IT has taken a career of scratching and clawing, as well as a premature sacking, for Drew McIntyre to finally realise his dream at the top of professional wrestling.

The Ayrshire native can finally lay claim to the moniker of WWE’s top superstar after winning their flagship championship belt back in April at a somewhat unusual behind closed doors WrestleMania pay-per-view. McIntyre, 35, defeated then-title holder and legitimate UFC star Brock Lesnar within a few short minutes to secure his place in history as the UK’s first WWE champ.

But it was with a tinge of regret. An ounce of disappointment that he wasn’t stepping out in front of the usual packed 80,000 fans due to the Covid pandemic. Admittedly, the brawler says, his sadness quickly subsided. For better or worse, this year’s WrestleMania was bound to be memorable.

HeraldScotland:

“It’s not what I imagined or what I dreamt of,” he told Glasgow Times. “It was supposed to be at Raymond James Stadium in front of 80,000 people, literally 20 minutes from my home [in Florida]. The main event against Brock Lesnar for the WWE title, it couldn’t have been any more perfect. Then the pandemic hit and I went through all the emotions possible.

“It’s when I started watching the news and speaking to people about it that I understood how severe the situation was. The fact we were pushing ahead with WrestleMania during difficult times, it changed my mindset. I went from disappointment to thinking I was being a bit selfish. That I could make people smile, it was really big and a feel good story, so it took on a whole new meaning to me. Nobody will forget the WrestleMania when the world stood still.”

HeraldScotland:

McIntyre has ticked being WWE’s main champion off his bucket list and now spends his time on Monday Night RAW defending his prize against all-comers. Most recently, at their Extreme Rules PPV, McIntyre retained his gold against former pal Dolph Ziggler - who had a big-name in his corner for support.

HeraldScotland:

Wrestling legend-turned Hollywood A-lister Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson backed McIntyre’s opponent, leading the Scot to challenge the future Hall of Fame athlete to a dream match via social media. And the ‘Scottish Psychopath’ made clear his one request for where and when. “The Rock is the best, one of the nicest guys in the world and he deserves all his success,” McIntyre went on.

“There was a time I was doing nothing, really, and TMZ asked him who he thought was the next breakout star. And he picked me, which really inspired me and fired me up. I appreciated that and it gave me motivation. Then to see WWE posted an image of Dolph Ziggler with the title, and Rock backed him up! That hurt my one feeling I’ve got left.

“I thought, ‘What would Rock do in this situation?’ If this was 1998/99, what would he say? I thought, screw it. I’m the champion, I don’t back down to anyone, even The Rock. My phone exploded. I’d love to face The Rock anywhere, but if there was one place on earth it would be a WrestleMania at Ibrox. That would be great for personal reasons.

“It would probably have to be Hampden, we’d need somewhere massive. If he chose to come back for a match, as the biggest Box Office attraction in the world, wow. Come on, Rock, give me that match.”

Watch WWE Champion Drew McIntyre defend his Title at SummerSlam on the WWE Network next Sunday, August 23rd, with the event also airing on BT Sport Box Office. For more details visit wwe.com