For reasons that the WWE never expected, WrestleMania 36 will be one for the history books. Not only is “the showcase of the immortals” taking place over two nights instead of one, but it will be held in front of the WWE Performance Center in Orlando instead of a packed Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Instead of 70,000-plus screaming fans, Drew McIntyre will battle Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship in front of just a scant handful of WWE staff. For Drew, 34, this is not the “WrestleMania Moment” he envisioned when he first joined the WWE in 2007.
The “Scottish Terminator,” who won the right to challenge Brock, 42, for the WWE title after winning the 2020 Royal Rumble (in which he also eliminated Brock, via his “Claymore” kick), could experience the most significant moment in his sports-entertainment career in front of practically nobody. Drew, as he says during his EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife, had to work through his feelings over this. Still, with WrestleMania being the only sports-related entertainment going on, he realized how much of a “big deal this is.”
Drew shares what went through his mind when he first heard that WrestleMania would take place in front of no fans, why he thinks he’s the one to defeat Brock Lesnar “for good,” and his thoughts on cancer-survivor Roman Reigns pulling out of WrestleMania out of concerns for his health.
HollywoodLife: This weekend, you could become the WWE Champion by beating Brock Lesnar – in front of an empty arena. You could potentially have a championship reign, depending on how long these ‘shelter in place’ orders last, where you never perform in front of the WWE Universe. Does that fact weigh on your mind, especially since becoming the WWE champ has been of yours for over a decade?
Drew McIntyre: It is a very different situation. Obviously, when I found out that WrestleMania was moving to the Performance Center, and we weren’t going to have any fans there, my initial reaction was disappointment and anger. I worked so hard and couldn’t believe that this had to happen, but then, I sat down and thought about it.
I’m a bit older, and a bit wiser and realized that it wasn’t just about my selfish reasons. We are pushing forward and giving everybody an escape right now. Especially for WWE fans right now or [for fans] just starting to watch WWE, looking for something to do while sitting inside with all this time. Then, I realized, ‘Okay, this is a big deal!’ We are still giving them a show. This is a WrestleMania that will never be forgotten.
People have their big moments at WrestleMania every year. People love it in the moment or hate it in the moment, if you are a bad guy. The next day, they talk about it, and the next week, they talk about it, and history forgets it eventually. But, nothing will ever be forgotten in this period. They won’t forget the WrestleMania when the world stood still. They won’t forget the period afterward when we pushed forward and entertained everyone as long as we could with the CDC guidelines.
I would be damn proud to be champion during this period when it was a difficult time not for the company but a difficult time for the world. I have been around long enough, wrestled long enough, and have adapted long enough that I have adapted to every situation. I know in the end that if the WWE Universe can’t be there live, that is fine. I know that I am experienced enough that I will keep them entertained from afar.
Roman Reigns was scheduled to take on Bill Goldberg for the WWE Universal championship, but he requested to be taken off the card out of health concerns. As we know, Roman is a leukemia survivor, and his compromised immune system puts him at risk for coronavirus. How are you and the WWE supporting him through this hard decision?
It is a tremendous time. The WWE is taking the safety of the Superstars to the next level by following the CDC guidelines. Every single person that comes to the Performance Center was thoroughly tested to make sure they are healthy to compete, and the numbers were kept so low. So, if someone doesn’t feel comfortable or are at risk, then the rules state if you feel sick or don’t pass the physical, then this is not the time to risk or push it. Now is not the time to risk anything. Everyone understands. WWE understands. The Superstars understand, and the fans understand. Nobody blinks an eye. It is all about safety with everyone and Roman right now!
This past Raw Paul Heyman chose to hype you up but also say that Brock Lesnar would beat you just like he has done to many others like The Rock, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, etc. What makes you the one to finally be the guy who beats Brock Lesnar for good?
‘Conquer the conqueror.’ Well, aside from the eye test, when I went face to face with Brock Lesnar, I think people gasped because Brock is [used to] towering over everybody. He is an insane athlete. He is so fast, so strong, and so explosive. He runs through everybody, but people know me as being aggressive and similarly dominant. So, that eye test, people went, ‘Wow! Drew is a similar athlete to Brock and looking down on Brock!’ That is pretty cool, for one.
Two, the last time they saw us together, I didn’t drop him just once — which is pretty impressive and doesn’t generally happen, especially with someone like Brock Lesnar. I dropped him once and saw the look on his face with what I did with The Claymore. Then, I gave it to him again, then again, and I raised the title.
So that is why it is such a unique build with Paul Heyman. Nobody paints a picture like Paul Heyman. He is like Davinci with that microphone. He will paint this crazy picture, but in the last two weeks, I did something that nobody has ever done. I made history because after that happened, Brock wanted to show up to work and scuffle with me to prove to himself that ‘this guy can’t beat me.’ He’s like, ‘I know he got me that time, but I have to prove to myself that I can take him before WrestleMania!’ But after that first day, I can play mind games too.
Brock is angry, Paul is painting this marvelous picture and [on Raw] this week, it looked like Brock was going to rip the camera and break it as I wasn’t there again. I made him so angry! I got him to show up to work two weeks in a row, which doesn’t happen with Brock Lesnar. Then, Paul Heyman came and painted this marvelous picture as he always does, but in the back of Brock’s mind, he knows that the last time I was there, I dropped him. The last time Drew and Brock were together, Drew dropped Brock. So until WrestleMania, that will be the last image he’ll have of me.