Drew McIntyre's journey to a world title match at WrestleMania was long and arduous, one that included several years away from the company, but he never stopped imagining getting to this point.
On January 26, McIntyre won the Royal Rumble, eliminating Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and others to get a championship opportunity at WrestleMania 36 in April. It is the culmination of years wrestling around the world after his first stint with WWE ended in 2014, looking to hone his skills and prove that he is the best in the business.
Although there was no guarantee that he would return to WWE when he did in 2017, McIntyre still had thoughts about returning and being a part of major moments such as the one he had when he won the Royal Rumble.
"I'd be a liar if I said I hadn't imagined it. When I was away, I worked very hard. I was the busiest professional wrestler in the entire world. And I did that intentionally to get as good as I possibly could, to get every experience I possibly could -- to come back to WWE one day and fulfill that potential. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have the images in my head. But pulling it off is a whole different story," McIntyre told ESPN.
Although McIntyre had been on Raw and SmackDown in 2018, he admitted that he hasn't been someone that people could relate to at times, but once he got the freedom to interact more with the crowd and to speak on the mic, he got to be himself.
"On Raw, I hadn't quite found myself the way I had outside the company, until the past couple of months," McIntyre said. "I think I was in a good position. I was the big, nasty heel that a lot of guys could work with. But I was also the big, hairy, gigantic Scotsman that no one could really relate to. But over the past couple of months, I've been allowed to get a bit more freedom on that microphone. I was essentially told, just be yourself. I've always said, 'I'm not good or bad. I'm just gonna show Drew Galloway.' That's who Drew McIntyre is -- the real me. Now, I'm showing the real me. The crowds are responding, because I'm letting them in. They're relating to me a bit more, and that's why I think the time is perfect. They're reacting, I won the Royal Rumble and it's frickin' WrestleMania season."
For a full review of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, check out Fightful's post-show podcast at this link.