Drew McIntyre is the new WWE Champion, though his victory came under unprecedented circumstances.
Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, WrestleMania 36 — the annual professional wrestling event that aired over the weekend — was pre-taped in late March and took place without a live audience for the first time in its history.
Speaking to TMZ Sports about his experience, McIntyre said that he didn’t have any concerns for his safety while competing amid the outbreak, and praised organizers for their adherence to CDC guidelines.
“I had a whole locker room to myself,” the Scottish professional wrestler told the outlet. “Everyone was following the protocol to a T. They’ve got it down to a science, following the CDC guidelines, maybe even more so precaution-wise.”
McIntyre described the event as a “ghost town,” as he’s “never seen so few people there.”
The new champion earned his title after facing off against Brock Lesnar, and told ESPN that his win was no less sweet given the strange circumstances of the event.
“Hopefully, the images spoke for themselves,” he told ESPN on Monday. “The way I reacted is exactly the same as I would’ve reacted if there were 80,000 people in the building screaming. That’s 19 years of ups and downs — sacrifices for myself, my family, my wife — all being made worth it when I beat Brock Lesnar and raised the WWE title.”
“I had a very personal moment with myself — the environment presented that opportunity where instead of the crowd going crazy, and playing off the crowd, I sat and I looked at the title and I was just in my own little moment,” he added. “And then I remembered, ‘Oh yeah, there’s millions of people watching right now.’ ”
After having his moment, McIntyre said he broke one of the key rules of WWE production when he reached for a camera to connect with fans viewing at home.
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“One of our rules in WWE is that you don’t look down the camera and break the fourth wall, like you wouldn’t do in a movie,” McIntyre told ESPN. “But I couldn’t help myself.”
“In that moment, I just wanted to thank everybody for supporting me, for supporting WWE during this time and choosing WWE to take your mind off these difficult times,” he continued. “I wanted to let everyone know how I felt, and I’m so glad we kept that in the show. I wasn’t sure if it would be edited, because I really meant it.”
After his victory finally aired over the weekend McIntyre shared a celebratory post on Twitter, writing, “I dreamed a broken dream, and made it come true. I made it for you #WrestleMania.”
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