DETROIT — Dolph Ziggler’s decision to bring Drew McIntyre back to WWE brought him two championships, a revitalized sense of purpose and one of the most successful years of his career. But that friendship fell out, and on New Year’s Eve, The Showoff reaped what he sowed, as the man Ziggler took with him to Raw in the Superstar Shake-up snuffed out The Showoff’s best efforts and left him laying in more ways than one at the end of Steel Cage Match.
Ziggler looked excellent in defeat, leading to a far more dignified New Year’s Eve than his infamously messy 2012 finale, but that’s cold comfort for a Superstar who went into the match with a solid, impressively executed game plan that even came with a crucial contingency: After attempting to out-brawl The Scottish Psychopath in grueling and unsuccessful fashion, Ziggler switched tactics and went for the escape. But that landed him a superplex off the cage, and despite Ziggler executing a quick-strike Zig Zag that served as a last best shot, McIntyre dropped his former partner with a lights-out Claymore that bulldozed The Showoff clean off his feet.
The Scottish Psychopath refused to cover his opponent for three until after he’d administered a second Claymore more or less for fun, but he saved the true demonstration for after the match when Ziggler goaded his former partner into a heinous post-match assault that ended in a chair-assisted kick to The Showoff’s head. (Ziggler later made it back to his feet one more time and received a third Claymore for his efforts).
The story of Drew McIntyre in 2018 was one of reintroduction to an audience and a locker room who forgot who he is or perhaps never had the chance to learn in the first place. He even reminded the audience on the mic for good measure after the match. But with a Men’s Royal Rumble berth secured and a potential Universal Title Match on his mind, 2019 is looking to be a very different story: Everyone knows who he is now. The question at this point is if anyone can stop him.