Wade Barrett and his Barrage are back with a vengeance, there is no doubting that.
For weeks now, the WWE Universe has seen the brawling Brit dominate opponent after opponent in convincing fashion.
His future looks very bright.
The problem is that he’s doing it with another wrestler’s gimmick. And worse yet, that individual is under contract with the company.
For years now, Chris Spradlin, known to FCW and NXT audiences as Kassius Ohno, has been using the angle of the knockout artist. And unfortunately for Barrett, Ohno does it better.
With a long history on the independent wrestling scene, where he mainly competed as Chris Hero, Spradlin has long been known to wrestling fans as a hard worker and to opponents as a man that will leave you flat on your back.
On top of that, his work on the microphone is generally incredible and leaves fans thinking that what he says he will do will absolutely happen.
The knock on Ohno is his physique. Spradlin used to be be somewhat out of shape, and worked incredibly hard to cut weight and get into top condition for the ring. Now though, he is fairly thin, with little tone to his overall look.
Of course that doesn’t change the fact that after a match with him, most men are knocked silly.
But the company is well known for liking big guys with great physiques, so this may be a large obstacle in his way.
However, the path may have also been derailed by a Wellness Policy violation during his initial signing with the company in mid-2011.
As the tag team partner of Claudio Castagnoli, known to WWE audiences as United States Champion Antonio Cesaro, Spradlin seemed to be in a great position to come into the company immediately and make an impact. However, his signing was allegedly delayed when his naturally elevated testosterone level caused him to fail a drug test for steroids.
He was finally signed in February of this year, and debuted in FCW shortly afterward, notching knockout after knockout.
His hard work was rewarded with the company taking a very similar gimmick and putting it on Barrett.
Yes, Barrett was in fact a bareknuckle boxer back in Britain, and a legitimate tough guy.
Yes, Barrett has the exact look that the company desires.
Yes, Barrett was a huge draw as the leader of the Nexus and the Corre, and deserves to have a great gimmick.
But by taking such a similar path with him as they were taking with Spradlin, the company runs the risk of corrupting a good thing that they had going on the developmental level and ruining the rise of an up and coming superstar.
Even the two superstar's signature moves are similar. Barrett’s “Souvenir” involves twisting an opponent around and hitting them in the head with a forearm/elbow. Spradlin’s finisher involves spinning around and hitting his opponent in the head with a vicious elbow.
Very close indeed.
Overall, this does nothing to cheapen Barrett’s character or his push. It does however, stifle the rise of a talented young competitor, one with great potential but pretty bad luck.