WWE wrestler Drew McIntyre toured the UBS Arena in Elmont,...

WWE wrestler Drew McIntyre toured the UBS Arena in Elmont, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Drew McIntyre is returning to Long Island on Friday, and so is Angela—his sword.

The “Scottish Warrior” will be in tow when Friday Night Smackdown comes to Nassau Coliseum. It’s WWE's first event in almost three years at the Coliseum, which has been a regular touring stop for the company since the Uniondale arena opened 50 years ago.

Ahead of the event, the former WWE champion spoke to Newsday reporter Alfonso Castillo about wrestling on Long Island, feuding with Roman Reigns, and the potential for a match with another famous U.K. fighter, heavyweight boxing champ Tyson Fury.

Castillo: Last I saw you, we were touring the new UBS Arena in Elmont. You got to work there a few months later. What did you think of it?

McIntyre: Oh, it was amazing. Such a cool arena. As big as it is, it still feels intimate at the same time. And, you know, you can see the fans and hear them like they’re top of you, which is the coolest thing when you’re a WWE superstar. We're very much about that fan interaction. And it's a perfect arena for WWE. And the fact that we get to go back to the Nassau Coliseum, where we haven’t been for a while, is pretty cool, as well. I’m just buzzing to get in the building and, hopefully kick Roman Reigns right in his face.

Castillo: This wouldn’t be the first time you do business with Roman Reigns in the area. I had forgotten until I saw the EVIL documentary that you worked with Roman at WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium. If I’m being honest, it wasn’t the most memorable match in the world. The two of you are in such different places in your careers. Now, looking back on that match, what do you remember?  

McIntyre: That was my first singles match at a WrestleMania. Roman was coming back from his illness. And, as much as Roman and I wanted to have a particular kind of match and try and steal the show, that was not the story for the night. The story was showing the world that Roman Reigns was back at 100%, and he's basically going to steamroll whoever is in his path. And unfortunately, for Drew McIntyre, I was in his path that night. But these days, I have the opportunity to show what I'm capable of. And, at the same time, Roman has had the chance to go from where he was back then to becoming “The Tribal Chief”—putting those pieces together to jump to the next level, which is super-superstar.

Castillo: Because your run as world champion was during the COVID-19 “Thunderdome” era with no fans in the building, do you have any unanswered questions about yourself and whether there's some part of your act that still needs to be polished?

McIntyre: I kind of go by the ear test to determine what’s working and what’s not working. Since I moved to SmackDown, I’ve had the chance to kind of reestablish Drew McIntyre, which I thought was very important. I was on top as champion for a long time, and felt like things were rolling the way they need to be rolling. But it got to a point where things went off track, in my opinion a little bit. And it was hard to tell, without the live fans there, if it would have been okay. Right about the time where I fought Lashley a couple of times, I was telling these interesting—or, not so interesting—Scottish stories. That period maybe was not one of my favorites. But, hey, send me a challenge and I'm going to try and pull it off. Nonetheless, there was a period where I felt like, “This doesn't feel like it's quite working right.” I remember I did an interview at Money in the Bank, the first live show with fans back in attendance. When I first popped up on the screen, I heard the big cheers. But I also heard some boos.  And I try to be a self-aware superstar in every way. And I'm a fan, so I feel like I have a good gauge about what’s working and what’s not working. And if someone told me, “You're going to tell this glorious story about the Loch Ness Monster,” I would have said, “No, I’m not.”  And, if you watch the interview, by the end, I was back to being the real Drew.

Castillo: WWE sometimes gets a bad rap for these scripted lines that you've got to recite, even if maybe it doesn't feel right at the moment. What's the truth about how much leeway you have in a situation like that to call an audible and do your own thing?

McIntyre: I would not do something that I’m convinced is not going to work, unless I’m told by the man himself [WWE chairman Vince McMahon], “You're doing this,” — which, he's not going to do. A lot of people would just take the paper and complain privately to people in the locker room, perhaps, or to themselves, and then, maybe down the line if they're not with the company anymore, in interviews, rather than trying to work together with the creative writer you're with and saying, “It doesn't feel like me.” And if you really feel strongly about it, go to the boss himself. I know a lot of people are intimidated to go to Mr. McMahon. But, in the end, he's the boss of the company where you work. In an office, if you want a promotion, or if you have a significant question about your life and career, you go to the manager of the office. In our world, Vince gets the final say. And he's very open. His door is always open. He's always going to listen. If you feel strongly about something, he wants to hear your opinion, because he wants the best show possible.

Castillo: There's been some parallels drawn between your “Chosen One” character from all those years ago, and what we see with Austin Theory right now. Do you have any advice for him?

McIntyre: I think he's done a great job. It helps that Vince McMahon is involved the way he is on screen. I think he was on screen with me maybe three or four times total, before Nexus took him out and he wasn't featured on the show anymore. So I was doing this story, but he wasn't physically present, which hurt the story a little bit. But with Austin, he's physically present. Austin is somebody who has got confidence beyond his years. He’s 24-years-old. He’s so confident. He looks great. He's very good in the ring. He keeps getting better every single week. And, if he keeps his feet on the ground, keeps working hard and stays humble, he’s got the whole world ahead of them. We don't have anybody that’s his age, that we can build the company around. And we don't need to give it everything right now.  He’s 24. He’s somebody who you can take the slow burn route with, and educate people about who he is over the next few years. And you still have, you know, 20 years left in his career.  

Castillo: I’ve got to ask you about Tyson Fury. He's out there still talking about how he wants to do business with you. How interested are you in that? And what do you think that might look like?

McIntyre: First of all, I think we're talking about WWE. I think I’d be insane to get in the ring with possibly the best boxer of all time, certainly top five. The ball’s in his court. I appreciate that my name is always in his mouth. He’s got an obsession with Drew McIntyre, which is kind of weird. But I kind of like it at the same time. We've been going back and forth to each other nonstop for a couple of years. He's got our number. My focus is on Roman Reigns and the titles right now. But if he wants to do business, he knows our people. Give us a call.

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