When I was tasked with the review of Drew McIntyre’s autobiography A Chosen Destiny: My Story, I had reservations. I knew that the product would be a first-class production effort, typical of releases endorsed by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), but I was concerned that much of Drew’s lesser-known exploits on the British circuit and stints in other major promotions would be marginalized. It was a pleasant surprise that this book is a totally candid account of the most internationally successful wrestler to have ever hailed from my own home country of Scotland.
Due to the honesty of its narrator, the finished work is a nostalgic powerhouse, and possibly the best WWE-published book since Mick Foley’s magnum opus, Have A Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, in 1999. However, given the worked nature of pro wrestling, this reviewer finds it curious that WWE would not elect to co-ordinate the release of A Chosen Destiny with a WWE championship reign of its subject in a concerted effort to maximize its commercial appeal. Similarly, it is strange that the company would choose to release this effort, masterfully co-penned by ghostwriter Sarah Edworthy, after McIntyre revealed much of his personal journey in a compelling interview with Steve Austin as part of his Broken Skull Sessions series on what was then the WWE Network.
However, these issues do not detract from the quality of material that is within the pages of A Chosen Destiny which fully captures the authentic voice of Andrew Galloway, the private man behind the public Drew McIntyre persona. Before we go any further, I must state that this review is based on the British release of the book from Ebury Press. I am unsure if there are any artistic or narrative edits (beyond the expected transatlantic spelling differences) with the North American edition from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Many who invest in A Chosen Destiny will be somewhat familiar with McIntyre’s recent ascension to the top of his profession, however younger readers may be unfamiliar with his fall from grace after seemingly failing, at least in the eyes of some key decision-makers, to realize his own potential as a major league wrestling talent.
To McIntyre, “potential” had become a dirty word, and its mere utterance made him groan more so than any snug grovit ever could, as he privately simmered in dissatisfaction at his off-kilter career trajectory. (EDITOR’S NOTE: A grovit is a variation of a standing front face lock that the British wrestlers used to apply to rookie talent.) He had heard it used so many times that he was dejected that the high hopes set for him were far from becoming a reality. After being released by the same company who had once declared him as “The Chosen One,” it seemed that the lasting impression of the name “Drew McIntyre” on the global wrestling stage would be forever remembered for its unrealized promise, by a talent whose skill set had been relegated to a mere comedy act.
If this was a joke, then there was certainly one person who did not find it funny and McIntyre scrambled to change the punchline. And so began this tale of bouncing back from adversity. This is a story of hard work, risk-taking, reinvention, rebuilding and professional redemption. Needless to say, it was McIntyre who had the last laugh.
The prologue opens with one of the most surreal WrestleMania moments ever experienced by a headlining act. For McIntyre, he would have no option but to share his main event as part of the global armchair audience, due to pandemic circumstances which forced WWE to record its usually-live annual super card, and air it over a week later on tape delay.
As the taping procedure was carried out in an unconventional way that aimed to minimize contact between on-air talent, the book’s opening prologue does a particularly good job at presenting the juxtaposition of the surreal (performing a feature attraction on pro wrestling’s grandest stage to an audience of nobody), with the very real (the pandemic had already started to claim thousands of lives), while underlining the intensity of the match itself.
The honest account of this section is unrivaled in any WWE release, and gives us an insight into the mindset of McIntyre during a turbulent time in not only grappling history, but world history. It reveals much about the man himself, who could have been torn apart by the misfortune which soiled his crowning moment, after working so hard to reach the pinnacle of his profession. But there were more important issues going on in the world, and McIntyre explains being driven by a sense of duty to distract home viewers, however brief, during a dark time for many families throughout the planet.
Nevertheless, there was an upside to his crowning moment being an unconventional one. Unlike the ascension of Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, Austin, and countless others who were elevated to the role of WWE champion during “The Showcase of the Immortals,” the realization of young Galloway’s boyhood dream in the most atypical way enabled him to revel in the glory with his wife at their Tampa home, and via a video call with his family and friends across the pond in Scotland. It might just be the first WWE publication to recognize the arduous task that hardcore U.K. fans must endure to watch American pay-per-views as they are broadcast. The time difference means that these cards usually kick-off after midnight (and to think that our stateside friends complain about the grueling timing of New Japan’s WrestleKingdom super show each year, which Brits can happily watch while munching away on our breakfast cereal as it begins, and head out for our own cheeky little Nando’s after the card is finished at lunchtime). This is one of many nods that McIntyre makes to the experience of life as a wrestling fan in the U.K., and the pursuit of his obsession as a profession. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Nando’s is a peri peri chicken restaurant in the U.K. and a common question is “have we got time to go for a cheeky little Nando’s?”)
Traveling back in time, McIntyre gives us a history lesson about his homeland, briefly mentioning the warrior poets who battled in historic conflicts fought on Scottish soil, as well as the national bard Robert Burns, a literary giant who would reside a short distance from the Ayr neighbourhood which would become the childhood home of young McIntyre some 200 years later. Like many Scots, it is clear that our narrator has a strong sense of national pride, and for this reviewer (a direct descendant of the Burns’ brother Gilbert) the familiar stories present some stirring stuff.
