Drew McIntyre will begin his second reign as WWE champion with a match against the other current pillar of the company when he takes on Universal champion Roman Reigns at Survivor Series on Sunday (7 p.m., WWE Network).
The champ took time for some Q&A with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski ahead of the pay-per-view that pits the best from Raw against the best from SmackDown and also includes The Undertaker’s “Final Farewell.”
Q: What do you feel like your character gained from going through that short journey of losing the WWE championship and having to get it back?
A: I guess it shows my resolve. Drew McIntyre has been on quite a winning streak basically from November 2019 and especially since the Royal Rumble I’ve just been kind of running through everyone. And it’s been kind of cool that the WWE universe has been enjoying it, not really been tested until Randy Orton and kind of watching me start to have to overcome some difficult situations, show some different sides of my character. The whole thing is to make me more relatable and show the real Drew so people can relate to this giant Scotsman. And what happens when he loses the thing most special to him, the WWE championship? How does he deal with falling down? Does he have a breakdown and just start losing some matches or does he pick himself up and fight even harder?
I think it showed that even if you knock this guy down, he’s gonna keep coming. He’s essentially a Scottish terminator. I’ve seen some people’s opinion, positive and unsure why I lost the title, but I think people understand the whole adding layers to the character of how this Drew McIntyre, the guy who seems invincible at times, deals with some adversity.
Q: We saw you in some very different attire coming to the ring the other night. You’ve explained the sword was Vince McMahon’s. Is there any story behind the kilt itself?
A: It’s something that’s been in the family that I’ve worn basically since I was a kid. You saw a version of it when I debuted in WWE when I was 22 years old. It was a tartan close to the tartan that I wore on Monday. That design, those particular colors are very much in my family, so that part is 100 percent true.
It’s so cool to bring back the Scottish elements, my heritage, because I am so proud of it. From a visual perspective, it’s pretty fun. I think people dig ‘Braveheart’, dig ‘Outlander’ and if WWE can play with those elements then you have a badass entrance with a giant claymore and fire going on around Drew McIntyre. Just like showing the character’s got resolve, the character’s got to evolve and now that entrance has evolved as well.
Q: Is that entrance something we are gonna see more often or just used for special occasions?
A: I’m hoping that we can have it a few times initially. If it starts to feel like it’s a bit much, then maybe we save it for special occasions and we dial it back, but the response has been so incredible and I feel so good about it that I think you run with it until people maybe aren’t digging it and maybe it’s a little bit much now. We scale it back, we change it up. We have like a line of people holding swords like Undertaker style. They are holding swords instead of torches as I walk under. There are so many possibilities. I’m really excited about the things we can do with me now. And I’m sure from Monday, you could see a lot of kids running around in America with little kilts on. Now that would be fun, too.
Q: How much does this Roman Reigns character feel like the polar opposite of who this Drew McIntyre is, in the way they treat the audience and the path they took to top in?
A: It’s the tale of two chosen ones who have taken very different journeys. Obviously, I had to fail and go through a lot to eventually succeed. I was the chosen one of the fans, not the office, while Roman was able to stay the course and persevere and he was able to become the guy and headline all the cards, be the man.
It’s interesting because I watched him at FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) when he started and was told this guy’s gonna be somebody, he’s got something and he did. He always had that aura about it, that superstar quality and worked too hard with his family heritage.
Then to come back and see how he developed into this top-tier superstar, who didn’t just put the work in in the ring, which he did, but outside the ring. As he talks about, there are all these different levels to being a superstar, a top superstar is 24/7 and he was putting in the work. He kept his head down, he never complained. I was like, ‘Wow I look up to this guy. I have so much respect for this guy. I want to be like him.’ Because when I returned to WWE, even though I wrestled much longer than him, I wanted to be just like him.
On Roman’s return, things have changed. Gone is the humble Roman that I knew that worked so, so hard. Suddenly he was bragging about everything he achieved. There’s truth to everything he says. The difference was he never used to say it. Now he’s telling everyone ‘I am the man, here’s the numbers, they don’t lie.’ It’s the way he goes about things that I don’t necessarily like.
