Drew McIntyre On His NXT Debut, Jinder Mahal Winning WWE Title & More
NXT Superstar Drew McIntyre recently spoke with Mirror.co.uk for an interview. Below are some of the highlights.
On the events that led up to his NXT debut during WrestleMania 33 Weekend earlier this year: “It’s been a crazy couple of months. I was basically the busiest independent wrestler in the world, traveling the world back and forth. I was under contract at the time [with IMPACT Wrestling] and I elected not to sign my new contract. I had to make the best decision for my future and my family’s future. I was very, very lucky after so many people believing in me and working my arse off that I was able to take a pick of where I was going to go. But my mind was made up, if I got the opportunity… William Regal is one of my mentors and I had been talking with him the whole time I have been away from WWE. He has been giving me advice, watching my matches, so that’s pretty much where it came up. I had a good conversation with Triple H on the phone and as I say, my mind was made up where I wanted to go. NXT is the top roster in the world as far as I’m concerned, the work ethic and fans. Once I had that conversation my mind was beyond made up.
“That day when I showed up at the show was one of the wildest days of my life. I had a very busy day! I started at 8am, I had a signing, then a show in the afternoon, then a radio appearance, I had an additional signing, then showed up at the Evolve show at 8pm it started, I was out in the first segment, I believe I left the building at 8.20pm, drove straight to the Amway Center in Orlando, my wife was waiting with a suit at the back door. We ran in the back, I put the suit on, this was about 9pm, Orlando traffic so it took a while to get there, and I was sitting in my seat in front of 15,000 fans, and at not one point did I think to myself ‘I wonder how they’re going to react?’ until I sat in that seat, got my head down and thought ‘oh my God, I hope they remember me and have been following what I’ve been doing!’ When I showed up on camera and I saw and heard that reaction it was one of the best feelings in my life and I knew I had made the right decision.”
On Jinder Mahal’s WWE Championship victory: “I made the loudest noise in the world backstage when he won that title! I think I almost punched the roof I jumped and punched the air so much. Just to watch his turnaround is the biggest thing for me. I remember about a year and a half ago having a conversation with him. The second I was gone from the WWE, as you know, I started to write my mission statement, I just kept going, there was nothing else I was going to do. I had a clear vision and thankfully it just came out. With Jinder he went out, he wasn’t too sure what he wanted to do, and he talked about this on Chris Jericho’s podcast so I’m not speaking out of turn. He got himself out of shape, not wrestling so much. He wasn’t really sure what to do and we had a conversation when he wasn’t too sure about his future and was talking about opening I think it was a Subway franchise he was leaning towards and he’s got a couple of houses and real estate. Wrestling was pretty much off the table. Then one day he made a decision, ‘no, I’m going to get back in shape’. He started taking it seriously again, got back in shape, got the call from WWE, continued his path, worked hard, gave up alcohol, made these positive changes in his life and just started working his arse off. To watch him go from that conversation when he was out of shape to where he is today, the most in-shape guy on the roster and one of the hardest working guys, I’m very proud of my brother for earning that. That was a big moment for him and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
On how his development has changed over the years for WWE: “I guess the transitional process is a lot smoother now. In OVW it was like a different world pretty much. They had the talent ready to stay around for a while, with guys who weren’t over yet and guys who weren’t retiring yet. With FCW, WWE were a bit more hands on with the writers. I was in FCW for about six months, it was roundabout 2009, a lot of guys started to retire and they didn’t have guys coming in from other companies to replace them. They had to figure out a way to get that future talent, which began with the youth movement, myself and Sheamus, giving new guys opportunities, and inevitably Hunter developed his vision for the Performance Center. I’ve watched NXT go from developmental, when I left I was part of the original NXT Championship title tournament, back then it was developmental just like anywhere else, just a really big developmental division, and I’ve gone away and watched it become a TV show and come back now and it’s a fully functioning brand. It’s 100% the third brand [behind Raw and SmackDown] and my dream is that one day people will stop saying ‘which guy is going to move up?’. I expect because NXT is so good that when the Superstar Shake-up comes, there will be transfers between three brands and not just two brands and we will stop this perception of ‘moving up’ because I don’t see it that way, I wanted to be part of NXT because it is that damn good.”
Check out the complete Drew McIntyre interview at Mirror.co.uk.