10 Moments That Solidified Wade Barrett's WWE Career

A staple member of the upper-midcard during the 2010s, Wade Barrett is not considered a legend-level superstar of his era, but his continued success inside and outside of the ring is impressive. Quickly thrust into a key position on the roster, Barrett was an effective foil for many of the biggest stars of his period. Throughout his career, Barrett had several pay-per-view main events and world championship opportunities. Although Barrett was never able to secure the world title, he had a successful career that is worthy of a proper exmaination.

Barrett's heel character was helpful in putting over many baby-faces during his time in the ring. His ability to get reactions from the crowd was clearly impressive, best shown during the Bad News Barrett portion of his career. Billed as a bare-knuckle battler from Manchester, England, Barrett was always a tough opponent and solid hand in the ring. Barrett's six-year long career as a in-ring competitor for the WWE did not last as long as others of his generation, but with his impact as a talented and multi-time midcard championship wrestler and know as a full-time commentator, Barrett has solidified himself as an important member of WWE history. 

Barrett Wins NXT Season 1

Before "NXT" became the black and gold third brand of WWE, it had a competition show format. WWE hopefuls were mentored by current roster members with the hope of earning their way into the WWE with a guaranteed contract. The first season of this version of "NXT" featured Wade Barrett hoping to become the newest member of the WWE roster. Besides Barrett, the initial season featured David Otunga, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Darren Young, Skip Sheffield, Michael Tarver, and Daniel Bryan. This group had mixed results in their wrestling futures, but the duo of Barrett and Bryan alone made this an impressive class of talent. 

To win of this version of NXT, contestants showcased their wrestling and promo abilities in front of established superstars. Mentored by the legendary Chris Jericho, Barrett showed a strong heel personality and good in-ring skills on the way to winning the first season of the show, defeating David Otunga in the finals. Having Jericho as a mentor was a positive for Barrett, as both men were international competitors that thrived in the heel role. In his victory speech, Barrett promised that his arrival would be "bad news" for the rest of the WWE roster, an interesting foreshadowing of Barrett's future catchphrase. This victory provided Barrett with a his coveted WWE contract, as well as a future chance at the WWE Championship.

Barrett Debuts On Raw As Leader of NEXUS

One of the most memorable surprise attacks and group debuts in WWE history was led by Barrett. In their first appearance on the June 7, 2010 episode of "Monday Night Raw," the group known as the Nexus were utterly destructive, tearing apart the ringside area and the ring itself. The group was comprised of the competitors of "NXT" Season 1, which Barrett won, granting him the leadership role. The Nexus wreaked havoc on the "Raw" roster for months, notably targeting John Cena. The group also made several attacks on WWE mainstays such as John Morrison, R-Truth, Chris Jericho, Edge, and General Manager Bret Hart, leading to a seven on seven elimination match at SummerSlam 2010 that served as the first official match for Barrett and his group. 

The malicious group took out Cena and everything and everyone in their path, and quickly established Barrett as a top bad guy in the company. Barrett's leadership style was ruthless, as he would frequently excommunicate members of the group if they displeased him. In an interview with Ryan Satin for his "Out of Character" podcast, Barrett said that the Nexus' poor win-loss record is one of the "biggest crimes in WWE history." Barrett was slightly joking in this statement, but did say that he extremely proud of his time with the group, and that it was a excellent launching pad for the rest of his WWE run.

His First WWE Championship Opportunity At Night of Champions 2010

Just months in his "Raw" run, Wade Barrett was immediately thrust into the title picture. Barrett earned a championship opportunity by winning the initial season of "NXT," and was quickly faced with an almost impossible task. At Night of Champions, Barrett was inserted into a veritable murder's row of champions and legends as a participant in a six-pack elimination match, all of who had a certain level of animosity towards the leader of Nexus. Barrett would have to defeat John Cena, Edge, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and the champion Sheamus in order to become WWE Champion — a tall task for anyone, let alone a rookie.

Barrett was the least experienced member of the six-way, but more than looked like he belonged in the ring among the greats. Used to having the numbers advantage, Barrett was forced to fight from behind for much of the contest, as his bitter opponents refused to align themselves with Barrett even momentarily. Barrett was tossed out of the ring several times, but continued to battle and reinsert himself. Late in the match, and with the help of his Nexus teammates, Barrett was able to eliminate John Cena with his Wasteland finisher. Ultimately, though, Orton was a house of fire in this match, eliminating Jericho, Barrett, and Sheamus with a trio of crowd-popping RKOs on way to winning his seventh world title.

