Drew McIntyre thwarted in WWE title quest after brutal WrestleMania opener

The UK’s own Drew McIntyre failed in his quest to regain the WWE title after being beaten by Bobby Lashley – but only after both men had seen off the weather at WrestleMania.

The Scot came up short in his attempt to slay Lashley in the opening match of the first night of WrestleMania 37 from Tampa, Florida and begin what would have been his second reign with the gold.

A typically physical and bruising encounter between the two-hard-hitting rivals, the contest had the full backing of the live crowd – McIntyre taking his fair share of punishment before battling back and taking the fight to Lashley.

He looked to have the match won, too, after three future-shock DDTs and an incredible leap over the top rope from the Ayr-born star, both men making a mockery of their huge size and presence and showing tremendous agility.

In the end, though, the powerhouse Lashley came out on top and secured what many felt was something of an unlikely win thanks to his patented Hurt Lock submission – though the ending cleverly saw McIntyre effectively pass out rather than give up.

The outing for McIntyre was a nonetheless historic one, too, as it was the first match played out in front of live fans at a WWE event in well over a year.

The company have been forced to stage their shows without the WWE Universe being physically present since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic; first from a closed set at their Performance Centre and then via their Thunderdome, an impressive array of digital screens with fans faces.

Understandably under those circumstances, the die-hard Rangers fan received a hero’s reception as the first of the night's combatants to be introduced on the show – that after the entire roster assembled on the stage to chants of "welcome back" as Vince McMahon gave a brief address and Hulk Hogan and Titus O'Neil had done their hosting duties.

Lashley was far from the only battle McIntyre and WWE faced however – the event also survived incredible storms in the local area that delayed the start of the show.

With fans filing into Raymond James Stadium for the biggest wrestling show of the year, thunder and lightning struck, leaving WWE with no option but to ask fans to ‘take shelter’ and leave their seats.

Images circulated on social media of the expansive production set within the stadium taking a battering and, ringside seats being toppled.

The show even took to the air before commentators were forced to confirm there would be a 'weather delay' before the action could get going, the start of the McIntyre bout set back some 45 minutes after all was said and done.

A crowd of 25,000 was expected for the event, with a similar number due to attend Sunday's Night Two of the event.

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