Stu Bennett was recently on The Chris Van Vliet Show for his 43rd and final interview for promotion for his movie "I am Vengeance: Retaliation". Bennett and Van Vliet reflected on Bad News Barrett starting from the beginnings of the character where Bennett said he was in a good place in his career.
"From the very early days of my wrestling career, I always had the carrot dangled like OK, I'm chasing this, chasing this, climb up a ladder and then slowly making more and more progress," Bennett explained. "I'd say probably around the time of Bad News Barrett I felt OK, I looked great at the time. I got shredded. My catchphrase is over. The fans are reacting to everything that I'm doing.
"My merchandise was selling for the first time in my career apart from Nexus shirts which weren't really mine. I had a shirt that was the number one seller. I actually felt for the first time too that my in-ring work, I was actually happy with it for the first time ever."
Bennett said that the character was going well enough that he felt he deserved a main event spot. However, the character was dropped, and he become King Barrett after winning King of the King.
"At that point, I felt there was no reason not to pull the trigger me, kind of move me up to the next level, have me more main-event level spots and build the show, to a certain degree, around me or my character," Bennett said. "That didn't happen. Bad News Barrett got completely taken away from me, which I thought was a very bad idea at the time, and I was given the role of The King of the King, which I didn't want to do from the word go. I was aware that there was no writing back this up, and I felt very much I'd been booked into a corner of just a dead end. This isn't going to go anywhere."
"It's so hard to get over in the wrestling world that when you do get over, you really want to cash in on it and make this count," Bennett noted. "To have that taken away from me for what I thought was incredibly poor foresight of giving me King of the Ring and then to follow that up with what I felt was very poor writing booking. It was the final straw, I think, after I dedicated so much time and effort into progressing in the wrestling world. To see that was my reward, it was very disappointing. I became disillusioned. At that point, I felt I needed to get out of here."
Bennett said dropping Bad News Barrett was a down point in his career especially because of the outfit he had to wear, which he said was Vince McMahon's idea.
"First of all, I didn't like the outfit, and I was told several times, 'Vince wants you to wear the outfit.' I hated the outfit," Bennett stated. It was something really hokey. It reminded me of something from pantomime. It's a big tongue in cheek. Wrestling is a bit like that, but to be a heel and a bad guy in this outfit, no one's taking it seriously.
"If you wanted someone to do that, give it to Heath Slater. He would have loved that. It would have worked really well for him. That was not my personality. I'm a 6'6", broken nose, big, tattooed heel who's supposed to be nasty, and wearing that outfit from the second I walk out, people were not interested because it just didn't fit."
He said his run as King Barrett had no real direction, and he was mostly used to fill up time on RAW. He said that position was what led to him checking out and eventually deciding not to re-sign with WWE.
"The writing that went with it was also nonexistent," Bennett reflected. "I could tell after six months after I won The King of the Ring tournament, I was used in what I call 'filler.' So you have these TV contracts. OK, we need to do three hours every Monday for WWE RAW. We'll have these highlight moments, the main event, the opening [and] the crossover segments, but then we got to fill an extra hour and a half or two hours of show, and we have to put somebody out there.
"For six months, I was put in these 'filler' spots. We haven't really written anything for this just go out there and wrestle this guy for five minutes, lost and that's it. There's no real story. To be put in that position, you accept it occasionally, but to be put in that position for a consistent period of time especially after you had been quite over with another character, is pretty disheartening."
Van Vliet asked Bennett where the idea for Bad News Barrett came from. He said he came from current AEW Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes who had a running inside joke about watching Bad News Barrett as a kid.
"That started on something called 'The JBL and Cole Show', which was JBL, Michael Cole, Cody and a couple of other people who had been doing this quirky Internet show for a while," Bennett recalled. "Cody, notorious liar in the locker room, and I say that with all respect because he's not mean about it, but he likes to tell bulls--t stories about people.
"One day, I walked into the locker room, and he was telling all the guys in the locker room that when was a kid, he used to watch me wrestling. I was wrestling as a character called 'Bad News Barrett' who would walk into the ring and say, 'hey guys, I got some bad news. The show's cancelled.' That was Cody's running joke."
He said that McMahon was shown the character from the JBL and Cole Show and liked it. Bennett admits that he didn't think the character would work on TV, but he slowly start seeing the fans latch onto the character after each week.
