Drew McIntyre is a main-event player in WWE. This is something that he worked for, but it came close to not happening at all. PopCulture.com had a chance to catch up with the two-time WWE Champion, and he revealed his biggest goal after being released by WWE in 2014.
"I left and said a big mission statement that no matter what, I was going to work hard, get better in every area and return to WWE," McIntyre said in our PopCulture@Home series. "As time passed and I did start making a big difference, and people give me the platform to really be myself and find myself and reach my potential and become a top-level drawing performer, I noticed the crowds were growing across the world, and it wasn't because of the WWE name, it was my name."
McIntyre spent the next few years on the independent circuit as well as TNA Wrestling (now Impact Wrestling) where he was a TNA World Heavyweight Champion. He said when he worked ICW event he was able to bring in 7,000 people for a show.
"That's about the time I thought 'You know what? Maybe I won't be back,'" he said. "I'm making such a difference in wrestling right now, so creatively fulfilled. I'm very lucky, and financially, how things are working out. Man, I had these big goals. I wanted to main event WrestleMania, but maybe that's not the path I'm going to go down in anymore."
But as McIntyre began to gain popularity in the independent scene, two high figures in WWE started to take notice — William Regal and Triple H. McIntyre said he talked to Regal about his future and always looked at him as a mentor. McIntyre then had a long conversation with Triple H who always kept an eye on him.
"We spoke about a lot of stuff I've been doing and how proud he was that finally everything they saw in me, the pieces came together and I've become the performer they imagined, but more importantly, I've grown up and become a man and basically said 'it's time to come home.' And I agreed," McIntyre stated.
McIntyre returned to WWE in 2017 and began working in NXT. "It's not developmental, it's a third brand," McIntyre said when talking about NXT. "It's an amazing brand. I wanted to start there. There's where the passionate hardcore niche fanbase are that knew what I was all about and somebody with my experience can make a difference." The success in NXT led to McIntyre working his way to being a WWE Champion by 2020. It was a long process for McIntyre to get to where he is, but he knew it would all work out because of a few principles he lives by.
"It's unbelievable how things have worked out," McIntyre said. "And that's why I tell people all the time no matter what you're dreams are or how crazy they are, no matter how many times you get knocked down, if you work your butt off, block out the negativity, you're accountable to the person in the mirror, you can do absolutely anything because I've done it a couple of times over by following those principles."