The towering drama of WWE
champion Drew McIntyre
Andrew McLean Galloway IV
(born 6 June 1985) is a Scottish professional wrestler currently signed to
WWE, where he performs on the Raw brand under the ring name Drew McIntyre
and is the current WWE Champion in his first reign.
Drew McIntyre's life story is
one giant drama. We're not necessarily talking about the boy from Ayr's
mind-bending rise to the top of WWE and his capture of a title previously
held by Hulk Hogan, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
We're not even talking about the surreal sound of his Scottish-American
accent calling out The Undertaker as the opponent he most wants to meet in
the ring when life returns to normal. The Undertaker is 55-years-old and is
described in various places as the "greatest wrestling brand in history" and
"the most cherished, invaluable artefact the game has ever known".
He's probably got one last match left in him before the bell finally tolls
for the big man, says the Scot. "That's the one I want before he rides off
into the sunset. I want The Undertaker."
Listen: This Sporting Life podcast: Drew McIntyre
All of this is trippy. This rise to the top of an industry that no other
person from this side of the world has ever come close to. This journey to
America in pursuit of a dream that was realised in the spring. There should
have been 80,000 in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida when he put
the great Brock Lesnar on his back and took the title, but there was nobody.
Nobody watching live, that is. At home, the masses tuned in. WWE is an
entertainment business and, boy, do they know how to sell it. There were 14m
social media interactions the night McIntyre triumphed.
"It was the last scene of Wrestlemania and I needed to do something. I
crawled to the camera and broke the law of wrestling - you're not supposed
to look in the camera, don't stare down the screen. I couldn't help myself
because it was the only way I could connect with the audience at home and I
just thanked them for supporting me on my journey to the top and thanked
them for choosing WWE in these difficult times. Millions of people tuned in
as an escape."
A Scotsman's ascent to the pinnacle of WWE is a hell of a tale, but it's a
distant second to the greatest tale, that of his mother, Angela. "When
people ask how did I deal with disappointment on the path to the title I say
that I had a superhero for a mom."
Drew McIntyre was Drew Galloway back then, the 'McIntyre' being added as
part of WWE's storylines. He was a kid of 10, 11 and 12 and obsessed with
wrestling. The showmen on telly in America? He couldn't get enough of them.
The whooping and hollering? It resonated with him more than football.
"Friends of mine used to say, 'Drew is going to be going around in his
underpants for the rest of his life'. Wrestling is all I wanted to do."
At 15, there were no opportunities in Scotland, so he'd go to wrestling
school in Portsmouth as often as he could, 12 hours there and 12 hours back.
His father and mother supported him in every way they could. Even when he
graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a degree in criminology,
wrestling was still the thing. The only thing.
At 21, he got signed by WWE. November 2007, a momentous time in his life.
They nicknamed him The Chosen One. Great claims were made on his behalf. The
Scottish kid had the drive, the charisma, the work-ethic to make it. Then he
lost it all. "My mother got sick. Cancer." He says he needs to tell us about
his mum, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 51.
"I was definitely a mummy's boy. My wife, Kaitlyn, jokes about it a lot. She
grew up in Ayrshire, and around the age of 18 she was stricken with a
disease called cerebellar ataxia, which impacts on the back portion of your
brain. It throws your balance. It becomes difficult to walk.
"My nana took her all around the UK trying to find a cure. It's such a rare
condition. One doc told nana to basically bring her home and put her in a
wheelchair. She wasn't going to have any semblance of a normal life. My nana
found somebody who helped, in Glasgow I think. He stabilised the condition,
so she could walk, almost like she was drunk. She could keep her balance by
staying close to the wall. He also said that she should forget about having
kids. My dad always says, 'Your mum was always having kids, no matter what'.
"I was the first and then there was my brother John. As far as she was
concerned there was nothing wrong with her. Growing up, she did everything,
she made dinner and she'd bring it to us one at a time. She'd balance one
hand on the wall and give me my dinner, then go back get the next dinner.
She'd walk out the back door, go down the concrete steps, and hang out the
"She never complained all that time. Then she got cancer and still never
complained. Going through chemo and radiation, it was horrible. She never
complained once. She was a superhero. I miss her a lot."
The Undertaker's last stand?
When Angela died, things started to go awry. The focused wrestler lost his
way and his job. He knew that he needed to reinvent himself, needed to drop
down a few levels, rebrand and go again. It's show business. And the show
was only getting started. "I used that time to finally become a man," he
Things turned for him in January when WWE saw something they liked, a hairy
Scotsman fighting back. The Royal Rumble was his breakthrough - 30 guys in
the ring, last man standing is the winner. There were 40,000 in Houston to
witness the arrival of a new player in the drama. The victory over Lesnar
was the last act of the renaissance.
How long will he be allowed to ride the wave? Hard to say, but he's not
lacking in passion or professionalism, that's for sure. "I'm 35 and it
depends on the individual. You can't put a number on it. Some guys are in
their 40s and are still doing it. The Undertaker is in his 50s.
"When I first appeared I was so intimidated by him. Everybody would just
freak out when they saw him. When I was 23 or 24 he was basically put in
charge of me as my mentor. I was told to listen to nobody except The
Undertaker, so I would harass him all the time for advice. Sometimes it
sounded like he was talking in riddles because he spoke at such an advanced
level. An absolute legend. I think he has one more match left in him and it
has to be with Drew McIntyre."
The show will return soon, the boy from Ayr at the heart of it, still living
the dream that many thought impossible.