On tonight’s Raw, the tag team of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre continued to impress, with a decisive victory of Titus Worldwide‘s Titus O’Neil and, more specifically, Apollo Crews. Following the match, Ziggler told the WWE Universe that his problem before was that he had no one to watch his back in the locker room and now he does, before handing the mic to the 32-year old Scotsman that towered over Ziggler’s own six foot, 220 pound frame. The pairing may seem oddly random at first, but in many ways it makes perfects sense. For nearly a year, the two had an on-again off-again partnership, under the management of Vickie Guerrero. Starting in late 2010, they teamed against such teams as Matt Hardy & R-Truth and MVP & Kaval (Low Ki), last teaming to take down The Big Show in a Handicap Match on Monday Night Raw in July of 2011.
Drew McIntyre: THE CHOSEN ONE
By 2013, the two were on a rocket pace to stardom in the WWE. Drew McIntyre was a 23-year old Intercontinental Champion and Tag Team Champion with Cody Rhodes in The Dashing Ones. Meanwhile, Ziggler had had a meteoric rise with an Intercontinental Championship, US Championship and two reigns as World Heavyweight Champion, including one of the greatest Money In The Bank cash-ins in arguably one of the greatest Raw After Mania moments of all time.
Drew McIntyre: THE EXILE
But by 2014, the tables turned. For Ziggler, some injuries stopped his momentum, and he seemed to plateau. Sure he’d win four more Intercontinental titles and one more US title run, but his unlikely rise from The Spirit Squad and a Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) demotion (after being a former World Tag Team Champion) to World Heavyweight Champion plateaued and he became the Gatekeeper to the main event. He may have his flirts with the big belt, but he was forever the standard bearer for the midcard. For Drew McIntyre, his stock fell considerably farther. He went from being “The Chosen One” (in kayfabe and Vince McMahon’s eyes) to being the least likeable character of 3MB. By the end of June 2014, he was released from the WWE. But instead of going into a funk at losing his dream job, he took it as motivation to be better than he’d been. In an interview with SportBible earlier this year, McIntyre stated that he “saw being released as an opportunity, and thought ‘Right Drew here you go, you can either be miserable or really show the world what you can do. Take everything you’ve [learned] and apply it.”
Drew McIntyre: THE CONQUEST BEGINS
He returned to his former UK indie name of Drew Galloway, got himself in the best shape of his life, and took the international independent scene by force. “I applied everything I [learned] and traveled across the world, became the busiest wrestler on the entire planet,” said McIntyre to SportBible. “I built my brand and during that time I grew up a lot, as a man, but I also learned a lot as a professional – how to be a main event guy, how to conduct myself in every possible way and apply everything I’d learned in WWE.” A product of the Scottish indie scene of the late 2000s, he became a big star in the UK via Glasgow’s ICW (the Scottish promotion that has also provided talent to the WWE such as Wolfgang, Noam Dar, Nikki Cross, and Mae Young Classic competitors Piper Niven/Viper and Kay Lee Ray). When he left the WWE in the summer of 2014, he returned home literally in every sense of the word – back to ICW. But he didn’t stay full time – he also became a regular with EVOLVE, Impact Wrestling and WCPW (now Defiant Wrestling), as well as working with the likes of PWG, RevPro, AAA, wXw, OTT , House of Glory (HOG), AAW and many, many more. He wasn’t lying when he said he travelled the world to get better. He did and he did.
Everywhere he went he dominated, with his intensity, his passion and his brutal combination of athleticism, technique and power. In many ways, Drew’s post-WWE career was the Batman to Cody Rhodes‘ Joker – but let’s be honest. The villains always just seemed cooler. But as Galloway, he won over an entire internet fan base that was sure that 3MB had been the final kiss of death on a once promising career. In August 2014, just two months after his release, he defeated Chris Hero (now Kassius Ohno) to become the new EVOLVE Champion, a belt he held for 336 days. He then returned to Glasgow and won ICW’s World Heavyweight Championship (holding it for 378 days), before heading to Denmark and winning the Dansk Pro Wrestling (DPW) Heavyweight Champion, holding that one for 302 days. In Australia, he won the Outback Championship Wrestling (OCW) Heavyweight Championship (175 days), the Scottish Wrestling Alliance (SWA) Heavyweight Championship (217 days), won the Dragon Gate USA Open The Dragon Gate Championship (104 days), TNA/Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion (89 days) and WCPW World Champion (150 days). He had literally conquered continents. He also excelled in tag team wrestling, in EVOLVE Tag Team Championship runs with both Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor (aka DUSTIN).
In early 2017, his contract with Impact Wrestling expired and he became a free agent once again, finishing out dates with EVOLVE and in the UK as well. Months later, he appeared at ringside at NXT Takeover: Orlando over WrestleMania weekend, later announcing he was returning to the WWE Universe after three years.
It’s now April 2018, and both men are returning to Monday Night Raw after lengthy absences (some longer than others). A year of uncertainty and departure rumors for Dolph Ziggler, and a solid run in NXT as NXT Champion for McIntyre (before injury sidelined him for the past several months), exploding onto the screen from two different directions of the same story. Dolph Ziggler was arriving fired up show people what they’d been missing for years (as in, WWE Creative) for the plateau of stagnation his character has had the past few years, while Drew McIntyre (nee Galloway) has is returning to the Great Battlefield having conquered the independents of the United States, United Kingdom, and mainland Europe, conquered Impact Wrestling, and conquering NXT, all in a span of three years. He’s like the wrestling version of Alexander The Great. And now he’s back in the WWE.
Announcing his intentions tonight on Monday Night Raw, Drew McIntyre laid down the gauntlet to the entire locker room. He has seen the brass ring and let it slip away out of laziness, and had gone on to become an main event player every promotion he worked for after, including WWE’s “developmental”. And he called the entire locker room out for what he had previously suffered from, with a warning that he was not slowing down his momentum. “I’m especially dangerous to a locker room that has gone soft,” he told the crowd. “When I walk around I see no fire! No ambition! People walking around collecting checks and it makes me sick.”
For a man that was once considered one of Vince McMahon‘s greatest hopes and legitimate “Chosen Ones” (McIntyre ever referred to himself last week as The Prodigal Son returning), his sentiment shared a certain sentiment of an infamous conversation that Kevin Nash recalled having with Vince McMahon at one of his WWE returns in an interview with Jim Ross this year. “I remember one time I was talking to Vince – it wasn’t the last WrestleMania, I think it was the one before – and I just asked him how things were,” said Nash. “And he goes, ‘The thing that’s changed more than anything, [is] back when you broke in here in the fed, it was a shark tank. Like, everybody went after that top prize, and it was a battle. Now, [wrestlers] wait for him to come around with a sword and anoint them.’ It’s just not the same anymore.” (Transcription: The Ross Report via WrestlingINC)
It’s almost like The Prodigal Son is speaking the sentiments of Vince McMahon as his new Chosen One.
— Triple H (@TripleH) April 19, 2018