There is no doubt that while Drew McIntyre has been a top talent in the industry for years, the Royal Rumble was a real star-making performance for the Scot.
Having been cast as a literal Scottish Psychopath or Terminator in recent years, the 34-year-old has essentially been himself on camera for the past six months and the fans have gravitated to him.
But the Royal Rumble is where McIntyre would ascend to the next level. After the Beast Incarnate had eliminated 14 other WWE superstars, it would be McIntyre that sent Lesnar over the top rope with a devastating Claymore Kick.
talkSPORT spoke to Drew this week about how the Rumble came together, when he knew he would win and much more.
You could tell how much that Royal Rumble win meant to you, that was very real. When did you know you were going to win, how was it putting together one of the best Rumbles ever and how was it after?
The day of the show. I had a feeling that we were heading the way of Brock potentially, but it almost seemed too good to be true. Like a dream scenario for me and I don’t believe anything until it happens. Regarding winning it, certainly, I’ve been down to win a few things in my career – especially my early career – that never actually happened.
And some of them were changed at the very last second, some very big matches. So I don’t believe anything until it actually happens – that’s how I stay sane I guess? [laughs].
Even if I’m on a down slope, we’re on 52 weeks of the year and anything can change in an instant, so I don’t get too down on things either, nor do I get too excited about things until they actually happen. I roll with the punches and take everything a week at a time.
So it was on the day and, again, with Brock being so smart and putting everything together… the way the Rumble was put together, he had a very clear vision in his head. It was all about story, what’s the best story and what makes this story. Some people didn’t get to necessarily do what they wanted to do in there, but it would have been a cool moment in that match that would have been forgotten about a week from the Rumble.
But if it wasn’t for that story that went in there to build Brock up as the monster he truly is, which in turn made Drew McIntyre when I put him out, that’s the reason the reaction was so big. He made sure that story was told correctly. Watching him put that together, watching him at work, that was the first time I went ‘wow, this guy is really a genius’.
How had I never noticed this?! I should have just been watching him operate. He’s all about the bigger picture and not the reaction in the moment.
It’s about getting people invested, making people care about the big featured match in the future. To see him operate that way and think that way about the bigger picture, it was very inspiring. A few guys saw it and hopefully they were inspired by it as well. That elimination when he went out, I’ve never heard anything like it in my career.
When I returned to ICW, 1,500 people made a lot of noise, but 40,000 people make a heck of a lot of noise! I’ll never forget that moment. I think I took everyone’s finish about 10 times, including Black Mass that knocked me silly, then towards the end, Edge came out.
Then, of course, Edge returned. How did that play into things for you?
I think AJ Styles was choking me in the corner and I heard the reaction when Edge came out and I’m like ‘oh god! They’re going to be really upset when I win this!’ That’s the other thing, this can go a couple of ways! Edge has returned after nine years being off – I remember his last match, I was on the roster, so it was a really cool moment for me too – but at the same time, he’s being eliminated right before me and people can turn on a match, we’ve all seen them turn on a match, especially a Royal Rumble if they don’t get what they want.
The fact that they were upset when Edge went out and then they had me and Roman – which was pretty cool, Roman and I getting back together after everything we went through last year and having a big WrestleMania match. Then when I eliminated Roman and seeing everyone react the same that they did when Brock went out was pretty overwhelming. You can see that’s 19 years of ups and downs and as hard as it can be for us, it’s really hard for our families who have to keep things running when we’re on the road.
And that was all rushing to me in that moment, the moment where the 3MB guy – they played that WrestleMania 30 on ESPN last night and I was in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal looking like crap – and then six years later I’m facing Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania – it’s pretty crazy! It’s mad what can happen in six years if you work hard enough.