Road To Hell: Drew McIntyre’s Hell In A Cell Match May Be The End Of His Main Event Run
With his victory over Kofi Kingston on the Memorial Day episode of Raw, Drew McIntyre finds himself in a familiar position as the number one contender to challenge for Bobby Lashley’s WWE Championship. McIntyre may stand at the brink of another title run. Alternatively, he may be on the verge of getting foisted from the main event picture altogether.
Drew McIntyre Is Becoming A Failed Challenger
Drew McIntyre lost the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber on February 21, when The Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank opportunity. The Scottish Superstar has been chasing the title ever since, which includes coming out on the losing end at WrestleMania and WrestleMania Backlash against Bobby Lashley. Even though McIntyre was protected in each outing—MVP distracted him to set up the WrestleMania loss and Braun Strowman took the fall in the Backlash Triple Threat—the fact remains that McIntyre is wearing thin as a challenger.
Indeed, if McIntyre can’t get the job done at Hell in a Cell—across three PPV title matches and four months of chasing—it will be hard not to call him a failed challenger. From a kayfabe logic perspective, it would be difficult to justify him continuing to get title shots past that point. Moreover, Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley is threatening to feel like the late 2000s feud between John Cena and Randy Orton, in which the same two men monopolize the title picture feuding with each other. Similarly, there aren’t many other names readily available to insert in the title picture and fans are getting bored. Worse yet for McIntyre and Lashley, despite their talent, they’re not marquee names on the level of Cena or Orton to keep the audience hooked. All of this adds up to mean that, if McIntyre doesn’t win at Hell in a Cell, he needs to step away from the title picture.
There Are More Buzzworthy Main Event Options
Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, and the WWE Championship haven’t main evented a PPV since Elimination Chamber. Fans can attribute that fact to Roman Reigns and the Universal Championship having more buzz, or the brilliant story told between Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair. However, some of the responsibility has to come back McIntyre and Lashley—two talented performers with great looks who nonetheless don’t feel like top-level box office draws for WWE.
There aren’t many Raw Superstars currently positioned to take McIntyre’s place as the top challenger. Sheamus, AJ Styles, Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton remain stars who can always shoot back to the top of the card. Braun Strowman’s departure from WWE also opens the door to try out someone like Riddle or John Morrison toward the top. That’s not to mention Keith Lee’s potential when he returns to action.
There’s also the possibility of moving over someone from SmackDown, where Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Big E, and Kevin Owens would all feel like natural enough contenders. Daniel Bryan and Finn Balor remain wild cards as to their brand standing, too. Fans could potentially add names like Brock Lesnar or John Cena into the conversation as well, if they were to return with the live crowds.
Drew McIntyre Has Never Reigned In Front Of A Live Crowd
Drew McIntyre largely dominated the Raw main event scene and WWE Championship for the past year, with two title reigns that added up to over 300 days. That run included getting the better of feuds with Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, and Randy Orton. However, there is an interesting anomaly to the Scottish Superstar’s championship record—he never reigned as WWE Champion in front of a live audience.
While there’s reason to believe fans would have received McIntyre as the top face well—given the quality of his performances and reactions on social media—there’s nonetheless also some justification in doubting whether he can pop the audience in a live arena. Surely, McIntyre’s WrestleMania 36 victory would have felt like a bigger moment with a live crowd to cheer. Now the ship may have sailed on that kind of organic enthusiasm for him. WWE might opt not to even try out McIntyre on top with live fans, and end up shuffling him down the card.
Taking A Step Back May Help McIntyre In The Long Run
It’s safe to assume that, given Drew McIntyre’s respect for and commitment to the wrestling business, he wants to be world champion. Nonetheless, there is also an argument to be made that he’d be better off taking a step back in the short term so he can make bigger advances in the long term.
During McIntyre’s original WWE run, Vince McMahon infamously publicly anointed him as a future world champion. While it might have felt counter-intuitive, the clear vote of confidence became an albatross as McIntyre floundered, was demoted to the lower card, and wound up released. McIntyre’s unlikely to sink that low again—or at least anytime soon—but nonetheless, getting out of the main event spotlight could help him regroup and return to the world title scene down the line feeling fresh again.