Broken Dreams: Drew McIntyre Makes Them Come True
In 2020, the WWE crowned its first ever WWE Champion to be born in the United Kingdom when Drew McIntyre defeated Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 36. It’s crazy to think that Drew McIntyre made his in ring debut all the way back in 2002, and made his WWE TV debut in 2007. To say that this was a long time coming would be an understatement, and some fans like myself thought that McIntyre would have won a world championship in WWE a lot sooner in his career. He was even dubbed the ‘Chosen One’ by Vince McMahon himself in 2009. So why did it take him roughly 14 years to reach the main event of Wrestlemania and finally lay his hands on the WWE Championship? How did someone with so much promise early in his career take so long to claim one of the sports greatest prizes? This is how Drew McIntyre took his broken dreams and made them come true.
Even though he made his main roster debut on Smackdown in 2007, where he picked up a win over Brett Major (better known as Zack Ryder), McIntyre spent a majority of the next year and a half in both OVW and FCW. While he had matches against the likes of Shawn Spears, Vladimir Kozlov and Matt Sydal in OVW, he would wrestle almost three times the amount of matches in FCW and find a lot more success there. He would be one half of the FCW Florida Tag Team Champions with Stu Sanders (Wade Barrett) for two different reigns. Both reigns weren’t much to write home about as they were champions for a combined 69 days, but McIntyre had his eyes on a bigger title, the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship. After failing to win the title from Jake Hager and losing the number one contendership to Eric Escobar, it would take until 2009 for him to claim the prize. McIntyre would win the title on FCW TV from Escobar and begin his one and only reign as FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion. He would be the champion for 84 days and defended the championship against the likes of Sebastian Slater (Heath Slater), Sweet Papi Sanchez, Sheamus, DH Smith (Davey Boy Smith Jr.), Ricky Ortiz and Tyler Reks, before losing the title to Reks on June 11. After losing a FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship match to Justin Angel (Justin Gabriel/PJ Black) on October 8th, it was off to the main roster for McIntyre.
McIntyre had been doing road loops with the main roster since May of 2009, but he was only used on House Shows and Dark Matches. He would re-debut on Smackdown on August 28, fighting to a No Contest against R-Truth. After a few weeks of beating up lower card wrestlers, McIntyre was in a segment with Vince McMahon where he was dubbed as the Chosen One and McMahon claimed that he was going to be a future world champion. McIntyre would soon turn his attention to John Morrison’s Intercontinental Championship. The two would collide at TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, and McIntyre would win his first title on the main roster. But his run would slowly start to falter after that, as he would lose Wrestlemania 26 Money in the Bank qualifying matches to Kane and Matt Hardy, before finally qualifying against a local competitor named Aaron Bolo (who hasn’t wrestled since 2012). McIntyre wouldn’t be able to grab the briefcase at Wrestlemania 26, and he would continue to fall as he would lose the Intercontinental Championship to Kofi Kingston at Over the Limit. He would qualify for the Smackdown Money in the Bank at the Pay Per Views inaugural event, but once again was unable to grab the briefcase. McIntyre would eventually team up with Cody Rhodes to form the Dashing Ones, and they would win the WWE Tag Team Championships at Night of Champions when they beat the champs in the Heart Foundation, The Usos, Santino Marella & Kozlov, and Evan Bourne (Matt Sydal) & Mark Henry. They would only reign for just over a month before dropping the championships to John Cena and David Otunga (of all teams!) at Bragging Rights. Despite having a few championships here and there the remainder of the year, McIntyre wouldn’t even touch gold in the WWE until 2017. After a 2011 that saw McIntyre on the house show loop and dark matches, he was in desperate need of a storyline or feud or something.