Barrett Defeats John Cena At Hell in a Cell 2010

One of the longest running story-lines of 2010 came to a head in this match at Hell in a Cell. The stipulation: if Wade Barrett wins, John Cena must join Nexus, and if John Cena win, Nexus must disband forever. Barrett's charges were not allowed to put their hands on Cena during the match, but the group did make their presence known at ringside. Even without assistance, Barrett was able to control the match early, attempting frequent pins. After Nexus began to move in on Cena, the entirety of the WWE locker room, led by Big Show, evened the playing field by tossing the NEXUS members into the crowd. Both men were able to hit each other with their respective finishers, but it was not enough for a win. Barrett was able to get the win with some help from an unidentified duo of "fans," later identified as the newest NEXUS members Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris.

With Barrett's victory, Cena was forced to join the group that had tormented him for so long. Cena is famous for never turning heel, but was an official member of one of the most notorious heel groups of all-time. The match was undoubtedly one of the biggest of Barrett's career, and he performed admirably. Defeating a legend like Cena in a one-on-one match is a rare accomplishment, and one Barrett achieved quite early in his career.

Barrett Defeats Daniel Bryan At SummerSlam 2011

Two original members of Nexus, though Bryan was forced to leave the group extremely early on, clashed in this solid SummerSlam contest. A rising megastar, Bryan was clearly the crowd favorite in this match, especially after winning the Money In The Bank briefcase over Barrett months before this clash. There was plenty of history between the two men coming into the match, and it showed in the exciting bell to bell action.

Bryan was in prime form in this contest, working over Barrett with a prime selection of submission holds, and at the same time selling Barrett's power moves. After tying Bryan up in the ropes, Barrett delivered a massive boot to the head that sent Bryan crashing to the floor. Well versed in kicks in his own right, Bryan unleashed some truly devastating shots to Barrett's body and head. After the hard-hitting back and forth action, it was unclear who would come out the victor. Barrett was eventually able to secure the victory with his Wasteland slam, capitalizing on a Bryan mistake. This match was a nice showcase for two rising stars of the time, and proof positive of Barrett's talent.

Being The Sole Survivor in Team Barrett Versus Team Orton Match At Survivor Series 2011

Being the last person standing after a Survivor Series is an impressive distinction, and one that Barrett was able to achieve in this Survivor Series match. The captain of his Survivor Series squad, Barrett's team included Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Hunico, and Jack Swagger, while Randy Orton led the coalition of Kofi Kingston, Mason Ryan, Sin Cara, and Sheamus. Orton and Barrett were frequent rivals during their careers battling in this match and many others. This match was one of Barrett's first after the dissolution of Nexus, as well as a long hiatus due to injury, marking the confidence that WWE had as Barrett as a singles star.

This traditional Survivor Series match started with the unfortunate injury to Sin Cara, who hyper-extended his knee while attempting a dive to the outside. Team Barrett was dominant throughout the match, utilizing superior teamwork. Captain Orton was thrust into the hero role, facing a three-on-one situation. Orton was able to take out Hunico with an gorgeous leaping RKO, leaving Orton's former protegee Rhodes and Barrett. In the end, Barrett and Cody Rhodes were the co-Sole Survivors, finally pinning the Viper after a Barrett Barrage. Rhodes and Barrett were in similar positions at this time, young talented heels that seemed to have everything in front of them. Both were not quite able to reach the heights they may have hoped to in their initial WWE runs, but both returned to the company at similar time periods to find different levels of prominence.

Bad News Barrett Wins Fourth Intercontinental Championship At Extreme Rules 2014

The Intercontinental Championship is one of the most prestigious prizes in all of wrestling, and Barrett's five reigns puts him in rarefied air. By winning the Intercontinental Championship five times, Barrett tied Edge, Jeff Hardy, and Triple H for fourth-most reigns in WWE history. Barrett's consistency and high placement on the card is a impressive feather in his cap, and worth celebrating. Even more impressive is that Barrett was able to win five titles in six years, a near year per title ratio that is historically better than most. 

