Interview: Bad news gimmick dropped for 'Getting positive response', says Wade Barett
Former WWE Superstar Wade Barrett has revealed his 'Bad News Barrett' gimmick was dropped because it wasn't getting the reaction management wanted... it was getting over instead!
The 6.7" tall grappler turned actor from Preston, England is still based in the US but spoke to The Buzzards Wrestling Podcast in association with Sportskeeda, during an appearance for UK promotion Defiant Wrestling. He discussed his career in WWE, including his debut with The Nexus, as well as why the Bad News Barrett gimmick ended so abruptly, and what he's been up to since departing the company in 2016.
Q You've taken on the role of General Manager with Defiant Wrestling (formerly WCPW), how are you enjoying it?
I'm loving it here. I came over in April to do my first couple of shows with them. I just did some commentary then and then they got in touch around September to ask me to get be involved with them in a GM capacity, which I grabbed with both hands. I was really impressed when I came over in April at the quality of the production and the calibre of the guys they've got in the ring here and the kind of show they put out, so it was great to get this opportunity.
Q Have you got the wrestling bug back because you took some time away?
Yeah, I was burned out. I was WWE for about 10 years and by the time my contract was up there, I was just ready to go, so I took about a year or so away from the business but getting back involved with the guys at Defiant has been great and it's really helped me scratch that itch to get back around the locker room, hang out with the guys and be back around the wrestling world again, which is really nice.
Q What have you made of the British Wrestling Scene since coming back into it because when you got to WWE, the scene wasn't as hot, as it is now?
You're absolutely right. I was actually hesitant to get involved with WhatCulture when they first contacted me back in April, purely because I was involved in the wrestling scene over here, 10, 12, 13 years earlier and I knew that it wasn't a great place.
We were wrestling back then in 2004, 2005 and we were lucky to get a crowd of 100 people and the quality of guys in the ring was really poor and the quality of the production of the shows, you know, you'd have rings that would have just two ropes because the third one had broken and no-one could afford to replace it and there'd be giant rips in the middle of the canvas or it'd be covered in dirt because it had been the same canvas for 15 years and stuff like that.
It really just wasn't a good environment at the time, so I was kind of hesitant to get back involved because I was thinking 'Well, is that really what I want to go back and do?' But I spoke to a couple of people who I knew, who had worked with them, like Drew Galloway and Cody Rhodes and they spoke glowingly about the company, so I gave it a shot and I was kind of blown away when I got back involved and started speaking to the guys, by how well things are going out here.
The great thing for me is, when I was wrestling back in the UK pre-WWE, I was lucky to get £30 a show and I'd be working one or two nights a week and you'd end up with £60 and nobody was really able to make a living out of that, so we all had full-time jobs on top of that. I think there was one guy who didn't have a full-time job, who wrestled full-time and that was Doug Williams and he was the massive exception that he was able to do that. Now, you speak to the guys in the locker room and so many of them just do this full time and they've got there own merchandise and they're travelling to Japan and then they're off to the US, then they're back here for three shows and then there off to Europe for a couple of shows.
It's their full-time job and they don't need anything else to fall back on and they sustain themselves and they're making good livings out of pro wrestling and it really speaks volumes about how much the industry in this country has moved on and the quality of performers we have here and the quality of production that companies like Defiant Wrestling can put on, so it's a great thing.
Q With the invention of iPPVs and social media, do you think it's easier to get yourself noticed than it was for you before you got to WWE?
I think in certain ways it certainly is easier. I also think the competition on the Independent scene is a lot higher than when I was around. When I was wrestling in the UK, 12, 13 years ago, there was a very small handful of the guys who wrestled that actually went to a gym and worked out, believe it or not. It seems ridiculous now when you look at the guys we have wrestling in this country.
Everybody works out, everybody watches their diet, everybody's in great shape because if you're not, you won't make it. Whereas back then, there was me, there was Drew, there was Sheamus and maybe four or five other guys, but nobody else worked out. Nobody was in shape, they just looked like regular guys out in the crowd and it feels like, not only in terms of the way people look but also the quality of the guys in the ring, it's so much higher these days, it's going to be a lot tougher to get noticed from that perspective. So, there are positives, in terms of the guys are making more money but my goal was always to get to America and get to WWE and get picked up there and so, it's kind of a trade-off.
Q About your time in WWE, what are your memories of your main roster debut on RAW with The Nexus, when you attacked everyone and wrecked the ring?
It was really cool. Obviously, there was a lot of pressure on us as brand new guys and we'd literally been told by Vince (McMahon) before we went out that, we 'better make this good, because if it isn't good, you guys won't be around for very long.' So, that's kind of hanging over you when you go out there and I think when we were out there and attacking the ring and smashing things up, we were so in the zone that we weren't really paying too much attention to the reaction or the atmosphere or how it was being picked up.
We were all just so focused on making sure we did what we'd all talked about beforehand. 'I'm going to do this, you're going to do this here, how about you do this?' We had this thing outlined in our heads and we were so focused on making sure that we didn't screw it up that by the time we go to the back, we hadn't actually absorbed what was happening.
