At WrestleMania 36, ‘The Stud’ Drew McIntyre defeated ‘The Beast’ Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship in the main event. In April 2020, there weren’t too many things to cheer for in the world. Watching this man scratch, claw, and fight his way to the top of an industry he loved since a kid was just what we all needed. A well deserved moment and an emotional crowning of a champion for so many fans who followed his journey. For the first time in his stories career, Drew McIntyre was WWE Champion and on top.
Drew McIntyre didn’t stop there though. Literally just moments after besting Brock Lesnar, he also toppled future WWE Hall of Famer The Big Show in a hard hitting contest. He was off to a great start. As the saying goes, it is one thing to get to the top, it’s another to stay there. He was doing all he could to prove he belonged, and his WM night was not just a fluke. Come Money in the Bank 2020 in May, he defeated Seth Rollins. The Monday Night Messiah gave him a good fight, but it wasn’t meant to be. McIntyre kept on rolling and was heading into the summer as the title holder.
At Backlash 2020, Drew McIntyre faced off against the hungry and dominant Bobby Lashley. Personally, I never thought this matchup was in doubt as Lashley had never been a WWE Champion nor a consistent main eventer, but you never in this wacky world of professional wrestling. As suspected, my suspicions were dead on. Not only did McIntyre defeat Lashley, he did so with relative ease and moved on quickly. On paper, a strong battle. In reality, this was all McIntyre from the beginning. Things didn’t get much tougher for him at Extreme Rules. He beat Dolph Ziggler to retain his WWE Championship and did so again in the following weeks on RAW. It was clear Drew was just too much for any opponent on the red brand…
…until Randy Orton stepped up.
This was the long rumored showdown we had been waiting for. No offense to Dolph or Lashley or Big Show or whoever, the McIntyre/Orton match was exactly the type of match for the Summerslam stage. Arguably the second biggest event of the year for WWE. They needed a big match. We needed a big match. Most important, Drew McIntyre needed a big match. His recent wins after Mania had lacked. Batman is only as good as Joker. You needed that hero and villain mix. Otherwise, the story doesn’t land.
Make no mistake, this summer, ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton was on his roll. He had been on fire since January and doing some of the best work of his career. Just after defeating Edge in the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever, it was time to set his sights on the WWE Title once again. After weeks of speculation and hype, Summerslam had arrived. Many folks were predicting Randy Orton to be victorious. Heck, Drew had a good run. He had his moment. Time to give some shine to Orton who had been amazing all year. I thought the opposite. This was the win The Stud needed to cement himself as being the REAL champion. No fluke, no weak opponents. This was the stamp.
After a long, grueling twenty minutes, Drew McIntyre won. Via roll up. An out of nowhere pinfall. Not quite the dominant victory or ‘stamp of approval’ I was hoping for, but a win is a win, right? Wrong. Orton wasn’t done with the chase just yet. After Summerslam, Mr. RKO attacked The Stud and put him on the shelf. Not cool at all. When the Payback pay-per-view arrived, Keith Lee had showed up on RAW (from NXT) and stood up to Orton. In defense of his friend, Drew McIntyre. Payback was now going to be Lee vs. Orton, while McIntyre recovered and came back with a vengeance.
To the shock of everybody, Keith Lee actually made quick work of Randy Orton, beating him in six minutes. The newcomer had showed up and beat the veteran. Once Drew was back and able to defend his WWE Title again, there was no debate on who his opponent would be – the man who put him out of action! Only fitting for their feud, Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre would lock up again, this time in an Ambulance Match. The only way to win is to toss your opponent into the back of an ambulance. Again, the assumption was Drew would lose. I mean, it wouldn’t have to be by pinfall or submission? Perhaps Orton tricks Drew or gets some cheat win? With the Ambulance Match stipulation, it was possible.
