WADE BARRETT: Wade Barrett talks WrestleMania in UK, McIntyre, Cena, Rhodes, and Nexus

Posted on 7/02/124 by Colin Vassallo

AceOdds recently sat down with professional wrestling
commentator, actor and retired WWE Superstar, Wade Barrett.
In this interview, we discussed Wade’s opinion of
WrestleMania coming to the UK, the development of Drew
McIntyre, his views on Cody Rhodes, whether Logan Paul
deserves to be in the position he is in, his honest verdict
on his feuds with John Cena, his time in Nexus and much
ACE ODDS: John Cena and other WWE superstars have been
campaigning for WrestleMania to go overseas. As an England
native, what makes the UK a perfect host for ‘Mania?

WADE BARRETT: Well, I would say WrestleMania in the UK would
be the ultimate dream for all of us Brits who are associated
with this industry. We clearly have the infrastructure.
There are a lot of countries out there that we love going
to, but you turn up and maybe the facilities aren’t top
level. Maybe the roads, the hotels, maybe the building
itself isn’t capable of hosting a top-level event like a WWE
WrestleMania. In the UK, we already have that. We have
everything in place that you can just sign the contract and
get it done.

But I think more than anything else, I think we have this
vocal fan base. And I would say it extends outside of the UK
too. Even the French, as we saw in Lyon at Backlash a few
months ago, were absolutely wild. I think the Germans are
going to be crazy. We do Berlin at some point in September,
I think. So, I think the whole European or Western Europe
fan base would descend upon somewhere like Wembley Stadium
or Spurs Stadium or the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff,
Principality as it’s called now and I think it would be
huge. Just the noise, the sound, and the passion that the
fan base will have would make it a very special occasion.
So, I hope it happens at some point. I’ve no doubt we’re
going to get huge, huge premium live events over there.
Whether it’s going to be at WrestleMania, I don’t know, but
the way things are going at the moment. I think it’s
increasingly likely that we could end up over there.

ACE ODDS: Few fans will remember that you, wrestling under
the ‘Stu Sanders’ moniker at the time, formed ‘The Empire’
tag team with Drew McIntyre early in your FCW days. What
area has Drew grown the most in the years since and has he
portrayed the UK in WWE well?

WADE BARRETT: Back when we were the Empire, we were a tag
team in Florida Championship Wrestling. So, this would have
been about 2008, 2009, something like that. Drew at that
point in time, we kind of just moved over from the UK. I’m
about five or six years older than Drew, I think. This
doesn’t sound like much now, but back when I was probably 27
and Drew was maybe 21, that’s a huge difference in life
experience more than anything. So, I’d moved away from my
parents’ house. I’ve had a career in the UK, working in
London and working in offices, being a manager and kind of
being a grownup. Whereas Drew had never left his parents’
house. He’d kind of done some stuff in university, but he
was still a kid.

So, I very much felt when we were living together and
working together, I was almost like a big brother role for
him because he would be making some mistakes and doing
things wrong. The most noticeable thing for me has been just
the growth of Drew away from the cameras and the kind of man
he has become and the kind of leader he has become. He’s
just a no-nonsense guy. At this point, he’s completely
focused. So that’s something I personally noticed in the
difference from the days of the Empire to today.

And I think everybody who’s a fan has seen the growth of
Drew from when he first debuted on SmackDown in 2008 with
Dave Taylor all the way through to now. It’s night and day.
It’s a different person. Physically, he looks completely
different, but just his confidence, his poise on the mic,
his brilliance in the ring, just seeing that growth of him
as a man and a performer over the last 15 years has been
really cool to watch as a friend and as a fan of Drew.

I think Drew has been fantastic. I think he’s one of those
guys who can do it all. He can be the big hero as we saw in
Glasgow and the whole city or whole country is going nuts
for him. He can be the most vile human being imaginable,
which is what we saw a few days later in Chicago at CM
Punk’s home. And he really is fantastic in the ring. He
looks great. He’s a complete pro when it comes to
representing WWE in the media and then on the mic, I think
in the last 12 months, Drew has hit a whole new level on the
mic where he’s potentially the number one guy in the entire
industry when it comes to talking.

