The old saying is that a Superstar’s worst enemy is time off. But there Drew McIntyre was, facing the first extended stint on the shelf of his in-ring career after suffering a torn bicep in an NXT Championship loss to Andrade “Cien” Almas in November 2017. Between grueling rehab sessions, the 6’5” Scottish bruiser did something he’d never really had time to do: Watch the in-ring product. In a way, everything that is about to happen stems completely from that decision, because Drew McIntyre did not like what he saw. “As good as certain things were, there were certain areas that were lacking massively,” McIntyre observed. “There are a lot of people very sure of themselves that need to be brought back down to Earth. As good as they think they are, they’re really not.”
He knew what he was looking at the second he saw it: Complacency. According to him, he could see it in the offenders’ eyes. They weren’t pushing themselves. The sight rankled the Scotsman on a personal level, mainly because he had been that guy not long ago, and it had contributed directly to the end of his first stint with WWE. Some background: As a 21-year-old signee, McIntyre was a champion-in-waiting with a ceiling so high that Mr. McMahon himself dubbed him “The Chosen One.” But initial successes failed to pay main-event dividends, and by 2014, McIntyre was just happy to be there, collecting a decent paycheck and working the Live Event circuit as a member of the cult-favorite comedy act 3MB. It was a comfortable living, and that comfort ultimately cost him his job.
“The truth is, 3MB were on everything at the time,” McIntyre explained about the time of his release. The consistent work had even allowed him the freedom to move into a new place with his wife (then girlfriend). “We’d been there for three days when I got the call. The guaranteed money isn’t there anymore. That’s a scary situation.” What followed was a worldwide tour of forced self-reinvention. McIntyre hit the indies and earned a reputation as one of the most in-demand big men in the industry with the ultimate goal of returning to WWE. He eventually re-signed as an NXT Superstar in 2017 and won the black-and-yellow brand’s top title within a matter of months before suffering the injury that put him out of action. Having fought through every conceivable promotion to make a name that would carry him back into the fold, McIntyre expected a similar sink-or-swim mentality on Raw, which he refers to as the top sports-entertainment show on the planet. Instead, he claims he saw that his peers were committing the same sins of his past with no one to hold them accountable. And then, Drew McIntyre had an epiphany. “I thought to myself, ‘this place needs the experience I can bring. Maybe they do need Drew McIntyre. Maybe that’s where I need to go.’” Suffice it to say, the rest of the locker room may soon find that their worst enemy was Drew McIntyre’s time off.