But then when we got to the back, we were kind of given a standing ovation by the locker room and all the guys that were working there and people were kind of blown away by what they'd seen. Then they started showing replays of crowd reactions and stuff and that's when it started to sink in that, 'Woah, this was pretty big' and then we realised afterwards, 'Wow', you know for us as young wrestlers, we've put up and taken down rings a million times by that point. That's kind of part the breaking into the business, that's what you have to do, you put up the ring, you know what it looks like when it's taken apart.
What we didn't think about was the fact that the entire WWE Universe or the fanbase had never seen a ring half taken down or they didn't know what was underneath that blue canvas. They didn't know there were boards underneath there and stuff like that, so the impact that had on that fanbase was way bigger than anything we could've ever imagined, just because they'd never seen something like that before."
Q The fact that you got a standing ovation from your colleagues after your debut on the main roster must have been an amazing feeling?
Yeah, that was a really cool thing because up until that point, we'd kind of been treated as second-class citizens really and that's not to knock anybody on the roster for doing that. We'd been put in that position, we'd been treated as rookies because that was just the nature of how we were breaking in there, so we weren't even allowed in the locker room at that point. We had to change in corridors and stuff like that, so to come to the back and have these people actually show us that respect and say 'Hey, you guys are going to go somewhere with this', that was really cool and it was a huge weight off our shoulders and to be honest with you, all 8 of us that were in The Nexus at that point, we'd all scratched and clawed for years in Independent Wrestling, getting beat up, driving 300 miles to be paid £30, which wouldn't even cover your petrol money and we'd all fought really hard to get to that point. It almost felt like a huge weight off our shoulders that no matter what happened here, we have now made a mark in the world of professional wrestling. We didn't know where it was going to go from there, we could've been fired in four weeks anyway, who knew, but at least we will always have this thing that we have managed to achieve in this company that we grew up loving and wanting to be a part of.
Q Chris Jericho was your pro when you were a rookie in NXT. What do you make of what he's about to do, wrestling Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 for New Japan?
I'm constantly amazed every time I turn on my Twitter or Instagram because he's got something else up his self. This week he's releasing a new album, next week he's got a book coming out, next week he's going on a cruise with wrestling fans on there and then he's going to wrestle at the Royal Rumble and then he's off to wrestle Kenny Omega and then he's got a TV show coming out. It's like, I'm at the point now where I'm not surprised because it's Chris Jericho and I just expect him to do things like that.
"But yeah, I think it's really cool. I think it's amazing that wrestling is at that point now where he can go and do something like that because I don't think even five or ten years ago that would've been on the cards. It's cool that wrestling around the world isn't just so focused on this one place, WWE. There's stuff springing up everywhere and who knows, in five years time, there might be a company in the UK that could put on something similar with a top guy from WWE and say, 'Hey, we know you're on a little break, why don't you come over here to Birmingham, we've got this huge show on, you can wrestle Marty Scurll, who's the top name out here' or whoever it might be at the time, and put on this huge kind of Wrestle Kingdom show out here in the UK, which would be incredible and let's be honest, we have the talent to do it. It's just a case of putting all the pieces in place together.
Q Back to WWE, what happened to the Bad News Barrett gimmick? It felt like it ended abruptly and WWE pulled the rug from underneath it, just as it was catching on?
I was specifically told the reason I wasn't allowed to say my catchphrase 'I'm afraid I've got some bad news' anymore was that it was getting a positive response and they wanted me to be a heel. I personally didn't agree with that philosophy. I felt 'Look, if they are going to cheer for me, they like this, let's go with it. I've never been a babyface before, let's go with it.'
"The decision was made above my pay grade that that wasn't going to be the case and then I was Bad News Barrett, a guy who didn't cut promos and wasn't giving out bad news, so that kind of instigated the transition into a completely different character and the King run at that point, so for me personally, like I say, I didn't agree with it but it wasn't my decision to make ultimately."
Q So, what does the future hold for Stu Bennett?
"I'm excited to be doing different projects at the moment. I spent 14 years or so in the professional wrestling world, 10 years with WWE, where my exclusive life was just wrestling, wrestling, wrestling, so after 10 years of that, I was pretty burned out and it's nice for me to be doing other things at this point. I've been doing some acting, I've got a couple of movies coming out in 2018. I've just done a TV hosting gig with Netflix.
I did a speaking tour here in the UK earlier this year and then now I'm involved with Defiant Wrestling in a GM capacity and doing commentary and things like that. So, it's nice for me to be spreading my wings a little and doing different things. Really, I'm looking to continue in that vein and seeing what opportunities come up and if they sound good and sound exciting, you know what? I'll grab them and it's kind of nice after years and years of a very regimented schedule, to actually not quite know what I'm going to be doing in three months and being surprised when you get a call from Netflix and things like that. I couldn't really tell you but I'm pretty excited for 2018."