Drew McIntyre on His WWE 'SummerSlam' Match With Randy Orton: 'It's Going To Be A Challenge'
Drew McIntyre isn’t letting a pandemic stop him from making his reign as WWE champion a memorable one. The Raw superstar has put his all into every title defense match, knowing audiences at home were looking for something to take their minds off of the coronavirus crisis. Proudly wearing the gold, this imposing Scotsman puts a lot of pressure on himself to represent the company during unprecedented times. "I’m proud of the work I’ve done thus far as WWE champion," he tells TV Insider.
And the work is far from over. Up next is SummerSlam and a showdown with familiar foe Randy Orton. “The Viper” struck first, hitting a trademark RKO after McIntyre’s victory over Dolph Ziggler during the conclusion of the July 27 episode of Raw. This set the stage for what is shaping up to be the champ’s fiercest challenge to date at the so-called Biggest Party of the Summer.
With the marquee battle just weeks away, we caught up with McIntyre to get his thoughts on facing Orton and what’s next for the two on Raw.
You’ve been so dedicated on Raw as WWE champion, how would you say you’ve done at the top?
Drew McIntyre: Nobody has been in the position I’m currently in as WWE champion. I have made sure my work ethic isn’t just in the ring, but that it’s very much outside the ring. I’m doing everything I can to promote the company and learn the inner-workings of the company and how it operates and how gigantic it truly is. I have been putting in the hours and time and broadening my horizons so that when we do get back on the road, it’s going to be on another level.
How would you say your relationship with WWE CEO Vince McMahon has grown from this experience?
We’ve always had a good relationship. Being WWE champion says a whole lot about the trust he has in me. That meant the world to me. I guess from my standpoint, that told me Vince is truly invested in me now. He trusts me. I’ve earned that respect, put the time into that respect. I think that is what our relationship is based on, respect. It’s based on honesty. If he doesn’t like something, he is not shy to say so. I’m very much the same.
How much of an impact does it have on you when you read about lower ratings on WWE TV the last few weeks? Obviously, there are a lot of reasons that affect numbers. But what does that do to your mindset?
It doesn’t bring me down. I’ve been through so much. The ups and downs in my career. Some really low points. I don’t let it get to me or distract me from the goal at home. I know a lot of previous champions have let it get to them. They’ve suffered in their personal life as a result and lashed out on social media. I don’t allow it to get to me from that standpoint. Our WWE Universe, our audience is such a big part of the show. We’re all just giving it all we can. I know we’re learning through this period.
The audience that has stuck around are getting to learn about the characters on a deeper level. I think because of this when we get back into the arenas, the viewership will grow. I think we will reach new heights to be honest because we’re going to have so many compelling characters. A lot of superstars are maximizing their opportunity in this environment. Right now you can really develop your character on a deeper level through this unique lens. I think when we do get back in the arenas they will attract the attention of fans. I hear what is going on. I see what’s going on social media. Things are gong well there, but they can also be better. Once we get back to normal, I think we’ll reach new heights as a company.
You mention people who have recently broken through. Is there anyone you’re particularly proud of and stepped up?
There are a lot of people who stepped up. [In] this environment, you have to look at the positives. You can develop your character. Anyone can wrestle, but a few have really stepped up their characters. I’ve seen Sonya [Deville] over on SmackDown really maximizing her opportunity to create that compelling character that she has. It has been excellent. On Raw, someone like an Apollo Crews. He has been putting in his effort in the gym and working on how to better verbalize himself in the ring. He kind of knows who he is now. He didn’t lash out on social media and complain all the time. I keep telling people don’t do that and bring that negativity. He kept himself positive and is killing it. I’m very proud of him.
There is also a renewed appreciation for the work of Randy Orton. How would you compare getting to work with him now to even January?
I never got the opportunity to get in a serious program with Randy. We’ve always had our interactions, which have gotten a positive response. I have seen a difference in how motivated he is right now. He is naturally gifted and been around for so long and learned from the absolute best. Right now, he is a motivated Randy Orton. He is firing on all cylinders as a character and in the ring. This presents a very unique opportunity for me. This is what I’ve been wanting. I’ve been wanting a situation where I can show what I can truly do as a character beyond just in the ring. Randy Orton is Drew McIntyre’s Joker.
Would you say your match against him at SummerSlam is your biggest challenge as champion?
It’s similar to a Brock Lesnar. Brock is of another kind, rarely loses. We had to build all the way up to WrestleMania and beat him in five minutes. It was incredible. Since then I’ve been waiting for that challenger. One who can take me to that level. A few months ago Randy wasn’t on that level. Now that he is “on,” he is absolutely on the same level of a Brock. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think it’s going to be rewarding for me as a performer to face him.
You clearly enjoy working with him. One spot in a previous match last year involved a back-and-forth chop contest that the audience ate up.
It wasn’t planned. This was one of those interactions people latched onto involving us. They remember that moment because it was just a random point. Randy and I ended up in front of each other. He doesn’t necessarily enjoy chops. We were talking a little trash to each other. You don’t know how the other would react, but we had a nice interaction. It was cool to be able to think on our feet. I think he regretted encouraging me with the trash talk to chop him harder.
There is all this internet talk of SummerSlam being on a boat or a beach. Is that something you would think that would make a difference? It certainly would be a festive atmosphere and plus being outside the WWE Performance Center for a change.
It would certainly be unique, which is what it’s all about right now. We’re trying to catch people’s attention with something different. The environment at the Performance Center is what it is. But a boat would certainly catch my attention. I started getting all these crazy visions in my head. That would be cool if we can get The Lonely Island on a boat playing [their song] "I'm On A Boat." I think we’re on to something.
What can fans expect in the weeks to come on Raw?
I think you’re going to get an idea how this story is going to be moving forward. There is a lot of truth in there. I try to be as honest as I can from a character perspective. Drew McIntyre is just Drew Galloway with the volume turned up. I’ve talked about how I wanted Randy Orton the last couple of months. He’s my Joker....I think Randy is about to find out there is a method to my madness. Perhaps there is a reason I wanted to work with Randy Orton. Perhaps it goes deeper in the past when I was a young kid around Randy Orton when he wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around. I’m going to be as honest as I’m allowed to be. I’m WWE champion. I can pretty much say what I want, so I’m going to say what I want.
WWE Raw, Mondays, 9/8c, USA Network
WWE SummerSlam, August 23, 7/6c, Pay-Per-View and WWE Network