Bad News Barrett is currently riding a wave of popularity unlike anything he has experienced in his WWE career. The man who once led The Nexus against the company is now leading the charge of popular heels fans have been supporting as of late.
And while there is no doubt that Wade Barrett is looking better and getting over more than ever before, the fact is that he needs a great opponent to spotlight his ability. And he needs a great feud to continue his rise in WWE.
From the very beginning, many fans believed Barrett was a future top guy. Physically, he looked the part; he was tall, dark and devious. He had arrogance and a cold confidence that set him apart, but he was also reminiscent of the old-school pro wrestling heels.
Barrett had the annoying ego of Rick Martel and the cold precision of Arn Anderson. He had the right character, the right approach and the right timing. WWE needed some new blood, and Barrett was an early standout among the NXT rookies.
So when he was placed at the head of the villainous Nexus faction back in 2010, the move was a very logical one for many fans. His sinister persona was the perfect fit for them, and he was instantly hailed as the next big thing. Barrett was almost certainly on his way up, and the work WWE did putting over The Nexus reinforced that notion.
The Nexus absolutely terrorized WWE. From John Cena to Chris Jericho to even WWE Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat, Barrett's group was heartless. They did what they wanted, and they would stop at nothing until they had free reign of the company.
But nothing lasts forever.
When Barrett's time with The Nexus ended in late 2010, so did any talk of him possibly climbing up the ladder in WWE. He went from being a surefire prospect to being a never-was Superstar. For many of the WWE faithful, there was no reason to pay attention to Barrett anymore.
However, when he began making a career for himself outside of any faction, Barrett was once again viewed as someone with real potential.
Barrett spent the next two years in singles competition, where he established himself as a solid midcard talent. His feud with Randy Orton was seemingly another step in proving his worth and his ability to rise to the occasion in the company.
But even with good showings against Orton and a tweaking of his gimmick, Barrett could not seem to get anywhere. Whether the blame fell on him or the WWE is beside the point. Despite any finger-pointing that could be done, Barrett's character was a bit bland at times and blended into the crowd.
What a difference one catchphrase can make.
In December of 2013, Wade Barrett became Bad News Barrett. The new gimmick was a different take on his original character but with a lot more lightheartedness. Instead of being devilishly cunning and aggressively ruthless, Barrett appeared to just be having fun.
The phrase "I'm afraid I've got some bad news" got over with fans who apparently just wanted a reason to cheer for a heel. Barrett delivered the line with a wicked smile and an infectious enthusiasm, causing fans to believe that he believed. What may have been considered a joke or a weak attempt to get over became entertaining for the live crowds.
Suddenly, fans began chanting the catchphrase with him. Wade had arguably never looked more comfortable or more confident in his character, and he finally seemed to be relaxed and in the moment.
Thus far, the move has been a good one for his career. It has brought him the WWE Intercontinental Championship and a renewed spotlight on TV. But even with the new run, the truth is that Bad News Barrett also needs a great rivalry.
Having a successful gimmick, a way to connect with the fans, is the first part, and Barrett has that. Now, he needs a great protagonist to counter him, a Superstar to challenge him on the mic and in the ring. Guys only improve by facing as many different kinds of workers as possible, and Wade needs to feud with someone who can not only match him but also push him to his limits.
Sheamus is a great example. He and Barrett definitely have a history together, and they do have chemistry in the ring. But Sheamus recently won the United States Championship, so the likelihood of him going into a program with Barrett is perhaps a little low.
Dolph Ziggler is another possibility. The man many fans believe has been slighted in recent months could be the one to step up and challenge Barrett for the championship. Ziggler would be a nice contrast to Wade's character, and the two men could have a very entertaining feud for what has historically been considered the company's premier stepping stone to the WWE title.
Of course, the immediate challenge in front of Wade is Rob Van Dam. RVD recently won a Beat the Clock competition on Monday Night Raw to secure a championship shot at the upcoming Payback pay-per-view on June 1.
Rob is one of the most popular Superstars in WWE history and is perhaps the best babyface to feud with Barrett. The two men are very different both on the mic and in the ring, and that could make for some interesting moments leading up to Payback.
RVD is, of course, the veteran in this angle. As such, he could be the one to help Barrett in the eyes of the fans. Doing the job at Payback would do a lot for Barrett's current spot and his rise in WWE. Maybe this is ultimately the best move for Barrett's career at this point, as he definitely needs to start amassing some quality wins over top names.
Barrett has momentum, and the best way to continue building that momentum is to face new opponents who can test his abilities in the ring. Working a program with a seasoned star such as Rob Van Dam and besting him would go a long way toward establishing Bad News Barrett as a legitimate top star in the making.
Barrett has finally gained traction in WWE, and now it's time for the company to capitalize on it. He could potentially reach the top tier fans have believed he was meant to reach from the very beginning. And that is definitely some good news.