Wade Barrett has shown no real signs of life since late 2010, but things finally took a right turn when he was recently announced as a participant in the upcoming “Future Players” Money in the Bank ladder match.
That's the best thing to happen to Barrett since his days with The Nexus, when he was involved in one of the WWE’s biggest angles and was almost instantly pushed as a top star.
Barrett is probably breathing a sigh of relief that he’s finally getting a chance to get back to the top of the card. Unfortunately for Barrett, he’s got a lot more work to do before he can rise up in the WWE.
As has been the case with a number of talented superstars—including everyone from Drew McIntyre to Alex Riley—Barrett went from someone who was deemed a “future world champion” to a total afterthought in the WWE.
Barrett’s fall from grace between 2011 and 2013 wasn’t as bad as McIntyre’s or Riley’s has been, but for someone who came awfully close to a WWE title reign in 2010, the former bareknuckle brawler has been booked absolutely terribly over the last two-plus years.
It all started with a surprising (and stupid) shift to SmackDown in January 2011, when Barrett went from main eventing on Raw to being a member of one of the worst stables in wrestling history, The Corre.
The Corre completely killed any momentum Barrett had brought with him to SmackDown, and even an Intercontinental Championship run couldn’t help him regain it. Oddly enough, that same intercontinental title has plagued Barrett for nearly a year now.
After missing roughly six months of 2012, Barrett returned to what looked like it would be a major push in September of that year. Instead, Barrett remained in the same midcard spot he’d spent most of 2011 in, and he quickly won the Intercontinental Championship for the second time.
What would have been a step in the right direction for many Superstars, however, ultimately has set Barrett back in a major way.
Ever since Barrett won the IC title (and dropped it for one night before winning it again), he has turned into one of the most poorly booked characters on TV. Instead of being pushed strongly as the intercontinental champion, he became a total joke.
Evolving into a jobber to the stars, Barrett lost, lost again and then lost some more. He lost to everyone from Randy Orton to The Miz to Kofi Kingston, and he lost so much that hardly anyone expects him to do otherwise.
In 2013, Barrett has lost what seems like 90 percent of his matches, and the results are exactly what you would expect: He generates hardly any reaction from the crowd, and he’s no longer talked about as a “future world champion” like he once was.
Although Barrett’s placement in the upcoming Money in the Bank ladder match is much better than being left off the PPV altogether, it’s only the first step in the very long process of rising back up the card.
Because Barrett has been booked so poorly for so long now (he hasn’t done a whole lot since 2010, but 2013 has been particularly bad for him), the WWE is not just starting from scratch with him. The company has to erase all the damage it has done to his character as well.
Barrett is not viewed as a credible midcarder anymore, much less a formidable world title contender. He hasn’t won a match that matters in more than a year. He hasn’t cut a memorable promo since his days with The Nexus. He hasn’t had an entertaining feud since his one with Randy Orton in late 2011.
Now, it’s up to the WWE to make fans forget about all of that, which is certainly easier said than done.
The creative team can’t just give Barrett some squash wins, put another midcard title on him and expect him to become a main eventer again. No, creative has to carefully book Barrett in a way that makes him seem like a legitimate top-tier Superstar again.
The formula isn’t all that difficult: Give Barrett quality mic time, put him in major matches and give him feuds that matter. The execution of that formula, however, is far from a given.
While Barrett has the tools to succeed in the WWE, a number of circumstances have prevented him from a world title win.
Now, it’s back to the drawing board for Barrett, who needs to perform even better than he has been in order to negate what has amounted to atrocious booking of his character.
Barrett can’t expect the creative team to help him anymore, but if he delivers the goods like he consistently does, he can only hope creative notices.
If and when it does, that’s when Barrett’s work will take him to the top—but that's also when the hardest part of his journey will really begin.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!