I would say historically that was Drew’s biggest weak point,
especially when we first moved over to the U.S. He wasn’t
confident on the mic. He had a lot of difficulties with his
accent. People couldn’t understand him. I was having to
translate for Drew when we’d be going into restaurants and
things like that but his growth in all areas has been
massive. And I think he’s the perfect guy to have become the
first-ever British WWE World Champion. I think they knocked
it out of the park with that guy and he’s going to keep on
getting better and delivering over the next few years.

ACE ODDS: You also worked with Cody Rhodes, back in the ill-
fated ‘Stardust’ days. Did you know he would be a future
world champion at the time? Could you have ever imagined
that he’d become ‘The Man’ of the company?

WADE BARRETT: So, I’ll say this about Cody and I worked a
lot with his father, the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes, is
the guy I owe a lot to. I’ve always been a big fan of Cody
Rhodes, the performer, even in 2008, and 2009. And then when
I started working with him in 2011, 2012 kind of period, we
tagged up and did a couple of, I think we did a Survivor
series together and maybe a Summer Slam together as a tag
team. He’s the guy to me who’s always been brilliant. And
that potential has always been there. I think with Cody, the
biggest thing he was lacking maybe 10 years or so ago was an
opportunity. I don’t think people in management looked at
Cody and saw him as a guy who could be capable of pulling
the entire train.

So, I think the potential was always there but once an
opportunity came along Cody grabbed every opportunity that
came his way after about 2015 and he’s just gone from
strength to strength.

Did I ever foresee him being the number one guy in the
entire industry? I can’t honestly say I did because it’s so
rare that anyone gets to that level. If you look over the
last 10 or 15 years in our industry, you can perhaps only
say Randy Orton, John Cena, Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes. They
are probably the four who’ve actually achieved that level of
superstardom. So no, I didn’t see that coming. I absolutely
thought he’d be capable of it, but it needed to be a perfect
storm of opportunities and then Cody being motivated enough
to make them count. And thankfully all those things

ACE ODDS: Back in 2015, you became WWE royalty by winning
the King of the Ring tournament. How will wearing the crown
impact this year’s winner, Gunther? Is he ready to become a
full-time main event player?

WADE BARRETT: So, I think as long as this year’s winners,
Gunther and Nia Jax, do everything completely differently
from how I did it, they will do really well. So, one of the
cool things we mentioned was the Triple H era a little
earlier, one of the cool things for me about this Triple H
era is that things aren’t wasted. And I think when I won
King of the Ring in 2015, and probably for a couple of King
of the Rings prior to me like Seamus had it, a couple of
other guys had it too. I don’t think anyone ever really
capitalized on that. And that was management decision-
making. “Hey, we’ve put this crown on this guy. This guy is
the king of the ring. Are we going to highlight him?” No,
we’re not. We’re going to move on. We’re going to have this
guy go out and kind of compete in what I felt were
meaningless feuds and very little storytelling and very
little to really hook viewers in.

But I think this is a very different era, as I mentioned.
And I think Gunther and Nia Jax are going to have really,
really strong 12 months with the King and Queen of the Ring
behind them and I think the current creative crew and the
management team are going to make sure of that. So, I’m
really excited to see where those guys go and I’m glad that
the King and indeed Queen of the Ring tournaments have got
this added shine to them, added gloss to them, which they
deserve. Because it’s a great achievement, it’s a great
accolade, it’s got tremendous history. And now I think we’re
going to maximize that.

ACE ODDS: After spending most of your adult life in the
professional wrestling business, what are your feelings on
Logan Paul joining the WWE and becoming a champion so
quickly? Is it deserved? Does it bother you at all that
Paul, who didn’t have the same journey to WWE as you, is
being pushed heavily?

WADE BARRETT: So normally when guys from the outside come in
and try and compete in our industry, it is an embarrassment.
It’s normally pretty obvious that these guys are not very
good. It’s pretty obvious that we’re having to kind of roll
out the red carpet and make sure they look good, usually at
the expense of the guys who are dedicating their lives to
being in the ring and they’ve trained for years. So that’s a
historic thing. I don’t think we’ll ever do that again. Not
in this era anyway, because someone like Logan Paul has come
in and he’s got this tremendous number of eyeballs on him
from the outside world. So business-wise it makes sense but
what has impressed everyone is A, his natural athleticism
and B, more importantly, Logan Paul’s work ethic. In the
matches he’s put on since coming in, I think he’s only had
five or six matches. Every single one of them has been
outstanding. And I’ve been lucky enough to be ringside
calling a couple. Probably his biggest match of his career,
I would suggest was against Roman Reigns at one of the crown
jewels a couple of years ago.

