Former WWE Champion Drew McIntyre joined Sam Roberts’ Notsam Wrestling podcast to promote his upcoming autobiography. The two discussed McIntyre’s run leading up to winning the 2020 Royal Rumble, and whether McIntyre felt he was ready to be a title contender prior to that moment.

“I felt it from the fans, which was cool,” McIntyre said. “But, like I mentioned earlier, I was at a different place mentally. I was like ‘the longer it takes, the better.’ The more they want it, the better. Because I understand now that it’s 52 weeks. We’ve got to get to a point where they know me inside and out.’

“The thing about that period was, I could’ve gone for it, but I wasn’t quite ready. I knew that. I knew there were pieces missing from the jigsaw puzzle. I know I didn’t quite have that connection with the fans that I needed. Even as a heel I was just ‘fake, angry bad guy.’ I didn’t quite have the defined character at the time and I didn’t quite know who I was 100%. As comfortable as I was, at the time I knew there was something missing. And I remember consciously seeing on Twitter, feeling it from the crowd and being told in person by fans ‘why aren’t you in here?’ I’m like ‘okay, they’re feeling it. That’s cool. But I know it’s not time yet. And when it’s time, I’ll know as well.’

“It did take until basically 2020 until I started feeling like ‘okay, the final pieces are falling into place. Now’s the time that we’re going for the title, now I feel like I’m in the spot where the connection has been made. I know who I am inside and out, because it’s just me finally.'”

As for when McIntyre knew he was ready, one non-televised match comes to mind.

“I remember there was one particular match in Madison Square Garden where I was wrestling No Way Jose. And he came out first, did his shtick and it was a good reaction, babyface reaction.

“And then I come out and I’ve never heard a reaction like that in my career at that point. I go out in the ring and No Way looked at me and said ‘Stone Cold?’ I was like ‘I have no idea what’s going on!’

Later Roberts asked what made McIntyre different from Roman Reigns and John Cena, two top stars who struggled to get positive reactions the same way McIntyre did when he won the 2020 Royal Rumble. McIntyre believes it’s all due to his journey

“When it comes to the relatability thing, I think the key for me is I went through a bunch of hell,” McIntyre said. “The fans knew I had been through some crap , had to overcome some crap, even as a 6’5, 270 lbs guy. They know this guy never gave up on his dreams, he’s fighting for his dreams. They could relate to that.”

“But the Rumble itself, finding out one, I’m taking out Brock Lesnar. And the structure of the match, where he’s going to be this absolute beast and I’m going to be the one to take this beast down was unbelievable. But to actually be winning it on top of that, and then you find out Edge coming out towards the end as well? It’s like ‘OH!'”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Notsam Wrestling and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription