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Wrestling Nostalgia: Wade Barrett

Updated on February 29, 2020

Wade Barrett debuted on June 7th, 2010 as the leader of the Nexus. And as we’ve seen throughout WWE before, often times a superstar or in this case, several superstars debut in the main event picture, and often look strong at the expense of an established superstar. These kinds of debuts are very effective in getting a new superstar over as a legitimate threat. For example, John Cena debuted in an open challenge offered by Kurt Angle, and put on a thriller of a match too. Afterwards, Cena was shown in a backstage segment receiving praise from the Undertaker. This kind of treatment automatically put John Cena at high status, a status he would carry throughout his entire career. Furthermore, Chris Jericho is another example of how main event level debuts can instantly create a mega star. Touted as one of the best debuts of all time, Chris Jericho debuted by interrupting The Rock and delivered a fantastic promo. Although Jericho was already an established wrestler in WCW, he was never considered to be main event worthy until this moment. Jericho ultimately proved to be on main event level status as his push was followed through upon, when he was put over The Rock and Steve Austin to become the first ever Undisputed Champion. Both Jericho and Cena serve as examples as to how to properly book talent in the main event scene, and how it can positively impact their careers. However, for every profound debut leading to a memorable career, there is a debut of similar prestige, that leads to a career filled with miserable failures and missed opportunities. One instance that comes to mind, ironically, involves Chris Jericho putting over a younger talent. An up and coming wrestler known as Fandango, engaged in a feud with Jericho around Wrestlemania season in 2013. Fandango’s gimmick was that he refused to wrestle until his name was pronounced correctly. Fandango would surprisingly go on to win his debut match at Wrestlemania 29 against Chris Jericho. This would have been fine, if Fandango would’ve continued to be pushed as a main eventer, however it would take less than a year for him to find himself working as a lower midcarder.

Was the Nexus a Success?

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Going back to Barrett’s debut, he would find himself and his stable to be the recipients of a major debut angle, which was unlike anything we’ve ever seen up until that point. Barrett and the Nexus obliterated John Cena, destroyed the ringside area, beat up announcers, and demolished the wrestling ring. I remember watching and thinking to myself, Wow! Who are those guys? Well, of the original eight members, Daniel Bryan and Skip Sheffield, later repackaged as Ryback, would be the only two members to reach main event status after the downfall of the Nexus. Meanwhile, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, David Otunga, Darren Young and Michael Tarver remained floating between enhancement talent and the lower midcard. That leaves us with the last original member of the Nexus, the leader of the short lived stable, Wade Barrett.

Despite being the clear leader of the Nexus, of the eight original members, only Daniel Bryan would go on to have more success than Barrett. Throughout the majority of his WWE run, Barrett would remain hovering between the midcard and upper midcard, while never quite reaching the main event. But how can this be? Barrett’s debut was one of the most impactful debuts in recent memory. Well if one could point to one moment, in which he lost all his momentum, it would without a doubt be the main event of Summerslam 2010. This match saw an incredible build up featuring established superstars such as John Cena, Edge and Chris Jericho. This engaging storyline even picked up Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s feud of the year award in 2010. Despite the enormous amount of momentum Barrett and the Nexus had acquired up until that point, all Barrett needed was to win in order to cement his status in the WWE. From most fans’ perspective, having Barrett be the sole survivor would've made sense, as Barrett would have been considered a top tier wrestler had he won. In an interview with Inside The Ropes, Barrett recalls that even he thought going over Cena was the right decision. Ultimately, Cena would prevail by eliminating Justin Gabriel and Barrett by himself. Many will say this moment ruined the legitimacy of the Nexus and especially Wade Barrett and that this match was a must win. I disagree that this match was a must win, and think Barrett still could’ve gotten over as a main eventer while still losing this match. Don’t get me wrong, if I was booker, I would of had the Nexus go over with Barrett eliminating Cena. If that’s not what the WWE had in mind, then at least Barrett could’ve been salvaged by allowing him to single handedly defeat at least two members of team WWE, before super Cena comes in and gets the victory. Barrett would have looked incredibly strong as he would’ve defeated two established superstars in a three on one situation, while nearly defeating Cena to win the match. All in all, I understand putting over the face of the company in the main event of the second biggest pay per view of the year. Although it was done in a fashion that made Barrett look like another stepping stone in John Cena’s career, and perhaps that was all it was supposed to be from the start. I believe Barrett deserved better and he was kicked out of the Nexus less than five months afterwards.

