When Drew McIntyre decided to challenge for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, working through what felt like a half-dozen matches to earn his spot in the match opposite Gunther, it left many members of the WWE Universe confused, with none the more so than Sheamus, his then-tag team partner in the ill-named “Banger Bros.” Though far from his birthright, “The Celtic Warrior” has been pining for the IC Title for months now, as it remains the only active belt he’s yet to hold at the WWE level. With McIntyre folded into the fray, now Shemus could theoretically lose the match without getting pinned, watching as one of his fellow Continent-man hold the strap up high in front of 75,000-plus fans at SoFi.
Asked why he valued a shot at gold over his long-time friend by the Daily Mail, McIntyre noted that the Undpsited WWE Heavyweight Championship and the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship belts aren’t available to him at the moment, so the IC Title served as his lone chance to challenge for a strap at WrestleMania 39.
“The way everything went down at Clash at the Castle with Roman and Solo getting involved and the follow-up with The Usos and myself and Sheamus and the Bloodline’s strength in numbers meant the heavyweight championship and tag team championships weren’t even options, as much fun as Sheamus and I have been having recently,” McIntyre said via 411 Mania. “There was no way after all the work in the last few years and past year specifically, there was no way I was going to miss Mania. I sat down and looked across the board and thought, ‘Where do I see myself? Oh that’s handy, there’s a dream match right there!
“Gunther is on the run of a lifetime, he’s in the best shape of his life, he’s got a lot of attention, he’s really found his footing, his Imperium group and I are perfect together, and it’s the Intercontinental Championship, the first Championship I ever won in WWE. What a perfect moment. I’ve been searching for this moment since the crowds returned after being champion for 300 days with no one there pulling the loads, waiting for that moment with a singles championship with the fans for so long, and how poetic it might be that the championship that I might be able to raise in front of fans at WrestleMania will be the first one that I won and the one that I didn’t appreciate when I first won it. I was 24, I was like, “Ah, intercontinental champion, it’s part of the plan, you win this then you win the main title!” It was more of a stepping stone and that was my mindset at the time, and now, after everything I’ve been through, this would be a full circle moment if I’m able to finally have that moment with the championship and the fans at WrestleMania.”
Is winning the IC Title worth losing a lifelong friend? Objectively no, but Sheamus and McIntyre have feuded, fought, and made up more time than most can remember and were still close enough for the former to invite the latter to be the best man at his wedding. If WWE wants to embrace the spirit of competition, putting Gunther, Sheamus, and McIntyre in the ring together is about as good as it gets, as those three men are looking to “redefine the meaning of physicality.”
Drew McIntyre reflects on his match at Clash at the Castle.
Elsewhere in his interview with the Daily Mail, McIntyre commented on his match at Clash at the Castle, where he came as close as anyone to pinning Roman Reigns but ultimately had his window closed by none other than “The Street Champ,” who debuted on the main roster at the event.
“For sure. It’s very rare that you ever get moments like that,” McIntyre said. “There’s a stadium full of people 100 percent on one guy’s side and the story has peaked at the right time and you have the chance to take a talent to that next, next, next level. That’s what we had at Clash. But you need to look at the bigger picture. What are the plans for Roman and the Bloodline storyline, but at the same time it’s like, ‘Ah, could we do both? Theory has the Money in the Bank briefcase, there might be a way to pull this off, to look after Roman and the Bloodline story, which is the bigger picture, but at the same time take a talent to the next level?’ Everything happens for a reason and sometimes old McIntyre doesn’t quite get it done. It’s the story of my life and my character’s life I guess, that I keep getting knocked down and I guess that’s why my fans keep rallying behind me and pushing me and believing in me because they see how hard I work and how much I believe, no matter how close I get and keep on getting it taken away from me, I’ll keep pushing forward until I finally get that moment.”
While McIntyre’s shot at the heavyweight title effectively ended at Clash at the Castle, his efforts weren’t in vain, as his fans still hold the match and the entire event in incredibly high regard. And the best part? With Money in the Bank heading to England this summer, it’s clear McIntyre will get another monster pop on his home isle again too.
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