As previously noted, former WWE Superstar Wade Barrett, also known as Stu Bennett, was a guest on Talk Is Jericho recently. Among other things, Barrett talked about the failed League Of Nations faction in WWE and why it was put together, the dangers of strong babyface booking, whether he had plans for work upon departing WWE in 2016, and WWE dropping his hilarious Bad News gimmick.
On the subject of the League of Nations group, Barrett explained that it was supposed to be a vehicle for Sheamus to build him up for a program with Roman Reigns.
"They were doing something with Sheamus at that point." Barrett recalled, "I think he had the Money In The Bank briefcase and he was pretty cold coming into where he needed to get to the point where he's cashing it in. Time was kind of running out, I think, so I think the theory was, 'let's put steam behind Sheamus by having this legit faction of guys around him who became a more credible threat than he was seen as at the time. Like I said, he wasn't doing too much on the show and he didn't have a ton of steam for a cash in or anything like that, so they put us around him, I think, to help him and build a bit of credibility behind him before he had this feud with Roman. And then, ultimately, to make Roman look like he's conquering these four badasses or whatever it is."
Interestingly, Barrett weighed in on strong babyface booking, mentioning a few situations where the babyface winning in the end did not help the babyface get over because of how weak the villains were made to look during the feuds.
"In terms of the quality of the writing, you've not really much of a threat because you're four guys standing there getting your asses kicked every week and that's exactly what happened." Barrett professed, "I think at one point, we had a four-on-one match with Roman and he ended up going over in the match somehow. And we had the Keystone Cops guys running into each other and stuff where, on paper, 'wow, Roman's going to look like a real ass kicker if he can take on these four guys,' but in reality, it's just so ridiculous. It doesn't help him at all and sometimes that really strong babyface booking can be counterproductive. And I remember I had something very similar a couple of times when I was the Intercontinental Champion. I remember they had Ezekiel Jackson who they wanted to kind of break out and move him up the card and be a big star. But their way of doing that, when they kind of broke up the Corre faction that we were in just to have him just beat the s--t out of me every single week where I got nothing on him up until the point of two months later, he wins the Intercontinental Championship off me, which, for him, nobody cared! It was to the point where I'd have my ass kicked so much that nobody cared in the end that he was the champ because it was like he wasn't even conquering a threat. I had something similar with Dean Ambrose too. I worked a program with him and I felt that he got nothing out of that despite the fact that he was kicking my ass every week. I mean, in the end, he didn't get anything out of it because he wasn't overcoming a threat or anything like that. It was almost obvious from the beginning that he was in such a league higher than me. And I feel that Roman probably didn't get much out of the League Of Nations thing either just because we were booked so weakly that when he does conquer us, it's almost like it's meaningless."
During the conversation, Barrett admitted that he was checked out mentally by the time of the League Of Nations.
"I've blocked a lot of it out. Honestly, I genuinely don't even remember some of it." Barrett added, "honestly, that finalů especially the final six months, I was mentally so checked out then, like, a lot of it just bypassed me. In the past, I was turn up and try to change something in the booking, or make suggestions to make thing better, or 'hey, how can I improve this and make it at least a little something out of it?' By that point, they'd come out and it was my final six months, so I was like, 'I'll do it, no problem. I know what you need me to do and I'm not going to fight this anymore. If this is what you want, this is what you're going to get.' I'd never had less kind of arguments or tongue-lashings or anything like that from anyone in management or anything during that period because I just went with the flow and gave them exactly what they wanted."
According to Barrett, he did not have a plan for his post-WWE life and almost fell into acting. The former Intercontinental Champion mentioned that he considered wrestling in Japan and entertained an offer from Impact Wrestling following his WWE departure.
"It wasn't a masterplan to go do something else. It wasn't like I had some great business I was moving on to. I knew that whatever I was doing, I needed to get away from WWE at least for a while, so that's how it kind of came to a head." Barrett said, "I didn't have any plan when I left. It's just I knew I had to be away from there. And then, when I left, when I had shot the movie in 2014, The Eliminators film, over in the UK, I had kind of gotten to know someone over at Evolutionary Films and when I left WWE, they got in touch with me and sort of suggested a movie that they had, that they had written and thought I'd be perfect for the lead role in it. They sent a script over and that was called Vengeance, so that's how I kind of transitioned from WWE and that. Still when I left WWE, I was like, 'will I go to Japan?' I had some very preliminary chats with people in Japan. TNA got in touch with me and I was like, 'do you know what? I need a break. Whatever I was going to do, I need a little break from wrestling.' And this film stuff came up and I was like, 'do you know what? I had fun doing that kind of stuff in the past. Let's explore this and see where that goes."