No one knew just how good Logan Paul could be prior to that.
He’d never had that level of spotlight put on him in our
industry. He absolutely smashed it to the point where Roman
Reigns who had been on this unbeatable run for a couple of
years at that point as WWE champion, you genuinely bought
with about five minutes left in that match that Logan Paul
was going to do it. Logan Paul was going to win. That is
because he is so good in the ring. He is such a natural
performer. You just cannot complain when a guy like that is
given the spotlight because he deserves it. If the cards had
fallen differently and Logan Paul hadn’t been this YouTube
star and hadn’t been this boxer and hadn’t been this
business mogul and all the other ventures that he does. If
he’d have had that passion from being very young and decided
I’m going to dedicate my life to WWE and being a wrestler,
he’d have made it anyway. And seeing a guy like that achieve
things and come along and help our show and bring more
eyeballs to our product is great. So, no beef at all with
Logan Paul. I would say I’m actually a fan of his and I’ve
really enjoyed everything he’s done on the show.

ACE ODDS: What did you learn from feuding with three future
WWE Hall of Famers — John Cena, CM Punk, & Randy Orton — so
early in your career?

WADE BARRETT: So, I’d say CM Punk I really didn’t do too
much with. Ours was more a bit of verbal jousting. There was
very little physical between CM Punk and me, which is a
regret of mine. I think it’s something we should have run
with in 2010, and 2011 when we were kind of beefing over the
future of the Nexus.

I’d say working with John Cena and Randy Orton though, and
that was kind of right out of the gate for me in 2010, so
I’ve been wrestling for a few years at that point. I’ve been
through the developmental system but most people only really
became aware of Wade Barrett when I burst onto the scene in
2010 on Raw and SmackDown.

So, to go from this nobody to suddenly being the guy who was
beating up the two biggest names in the industry at the
time,John Cena and Randy Orton, that was massive for me. And
there was clearly going to be a steep learning curve going
from competing with guys who maybe had one to two years of
experience in development to working with the absolute best
guys on the planet. And it was a steep learning curve for
me. That six-month run from June, July to December of 2010
is probably the toughest period of my entire career. And
realizing I’m not as good as these guys, I’m not as
experienced as these guys, but guess what? I’ve got a 30-
minute main event pay-per-view match coming up and I better
be able to deliver something good here. So, it was a steep
learning curve. I probably was wrapped with anxiety every
single day of that run for six months but what an experience
and what a crazy change of lifestyle to go from a complete
nobody where I can walk down the street to within a few
months being recognized everywhere I go. So, it was a pretty
wild time for me.

ACE ODDS: Speaking of Cena, some WWE fans criticize him for
“burying talent” during his ‘Super Cena’ run. Do you feel
like you were a victim of this?

WADE BARRETT: Yeah, I’d say for me personally, I’ve gone on
record before saying that the Nexus Summer Slam match in
2010 should not have ended the way it did. And I don’t think
you will find a single person of note in the wrestling
industry who will agree with how that match ended, which is
where John Cena beat the Nexus at our first real test. How
much of that was down to John Cena, I don’t know. I think
the problem we had at the time in WWE was that management
had a philosophy that we’re going to make one, two, maybe
three stars and everybody else on the roster is essentially
cannon fodder for these top names.

So, it might have been a Randy or an Undertaker or a John
Cena, for example. The rest of us were an irrelevance. We
were just there as backing dancers for the top names. So
that was just a management thing. I’m thankful that today
that is not the case. It’s not like we just have these
handpicked two or three guys that are important. Now it
feels like everyone up and down the card is treated as a
star, is treated as important. They’re given good writing,
and opportunities to do storytelling, and therefore we don’t
have these kind of dead segments in Raw and SmackDown of
things that really don’t matter. I think that is where
people were tuning out. So, I can’t really blame John Cena
for what he was doing. If I was in his position and
management came to me and said, “Hey, you’re going to beat
everybody on the roster, every single night for the next 10
years”, I’d probably say, yeah, that’s great.