It is not long before we are introduced to McIntyre’s parents: his dad Andrew Sr. (actually, Andrew Galloway the third), and his mom, Angela. As a result of some early balancing issues that affected a young Angela, we learn of her eventual diagnosis with cerebellar ataxia, a progressive condition which continues to attack the mind until its eventual destruction. Although there is an underlying sadness in the knowledge that this condition will only worsen, Angela steadfastly decides to live a full life, and eventually marries Andrew. Despite the gravity of her situation, there are many light moments captured within life in the Galloway household. Without mentioning the couple’s special tune, just reading its title will raise a nostalgic smile to kids of the ’80s who were awkwardly forced up on the dance floor at functions across the country, usually by tipsy relatives who had sunk down too much of Scotland’s internationally renowned liquid gold.
From there, the couple have two children (against medical concerns that it could be devastating to Angela’s health), and their two boys are named Andrew Jr (or Andrew IV, to be correct) and John. Over the course of the book, it becomes clear that his parents are the real superstars in this story, urging their sons to pursue their dreams. There are several fond stories of childhood, penned with a nostalgic tint, particularly as McIntyre discovers pro wrestling as a child of the 1980s and 1990s. His fandom is a whirlwind of memories that will be identifiable to many fans on both sides of the Atlantic. In particular, many older British grappling enthusiasts will be able to relate to his stories, including a humorous visual comparison between the “dad bodies” of the local circuit and the musclebound stars of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), and tales of jaunts to Blockbuster to rent aged WWF videotapes released under the Silver Vision banner, the official distributor of Coliseum Video titles within these shores.
While the WWF had expanded its operations in the United States towards a national touring brand in 1984, its invasion into the UK market did not really kick off until 1989/1990, as Hulkamania within the company was starting to reach an end. This is mainly due to the increasing affordability of Sky Television, which showcased WWF programming as some of its premier output. As a result, many British fans discovered the company at a time that the business was changing towards smaller built, more athletically gifted stars. McIntyre was among this generation, and quickly gravitated towards Bret “The Hitman” Hart as his new idol.
It quickly becomes clear that watching wrestling was not enough for McIntyre. As a young teenager, he decides that he loves the industry so much that he is compelled to pursue it as a career, on the promise that he attains a degree in Criminology at Glasgow Caledonian University as a backup plan. We learn of his efforts to get the “inside scoop” on pro wrestling’s inner workings, and how to make it in the business. To say this hopeful’s chances were slim would be an understatement: the domestic wrestling circuit in the U.K. had largely collapsed in the 1990s, following a rapid decline in its popularity which eventually led to the cancellation of domestic televised grappling by ITV in 1988. With few places locally available to learn the trade, there would be limited options. One could try the self-taught route or travel down south to one of the few wrestling academies who were still operating, or source work before paltry crowds in backyard shows, or seek out low-paid but frequent work for the holiday camps that showcased wrestling as part of its summer attractions. For some, this could be a miserable experience that harboured long-lasting resentments, but for McIntyre, this is a fond time where he met many of the key figures who would become dear friends to him.
It is this small, ragtag community of misfit talents who eventually co-ordinated their limited resources to rebuild the independent scene in central Scotland and northern England from the ground, steadily attaining a cult status. Having inherited the height of his dad and maternal grandfather, self-styled ladies’ man Thee Drew Galloway cut an imposing figure for the standards of the time, and it is not long before he is whisked to try-outs for the WWE. Some of the most memorable moments in the book regard his culture shock as a Scot making a life in Louisville, Kentucky, while working for developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling, before moving to Florida to work for WWE’s other feeder brand, Florida Championship Wrestling.
It is at this point that we learn about his first moments in WWE, and the origins of his new moniker, Drew McIntyre. Our narrator paints a vivid picture of the lofty weight that was set on his shoulders from his signing. As his career seems to finally be on a rapid ascension towards the top of the profession, there is a huge event in the personal life of McIntyre that completely (and understandably) destroys his focus. His career hits a tailspin, and he is saddled with an undesirable spot in the company, before his ultimate release from WWE in 2014. There are some interesting accounts of cancelled creative plans for McIntyre, including a proposed story line with the most famous Scottish wrestler who is not actually a Scot, before the decision is made to let him go.
From this point, the story is about the reinvention of McIntyre and his audacious task to change the mainstream perception of his career. Even though he had been blessed with the genetic gifts that most pro wrestlers would die for, many had written off McIntyre as one of countless talents who had failed to realize his potential. There is that word again.
“I may look like Goliath but mine is a David story. It is about overcoming the odds, doing the impossible, proving a point.”
Most of us are aware of the megastar that McIntyre has become now that he has finally reached the peak of his profession and realized his promise after some false starts. This reviewer was fortunate to have seen him perform from an early stage in his career and has followed his many highs and lows within the industry. In a nation which has produced a multitude of outstanding stars, from the great George Kidd to the legendary Andy Robin, to superlative in-ring craftsmen like Chic Cullen or Clayton Thomson, none have ever attained the global fame of Andrew McLean Galloway IV from Ayr, Scotland. But now, a year after becoming the first Brit to win the WWE championship, he becomes the author of the most important book to have come from a living British wrestler since the release of Dynamite Kid’s uncompromising memoir Pure Dynamite or Jackie Pallo’s notorious expose You Grunt, I’ll Groan.
A Chosen Destiny is an essential time capsule of a unique career, and its historic value will likely continue to increase for future generations and students of BritWres (the official term for all British wrestling post 2000) in the same way that Lou Thesz’s superlative autobiography, Hooker, stands as a lasting monument to the art and science of grappling, as well as the psychological and political power plays of American pro wrestling during his career.