The Ballad Of Drew McIntyre

(Photo Credit: WWE)

Drew McIntyre, former WWE champion, made a surprise return to the company last weekend at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view to a thunderous response from the crowd in London. While his comeback to the organization would’ve received an ovation anywhere, it made sense to bring him back in the UK for a “hometown” type of reaction.

The return to WWE programming came after there was speculation that Drew might let his WWE deal expire, with the option to explore other opportunities, namely with All Elite Wrestling as the organization prepares for its own major event in England, Wembley Stadium with over 60,000 fans expected in August.

I wanted to write a column specifically about the comeback of Drew McIntyre, as his WWE career had its share of peaks and valleys. At 38, he is still in his prime, but the one narrative that has followed his WWE tenure, which started when he originally signed to a deal in 2007 is, he just wasn’t at the right place at the right time. When he was dubbed “The Chosen One” by Vince McMahon at just 22 years old, he wasn’t ready for that spot, and to be fair to him, very few probably would’ve been able to handle that pressure at such a young age. The infamous 3MB years could’ve typecast him as a comedy act, but not only did he make the best of it, he completely rejuvenated his career after he was released in 2014.

His exit from the WWE was necessary, as it put distance between him and the 3MB gimmick. When he toured the indies and had a tenure in Impact, he reinvented himself for when he signed with the WWE in 2017.

He had a successful stint in NXT, winning the championship and working some stellar matches for the brand. However, similar to many that were called up to the main roster, he almost floundered on Raw as a mid-card heel, and some switches between heel and baby face over the years didn’t put him in a firm direction.

Drew was always known as a guy that seemed to have all the tools and developed them throughout his career, but just hadn’t reached the top level. If you go back to 2019, he was spinning his wheels as a part of a mid-card tag team and didn’t seem to have much momentum at all. Finally, more because it seemed like the office needed to decide who was going to get a push that year, McIntyre won the 2020 Royal Rumble to get a shot at the championship at Wrestlemania.

However, everything and everyone was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

As random as the decision to finally push Drew to the main event scene was for the Rumble in 2020, at least he was going to get a chance to work as a main event competitor in WWE. The opportunity wasn’t ideal since the office did nothing to indicate that they had big plans for him with the way he was booked the previous year, but the point being, at least he was going to get a chance to be a top guy. As we know, COVID-19 shuttered the entire world and it was quite literally unprecedented times for sports entertainment. For the first time ever, Wrestlemania was taped in front of no fans because of the health risks associated with the pandemic. Drew was put in an impossible situation, he had the biggest moment of his career, winning the WWE championship from Brock Lesnar, in an empty building to literally no reaction. You have to give McIntyre credit, he was the pandemic era champion and did the best he could with it, as the environment of WWE tapings evolved with the Thunder Dome concept and the addition of piped in crowd noise to give the broadcasts some type of atmosphere instead of just a static presentation.

During the latter stages of the pandemic, Roman Reigns finally turned heel and not only did the best work of his career, but that story continues today as a part of the best storyline the WWE has done in at least the past 3-4 years. Management had several years of time, money, and promotional push invested in Roman Reigns for him to get to the top spot in the company so it made sense for them to fully spotlight the success.

But, what about Drew?

It’s unfair, but the bottom line is, Drew got the biggest push of his career at a time when the state of the product was in survival mode, not in the position to make new stars. Granted, the WWE wasn’t in danger of folding or anything like that, but the primary objective, as it should’ve been, was to keep the roster health and just get the shows on the air, especially when its biggest revenue source was the TV contract. Unfortunately, Drew was a placeholder champion, even if he’s much more skilled than that.

Since that time, McIntyre continues to be a solid performer and you’d be hard-pressed to find a subpar Drew McIntyre match, but it’s clear the focus of the office, as it probably should be, is on the storylines that involve Roman Reigns. Truth be told, Drew’s time as a main event guy, might’ve come to a conclusion. Even after the pandemic more or less concluded so that fans could be brought back into arenas, nothing made a bigger statement about how the office viewed Drew post-pandemic than when he worked a four-minute match against Jinder Mahal at Summer Slam in 2021.

Don’t get me wrong, management knows that Drew is a commodity, which is why he challenged Roman Reigns for the championship in a really good match at Clash at the Castle last September, but it’s clear that they don’t have main event plans for him. So, you can’t blame him for at least considering other options when there appears to be a ceiling on the amount of success he can achieve in the WWE.

So, why did Drew opt to re-sign with WWE?

The answer is simple, and should be the top priority in the business, he got paid big money to remain a part of the WWE. This is where the existence of All Elite Wrestling is so critical for the health of the industry, regardless of what the critics might say. Before the launch of AEW, a talent often had to take what the WWE offered or consider if the smaller platform of TNA, which was more or less the witness protection program during the post-Spike TV years before Anthem bought it, was worth it. Now, if a WWE talent wants to work elsewhere, they have the option of prime time national television for at least comparable money, which completely shifts the dynamics of the industry.

If the office still sees Drew as a guy that can be on the same level as Roman Reigns remains to be seen, but they certainly know his value as a performer, which is why they definitely didn’t want another one of their stars to make the jump to AEW, particularly when the setting of Wembley stadium would provide a memorable moment for a theoretical Drew Galloway debut.

The good news is, Drew McIntyre might finally be at the right place at the right time, with the right opponent. Gunther is a top notch worker and made the IC title relevant for the first time in several years. Proof of the credibility brought to the IC belt was the stellar triple threat match for the championship at Wrestlemania. In some ways, it’s a throwback to when the IC title was considered the “worker’s championship” with names like Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect in the early-90s. It’s very possible with Gunter, Drew, Sheamus, and others that there could be a division that adds another dynamic to the show. Given McIntyre’s involvement on Raw, it appears there will be a Gunter/Drew feud for the belt, which was spotlighted in the main event segment.

So, Drew might not have the top spot in the company the way that he did during the pandemic, but he’s getting paid top dollar to remain with WWE, and from a business perspective, the cash is the true barometer of success.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail [email protected] | You can follow me on Instagram & Facebook @jimlamotta89