After Nexus

Barrett would then form his own group called The Corre, consisting of himself, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater and Ezeikiel Jackson. The Corre was nothing special as they feuded with the Nexus, Big show and Kane to name a few. Barret challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship in the Elimination Chamber, but was unsuccessful. Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater would win the tag team titles a few times, while Barrett captured his first Intercontinental Championship. Throughout the downfall of the Corre, they convincingly lost an eight man tag team match at Wrestlemania 27 and then got pummeled by The Rock and John Cena on Monday Night Raw on the following night.

Now that we’ve covered his debut and initial push, let’s examine some of Barrett’s signature and finishing moves, as they’re always fun to dissect. Barrett’s moveset mainly consisted of basic grapples including suplexes and backbreakers. Barrett had little to no ariel game whatsoever, but occasionally he would deliver a top rope elbow drop. One move in particular I thought was notable, was the knee strikes to the head followed up by a big boot to an opponent tangled up in the ropes. I thought this move really demonstrated how his bare knuckle brawler gimmick affected his in ring tendencies in a positive way. Adversely, I think his bull hammer elbow move is a bad example of trying to display your gimmick through your move set. I’m sure if you’re reading this article, then you already know what move I’m talking about. However I’ve always wanted to explain this move to a new wrestling fan or non fan. I would love to see their reaction after hearing that this elbow to the head is so special, because Barrett takes his elbow pad and turns it inside out right before hitting the move. And for those wrestling fans that like to get critical, they’d wonder why wouldn’t Barrett just keep his elbow pad inside out throughout the entire match. Personally, moves like the bull hammer elbow slightly bother me when it comes to realism. Another move that's flawed in a similar way is Big Show’s knockout punch. Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away and think to yourself that hypothetically if wrestling was real, why wouldn’t Big Show do nothing but try and punch the opponent from the start of the match. We see hundreds of punches throughout the show and I’m supposed to believe that the Big Show never thought to do the move right from the beginning. With finishers like that, it’s hard to suspend disbelief at times. During Barrett’s time with the Nexus and for a little bit afterwards, his main finisher was Wasteland. I was not a fan of this move as a finisher at all and would rather it of been his signature. And no, it was not more believable that he yelled at the top of his lungs right before rolling his opponent off of his shoulders back onto the mat. My favorite move in Barrett’s moveset, was his signature move, the Winds of Change. I’m not saying this move should’ve been his finisher, I just think it looked very cool, especially when it was done on an athletic opponent. There were times when Barrett would swing them around a full 360 degrees before slamming them to the mat. I would always admire it when I saw it done on wrestlers such as R-Truth, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio.

Which One of Wade Barrett's Gimmicks Did You Like the Most?

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Throughout his WWE career, Barrett managed to win the Intercontinental Championship on five separate occasions. Additionally, he won the 2015 King of the Ring. Not that this is necessarily a major accomplishment, but I would like to point out how Barrett found success despite having tweaked gimmicks every few years. His initial Nexus character, bare knuckle brawler, bad news Barrett, and King Barrett personas all saw relatively the same push, being the upper midcard. This is interesting as many superstars have seen various levels of success based on their gimmick. For example, Husky Harris found very little success. However, Bray Wyatt eventually captured the WWE Championship, while the Fiend has found even more success. Wade Barrett’s push remained solid throughout all of his gimmicks, except during the short lived League of Nations where he was subject to constant losses. I’ll wrap things up by stating that overall, Wade Barrett had a good career, as he was always a solid wrestler who put on decent matches and will definitely not be forgotten anytime soon.


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