It was just last month when Wade Barrett made his return to WWE as NXT’s newest commentator. The former five-time Intercontinental champion left NWA to pursue a shot at calling all the hard-hitting action on the black and gold brand. Although most remember him for his in-ring agility, Barrett cemented his squared circle success calling the action that happened before him.
Before NXT was created, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) was the developmental promotion that showcased the future of WWE’s top Superstars. Barrett found himself with an opportunity of a lifetime when Dusty Rhodes approached him with a chance to join him and Byron Saxton at the commentary table. From there, Barrett’s smooth tones resonated all throughout the industry-leading him to higher positions than he was offered before. Barrett discusses how his profound role came to be in his interview on WWE’s The Bump.
“Yes, my initial avenue in the commentary world came in 2008 – 2009 in Florida Championship Wrestling in Tampa… I was wrestling in there with the likes of Sheamus and Drew McIntyre and quite a few others you see on your TV now,” Barrett began. “At one point, Dusty Rhodes, who was the head of the creative team, decided that he liked the way I talked, and the way I presented [myself], so he threw me on the commentary team to see how I did. It was a sink or swim moment for me.
“Fortunately, I think I managed to swim. I was working alongside with Dusty and Byron Saxton. I had a lot of fun doing it, and I got a lot of great reports. But, word came down from WWE management that they loved my commentary, but they wanted me in the ring; they wanted me to continue my in-ring career. I always knew that one day, when I was done in the ring, I wanted to move back to the commentary role. [In] 2008 – 2009, that was the happiest period of my career.”
During his interview, the panel and Barrett watched a few clips of his early beginnings in WWE. In 2010, Barrett won the first-ever season of NXT, which helped him steer towards a long and successful career on the main roster. Barrett attributes his initial win to his time in FCW as a commentator.
“I think a large part of where that confidence came from was literally the fact that I’d spent six months prior to the NXT season being part of the commentary booth, which is very much on the fly,” he replied. “A lot of professional wrestling promos, especially back then, were completely scripted, word for word; it was like a script.
“When NXT came along, it was a lot less scripting and more of thinking on your feet. [My time] on the commentary booth helped prep me to develop my confidence and speaking ability. I think a lot of my confidence came from that [being on commentary at FCW]. I think what made me stand out was my speaking abilities. I think that’s what helped me towards my win on season one.”
Right after he won the first season of NXT, Barrett introduced not only the face of the company, John Cena but others in the back of his new but deadly faction, Nexus. It was a moment that went down in history for not only the havoc they created but for the imagery of what was to come after the rookies made their debuts. Barrett recalls how hectic it was prior to their RAW invasion, as well as how proud he was of his team for breaking down the doors for their future careers.
“What sticks to me most from this night was how far I and the other rookies came,” he proudly stated. “We didn’t get word about the plan [for that night] until later in the day when we had a meeting with Vince McMahon. We thought the worst thing that could happen is that you do something nondescript or something that isn’t exciting. We told ourselves, whatever happens, we’re here to attack John Cena, and we’re closing the show. I think it had a much bigger reaction than any of us could have hoped for.”
During his first run in WWE, we saw Barrett portray many roles – the leader of Nexus, Barrett Barrage, King Barrett and Bad News Barrett. In 2014, during the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony, Barrett made a speech portraying his newly established gimmick as Bad News Barrett. For many, this speech put his character on the map towards becoming a key WWE guy in the business. Barrett couldn’t agree more with that statement.
“Yeah, I’d say that Bad News Barrett moment was the moment where it took off,” he said. “That persona began about a month or two before that point. It was slowly gaining a little traction with the fans, but that night, it took off. That was the promo that solidified that Bad News Barrett was going to become a [key] player in the next few months.”
You can watch Wade Barrett’s full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE’s The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.