McIntyre would get his next story, and it was one that had some potential at first but it was a huge failure. On the September 21st episode of Smackdown, McIntyre and Jinder Mahal would attack Brodus Clay during a match against Heath Slater to align themselves with Slater. The group would be named the 3 Man Band and early showed some promise getting a tag team championship match against team Hell No on the final Raw of 2012, but McIntyre and Slater wouldn’t be successful in the challenge. After that match, the losses would pile up for 3MB, as they suffered defeats to teams like the Usos and Brodus Clay and Tensai while rarely getting time on television outside of comedy bits here and there. With there being no momentum behind the team, McIntyre was released from his WWE contract on July 24, 2014.
One of the issues with McIntyre’s first WWE run is that he was just another face in the crowd. He kind of blended into the background with his look and lackluster promo skills. He was just a face in the crowd of a very bloated roster, but it was clear that he was talented in the ring. And fans would be reminded of just that when his 90 day no compete clause was up. What followed was a three and a half year reign of dominance on the independent scene around the world. Back under his old name of Drew Galloway, his first stop was Evolve and a match against Chris Hero. That would be big on any stage, but in his first match back on the independent scene, Hero’s Evolve Championship was on the line. Galloway would take the title from Hero and had two more great matches that weekend against Anthony Nese and Ricochet, and the wrestling world knew that Galloway had come to the independent scene with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.
Galloway would reign as Evolve champion for almost a year and defend the title in the UK and Australia while also still competing in other promotions. Galloway would turn away challenges from Stevie Richards, Rich Swann, Big Damo (Killian Dain), Davey Boy Smith Jr., Ricochet, PJ Black, Johnny Gargano, Marty Scurll, Doug Williams, Joe Hendry, Rampage Brown and Roderick Strong before dropping the title to Timothy Thatcher at Evolve 45. But that title was just the beginning of Galloway’s dominance of the indy scene. Galloway would win the ICW Heavyweight Championship on November 2, when he defeated Jack Jester at ICW Fear and Loathing VII, and the DPW Heavyweight Championship from Michael Fynne at DPW Hardcore X-Mas 8, and began a year long reign on top of both of those promotions. More championship success would find Galloway in 2015 where he won the Open the Freedom Gate Championship, the OCW Heavyweight Championship, European Heavyweight Championship and Scottish Heavyweight Championship. Galloway also got to the finals of the IWF World Championship tournament, but was unable to win a fatal four way that included Brian Cage, Chris Hero and Uhaa Nation (Apollo Crews). Galloway would also make his debut in Impact Wrestling and was immediately a force in the main event scene, earning a world title shot in his first five months of being with the company. He would lose to Ethan Carter III, and would also fail to win the vacant King of the Mountain Championship in a King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary. Galloway would get a few more title shots here and there before the year was out, but the championship always seemed to be just out of his reach.
2016 would see Galloway finally get to the top of the Impact mountain when he finally won the Impact World Championship by defeating Matt Hardy in 18 seconds after cashing in his Feast or Fired briefcase for a World Championship match. Galloway would defend the championship against both Jeff and Matt Hardy, Tyrus (Brodus Clay), Eli Drake and Lashley before dropping the title to Lashley at Slammiversary XIV. Despite losing the Impact World Championship, more titles found themselves around the waist of Galloway as he would win the Evolve Tag Team Championships twice, once with Gargano and once with DUSTIN (Chuckie T), as well as the Impact Grand Championship and the WCPW World Championship by mid 2017. From 2014 to 2017, he had also put on a plethora of great matches against some of the best in the world. His matches with Mike Bailey, Kurt Angle, Trent (Beretta), Lashley, Will Ospreay, Michael Elgin, Matt Riddle and Ricochet all proved the point that WWE saw in him back in 2009 when he was called up to the main roster, and dubbed as the Chosen One. He had the talent in the ring, he just needed to perfect his craft. The three and a half year run that he had saw him rise up to the top of many different independent promotions, but it was time for him to return to the promotion that gave him his first big opportunity.