At Clash Of Champions, Drew won. Again. He retained and finally seemed to be able to move past Orton, except there was one little problem. He STILL never got that one defining victory. Summerslam was a little roll up, kinda deal. Clash of Champions was just throwing his body into the back of an ambulance, which featured a ton of interference by the way. A group of legends Randy Orton had attacked weeks earlier came back to get their revenge. Drew was still seeking that ‘stamp’ I discussed earlier. October was HIAC, and that is where he wanted that.
One final showdown on pay-per-view, Randy Orton would challenge Drew McIntyre for the WWE Title. Inside the steel structure. Like their previous two meetings, a lot of fans assumed this is finally where Orton would defeat Drew…and like their previous meetings, I disagreed. This was Drew McIntyre’s year to shine. Not taking away anything from Orton, but this feud was going to Drew. Well, the match took place; it was brutal, and Randy Orton won.
Randy Orton won the WWE Title?
Yep, Orton won. One, two, three in the middle of the ring. I didn’t see that coming at all. It was shocking at the time, but still, a lot of fans had been expecting it. As mentioned, Orton had been having one heck of a 2020 right next to Drew, so why not share the wealth a little bit? The following weeks of Raw were just straight up weird. More weird than usual for RAW mind you. Randy Orton had the WWE Championship around his shoulder, but it never seemed to set in with us watching on television. Drew McIntyre was out champion and vowed to win it back the first chance he got.
Last Monday night, he got his rematch and won back the WWE Title. Claymore to Randy Orton’s skull and one, two, three. Boom, our new champion was our former champion.
With the benefit of hindsight, I ask: Why was Randy Orton WWE Champion?
Why did he win it inside the cell only to lose it right back weeks later on RAW?
I have three theories:
- WWE simply wanted to switch things up a bit. There is nothing wrong with throwing in a swerve here or there. Once in awhile, you need that shock just to wake you up and then get back to where things were before. Variety is the spice of life, correct? My best guess is the plan was always to give Orton a run on top for month or two and then give Drew another moment. Bumps up Orton’s resume and keeps him ultra strong coming out of this all. Remember WrestleMania 36 back in April had no fans in attendance. There was SILENCE when he beat Brock for the title. With the ThunderDome and a virtual crowd, at least there was something of a live audience cheering him on last Monday night.
- My second theory revolved around Edge. Currently, the Rated R Superstar is on the shelf. Kind of ironic and being retired for nine years, he is out injured. Anyways, the rumor is that WWE wants to go back to Orton/Edge one more time. The followup rumor was WWE was at least considering that being a main event feud. Say, a few over the WWE Title? If Orton won the gold because the company was thinking of having Edge come back to challenge him for the belt, it made sense. I didn’t want it, but if that was the plan in place, okay. THANKFULLY, it seems the past few weeks may have swayed the decision makers’ minds. In 2020 or 2021, we don’t need Edge/Orton as the story line going after the WWE Championship. No thanks.
- The final point is that Survivor Series is this Sunday. WWE loves doing the RAW vs. Smackdown thing each November. I think it is played out and not worth doing, but hey, what is the better matchup? WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Universal Champion Roman Reigns OR WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs. Universal Champion Roman Reigns? Keep in mind Reigns is a total heel now and tearing it up on Smackdown. Oh, and Drew and Reigns already had a recent showdown, whereas Orton and Reigns have had zero build. Yeah, easy answer. Drew vs. Roman is worthy of a Survivor Series main event. The two top champs duking it out will be fun. Orton and Reigns is kinda blah. The same reason the company pulled quick WWE Title changes right before Survivor Series in 2018 and 2017. They needed that added spark, and the current lineup didn’t do it. Same here. Drew McIntyre as WWE Champion again was that spark.
If that was the case though, again I ask, why did Randy Orton even win the title in the first place, especially adding in the recent quick clean PPV loss to Keith Lee? What happened here folks?
What do YOU think?
By Justin Watry (Twitter: @JustinWatry)