Former WWE Superstar Wade Barrett recently caught up with pro wrestling legend Chris Jericho on Talk Is Jericho. Among many other things, Barrett talked about his decision to leave WWE, his final day with the company, and the various issues he had with WWE creative, talent relations, and management.
On the subject of leaving WWE in 2016, Barrett, also known as Stu Bennett, shared that he was burned out being on the road and he was frustrated with creative. Additionally, Barrett divulged that he had issues with people in WWE management.
“I was kind of burnt out on the road as [Jericho] said. I mean, when you start on the road, everything’s new and everything’s fresh. You don’t care that you’re not home 275 nights a year, and you’re constantly exhausted, and beat up, and even if you’ve got bad booking or something like that, it’s all fine because you’re living this amazing experience. After I had been up there for several years, I kind of got to the point where even the little things were irritating me, and the travel was really killing me, and I’d get to the arena, and it seemed that every RAW and every SmackDown, every Monday and Tuesday, I’d get to the arena and be so disappointed when the script for the show came out. And every week, there would just be something where I’m like, ‘man, I don’t want to do this.’ And I’d kind of plead my case with the people in the creative or in management about doing something different or tweaking it this way, ‘hey, how about moving the story this way?’ and just whatever I was doing, I was just banging my head against a brick wall. And it got to the point where it felt like Groundhog Day. And my contract was running up and I’d signed a pretty long contract after the Nexus deal and stuff like that. They got me on a pretty long contract and that was just coming to a head. So they had approached me a couple of times about re-signing, and extending, and coming up with a new deal, and stuff like that. And it hadn’t even got to the point of negotiating with them. I just explained to them, ‘look, I need to get out. This is just killing me and I need to go do something else for a while and get away from pro wrestling,’ which is essentially what I did.” Barrett added, “and there [were] other things. It wasn’t just in terms of the creative I wasn’t happy with. There was some stuff behind-the-scenes. I had fallen out with a couple of people kind of in the talent relations and management department. I’m not going to get into specifically what that was about, but it was, ‘okay, this is all coming together now to show that, with my contract coming up, I should just get away.’ And that’s really how it kind of all shook out.”
Upon debuting for WWE as the leader of The Nexus and for some time after, Barrett felt like he was figured into WWE’s plans, but later realized he was merely in a “holding pattern”.
“I felt a lot of times, especially when around the Nexus times, and for the next couple of years, I always felt like I was there or thereabouts as a guy they wanted to do something with, but I always felt like I was in an unfortunate position of where there are limited spots to be in those top roles.” Barrett explained, “you’ve got your regular guys who are always going to be there. You’ve got your John Cena, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and guys like that who are always filling up a lot of those top spots. And then, you have the younger guys coming through. We had Sheamus who they were really pushing hard at that point, [Alberto] Del Rio who had come in as a heel, [The] Miz, and these were the guys that, ‘okay, if those guys or one of those guys weren’t there, then perhaps I would be the guy that they could slot up there.’ But the fact that they were going with guys like Del Rio and Miz in the top heel spots at that point, it really left no place for me to go, so I thought that, like, at that point, I was one of the next in line, certainly, and they were keeping me on the back burner with Intercontinental titles and things like that, but when that didn’t pan out or the guys they were going with were working out so well, I was kind of in this holding pattern for a long time, which felt like it was up until 2014, I would say, in that kind of holding pattern.”
In 2015, Barrett slide further down the card and was being used in what he described as ‘filler segments’ on WWE TV, which he found to be ‘frustrating’.
“I felt like not only and despite working harder in attempting to improve my promo, improve my character, improve my physique, whatever I could do to try to get up a little higher, it felt like not only was I not getting any higher, I was actually going backwards in terms of my position on the card to a point where for a large period of 2015 and 2016, I was really used as what I felt was an enhancement guy.” Barrett continued, “I’d be sent out in almost the meaningless segments, like the filler segments in the show like segment nine and segment four, where, if people understand how TV stuff works, it’s the crossover segments are the most important ones, the opening and closing, stuff like that. So I thought that I was being shoved out in those segments to go out and lose in two or three minutes with no storyline, or no buildup, or stuff like that. So that felt in terms of my position on the hierarchy that I dropped lower than ever and that was certainly one of the things that I was frustrated with.”
According to Barrett, he knew it was time for him to leave WWE because the former Intercontinental Champion could not fathom signing a new three-year deal with the company.
“I’d already got to the point where I knew I was moving on and the thought of signing the new three-year deal that they had for me at that point, when I felt that way, nothing good would come out of it.” Barrett professed, “A) I was miserable being around wrestling, and being on the road, and stuff like that. And B) for me to not even have the fight in me to not even try to make the improvements I could try to make or try to make suggestions, that told me look, ‘if I did re-sign here and take whatever money they’re offering me, financially, it might make sense, but in terms of what I’m going to be putting out of it, it’s going to be bad and things are not going to improve around there at all,’ so that for me was like, ‘yeah, whatever happens to me, I have to leave and reground. And we’ll see where the future takes me.”
Apparently, on Barrett’s last day with WWE, he got into a heated argument with talent relations and stormed off, only to be cut off by Jericho in the arena’s parking area.
“I went into the building that day and I knew I was kind of tying up loose ends at this point and there was this one big issue that I’d kind of been banging heads with talent relations about for a long time and it kind of came to a head there that day. So we get there at 2 o’clock or whatever it is, and around about three or four o’clock I’m having this big kind of blow up with talent relations there, which looking back it was all really silly, but we have this blow up, I get really angry, they get really angry. I’m not on the show anyway, so at that point, I’m like, ‘do you know what? I’m just going to grab my bags and go home. I’m done.’ So this is me basically leaving WWE, so it was obviously a really stressful moment. I was angry, I was mad, this, that, and the other. I grabbed my bags, I went straight to my car, slammed my bags in the car, started the engine up, and started driving up the ramp, and in my head, I’m still angry about the blowup we’d just had. All I’m thinking about is, ‘wow, that’s me done with WWE! I’m finished! That’s it! Here today.’ And it was pretty crazy considering I spent the majority of my life thinking about working there, and how great it was, and stuff. So as I’m heading up the ramp, all I see is the top of the tunnel to the outside and I’m thinking, ‘as soon as I’m over there, that’s freedom!’ And there [are] a bunch of fans there and stuff. So I get to the top of the ramp and just as I’m about to burst out into freedom, and light, and this whole new world that might be ahead of me, a car pulls across in front of me and stops me in my tracks. I’m like, ‘who the f–k is this?’ I look up and it’s [Jericho] and [Jericho is] turning up at the building at four [o’clock]. And I’ve got a face like thunder and I look at [Jericho], we lock eyes [Jericho] flip[s] me the bird, and [Jericho] kept driving down the tunnel.” Barrett recalled, “that was my big goodbye to the WWE, getting flipped off by the guy who brought me in storyline-wise and sent me off into the sunset. Looking back that actually makes me laugh.”
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Source: Talk Is Jericho