After four years on WWE's main roster, it's looking like Wade Barrett may finally be coming into his own with the Bad News Barrett gimmick.
While it initially looked like a fun comedic diversion, the new persona has allowed him to stand out from the pack and has put him over with live crowds more than I can ever remember.
Last night on Raw, the Baltimore crowd, while much louder than the fans in Alabama the week before, were still fairly subdued for most of the night. However, Barrett's opening match against Sheamus in the Intercontinental Championship Contender tournament had the most sustained heat of anything on the show.
Barrett and Sheamus were regular opponents when they were both working independent shows in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and they put together a really good match.
The finish stuck out to me, though. Barrett was on the floor by the apron, Sheamus charged to jump out of the ring, then Barrett knocked him out with the Bull Hammer elbow from the floor, allowing him to get the pin. The finish went over great and quickly established the Bull Hammer as the premiere "out of nowhere" finisher in WWE.
History has shown that if you can get a finisher over, you can get it even more over if you can hit it from anywhere: Jake Roberts with the DDT, Steve Austin with the Stone Cold Stunner, Randy Orton with the RKO, Daniel Bryan with the flying knee, and so on.
However, none of those guys could finish you off while he's on the floor and you're in the ring. The possibilities are endless.
While Barrett's finish could get him over as a babyface, his promos may be a little too comedic for a bigger push right now. WWE needs strong heels to face Daniel Bryan, and they don't have enough.
Randy Orton is just not a pay-per-view/special event-worthy opponent for him right now, as their feud badly burned out last Fall. If he gets his rematch anytime soon, it should be on Raw with a week-long build. Batista is already about to leave. Triple H isn't a full-time wrestler. Sheamus will probably turn but hasn't yet. Kane has to be one-and-done. Cesaro is clearly being brought along slowly.
What I'd like to see happen is Barrett beating Rob Van Dam to become No. 1 Contender to the Intercontinental Championship, winning the title from Big E and then challenging Daniel Bryan for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at Payback in Chicago with strong support on the undercard.
Yes, he'd have to lose the eventual title match, but I think he can gain a lot more in losing a great, major match in style than he would beating most potential Intercontinental title challengers. A Chicago crowd at a major event would be the perfect audience for that match, too, as fans would get more into it than in most cities and make Barrett look like a huge star.
WWE needs to pull the trigger on Barrett sooner rather than later. He was used in main event-level feuds as the leader of The Nexus but wasn't quite ready, and it didn't click. When his Nexus splinter group evolved into The Corre, it was even worse: The Nexus without a push. The Barrett Barrage wasn't much better.
It started as a throwaway joke on The JBL and Cole Show, but Bad News Barrett has connected better than his past personae. It's time to capitalize on that opportunity.