WWE Champion Drew McIntyre returned to the WWE After The Bell podcast to chat with Corey Graves about his upcoming SummerSlam match against Randy Orton. McIntyre spoke on the creative freedom they have been given in promos and how everything that he has said during this feud is the truth and what he felt from the heart.

"I think, in general, we really do have that freedom especially right now," McIntyre revealed. "They're giving a lot of leeway and freedom if you do know yourself and your character and you frame it the right way that doesn't step out with the storyline, and you'll be just fine, but the thing with myself and Randy, from the way he's kind of been building himself. He's on fire, and the way I've been building is there is a lot of stories we can tell and the best stories are based in truth, and with this situation, it's going to be very interesting. Hopefully, it's starting to be interesting for everybody because basically, everything that came out my mouth, I 100% felt and I meant, and it was true.

"And people have read a lot of things online about Randy when he was younger certainly and how for the younger guys like myself, at times, it was like walking on eggshells and to make sure you don't upset Mr. Randy Orton. I don't forget. I remember everything. I'm a different man than I am today. I'm not afraid to say how I feel. I'm a fighting WWE Champion. I'm not a boy any more. I'm a f--king grown man. I'm going to say exactly how I feel, and if it feels real that's because it is. I think Randy and I is going to be very interesting going forward for everybody."

McIntyre said that this challenge against Orton at SummerSlam is something that he has been waiting for and preparing for. He said if he can't rise to the occasion against an Orton that is at the top of his game, then he deserves to lose the WWE Championship.

"This is what I've been waiting for, the challenge I've been waiting. I've been preparing for the top level for a long time," McIntyre noted. "I don't want to be one of the top guys. I want to be THE guy. I don't want a Randy Orton just phoning it in. He's still one of the best in the entire world. I want the Randy Orton that is on fire right now, but he was already one of the best without even trying. I want to have to step up to his level because if I can't keep up with the best, if I can't swim in the deep end, I deserve to drown as WWE Champion."

McIntyre went back to the promos between himself and Orton. He revealed his internal thoughts of trying to step up to Orton's level. He said that is the challenge he wants as WWE Champion rather than trying to pull people to his level.

"The way I see it, that promo a couple weeks ago, when Randy kind of unloaded on me after I gave my first speech, spoke how I felt, and Randy rebutted with complete truths," McIntyre admitted. "He said I don't have to be here. I've got the money etc. I just enjoy hurting people after I was so nice to you, just all true. And everyone's like, 'oh I kind of agree with Randy. I like him. Screw Drew.' At that very moment, I knew in my head, if I don't come back with a heck of a comeback right here, if I don't feel this in the crowd and the crowd don't feel it with me, I'm dead in the water.

"Might as well just hand over the title right now and I knew that's the challenges I want to be WWE Champion. I don't want to just have to try and pull people up to my level. I need to be reaching up. I'm on the build right now as well. I'm trying to cement my place as a top guy, and in order to do that, I need a Randy Orton on fire. And I'm excited about the possibilities right now."

McIntyre has said before that he does not listen to criticism of his WWE Title reign that has occurred with no fans in the audience. Graves asked McIntyre if he has ever thought about his title reign ending before crowds return. McIntyre said he hopes he can keep the title for a long time, but the idea of him losing the title before crowds return has crossed his mind.

"I guess there's a chance that could happen, and it would be unfortunate because the reality is we can't predict when things are going to get back to normal," McIntyre noted. "It'd be cool if I could hold it for a for a year or two or even longer like a [Bruno] Sammartino style, but like realistically, we don't know what's going to happen. Maybe that's not the worst thing in the world.

"There's something to the babyface and the chase, and during this time, people have seen I've been trying to step up the best I can and carry the load. And if I did happen to lose it to somebody like the week before we can get back, that'd be a pretty interesting story. Just the story of Drew McIntyre's life, when things seem like they're going so right, it goes so wrong. Boom, loses the title before fans come back."

Graves asked about future opponents if McIntyre retains at SummerSlam. McIntyre admitted that this feud against Orton goes longer than just one match. He also pointed out that his past challengers, Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley have completely changed since he beat them. He said he wouldn't mind revisiting those opponents with different stories in play.

"I really hope myself and Randy aren't a one-and-done because I really think there's a lot of legs to this, and I've kind of been going through different opponents since WrestleMania with Seth in the first one," McIntyre pointed out. "Then he kind of took off in the path he's been on. Then Lashley, and then Dolph. So I really hope Randy and I isn't just one and done, but truthfully those guys are on another level right now character-wise.

"Lashley and MVP are certainly on another level character wise. When we were working together, it was like almost like he was building up, and then himself and MVP got together during that time. He was at a better place after the match and has just continued to ascend. So I think we can certainly revisit Seth and Lashley for sure."

McIntyre also named Alesiter Black as a potential title challenger. He noted that it may take a while before Black can be fully realized, but he is confident that he and Black can put on great matches together.

"For new opponents, I'm just waiting for the Aleister Black to kind of have his breakthrough moment," McIntyre revealed. "I know it's going to happen, and whenever the right time is when he gets to show the real him and it really connects in the best way it can connect, I think he and I are going to do some cool stuff down the line.

"He's a very talented individual. He really has a clear vision in his head of what he wants to be, and once everybody else gets on board and understands who he is, I think he's gonna do some cool things. He and I will certainly have some cool matches."

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.