The way I see Drew McIntyre is he’s going in there to bring Roman back down to earth, maybe do him a favor, maybe bring back the guy I used to respect so much. Bring him back down to earth, basically humble him. That’s the word of the day when it comes to this Sunday.
Q: Triple H has said he believes a feud between you and Roman could be at the level of Stone Cold and The Rock. How much pressure does that put on you? Is it good to hear the company has that kind of expectation for this?
A: With Hunter, I think he’s looking at, ‘Well, there it is, the Roman Reigns we always wanted.’ This is Roman Reigns without holding back, this is truly him being himself. This is Drew McIntyre, what we always saw in him, being himself. They finally found their full evolution, the top level of their character. He’s got a vision in his head of where it can go and that’s what makes Sunday so interesting is because right now we are on such a roll.
After Sunday, no matter what happened, we’re gonna keep our respective roles on our respective brands and who knows what’s gonna happen down the line. I think this is something that’s gonna go for a long time and be very interesting and if we can reach those heights that Hunter talked about, that would be pretty frickin special.
Q: You and Sheamus really have been friends for a long time. Why did you guys hit it off and why has that bond lasted?
A: We met in Ireland. There was a wrestling company there, Irish Whip Wrestling. It was the only televised wrestling show in all of Europe at the time. I came over for my first trip. I ended up staying a couple of days when everyone else went back home. I stayed with Sheamus and we got to talk to each other, got to know each other, listening to each other wanting to make it to WWE. But not just, ‘Hey I want to be in WWE like everybody else,’ but … how we’re gonna do it, and we just started watching lots of Bret Hart matches, big Bret Hart fans.
From then on, the big feud in Europe was Sheamus versus Drew. We tried to get booked together in Ireland, in Scotland, in England. He’d bring a video camera. We’d record the matches, we’d study them, we’d dissect them.
We got signed on the same day, then came to America. The night I won the IC title he won the heavyweight title and the whole time we are basically living together, taking this incredible journey together. We are both so driven to be the absolute best and in the end, he’s such a good person. Best man at my wedding, he wore a kilt just like I wore this week.
Q: What would it mean for the two of you to bring that feud and that story front and center in WWE, whichever way it gets presented?
A:. So it’s probably about at least like 10 years ago we started talking about the possibilities for Drew McIntyre and Sheamus. So we now have 10 years extra that we can add into the backstory here. We’ve been dreaming about working together and bringing in the real story for a long time because the fans can tell when something’s real and when it’s not real.
We are basing things in truth as much as possible. We are bringing in our real-life story, our real-life feeling to those backstage segments and if we can take that somewhere interesting where we’re teaming together. I keep pushing for that. Everyone keeps saying, ‘When’s he gonna Brogue kick Drew?’ What? Brogue kick Drew? I get the dynamic that he’s the bad guy on the show and I’m the good guy on the show, but when we’re together you can just see that friendship and that friendship just overrides everything else that’s going on with us and that creates an extra layer to the characters.
Why couldn’t we keep together while still doing our own things on the side and keep that relationship going? Why don’t we do some damage, have some fun? People would enjoy us beating the crap out of everyone, except for our opponents. And then maybe down the line, when it was right, we have the match. Let’s build this thing. Let’s not jump right into it.
Q: Does it feel like anything between you and Tyson Fury probably won’t happen until we get fans back and would it feel wrong not to do it in the UK?
A: We can do it with fans not there. The ThunderDome makes such a difference obviously getting that bigger than life feel and getting that live, real-time reaction from the virtual audience, but you can still see through the people who aren’t as good as other people.
You’ve go to be good at your job in this environment right now and Tyson is not quite at that level yet. He may need some smoke and mirrors when the time is right.
The UK’s has not had a [WWE] pay-per-view since SummerSlam 1992 of any huge significance, so it deserves it. It’s been a long time since it happened, but right now it’s not possible. We’ve got the WWE Network now, we can have major attractions, these major pay-per-views. Fury’s such a huge name in the world, especially the UK. As is Drew McIntryre and the first British [WWE] champion even — two times. If that’s what it would take to get the UK pay-per-view, that to me makes sense.