Stu Bennett performed in WWE as Wade Barrett, Bad News Barrett, and King Barrett before deciding not to re-sign his contract in 2016. He left to pursue other interests including acting and his new film I Am Vengence recently premiered after two years in post-production. The differences between professional wrestling and fighting on-screen are vastly different. While admitting professional wrestling can be "corny," Bennett further elaborated on his transition from wrestling to acting on Build where he also explained why his 2016 exit from WWE was the right decision for him.
"I think the biggest difficulty from transitioning from professional wrestling to the acting world is generally toning down your performance," Bennett said. "So in the pro wrestling world, everything is massively over the top and every reaction that you do in the ring is kind of corny if we're honest -- it's not supposed to be serious -- it's a comic book world.
"One of the things they used to say when I was beginning in wrestling was that you need to do huge emotions. Every time you react in any way whether you're happy or sad or angry, make it one hundred times bigger than it would be normally because the guy in the very back row in these giant arenas in Row Z or whatever it is, he needs to see that reaction. So you do everything huge and over the top.
"So one of the hardest things really was transitioning into bringing everything a lot further down for the screen roles. When you've got a camera right in front of your face it picks up every little crease in your face and every slight hint of emotion and things like that. So bringing that down was definitely important. For me personally, one of the things I did when I was getting ready for this role [in I am Vengence] is I studied some of the older action stars like Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood because I felt they played their roles very stoically and very reserved vs the kind of action roles you see these days which is a lot more over the top -- which is great -- but I felt for me personally, I had to study guys who had very, very small emotions and that kind of thing."
Bennett was asked by one fan if he could help him get a job in NXT or WWE. He joked about Vince McMahon blocking him after his exit from WWE, but he had some advice for the fan on how to start his journey in professional wrestling. Bennett also took the opportunity to explain how some of the best professional wrestlers on the planet work their entire careers to end up on the bottom level of WWE just to work their way up in Vince McMahon and Company.
"I think when I left WWE, Vince blocked my phone number so he never wants me calling him again," Bennett said. "So I don't think he's going to answer my call, but what I would suggest if you're interested in pro wrestling is doing what I did. Finding yourself a good school -- I take it you're not actually in a wrestling school at the moment? No?
"The best bet is finding a good wrestling school who are gonna teach you the ways of doing it properly and there's a whole kind of production line of wrestlers who are kind of climbing that ladder. Even to get to NXT now -- which is the bottom rung of the WWE ladder -- you have to be really good just to get there.
"They generally don't take guys who can't wrestle. You have to have been out there on the wrestling circuit for a number of years perfecting your skills and have something to offer them. Then they'll say, 'okay you're now one of the best wrestlers in the world. You now come to our bottom rung of the ladder and start working your way up from there.'"
Bennett wasn't happy in WWE during his last run as King Barrett and discussed some of the reasons why he felt stifled with the character. He considered it a sad time because it was the end of a fun career, but Bennett was confident in moving on from WWE to follow his other passions.
"So my last run in WWE I was portrayed as The King Of The Ring," Bennett explained. "I won a tournament called the King Of The Ring tournament and I became The King of wrestling which I was hoping at the time when it initially happened that it was gonna springboard me into bigger and better things in WWE.
"I felt that the direction the character took was a little hokey. I was kind of asked to wear a plastic crown and a ridiculous outfit and stuff like that -- which if you go back to the '80's worked great, there were some great King Of The Rings back then like Haku and Harley Race and all these legends of wrestling and that worked for them. I felt that in 2016 that I was doing that character that I thought it was a little hokey and I wasn't being allowed to have the kind of creative latitude with the character to do what I wanted to do and do the things that I felt an audience would enjoy as The King of wrestling.
"So that was one of the reasons why I kind of soured on my job and my contract came up to an end around April 2016 and I decided not to extend it at that point and move onto new ventures like I Am Vengence. So yeah, it was kind of a sad run for me because it was the end of what had been a lot of fun, but I knew for me it was time to move on."
If you use any portion of the quotes in this article please credit Build with a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription