I bet you didn’t know that at WrestleMania 36, new WWE champion Drew McIntyre defeated not one, but two opponents! That’s OK. No one else knew until last night’s episode of RAW aired on USA Network.
WWE taped WrestleMania some time around March and last night’s episode of RAW was put in the can around the same time. Even this week’s episode of NXT was taped back then.
To close last night’s RAW, WWE showed a clip from “after WrestleMania went off the air” the night before. Drew McIntyre made a ring entrance — that was weird, because last we saw of him during the actual broadcast he was winning the title in the ring — and explained that he had just come back to the ring after getting the nameplates changed on the WWE Championship belt. After a few minutes of promo, the Big Show’s music hit and the seven-footer made his way to the ring and challenged the new WWE Champion, despite the fact that McIntyre had just beaten Brock Lesnar “30 minutes” before this interview.
After first balking at the idea of fighting Big Show, McIntyre ultimately agreed and the pair had a very intense seven-minute match which ultimately saw McIntyre beat Big Show and retain the championship, as the announcers marveled at the fact that McIntyre had defeated Brock Lesnar and Big Show within a matter of minutes. It’s also a little Easter egg for longtime fans. Paul Heyman is Brock Lesnar’s advocate now, and Heyman was previously Big Show’s manager/advocate when WWE re-launched the ECW brand in 2006.
There were portions of the segment that felt odd, but at the same time, it delivered an unexpected main-event match for the RAW after WrestleMania, which has become as big a deal as the PPV itself in recent years. And for fans who stuck it out and stayed with the show for three hours, it was a worthwhile reward.
Not to mention it booked McIntyre as strong as humanly possible. And he undoubtedly deserves it. McIntyre was crowned as the next face of the company in 2009 by Vince McMahon before falling out of favor and getting fired. Here we are 11 years later, and McIntyre rebuilt himself on the independent wrestling scene, going from the goofier jobber character he was at the end of his first WWE run as part of 3MB, and developing himself into a grizzled tough Scotsman (the character he should have been playing all along, but you know how WWE operates when it comes to character development). McIntyre was free from WWE and was finally himself. He made a name for himself in EVOLVE and then became a main-event player in Impact Wrestling before his return to WWE.
And now just a few years later, he’s atop the mountain he was always supposed to climb. He’s made it. He’s the WWE Champion.