Awesome, let’s go with it. But that, as I say, was just a
philosophy at the time that I don’t think many people agree
with, but I don’t necessarily think John Cena is personally
to blame for that.

ACE ODDS: You’ve said that Davey Boy Smith vs Bret Hart for
the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 1992 is your
favorite match of all time. As a five-time winner of that
belt, what was that feeling like when you won the
Intercontinental title for the first time? A full circle

WADE BARRETT: So that was a really cool moment for me. And I
remember that moment, I picked up that championship. So
obviously as a kid, you dream about certain things. You
dream about just being in the ring. You dream about having a
t-shirt or being on a video game and having action figures
of yourself made and stuff like that. And I’d say personally
on that checklist, becoming the Intercontinental Champion
was right up there on the list for me. As you mentioned, as
an 11-year-old, I watched Davey Boy and Bret Hart and that
completely captivated me more than anything.

The fact that I knew this was not a British production, I
knew these people that I was watching on my TV, they were
nothing like the guys I was seeing around Preston, for
example. These guys look muscular, long hair, they look
cool, they got tans and even Davey Boy was like “that guy’s
from the same part of the world as me? This is crazy.” So, I
mean, seeing him perform and going out there and become one
of the absolute biggest stars on the planet at some level
must have told me in my head, hey, you can do this too. So,
I’m following in his footsteps. And when you look back at
the history of the Intercontinental Championship, I think
pretty much all the greatest of all time have held that
championship. So, to be in that bracket and to have my name
etched in history five times, is really cool for me and I’d
say that was the kind of highlight of my career. Especially
winning it the very first time.

ACE ODDS: Your background as a bare-knuckle fighter is known
to wrestling fans, as it even became a part of your WWE
persona. Was there ever any interest on your part to take up
mixed martial arts and pursue a career in the UFC, given
that background?

WADE BARRETT: So, I’d say when I was younger, UFC wasn’t the
behemoth that it is today. I’d say in the kind of late 90s
when I was figuring out, I was just kind of doing
university, what am I going to do with my life? I knew I was
athletic. I knew I was a big, strong guy and I could do a
number of things if I wanted to. UFC was really kind of a
hidden fight league that was illegal in most states. And it
was probably never at that point, at least to anyone looking
from the outside, going to be as big as it is today.

It felt like a bit of a flash in the pan, a bit of a freak
show. So, it’s not something I ever really thought about
seriously. I did think about becoming a boxer. That was
something I was really into as well and I was going to some
boxing training schools for a while, but ultimately, I made
the decision, what am I more passionate about? Is it boxing
or is it professional wrestling? And it was really no
contest. So, once I figured that out, then it was a question
of right now, how do I make this pathway to WWE? Where do I
find that’s going to have a training school? And that was
not as easy back then as it is today. I don’t want to sound
like back in my day it was tough, but the internet was
terrible back then and they just simply didn’t have many
schools in the UK to train you how to wrestle. So, it took a
lot of work just to figure out where to even get started
back in those days. Whereas I think now if you go online,
you can probably find a wrestling school not too far from
your house and take it from there. So yeah, things are very

ACE ODDS: You dabbled in the film industry during your time
away from wrestling. Was that a seamless transition?

WADE BARRETT: Yeah, so I was very lucky when I left WWE. I’d
done a couple of movies with WWE Studios. So, I had a bit of
experience. I also very quickly moved into working with a
group called Evolutionary Films that did the Vengeance
movies or I Am Vengeance movies with me. So, I kind of got
very lucky in landing those roles and I felt like I took to
it like a duck to water. I think there’s a natural
performance element that you develop as a wrestler. There’s
a lot more improv in wrestling and one of the hard things I
found going to do fight scenes for example in movies is how
specifically choreographed everything is to the point where
you cannot put your foot an inch to the left here. It has to
be right here and this punch needs to go three millimeters
past this guy’s left cheekbone and you’re doing a whole
fight scene like that which wrestling is nothing like that.
It’s very much a more free form of fighting and
improvisation. Yeah, there were definitely some things I had
to learn and develop and realize I had to slow down and we
can shoot this 10 times if we need to get it right, it’s not
one take and we’re done like in wrestling but something I
really enjoyed and something I’m planning to do more of in
the future. I think there are a lot of people in the
wrestling world who would really enjoy acting, especially in
action movie-type roles. It’s just an extension of what we
do already in WWE, just a fine-tuned version.

