Alongside Wrestlemania, NXT Takeover: Tampa has also changed. Takeovers are always a big for the talent of NXT. How do you feel about seeing that changed?
I’m sure they feel the same: a little disappointed that it’s not going down as they envisioned it, but again very proud to give the people something to look forward to. Takeovers are something I look forward to personally. Every match they always knock it out of the park. Everybody who is lucky enough to be on a Takeover realizes that they are very lucky because there are so many people at the PC. When I was there, I was there for a year, and when I was injured I was going down there to work with Shawn Michaels. I would meet about 200-300 people every time I was down there. So many people at the PC it’s unbelievable, and if you’re lucky enough to get on a Takeover you’ve earned it and deserve it. I know those guys give it a 110 percent at every Takeover. And I believe they’re going to do [the Takeover matches] on Wednesdays, and I know they are going to knock it out of the park and I’m excited.
On the topic of NXT, it’s getting its first representation at WrestleMania with the Rhea Ripley and Charlotte match. What’s it like to see that and to have the black and gold brand go to the “big leagues” so to speak?
It’s awesome, but it’s not like how it used to be. Like going from FCW to RAW or SmackDown. That was moving to the “big leagues” because you were in a warehouse training. With NXT you’re in the Performance Center for one, which is an insane multi-million dollar facility that has everything you can possibly imagine. And NXT has a show every week on USA, and then you have Takeover the way it is now. So it’s not such a big jump the way it used to be. It used to be not knowing how it’s going to be and jumping into the deep end. Now you’re ready for when you’re dropped in the deep end and the audience knows the character. But there is a difference from getting an opportunity on RAW or SmackDown with a bigger audience to being on WrestleMania.
I know for Rhea Ripley. She’s young but she’s been doing this for a very long time. She’s figured herself out and remained true to herself and is over with the crowd. She figured out this unique character, and she’s in the ring with Charlotte and they are both phenomenal athletes. That’s a match I’m looking forward to. I don’t want to be following that match. I’m just kidding, I’m going to main event [laughs].
Your WrestleMania moment isn’t what you envisioned and there are a few Superstars who will feel the same way. How are you coping with that, and what advice do you have for others?
I’ve been thinking about this. It came to me as I was talking in a prior interview. After cooling off and putting the stamp on an 18-year career, becoming WWE Champion, the first British WWE Champion. How is it going to be sitting in that ring, potentially, by myself with the title? And the way I described it earlier was, you have your moment with the crowd, adrenaline is pumping high, you go to the back, everyone is there. You go to the locker room, everyone is there. You get congratulations and eventually everyone leaves and you’re going to come down and after I’m last, I’m the last one to leave the locker room. And when I finally get to that hotel room and you’re with your significant other, in my case my wife, and finally once you’re alone, that’s when the real emotions come out. And I can imagine this particular situation being something like that. Like you get a peek at you when you’re away from the public. I’m not the most emotional person in the world, but after winning the Royal Rumble I got emotional because it was such a huge moment for me. And I get a flash of everything I’ve been through to this stage.
But this time, in the ring by myself, you’re really going to get a glimpse of what happens when we get back to the hotel. And the hotel room closes and you’re staring at the title and I know a lot of other people are going to be worried about their entrance and how they react afterwards, celebrating, etc, but that’s what I would say. Do what you always do, relax, be in the moment and the cameras are going to pick everything up, so just pretend you’re in that hotel room afterwards and just let the world in, and whatever real emotion comes out, comes out.
How is it having Brock Lesnar be that last obstacle for you?
This is something I envisioned in my head when I was gone from WWE, and I’ve told this story a few times and I keep telling it because it’s true and it doesn’t even feel real that it’s happening.
When I was outside the company I did a lot of visualizing and preparation of exactly where I want to go and how to get there. And one thing I thought when I was outside the WWE was “which is the biggest possible match I could be in wrestling right now?” It would be Brock Lesnar. He’s a killer, a special attraction in the WWE and only used for special occasions. That would be the match.
The stage? WrestleMania, obviously, it’s the biggest show in the world. What would I have to do to walk into WrestleMania and look believable against Brock Lesnar? One, I have to get as big as possible because anyone who stands in front of Brock Lesnar, including me at the time, would look ridiculous in front of the average fan. If you’re a WWE fan you have a particular favorite and you want them to wrestle Brock and you’ll enjoy it. But if you’re an outside fan, just a casual person off the street who doesn’t watch WWE, to look at an image of Brock Lesnar and myself and go “woo wow look at these two big guys.” That’s phase one.
Two, he’s so intense in the ring and is an insane athlete. I have to keep up with him. I have to up my intensity, and I was already known for being intense and aggressive, but I had to up that even more. OK that’s another thing I have to work on.
Three, there’s that Paul Heyman guy by his side. One of the best talkers of all-time. I better get better at verbalizing myself on the mic and on the camera. Those are the things I used in my head.
OK program. I get a match at WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar. So outside the company I’ll be ready for that match, any other opportunity that comes my way, because that’s the ultimate goal I’ve had. So I’ve been training for this match for about five years now. And it’s actually materializing the vision in my head, which is insane to me. And I tell people that maybe I should have envisioned something bigger like being the first Scottish President of America or something, because that’s how I pictured it and it’s happening.
What does this match mean to you and your career, and what should the fans expect?
It’s not what I expected but I’m past that now. I’m just very proud to be a part of something so big, and hopefully the world will be able to watch and get their mind off of what’s going on right now. And the idea that I can be a champion during this time is a big deal for me.
There have been down times in WWE. There have been wrestlers like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Diesel who were champions when there were tough times for WWE. But this is not just a down time for WWE, it’s a down time for the world. And I want to be that champion, be that positive story that puts a smile on people’s faces. If I can win that title and tell that 19-year journey and tell that story and the build up I got to tell that story, I can be that guy at the end of the night who can put a smile on their faces. That would mean the world to me. That would be my moment. And when we’re all back together and I get to raise that title, that will be our wrestling moment.
WrestleMania 36 will take place on two nights on Saturday April 4 and Sunday, April 5.
The post Drew McIntyre Talks WrestleMania 36, Brock Lesnar & Being the Champion People Need appeared first on Newsweek.