After a decade with WWE, Wade Barrett made a risky but calculated move by walking away in 2016. He wanted to focus on his acting career and as long as he was with WWE, that had to take a back seat.
"I was miserable for a long time for the last few years I was in WWE," Barrett admitted. "I have no beef or hate for them, but it was just how I was feeling at the time. Once upon a time if you go back to the early 2000s all the way to 2014 all I cared about in life was being a wrestler, going on the road, performing in front of crowds, getting big, climbing the ladder. But then at some point around 2015 it took a giant U-turn and thought to myself, 'wait a minute? What am I doing here? This isn't the direction that I want.'"
Barrett says he was offered a new three-year deal by WWE that would have set him up financially, but he also knew that with that contract came certain limitations for his other interests, namely acting.
"While I was working for the WWE in 2013 and 2014, TV deals had come to me, movie deals had come to me, sponsorship deals had come to me and they were all turned down by WWE because they would involve me being taken away from their shows," Barrett said. "Their steam train is running all over the world and I would have to step out of that steam train and go film for four weeks, or go shoot a film for two weeks or even two days to go film a series of commercials or something like that. But they couldn't afford to take me away from that time so I knew that if I wanted to go and do something else, the only way for me to do that is to first step away from WWE and figure out how I make contacts and how do I start speaking to people in the film world and finding agents and that sort of thing. So one had to come first, and that was to come first to get the curtain off of WWE."
Bennett said he was spending 275 nights a year on the road with WWE which affects you physically and mentally. Even on his off days he had WWE obligations such as promotional shoots and making appearances and he mentioned that being another factor in him stepping away.
"It is a grind," Bennett said about life on the road in WWE. "It is a grind lifestyle and it never ends until you get hurt and then you sit home rehabbing for three months or whatever it is until you get back straight on that train grinding again, which is how you make your money in the pro wrestling world."
Since stepping away from WWE, Barrett has appeared as a commentator for various indie promotions such as Defiant Wrestling and World of Sport Wrestling. He has yet to return to the ring in a wrestling capacity since his final WWE match in April 2016.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.