To paraphrase Bill Murray in Ghostbusters: Karrion Kross came (to WWE’s Extreme Rules), he saw (Drew Mcintyre in the ring), he kicked some (Drew McIntyre) A–.

Earning his first true evaluation since returning WWE in August – no offense to Drew Gulak – Kross got into the ring with one of the baddest babyfaces on the SmackDown roster and wrestled one of the most consequential matches of his eight-year career. Beginning the match with his usual in-ring entrance, a tag team effort of sorts featuring a cloak, a black and white filter, and Scarlett lip-synching some vaguely ominous lyrics, the match played like a two-on-one affair too, with Kross relying heavily on his valet for additional support throughout the contest.

Beginning the match with the old-school heelish tacting of refusing to put on his strap to technically start the contest, Kross and Scarlett worked McIntyre like it was a two-on-one handicap match, with the resourceful valet ultimately securing the win with a can of mace – not ma.ce – to the face that set up a contest-winning Kross Hammer. That finish, a true sign of disrespect that both Michael Cole and Corey Graves noted was “completely legal” on commentary, would signify that Kross really doesn’t respect McIntyre and was willing to do anything in his power to defeat his foe but in reality, that couldn’t have been further from the case. While Kross, the character, isn’t a big fan of McIntyre, the man behind it is truly inspired by WWE’s “Scottish Warrior.”

Karrion Kross gives credit to his WWE rival outside of the ring.

Speaking with David Shoemaker of The Ringer Wrestling Show, Kross gave some rare props to McIntyre, the man he wanted to “send to you-know-where” at Extreme Rules.

“Yeah, I’m gonna say something that might surprise a lot of people who are listening to this, but Drew McIntyre is a prime example of somebody in life, not even just in wrestling but in life, he’s been knocked down so many time both personally and professionally throughout his entire life and this guy still gets up every day, he might not be inspired, he might not be enthusiastic or motivated like all of us, I mean, we’re all human beings, do you know what I mean?” Kross asked rhetorically. “It’s cool to promote inspiration and motivation and, you know, ‘wake up driven’ – honestly, people don’t wake up like that – but that guy, on the days he wants to do it and the days he doesn’t give 110 percent at every single thing that he does. And a lot of people have counted him out, professionally, throughout his career, and he’s always proved them wrong. That’s somebody in life that anybody could look at and go, ‘you know, I’m down and out on my luck right now, but this guy did it; maybe I can do it too.’ I think those people are important in life because we all deal with resistance in life, physically, mentally, spiritually, and a lot of times it feels like, you know, you’ve got to give something up, or you can’t go on, or you need to change something, you can’t do what you love anymore; he’s a prime example of someone who kept trying to find a way to make it work and he did; he made all of it work.”

“So being able to work with somebody like that? Not even just professionally but personally, is, like, you can’t make something like that happen in life, that’s just something that’s around, and if you’ve prepared for that day when it comes around, and you’re lucky enough to be around somebody like that, then it pays off, and I felt like for me, it paid off tonight.”

Whether McIntyre and Kross continue their feud moving forward or they take an extended break, it’s clear the second-chance WWE Superstar isn’t taking his Extreme Rules opponent for granted.

Karrion Kross didn’t like his gladiator mask for a very specific reason.

Elsewhere in the interview, Kross was asked about his second run in WWE and how he felt about changing up his presentation during his first run, and unsurprisingly, he had a lot to say on the matter, as transcribed by Fightful.

“Well, I don’t know if I’ve ever said this publicly, but the first time I came out with the mask, there were people laughing in the audience,” Kross stated. “They were laughing. I always remembered getting into this business and thinking to myself, ‘When this is all said and done, I want to leave this place a better place than it was before I came in.’ You want to make it better. You want to make people around you better. You want to make the product better, you want your performances to get better. For me, I’m always chasing the perfect match. That’s my wrestling philosophy. I’m chasing the perfect story and I just always wanted to contribute my best foot forward, artistically, and be work-driven”

“When I came out with that, and I heard people laughing, I was like, You know ‘What I’m doing right now,’ to me at the time, it felt like I was betraying everything that I wanted to contribute to what I was doing and [betraying the] fans, because the fan in me is still alive. That’s how I know how to read an audience. If you become too high up on your horse, and you disconnect from them, ‘I’ll tell them what they’re gonna like.’ That’s not that’s never gonna work. So the difference between then and now is tonight, I walked out and they were singing our theme music. The entire audience was singing our theme music. That was a moment we wanted to get to before the pandemic and I got that tonight in a packed house in Philadelphia. So that was incredible. So I would say that that is the major difference between last time and tonight.”

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When Shoemaker asked what he did with his helmet after that initial run was done, suggesting that he could sell it on eBay, Kross gave a, by his own admission, boring answer before digging into what he disliked about the change.

“I just left it in the props truck. I didn’t hate it, honestly. I just thought that for continuity purposes, it didn’t make any sense, and that’s why people couldn’t get into it,” Kross said. “We carved out a very specific supervillain in the first rendition of Karrion Kross in NXT. This is a guy who’s completely morbidly obsessed with time and everything revolving around stopwatches and hourglasses and this metaphoric, impending doom, he’s going to take time off your life, and now he’s coming out with no context, without his partner in crime, and a new outfit, and an amputated presentation. So it just pulled people out.

“If you’re watching Game of Thrones, and suddenly, one of the characters was played by somebody else with no explanation, or he’s just dressed differently or has a new accent or something, it takes you out of the narrative of the story. I feel like that’s what happened. I didn’t think that the character presentation was a bad idea, but just the way it was introduced. It just didn’t make any sense. So people were going, ‘This is not what we wanted.'”

Fortunately, Kross traded in his helmet for a new head of hair, and the WWE Universe is better off for it.