"When they approached me saying, 'do you want to be a part of it? Cody's in it.' I was like, 'yeah, you know what? Make me Bad News Barrett,'" Bennett recalled. "I just come in. Bad news. That became a character for a little while. It turned out Vince was shown this by JBL. He liked the character. He thought it was really funny, and he decided then to put me on the main roster.
"I said immediately this isn't going to work. It works in this quirky world of JBL and Cole Show which is kind of a bit hocus pocus and a bit of pantomime. I don't think this is going to work in the real world, but he said, 'no, just give it a shot. Just do promos,' and I'd say for the first three or four weeks when I was doing the promos, it was a bit flat and fans didn't know what to make of it, but then slowly but surely they became accustomed to the cadence of the speeches and [knew] what was coming. There was also that anticipatory moment when they got to chant along with the catchphrase, get the zinger at the end and I disappear."
Bennett talked about receiving his big push in the ring after entertaining the crowd at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony during WrestleMania 30 weekend. He said McMahon was happy with his performance at the ceremony, and he made his return to the ring as Bad News Barrett picking up a win over Rey Mysterio.
"Hall of Fames, although we are honoring the greats of our industry, they can be torturous to sit through," Bennett admitted. "They are four and half, five hours long, and the guys telling the stories on stage, they're not the best promo people. They're wittering on, and there's a lot of down time. Vince decided the show needed a bit of life injected into it, and he sent me out to do a Bad News Barrett promo towards the end when everyone was kind of getting ready to go home. They sent me out, and I did this promo.
"For the first time ever, the entire arena, who were watching, chanted, 'I'm afraid I've got some bad news.' That was the moment. OK, this is getting over. It was the best reaction I'd had up until that point. I walked to the back, and Vince is high-fiving me. He was really happy it kind of energized the crowd. I think two days after that, he put me back in the ring, and I re-debuted as Bad News Barrett as an in-ring guy not just a promo guy. They had me beat Rey Mysterio, which anytime you get to beat Rey Mysterio on TV, it's a huge moment for anyone's career."
Bennett reflected on how easy it was for him during that time because of the fan reactions he would get. He called it one of the highlights of his career.
"That kind of kicked me off in the right direction, and then it was easy after that," Bennett remarked. "Every time I went out, fans were reacting, and I was getting babyface pops for the first time in my career. Ultimately, it was a cool time. Definitely, one of he highlights of my career."
Bennett also said he pitched ideas to be added to the character including the gavel. He also said he talked to McMahon about a lifting stage similar to the way The Brood would rise up during their entrance.
"Anytime you get to add something character wise or persona wise, the accent helps, the growl or the laughter, I realized it very quickly," Bennett stated. "I'd say, coming into the back, 'Vince, I need to add something to this. Can I add a gavel?' I love gavels. They're really annoying.
"It'll piss people off, and then one day, I went to the back, I think it needs one more thing. I said, 'do you remember the old Brood entrance where they'd come through a ring of fire and they'd rise up in the middle of the stage?' He's like, 'ah, yeah. I've got just the idea.' Then a week later, he's expecting me to rise six feet in the air, and he's got this giant scissor lift. I'm not 50 feet in the air swaying all over the place. Naturally, as Vince does, he made it even bigger. When I got that, I knew OK, this cannot fail. This is ridiculous. This is just gonna work."
Van Vliet asked Bennett if Bad News Barrett was the most over he had ever gotten. Bennett says that as a singles wrestler it was, but it could never top the reactions The Nexus received.
"I'd say the most over I ever got was Nexus. There's no doubt about it," Bennett admits. "It was just a crazy period especially for a guy like me and the rest of The Nexus guys. We literally went from being unknowns to being the main bad guys in professional wrestling for about six months. The reaction that we were getting everywhere, it was genuine hatred, fear and excitement. It's very hard to capture something like that.
"I'd say that's the most over I had ever been, but as an individual, definitely Bad News Barrett. That's completely not having the benefit of feuding with John Cena or the benefit of having this gang guys with me or having this amazing, impactful entrance where we completely ripped the ring apart. For a guy who was just kind of organically getting over by just doing a promo, that's definitely the most over I ever got."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit The Chris Van Vliet Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.