Former WWE Superstar Wade Barrett recalled his state of mind upon departing WWE in 2016 during an interview with All Elite Wrestling's Colt Cabana last week.
Appearing on The Art of Wrestling podcast (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Brie Coder), Barrett (real name Stu Bennett) discussed his feelings toward WWE when he declined to sign a new contract:
"I left [the WWE] around April or May of 2016. I told them that my contract was coming up, and I told them that I wasn't re-signing. They tried to make a couple of offers, and I told them 'It doesn't matter what you offer me, I need to leave. I f--king hate it here.'"
Barrett broke into WWE in a top spot as the leader of Nexus and was immediately in the main event and WWE Championship scene, but he eventually fell down the card and was never able to return to that level.
Since leaving WWE, Barrett has largely stayed out of the wrestling business aside from some appearances for various companies as an announcer and authority figure, and an appearance on the Season 4 finale of Lucha Underground.
During the interview, Barrett went on to explain what made him go from loving his job to despising it over the course of a few years in WWE:
"I loved my job until, probably, the end of 2014, beginning of 2015. I did some exciting things and some not so exciting things ... I thought if I kept improving my physique, and I got ripped, that'll convince them. Maybe I need a catchphrase. Maybe I need a t-shirt that'll be a big sell. Maybe I need to do more with my in-ring skills. There was always something in my head like I can improve this and I can improve that.
"By the time I got to 2015, I was sliding down the card. I was getting opportunities that I thought were kind of wasted. Like, I became the King of the Ring, which sounds like it should be impressive, but what it was followed up with was zero rises. It was like, 'What are we going to do with these guys today? Ah, just have them wrestle for three minutes, and have this guy go over.' Suddenly, after putting in all that effort, I had to climb up the card and get to where I wanted to be. It wasn't rewarding, to say the least. It was a realization that it didn't matter what I was doing there, I'm just waiting for one man to give me the thumbs up or thumbs down. I'm spending my whole career waiting and hoping that I get a thumbs up."
Barrett was a little-known wrestler in the United States when he won the debut season of NXT and then became the leader of Nexus, but it was quickly apparent that he had the speaking ability, look and in-ring skills needed to be a top guy.
His run on top essentially came to an end when CM Punk took over as the leader of Nexus, and while Barrett did hold the Intercontinental Championship after that and win King of the Ring, he was primarily positioned as a midcard act.
Even when Barrett got the catchphrase, "I'm afraid I've got some bad news," over with the WWE Universe and became Bad News Barrett, WWE was unwilling to give him a big push for whatever reason.
Barrett hasn't had an official match since leaving WWE in 2016, but at 39 years of age, he is still young enough to have another run in pro wrestling if he so chooses.
His comments suggest that the run won't come in WWE if it happens, but he would be a huge asset to any company, including AEW, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Impact Wrestling or Ring of Honor.
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