Wade Barrett was someone who many figured would be a guaranteed main event Superstar when he debuted as part of the first season of NXT, and for a while it seemed like WWE had big plans for the brawny Englishman. However, a litany of injuries and poor booking decisions torpedo’d a promising career, and a disgruntled Barrett decided not to sign a contract extension with WWE in early 2016, and has since moved into some minor acting roles, with more reportedly on the way. In an interview with SI.com, Barrett talked about why he decided to leave pro wrestling behind and strike out on his own.
Apparently, Barrett’s moment of clarity came in November of 2015, when he temporarily lost feeling in his arm in the ring.
“There is nothing more terrifying than lying in the ring and feeling that your hand has gone numb,” said Bennett. “My whole arm went numb, but the feeling returned about a minute later and I was able to finish the match. I immediately thought of Tyson Kidd, who suffered a terrible neck injury recently. He was, in many respects, lucky to survive. Many people don’t realize just how dangerous professional wrestling actually is. People can get seriously injured and even paralyzed.”
“That’s when I came to the realization that I didn’t want to put my body on the line doing something that wasn’t inspiring me, and I decided to move my career in a different direction.”
Barrett also had less-than-complimentary things to say about how WWE’s creative team handled his character, and how it caused him to lose his motivation.
“I’ve had a lifelong passion, and really obsession, with professional wrestling since I was a very small kid,” said Bennett. “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.”
Unsurprisingly, Barrett thought his “Bad News” character was the high point of his career, and having that taken away was pretty much the final straw.
“‘Bad News’ Barrett was a really fun time,” explained Bennett. “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…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.”
You can read the full interview over at SI.com, where Barrett talks about his burgeoning acting career, and his future.