Barrett's fourth of five total reigns as Intercontinental Champion came as a result of a victory over Big E at Extreme Rules 2014. The two competitors relied upon their strength in this match, performing several impressive power moves throughout. Big E had a early advantage by hitting a spear that sent both men crashing to the floor. The big men worked a quick sprint, which included Barrett hitting Wasteland that was only good enough for a two count. Barrett was forced to go up to the top rope, where he was able to connect with a flying elbow for the championship win. 

This was the start of something bigger for both men: Big E and Barrett had many battles ranging from 2014 to 2016, as both looked to establish themselves at the top of the midcard. The final feud of Barrett's career was against Big E and the New Day, as Barrett aligned himself with Sheamus to take on the beloved New Day trio. 

WrestleMania 31 Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match

Remembered fondly as one of the best WrestleMania opening matches and ladder matches in recent WWE history, this match is one of the most fondly remembered of Barrett's career. Coming into the match as the defending champion, Bad News Barrett had a tough test against a fierce series of challengers that included: Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Luke Harper, Stardust, and the eventual winner Daniel Bryan. This prestigious and unpredictable group were formidable challengers for Barrett at the time, and many in the group have achieved even greater heights. While several of the rest of these  competitors were able to go onto multiple world championships, Barrett was never able to ascend higher than the Intercontinental belt. This is likely due to the stars that were above him at the time, and the relatively short run Barrett had as a WWE superstar, lasting only six years total.

This WrestleMania opener is a true highlight of modern ladder matches, full of dangerously thrilling spills and memorable moments. The high spots to start the match are as incredible, and R-Truth's fear of heights in a ladder match is hilarious. Barrett was on the receiving end of several of the most high impact maneuvers, including a super-plex that he delivered off the ladder to Stardust. After delivering three Bull Hammers it looked as if Barrett would recapture his belt, but a knee strike from Bryan took the champ out of the match. After defeating Ziggler in a vicious headbutt battle, Bryan was able to secure the Intercontinental belt for the first time in his career. The loss marked the end of Barrett's fifth and final reign as Intercontinental Champion.

Winning King of the Ring and Being Named King Barrett

The 20th overall WWE King of the Ring, Barrett joined prestigious company such as Randy Savage, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and Booker T as winners of the tournament. Barrett's British heritage and smug attitude made him a strong choice for King of the Ring, and the crowned character fit him well. Barrett was able to secure the royal title after defeating Neville in a United Kingdom showdown. Barrett utilized his Bullhammer elbow strike to defeat the young upstart Neville. The Bullhammer was a devastating and effective finisher for Barrett during the late stages of his career, and a powerful move he utilized well. 

During his reign as King, Barrett ruled with an iron fist and carried a gorgeous royal scepter. Barrett demanded respect and attempted to enforce his ideals, a common set of characteristics for heel Kings of the era. The King Barrett character was the final iteration of Wade Barrett's WWE career. In one of his final matches, King Barrett teamed with Stardust to take on Neville and actor and wrestling super-fan Stephen Amell at SummerSlam 2015. King Barrett also headlined the unique The Beast In The East event alongside his partner Kane against John Cena and Dolph Ziggler.

Getting Hired On Commentary Team for NXT and Smackdown

After parting ways with WWE in 2016, Barrett returned as a commentator for the "NXT" brand in 2020. Paired with Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix before her departure from the desk, Barrett shined the heel color commentary role. Barrett and Phoenix had excellent chemistry as opposing commentators. The villainous-leaning Barrett was effective at making the bad guy seem even more dominant while beating down the crowd favorites, but was not over the top or annoying. Barrett's experience in the ring added to his credibility and knowledge. Talented wrestlers like Mandy Rose, LA Knight, and Santos Escobar were elevated by Barrett's praise on "NXT."

Barrett's experience in the ring and good sense of humor translated to success during his time at the "NXT" desk, leading to Barrett being promoted to the big show. Alongside long-time pro Michael Cole, Barrett was named the color commentator for "SmackDown," temporarily replacing fan-favorite Pat McAfee. Barrett's dry wit and authoritative tone is an excellent foil to Cole's play-by-play role. 

Barrett responded with a "hell no" when asked by Ryan Satin if he would ever return to the ring, but anything is possible in wrestling. Even if Barrett never steps foot in the ring again, he has solidified himself a memorable wrestler in his past, and a crucial member of the overall WWE production heading into the future.