Wade Barrett Says WWE Killed His Passion For Wrestling
Wade Barrett was a five-time Intercontinental Champion and former King of the Ring in WWE. But despite all his accomplishments, Barrett is now claiming that WWE has pretty much killed his passion for wrestling.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Barrett talked about having grown up with a “lifelong passion” and “obsession” with professional wrestling — only to have that fire snuffed out through poor booking and scripting that allowed for absolutely no improvisation or creative input from the performer himself. It’s a pretty strong indictment of WWE’s approach to doing things these days, as the overly-scripted, sanitized product is turning away lifelong fans in droves. And Barrett just happened to be one of them.
“I’ve had a lifelong passion, and really obsession, with professional wrestling since I was a very small kid. That passion never left me. I was always inspired to be involved and be part of good TV and do projects that would inspire me professionally. Unfortunately, in 2015 and again in 2016, I was asked to play a character and perform storylines that I found thoroughly uninspiring. After making repeated attempts to change my career trajectory and having those efforts turned down, my passion for playing the role of a WWE Superstar went away.”
Barrett would go on to talk about the Bad News Barrett gimmick, and how it differed from the other roles he was made to play. In a sense, Barrett outlines just why the current scripted era has been such a flop.
“‘Bad News’ Barrett was a really fun time. The reactions from the crowd I was getting were really about my speaking and my portrayal of a character rather than my in-ring work. You can even go back to the Nexus era, when I was cutting promos every single night. People were really hanging on my every word, and I was really dictating a lot of the shows that we were doing. I’ve always had that confidence in my performance ability and my ability to speak in character. One of the most exciting parts of the Nexus and ‘Bad News’ Barrett eras were I had a lot of influence in the character and I had a lot of influence in how I was going to portray myself. When I became King Barrett, the influence I had in the character was taken away. I was told, ‘This is your outfit, and here is your promo that you have to say word-for-word.’ Any time I tried to tweak the storyline because I thought it wasn’t working, or because it wasn’t me, I was denied. The lack of control over my career reduced my passion more than anything. “For the first time in my life, I was questioning why I was even getting out of bed and going to work. I wasn’t enjoying it and it wasn’t motivating me at all. For that reason, I made the decision that I couldn’t re-sign a contract and continue for three more years when I knew nothing was going to change. My choice was: to take the paycheck and accept that I was probably going to get the same kind of creative that I’d had for the last couple of years, or alternatively to walk away and look for something else. So I decided to do the latter. I’ve always been smart with my money, and I saved a lot during my time with WWE. I’m not in a position where I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck, and I can afford to explore other avenues.”
On the one hand, you could make the argument that a lot of modern wrestlers should know that WWE is an overly scripted, corporate environment. But Barrett made his main roster debut in 2010, before the scripting got out of control. So it’s arguably worse for a guy like Barrett, who was used to having some modicum of freedom, only to have it slowly stripped away, year by year, gimmick by gimmick, until nothing of his own personality remained. Ultimately, it’s unfortunate that Barrett was as injury prone as he was, because I feel he’d have been a main eventer otherwise, especially if the company had enough confidence in him to let him just be himself out there. The guy had a tremendous presence on the mic, and he wasn’t bad in the ring at all. Really, there’s no good reason Wade Barrett shouldn’t have been at the top of the card.
This is genuinely sad to read, especially if Barrett’s dream was success in the wrestling business, and not just financial security. Then again, he did achieve a lot in his six years with the company, and I don’t think the door is permanently closed on a return, if he wants it. But after reading this, it’s hard to imagine Barrett ever wanting to go back, unless things seriously change behind the scenes. It’s similar to the issues that guys like Ryback, Cody Rhodes, and Batista have had with WWE. It’s hard to really make an impact when you’re fed every line, and are forced to play characters that just aren’t working with the crowd. While it does seem that WWE is letting some guys play around with their own material, like Bray Wyatt, The New Day, and Enzo & Cass, I can see where Barrett is coming from with his complaints. With that said, the UK wrestling scene is booming right now, so it’d be great to see him branch out into that scene, if he wants to continue wrestling.
But what do you think about what Wade Barrett had to say? Sound off in the comments!
And for more WWE news, find out what comment Triple H made to Ryback that changed him forever!