Barrett shared that commentating for FCW and his run as Bad News Barrett were the two most fun points in his pro wrestling odyssey. Notably, against Talk Is Jericho rules, Barrett talked about the late great Dusty Rhodes with respect to Barrett's FCW commentary gig and did not do a Dusty impression for the listening audience. With respect to the Bad News Barrett gimmick, the former bareknuckle brawler admitted he was he was just trying to pop his friends back home.
"I loved Bad News Barrett. I'd say in my history of professional wrestling, the two most fun periods of my career, and I think most people expect me to say Nexus, but Nexus was definitely up there in terms of achievements, but I don't ever think it was so much fun because of the pressure and that whole thing. And it felt like my feet didn't touch the floor. But in terms of fun, the most fun I ever had was I did about six months worth of color commentary in FCW, which I loved. And I was working under Dusty Rhodes in my earpiece, and I was working with Byron Saxton, who was the play-by-play guy and my instruction was simply to go out there, help the talent get over, and just have fun. And that's all I did. And Dusty Rhodes was always very complementary and that period of my career was constant fun. And then, Bad News Barrett. I think Bad News Barrett was just having a laugh every single night. And going out there, my aim when I went out there wasn't to entertain the crowd who were in attendance. My aim was to entertain my friends watching back home who I used to go out to the pubs with in England and Wales because I knew if I made them laugh, that level of humor would crossover to everyone else, so I would just go out there and put on this ridiculous routine." Barrett remembered, "I knew it was working when I'd walk around the corridor and the locker rooms and stuff and I just within two or three weeks of debuting that character, I'd hear people doing my catchphrase. And I'd walk passed Triple H and he'd say the catchphrase. Then, Stephanie [McMahon] would say it. And then, Vince [McMahon] would be saying it. I was like, 'okay, this is working, clearly, at this point.' So yeah, it was a lot of fun."
Apparently, the decision to stop doing the gimmick Bad News Barrett gimmick was not his idea, though the seemingly poor decision helped him make his decision to leave the company.
"It's another one of those moments that kind of led me to make the decision to move on because I felt there was a time where I had some momentum there and it wasn't my decision to stop doing that character. It was somebody else's decision. And, first of all, I was Bad News Barrett saying the catchphrase and then, I wasn't allowed to say the catchphrase anymore," Barrett continued, "so I was still Bad News Barrett coming out there with a Bad News Barrett t-shirt, but I wasn't allowed to say the catchphrase anymore, so I was like, 'okay, it doesn't really work if I can't say the catchphrase anymore and people are cheering it and you want me to be a heel, then I'm not really Bad News Barrett. I'm just a guy in a t-shirt that says Bad News Barrett and not giving out the bad news.'"
After killing the popular Bad News Barrett gimmick, the Englishman was made King Of The Ring, a role Barrett considered to be a step down.
"The next thing you know, I was King Of The Ring, which was, 'oh, we're going to drop Bad News Barrett,' which was over for this and this could be a great vehicle now to kind of push me towards that main event as a heel,' right?" Barrett explained, "but within two weeks, I was losing to, I think Sin Cara, I lost to within two weeks of winning the King Of The Ring. And I was losing to R-Truth and I was like, 'this isn't the direction that this should be using.' No disrespect to those two guys, they are both really talented guys, but at that moment in time, neither of them were high enough on the card for me to be kind of use this to be climbing up in any way and certainly not when I'm losing to them. And it was, for me, that was, they trashed something that was over and gave me something that is not going to get over. And even down to Vince insisting that I had to wear the cape and the crown every night, which, for me, may have worked in the 80s, but it didn't work in this era. And I was trying to slowly walk out and forget the crown and I'd be called up to gorilla [position] afterwards and 'Vince wants you to wear the crown every night' and stuff like that. So that was another thing. It was just disappointment. Like, I got myself to a position where we could springboard forward and again it was, 'no, we're going to go in a different direction.' So I guess it got to the point where I felt in my head anyway at that time that it doesn't matter what I'd come up with or what I'd do. I'm destined to be put back down in this position that I'm not enjoy or not wanting to be in, so yeah, disappointment for sure and it just added weight to the idea that I need to move on and do something else."
Check out the show here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho