Is it over for Wade Barrett?
Bernie Barnes @thedailyjobber
After a prolonged absence from the ring due to persisting injuries, it appears “Cosmic King / Bad News” Wade Barrett will not be re-signing with WWE when his contract expires in a few months.
Ryan Satin from Pro Wrestling Sheet broke the news earlier this week, citing Barrett “no longer enjoying what he was doing in the company” as the reason for leaving.
Any casual observer would not be too surprised at hearing this. Barrett, at one time, received a huge push as the Fed’s next top heel, but never seemed to rise above the upper mid-card.
Stuart Alexander Bennett grew up in Preston before moving to Wales. He earned a degree in marine biology from the University of Liverpool. While in Liverpool, he also became a bare-knuckle boxer. After winning a high-profile and especially brutal contest, which left his nose permanently disfigured, he was stabbed in an alley by an assailant trying to relieve him of his cash earnings. The attack left him with a twelve-inch scar – although he managed to hold on to his cash.
Trained by Al Snow and Jon Ritchie, Bennett debuted in professional wrestling as Stu Sanders in 2003, working for NWA UK Hammerlock Wrestling, Dropkixx Wrestling, Real Quality Wrestling, All Star Wrestling and Welsh Wrestling.
He earned tryouts for WWE in 2006 and was signed to a development contract to Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2007, where he wrestled mostly in a tag team with Paul Burchill.
Sanders moved to Florida Championship Wrestling with others and formed “The Empire” with fellow rookie Drew Galloway. After the team broke up, he became Lawrence Knight in 2008 and was made colour commentator alongside Dusty Rhodes after tearing his Latissimus dorsi muscle in early 2009.
Bennett/Sanders/Knight returned to in-ring action at 2009’s close with his new character, Wade Barrett, who he described as the embodiment of his “darker side”.
Wade Barrett made a huge impact on the inaugural season of NXT, competing among such stars as Daniel Bryan, David Otunga and Justin Gabriel and walking out as the winner.
June 7th, 2010. In one of WWE’s most effectively jarring and memorable storylines, Barrett led a squad of disgruntled NXT rookies who invaded RAW, attacked its biggest stars, management and staff, and demanded main roster contracts. Vince McMahon gave in to their demands, and the rookies were renamed “The Nexus”.
Nexus and Wade Barrett and the Nexus (and later, the “Corre” splinter group) became the central heel element in WWE’s main event story-line for the remainder of 2010 and 2011. Barrett himself was involved with high-profile feuds with John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk and The Miz.
Although unsuccessful at gaining the WWE Championship or the World Heavyweight Championship, Barrett did capture the Intercontinental title in March 2011.
He broke all allegiances in late 2011 and received his next singles push, which came to a stop after dislocating his elbow in the spring of 2012. He returned with a fresh, new look in August, but by this time his push was not so strong.
Barrett spent the rest of 2012 and 2013 feuding for the Intercontinental Championship with The Miz, Kofi Kingston, and rookie Bo Dallas.
Even after repackaging himself as “Bad News” Barrett in 2014 and getting heat with his new brand of grandiose promos, his momentum was once again cut short by injury. A dislocated shoulder this time, which kept him out of action for months.
Barrett returned in January 2015 to feud over the Intercontinental Championship again, this time alongside Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, R-Truth, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler.
He won the King of the Ring tournament in April to become “King Barrett”. Although an honour worthy of note, it would turn out to be his weakest and shortest push to date. After programs with Neville, R-Truth and Stardust, Barrett joined the League of Nations stable with Sheamus, Alberto del Rio and Rusev, but has been kept out of action since December 2015, citing nerve damage in his neck as the cause for the time off.
Barrett’s quick rise and rapid fall from the main event scene is an all-too-common occurrence in the world of WWE. The top spot can only be held by so many superstars, and the need to make the largest impact possible in vital if any longevity is to be enjoyed.
Drew Galloway, R-Truth, The Miz, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, all talented men who at one time or another basked in the glow of the central spotlight – briefly – before finding themselves slogging away on the mid-card.
Ditto Mr. Perfect, Ravishing Rick Rude, Earthquake, Razor Ramon, Owen Hart, and countless other icons of the wrestling world who were granted only a taste of the top prize before going back to feasting on humble pie.
Is Stu Bennett’s career as a sports entertainer over?
Does the 35-year-old performer have another incarnation in him?
Will some time away to recuperate and reinvigorate be all that he needs to muster another go at the grand prize?
Is he better off going the route of fellow OVW, FCW and NXT alumni like Galloway and Gabriel, and enjoy greener – yet quainter – pastures elsewhere?
Fans of the gruff, growling giant from the British Isles with his fists of stone hope that, in one form or another, we have not felt the last Bullhammer fall.