"This is another level": WWE's Drew McIntyre talks Scottish homecoming and being a bad guy ahead of Clash At The Castle

Drew McIntyre
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

This is an exciting time to be a wrestling fan.

While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may be claiming to have made wrestling cool again with his recent blockbuster return at Wrestlemania XL, the truth is that this has been building for a few years now.

WWE is drawing some of the biggest crowds – and biggest paydays – in its storied history, with recently annointed Chief Content Officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque leading the charge with renewed focus, fresh ideas and a roster absolutely packed with incredible athletes and performers.

Part of this growth has seen WWE taking their Premium Live Events (PLEs) international. This year alone there have been major events in Australia, Saudi Arabia and France – where an absolutely insane crowd made an already solid show into an absolute classic.

The next stop on WWE’s world tour will be the first ever WWE PLE in Scotland and the first big UK show since they packed Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in 2022 for the first Clash At The Castle.

The headliner then was larger-than-life Scotsman Drew McIntyre, who was hailed as a more-or-less hometown hero as one of - if not the - biggest wrestling stars to come out of the British Isles.

McIntyre is once again the face of Clash At The Castle – only this time he really is the hometown hero, having grown up only a few miles from Glasgow, in Ayreshire.

“I've wrestled a couple of times in Glasgow since I returned to WWE, but this is another level,” says Drew, speaking to Irish Mirror the week before Clash At The Castle. “It's always fun to go back to Scotland and see friends and family and just the passion of the Scottish fans.

“But now to have a PLE? In Scotland? That’s beyond any dreams I had as a kid because it didn't exist. Like it wasn’t even an option.

“My goal was to main event Wrestlemania and I've been lucky, I've been able to do that - even won the World Title at WrestleMania a couple of times - but it wasn't even on the radar to go, I can't wait to do that home, in Scotland.”

In addition to Clash At The Castle, Glasgow will be hosting a special edition of WWE’s weekly show Smackdown, on Friday, June 14. This will be of special interest to Irish fans, as it features a double main event of Drew McIntyre vs Dubliner Sheamus, and Sami Zayn vs Wicklow’s Finn Balor.

To see so many Irish and Scottish superstars at the top of an incredible roster of international performers is impressive, given how small the two nations are. In addition to Drew, Sheamus and Finn, there are also the likes of Becky Lynch and Lyra Valkyria from Ireland and Scottish stars Piper Niven, Nikki Cross, Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre.

“We’re just better than North Americans,” the 6'5" Scotsman laughs. “But it's mad, honestly, to think about how when Seamus and I got signed in 2007 there were a few English people, Fit Finlay from Northern Ireland – but there was nobody from Scotland.

“Then we fast forward all these years and to look at the representation from so many different countries all across the world is very cool. When you look specifically at the amount of Scottish guys - and maybe more girls than guys - and a mix of guys and girls from Ireland... That is just absolutely wild because we're such small countries.

“I guess it's down to a number of things, but the main thing that I’d pinpoint would really be the life. It's the dream, but it is very physically and mentally taxing. You have to be tough, physically and mentally.

“Celtic people are just built different. We don't just live in it, we thrive in that environment. I think that's why so many of us are thriving in WWE. It takes a special kind of person.”

Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre headlined Clash at the Castle in September
Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre headlined Clash at the Castle in September

The last Clash At The Castle saw the Scottish Warrior come up short against Roman Reigns after interference from members of Reigns’s family. While that turn of events was absolutely devastating for McIntyre – and pretty much everyone who saw what happened in Cardiff – the opportunity to lift a title at home is likely to make up for it.

“I guess sometimes everything happens for a reason, although it was frustrating to me at the time,” he says. “Sometimes it's part of a bigger story and there’s delayed gratification, but I was going crazy with a couple of things that happened - especially in the last Clash.

“But then again, it's led to this moment where we have a re-do, if you will, but this time it's literally in Scotland, so it was worth the wait for this moment.”

The Scotsman is a heavy favourite going into Saturday’s main event against Damien Priest – who took the title in controversial circumstances at Wrestlemania in April. That night Drew beat Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship, but only held the strap for five minutes and 46 seconds before Priest was able to wrestle it from him.

Wrestling fans and commentators alike have been praising McIntyre’s recent work as some of the best of his career. Having been the face of WWE during the difficult, and crowdless, pandemic period, where he was playing the role of smiling, honourable babyface, the last couple of years have seen a slow turn to the dark side for Drew.

This has led to some inspired social media posts - including a tweet sent live during his Wrestlemania match - and absolutely blistering promo battles with the likes of CM Punk – some of which has felt less like the scripted back and forth fans have become used to and more off the cuff.

Laughing, Drew says, “My hands are black and blue from all the wrist-slapping I’ve taken for some of the stuff I’ve said!”

He describes being told he’s now doing the best work of his 20+ year career as “a backhanded compliment”, but he understands why people say it.

“There's a certain line you can't cross as a ‘good guy’, so I understand where people are coming from,” he says. “I think the biggest thing for me is just the point where I said to myself, I've been holding back I need to go all the way. There was a moment about nine months ago where I said I'm not gonna hold back anymore. I’ve just gotta go 100%.”

Come Clash At The Castle: Glasgow, there’ll be over 15,000 fans cheering him on to do just that.

Drew Mcintyre will face Sheamus on Friday June 14 at Smackdown: Glasgow. Tune in on TNT Sports.

Drew will face Damian Priest on Saturday June 15 at Clash at the Castle: Scotland for the World Heavyweight Championship. Tune in on the WWE Network and TNT Sports Box Office.