ACE ODDS: What was the initial reaction when you were told
about the Nexus angle and how you were going to debut it on

WADE BARRETT: So, I’d won NXT season one the week prior and
as part of winning NXT season one, I knew I was golden. I
knew I had a raw contract; I was going to be on TV. They’re
going to have to do something with me. I had no idea it was
going to be as big as it was though. When we turned up that
day, it was in Miami, at some point I think it was June
2010, they brought us all in, even the guys who hadn’t won
NXT season one and told us all, hey, here’s what we’re
doing today. It’s going to be massive; you’re attacking John
Cena; you’re going to trash the place. So, us guys were all
at that point in time paid a very small wage to train
essentially. And personally, I was living in an apartment
that had cockroaches in there. I had a tiny little car in
Tampa, Florida that had no air conditioning, quite simply
because that’s all I could afford. To live with cockroaches
and have this boiling hot car in the burning heat of Tampa,
Florida. So, the opportunity to actually become stars,
become players on the biggest wrestling show on the planet
and actually earn some good money finally in our career
after several years of really struggling financially, it was
a big relief to a lot of us to suddenly know that this is
going to be huge. We are going to be established WWE stars
after we do this and to have that play out the way it did
and solidify a lot of us as pretty big-time players in WWE
was huge for all of us.

ACE ODDS: What are some of the best memories of your time as
part of Nexus?

WADE BARRETT: I’d say the best memory with Nexus would
probably be when we did a show in the O2 Arena, it may have
been Manchester, but around November 2010. So, I’ve been
running with Nexus for a little while and I ended up having
a match with Randy Orton in the UK on one of our tours, it
was on Raw. Just being out there in front of that UK
audience after achieving what I had just achieved with Nexus
and being this focal point of the show. I remember going out
there and beating Randy Orton in front of a UK crowd. It was
a bit of cheating admittedly, but that was always the case
when I won. But I remember at the end of that show, the
Nexus guys all lifted me on their shoulders and the crowd
went crazy. And it felt like, wow, I’ve actually made it. I
can now, after all I’ve done in this game, after all the
struggles and low payoffs and injuries and bad times,
pressure and stress, all that stuff, I actually was being
hoisted on people’s shoulders in front of this UK crowd and
having this UK crowd go crazy after beating one of the top
names in the history of the industry, that was definitely up
there with my happiest moments.

ACE ODDS: You’ve been back for nearly four years now, how
are you enjoying your role as a commentator?

WADE BARRETT: I love commentating for WWE. You’re right, I
started about four years ago. I would say in my professional
life working in many different disciplines and industries
and roles within different industries, this is the happiest
I’ve ever been. I Love commentating for WWE. I think it was
a long-term goal of mine even while I was in the ring. It
was something I did a little bit of in about 2009, and 2010,
and I’ve done bits and pieces here and there, but to be a
full-time commentator for WWE, is absolutely a dream come

ACE ODDS: You have done both Raw and Smackdown commentary,
which show do you prefer to call and why?

WADE BARRETT: Well, it doesn’t make too much difference
because I think all of the shows and I’ll include NXT on
this. I love calling them all. So, if they gave me a call
tomorrow and said “hey, Wade, you got to go to NXT and call
NXT from now on”, I’d be very happy with that. Same with
Raw. I’d say the one difficulty with Raw is the fact that it
is a three-hour show versus NXT and SmackDown, which are
two-hour shows. There’s a certain exhaustion that can come
from doing commentary for three hours that I don’t really
get in two hours. So, I say two hours for me personally has
been the perfect size or length of the show to commentate
where I feel like I’m hitting a 10 all the way through.
There can be times on a three-hour show, it’s such a massive
beast that you can kind of slow down at some point. You may
need a couple of energy drinks or something like that to get
you through. So, I’d say just mechanically speaking, the
two-hour shows are definitely more in my wheelhouse.

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