Galloway competed at Evolve 81 and 82, Wrestlecon and the WCPW State of Emergency shows during Wrestlemania 33 weekend, but his biggest moment of the weekend came outside of the ring. Galloway was shown in the crowd at NXT: Takeover Orlando, once again under the name Drew McIntyre, and had officially returned to the WWE. His first match back under the WWE banner saw McIntyre defeat Oney Lorcan to begin a rather impressive undefeated streak in NXT. During his entire NXT run, McIntyre never suffered a loss on NXT television, only actually suffering defeats on the house show loops. He would win the #1 Contendership for the NXT Championship when he defeated Killian Dain and would go on to challenge Bobby Roode at Takeover: Brooklyn 3. McIntyre would go on to take the championship from Roode, winning the championship in his first four months on the roster. But would be attacked by Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly as the Undisputed Era was born. But the feud between McIntyre and Cole would never culminate as McIntyre would drop the NXT Championship to Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas at Takeover: WarGames, ending his reign at 91 days. Not only did he lose his championship, McIntyre also suffered a torn bicep in the process. Despite not getting the feud with Cole, losing his title and suffering an injury, there were bigger things on the horizon for McIntyre.
On the April 16th edition of Raw, McIntyre made his return to the main roster and attacked Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews to align himself with Dolph Ziggler. The duo quickly found success when McIntyre helped Ziggler win the Intercontinental Championship from Seth Rollins on Raw, and the team would later add the Raw Tag Team Championships to their collection when they defeated the B-Team. The pair would then enter a feud with the reunited team of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. While they would retain the championships on two occasions, Rollins and Ambrose would win the championships from them and the tensions would begin to rise between McIntyre and Ziggler. McIntyre would begin a new alliance with Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley, and shortly after kick Ziggler to the curb. The feud with the Shield continued with the new stable, ultimately culminating with McIntyre taking on Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 35 in a losing effort.
After a very short alliance with Shane McMahon and a first round exit in the King of the Ring tournament, McIntyre took a two month break before returning to be a part of Team Flair for Crown Jewel. After being on the losing end of the Survivor Series 15 man tag elimination match, McIntyre got back to his winning ways, and slowly began a face turn. He would be like a lot of other wrestlers claiming that he was going to win the Royal Rumble Match and main event Wrestlemania 36. Come the day of the match and Brock Lesnar had been running wild as WWE Champion and the #1 entrant in the match with 13 eliminations. McIntyre’s music hit and he had a stare down with the Beast. This allowed one of McIntyre’s old rivals from the indy scene in Ricochet to hit a low blow on Lesnar to help set up McIntyre’s Claymore Kick to eliminate Lesnar from the match. Many people say that this is where the match actually started, and before we knew it, we were down to the final four of McIntyre, Reigns, Randy Orton and the best surprise return in a rumble match, Edge. These four had combined to win 28 world championships and main evented 6 Wrestlemanias (the last match of the night is the main event and no show has 4 main events). But these numbers were really between Reigns, Orton and Edge. McIntyre had no world championships in WWE and had no Wrestlemania main events. He was the underdog of the group, and it didn’t look like this would be the time for McIntyre to win the Rumble. But the elimination of Lesnar could be used to help find McIntyre in a world championship match at Wrestlemania 36.
But then McIntyre eliminated Reigns and won the entire match, paving his way to Wrestlemania 36 clear as day. While his road to the grandest stage of them all was rather uneventful, it helped set McIntyre up as a dominant force that Lesnar should be afraid of. While the day approached, fans were hoping to see McIntyre finally end the reign of Lesnar, as we all know part time champions are the issue. Thankfully it happened and McIntyre had finally reached the mountain top and won the WWE Championship. After 18 years in the business, 12 of which were spent in WWE, he had finally reached the goal that he seemed destined to reach all the way back in 2009. The transformation from the Chosen One to the Scottish Psychopath changed Drew McIntyre’s career and helped propel him to the main event level that we all knew he would one day be in. McIntyre took the broken dreams of his career and he made them come true.