Wild British crowds deserve a major WWE event, says wrestling world champion Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre has pledged to return to Scotland as the WWE world champion – and bring his organisation with him to contest a major event in the UK.
The 6’5” wrestler, who hails from Ayr, regained the belt on Monday and heads into one of his organisation’s main pay-per-view events of the year – Survivor Series – tonight on World Wrestling Entertainment network.
But while he’s been performing in empty studios in front of a video wall with lockdown still restricting crowds – where he really wants to wrestle is back home, on the big stage, in the UK, with crowds.
McIntyre wants to bring WWE back to Britain for the first major event since the Summerslam show in London in 1992, and he wants to do it as the figurehead of his organisation – a title he claimed last week, the day after the fifth anniversary of one of Glasgow’s biggest wrestling events – and he was on the headline bout.
"ICW was one of the proudest moments of my life,” he told The Scotsman last week.
Insane Championship Wrestling’s Fear and Loathing event on November 15 2015 saw circa 4,000 fans pile into the SECC on the banks of the Clyde to see McIntyre lose his title to the now nationally omni-present Grado.
It was a defining moment for McIntyre, who had worked his way to top billing after release from the WWE and prompted what’s known in the industry as a push that has elevated him back to America and the top spot in the company.
"That time I was away from WWE I was able to become the star WWE hoped I would be the first time round, before I was fired.
"I was able to evolve and become that main event star and do it with my friends back home, the people I grew up with in ICW. They were my buddies before I moved to America and there we were doing it again in our late-20s and early-30s.
“We were taking not just Scottish wrestling but independent wrestling to new heights.
"It was amazing to watch us go from small crowds to 1500 people to 2000, 4000 to then have Fear and Loathing and wrestle Grado in the main event.”
McIntyre lost that headline event on November 15 half a decade ago, but five years and one day later he was lifting the WWE title belt for the second time, taking a place as the face of one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. He’s the first Brit, and first Scot to do so, but that night in Glasgow proved a seminal moment for McIntyre, otherwise known as Drew Galloway’s career.
Events that night not only promoted him back to the top, but also confirmed to McIntyre that the UK deserves another big wrestling event from the top operators in the world – and it’s something he’s now going to use his own lofty position within the company to influence and make happen.
"In five years it’s a huge turnaround. As well as my title, Grado’s all over Scottish TV and he’s a household name now.
“We built something then, I had turned bad at that point and we built passion up to points it had never been - the atmosphere was electric, you could cut the tension with a knife with the thought I could regain the title and if I did - I think I’d have got a bottle off my head! So I was maybe relieved I lost to Grado!
"They were chanting and rowdy and we’d built it up to the point they were so invested they seemed almost willing to get physical with opponents. That is what wrestling is all about.
“The UK has some of the most passionate loyal fans. The superstars look forward to it because they don’t understand why the crowds are so rowdy - we have football crowds who chant, go mental, get drunk, it’s home for me but for the rest of the superstars they think it’s cool to get over - my goal is to make it happen in future and it’s going to happen because I’m gonna harass [WWE chief executive] Vince McMahon until it does.
“I talk a lot of crap online with Tyson Fury and Chris Sutton in particular - but whatever it takes to get the UK a significant PPV I’ll do.
“I have plans that I won’t mention publicly but the big one I will, and the one that WILL happen, is getting a WWE PPV back to the UK.”
And when he does, he expects to do it with his title in hand, with as passionate a crowd as he remembers.
"I want that atmosphere when I get back - if Drew loses his title we’re gonna go off on one! And not just crowds in Scotland - around the world!”
There were no frenetic, fever-pitch crowds chanting when McIntyre won his first title at the company’s flagship event Wrestlemania in the spring, nor last week when he regained the belt. There won’t be tonight when he performs with Roman Reigns on the annual Survivor Series show.
For his ambitions to be realised, first crowds need to be allowed back to large events – an issue not lost on McIntyre.
He added: “Instead of 90,000 people and my family and friends I won the title at Wrestlemania in an empty arena . WWE being worldwide and so big - 800m homes, 180 countries 20 different languages - its a global juggernaut and a lot of people need that escape right now, and I’m very proud that.
“Wrestling was the only sport on the go when it first happened, there’s a few now but we’ll continue to give everyone that escape. I’m very proud to lead the company as a WWE champion while we give people a reason to smile during these difficult times.”