While Drew McIntyre prepares to defend his title against Anrade Almas at NXT TakeOver in Houston on Saturday, the 32-year old from Scotland sees it as an opportunity to further position his top guy status and to take the NXT brand to the next level.
Three years after being released by WWE, McIntyre returned to the company in April during NXT TakeOver: Orlando. He spent those three years traveling around the globe on the independent circuit, building a reputation, developing and showcasing a talent that made him even more popular and successful than his initial run with the biggest sports entertainment company in the world and when he returned, the fans erupted with excitement.
Four months after returning to WWE and signing with NXT, he defeated Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship; a title that has an impressive legacy of past winners such as Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura.
McIntyre evokes the same prestige and it’s now up to him, to lead the charge and continue the rise of the NXT brand with him as the face, an honor that he has been working toward his entire life.
CraveOnline: Going into NXT WarGames in Houston, what can fans expect in your title match with Andrade “Cien” Almas?
Drew McIntyre: We’re very physical in the ring and on a stage this size, on a show this size and the fact that we’re in the title match, people are going to be walking away talking about this match.
CraveOnline: Was Almas one of the guys you wanted to face when you returned to WWE?
Drew McIntyre: 100 percent! The NXT roster has such a wide variety of opponents but not to single everyone out but he was one of the guys I wanted to face. We got a lot of things to show that people haven’t seen yet in NXT and I think you’re going to see the best of both of us on Saturday at the Toyota Center.
Returning to WWE
CraveOnline: After returning to WWE since your release a few years ago, what were your expectations and vision for your return?
Drew McIntyre: Honestly, I really haven’t processed it because it happened so quickly. I was so busy outside of WWE. I was the busiest independent wrestler in the world and had no time off. But the day I came back, in the crowd at NXT TakeOver: Orlando, I had seven or eight things that day I was doing between signings and shows. It was going to be a surprise when I came to the crowd so I didn’t have a chance to process.
It was the last minute and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was doing a show and jumped in a car and drove to the arena. My wife met me at the door with a suit so I sat in the crowd and it was only that moment while in the crowd, that it occurred to me, ‘Oh my God. I hope they have been following my work” [laughs] but the reaction I heard was a very cool feeling. It was definitely the right move to come back.
CraveOnline: How have you changed as a person and a performer since your last stint with WWE?
Drew McIntyre: I definitely changed in a lot of ways. When I came into WWE, I had just finished university. I had been wrestling my whole life. It was all I ever knew. I learned so much over here. It really gave me a chance to be out in the world and grow up and have the opportunity to apply and merge in WWE and see if I could take it somewhere. Honestly, I grew up as an act and was able to be a top guy all around the world, represent so many companies around the world to show what I was capable of. I was the right guy to come back and hopefully fulfill the prophecy of “The Chosen One.”
Winning the NXT Championship
CraveOnline: When you won the NXT Championship in Brooklyn, what was going through your mind leading up to the match and after you won it? What emotions did you feel?
Drew McIntyre: I never really got a chance to process it. Everything was going 100 miles an hour. Everything was non-stop. I wish I got to enjoy it more. I just watched the Goldberg special (WWE 24) and he made comments about how he didn’t get to enjoy many moments because it was too intense and he tried to relax in his last match against Brock Lesnar.
So I made sure I was completely in that moment. When I was walking out there, I was fired up and was on a different level, working on a different level and some of those chops and hits I gave, I was dropping bombs. At the end of the match, when I had that title in my hands, I was feeling pretty good considering all of the work the last few years.
CraveOnline: What did you do to celebrate that moment?
Drew McIntyre: When I was younger, I’d go out but these days, I won the match, went straight back to the hotel, I met with the wife, I was just very thankful that she was there to help with all of the knocks the last few years and be supportive the entire time and just take a chance to sit down and share the title with her and say, ‘We did it.’
Life away from the ring
CraveOnline: Who is Drew McIntyre the person? What do you do when you’re not in the ring?
Drew McIntyre: Not a lot these days [laughs]. I just relax and play with my cats. I guess that would be my hobby. The wrestling takes up a lot of time. I’ve managed to separate things but if you want to be a top guy, what you do in the ring is very important but it’s very small in the grand scale of being a top guy.
A part of it is to separate too and being able to relax so you can go in with a clear head every single time. As soon as I get home, I try to shut it off and relax with the wife and cats and when I’m back at work, I’m back 100 percent. You have to do that to keep your sanity.
CraveOnline: What are the biggest misconceptions about you and Scotland?
Drew McIntyre: I don’t know if there are misconceptions about me but there are many, many, many misconceptions about Scotland. I don’t always run around in a kilt, eating haggish and drinking whiskey. Maybe sometimes.
“It’s my job to take it to the next level”
CraveOnline: What do you want out of this NXT title run? What do you want to accomplish?
Drew McIntyre: The hope for me is the same thing for every company across the world; find a way to take that company to the next level. And it’s my job to find a way to take it to the next level, apply it and along the way get up to that level and together, we can take NXT to a level it has never been.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline, the co-founder of Dirtfork, a hockey fanatic, a pro wrestling connoisseur and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of WWE
NXT TakeOver: Houston will be live on WWE Network Saturday 11/18 at 8pm ET from Houston’s Toyota Center.
NXT Champion Drew McIntyre defends his title against Andrade “Cien” Almas
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