ziggler. We asked him where this SummerSlam match with Orton ranks in terms of the top singles matches of his career.
"It's going to be right up there," McIntyre said. "Brock Lesnar (at) WrestleMania is obviously right at the top. Overcoming the Beast in such quick and convincing fashion. Since then I've enjoyed what I've been able to do and show my real personality and elevate my opponents. Obviously, Seth and I, that kind of led to his breakdown and where he's at in the character right now. With Lashley it was kind of about getting him to the next level which it has done, and he's continued on keeping the momentum from our run. Dolph, obviously been around forever, but got him back up in a better place as a character.
"The truth is, I'm still in a position where I need to be building. I'm still a new character for a lot of people who are tuning in for the first time and the fact I'm going to be across from someone like Randy Orton, I'm going to have to work up to his level. Someone who's tuning in for the first time, a new pair of eyes, they're not wondering, 'Oh, who's this guy that's the champion? Okay, this is Randy Orton. I recognize this guy. Who's this guy?' Then when I stand up and keep up with Randy Orton, they're like, 'Okay. I like this guy. I understand this guy, I relate to this guy. I'm going to keep tuning in to check out this guy.' So that's what I'm most excited about, is the build towards SummerSlam, getting on another level as a character, especially another level as a champion. I know the match itself will be great and I hope it's not one and done because I think this has a lot of legs for a story perspective to really take me to that next level."
During an interview recently, Ric Flair mentioned that he wants to get involved in the McIntyre vs. Orton match at SummerSlam. Flair suggested he could be in Orton's corner for the match and that he has pitched the idea. What are McIntyre's thoughts on this possibility?
"That hurts my one feeling," McIntyre joked. "I was on Team Flair a while ago, Team Flair versus Team Hogan (WWE Crown Jewel 2019). But yeah, I mean, anytime you can have Ric Flair there it's incredible. You know, he is one of the best if not the best of all time. He's always there to get a great opinion or two backstage. As long as everybody's safe, the situation's safe, everyone's following the CDC guidelines, which we are to an absolute T, beyond it actually, then I'm more than happy to have Ric Flair out there because in the end, he's Ric Flair. It also gives me something else to play off of. That was my favorite thing about the Team Flair versus Team Hogan, was I had both of them out there to play off of. There was a fight during the match where I would listen to Flair, he'd tell me to pause, I'd pause, and then I saw Hulk Hogan out there and I thought, 'My goodness, that's Hulk Hogan.' So I baseball slid out. I got into his face, told him to take off his glasses and look at me in the eye like a man.
"Again, not planned. Just feeling it and thinking to yourself, 'My goodness, here's Hulk Hogan, we need to get him involved.' Ric Flair adds a new dimension to things. Again, people tuning in for the first time, 'My goodness that's Ric Flair. My goodness that's Randy Orton. My goodness, this person I don't recognize is really stepping up to them. I like Mr. MacIntyre. I'm going to continue to watch. I'm going to continue to tell my friends to watch.' So I don't think you can go wrong with having Ric Flair."0comments
Make sure to check out WWE Champion Drew McIntyre on Monday nights during WWE Raw on the USA Network. Additionally, you can see his championship match with Randy Orton at SummerSlam on August 23rd, live on the WWE Network.
We'll have more from our interview with McIntyre in the coming days here on ComicBook.com. Until then, you can give me a follow on Twitter @ryandroste and check out my podcast Top Rope Nation for a twice-weekly discussion on the world of pro wrestling.