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November 19, 2010

Q&A with Wade Barrett

I conducted a phone interview Thursday with WWE star Wade Barrett, who will face WWE champion Randy Orton in the main event of the Survivor Series pay-per-view Sunday.

Less than a year ago you were wrestling in Florida Championship Wrestling. Now you’re main-eventing WWE pay-per-views with the likes of John Cena and Randy Orton. Can you describe what these past nine months or so have been like for you?

It has been obviously a very crazy few months. I think I debuted at the end of January or beginning of February this year on WWE. What most people don’t realize is that for pretty much the best part of a year prior to my debut, I’d actually been out injured in FCW. So I wasn’t even wrestling in FCW, I was out on the injured reserve list. I’d had a very big surgery where I tore my lat muscle off. So I really went from almost doing nothing – I was basically a commentator in FCW for most of that time on the TV show – to going on to WWE TV with just a very few matches sort of as a warm-up after I got back from my injury. So the last two years really, it’s been a huge step up for me. It’s been a great experience. I feel lucky every day that I’m up there at the moment and I’m obviously having a great time. The fact that things have gone so well – one year ago if someone had told me I’d be main-eventing Survivor Series this year with Randy Orton I would never have believed it. But it’s amazing that I’ve got here now and it’s a great feeling. I’m really looking forward to the show.

barrett.jpg

How have Cena and Orton – two of the biggest star in the business – been to work with?

They’re two very different people. I’d say Cena is probably a lot more approachable than Randy. He’s probably somebody I was able to connect with a lot sooner than I did with Randy. I think their on-air personas are very similar to what they’re like in real life in that respect. Randy’s a lot colder. But both guys have been great to work with. It’s been an incredible experience working with them and I’ve learned a lot just from working with them. They are two of the very best in the industry I wouldn’t say just now but of all time. For someone like me coming in with obviously my lack of experience at the top level, it’s been great to work with the best from the word go. Obviously the better the guy I’m working with the more I’m going to learn, so I’ve been very lucky in that respect.

Speaking of learning from guys, Chris Jericho was your on-screen pro on NXT. Was there any real mentoring going on with Jericho and you behind the scenes?

Yeah, definitely. I’d say to this day he’s probably my first point of contact if I’ve got any questions or stuff that I want to know about in the company or if I want critiques on anything that I’m doing. I’ve got a few people I would go to, including William Regal and Goldust as well – he’s been very helpful. But I’d say Chris Jericho is my No. 1 sort of influence and mentor to this day.

Have you or any of the other guys from NXT who are in The Nexus sensed any resentment in the locker room from guys who have been around for years and not received the super push that you’re getting?

Yeah, one hundred percent. I think we felt it a little more when we first came up for NXT. I think people saw that we were young guys, we’re in good shape and we’ve got a lot of potential. I think a lot of guys before they knew us were certainly worried about us being there, and probably some guys didn’t want us around. But I think over time with our attitudes and our hard work we’ve won a lot of people over. In general now it’s pretty harmonious in the locker room. There’s always going to be one or two guys who feel that they should be getting the push that you’re getting or should be getting the spot that you’ve got, but to be honest with you, they’re definitely in the minority. It’s something that WWE has pretty much stamped out in this day and age. I believe from reading books and hearing stories of the past the politicking and things like that were commonplace, but in general nowadays from what I understand it’s probably the most harmonious locker room it’s ever been.

When NXT first began, who do you view as your biggest threat as far as winning the competition?

I think from Day One I realized that Daniel Bryan was going to be a huge threat, purely based on the fact that I knew the pros were voting – it wasn’t a fan-based system or anything like that – and I knew that the pros all had a lot of respect for Daniel Bryan and what he had accomplished on the independent scene. So I think he had a bit of a head start on the majority of us because the pros had all heard of Daniel Bryan and seen his matches before and they respected him from that point of view. The rest of us were complete nobodies to the pros and as far as they were concerned we were just a bunch of green guys who were just showing up and hoping to do well. So I knew immediately because the pros had that affinity for Daniel Bryan that he was going to be the one that I would have to beat. I think the fact that he got eliminated from the show, from then on I had pretty much no doubt in my mind that I was going to win it.

You came up through the U.K. independent scene. What was it like to go back to Manchester recently as one of the top guys in WWE?

It was a very strange experience. I was half-expecting the crowd there to be cheering me, being the hometown guy, and I think I got an initial cheer and then that rapidly changed into boos, which I’m far more used to. It was cool going back there. I had my family come and watch me while we were on the tour. On the tour we covered towns like Birmingham, Cardiff, Nottingham, London, and I had various friends and family come and watch me. The last time most of them had come to watch me I was wrestling in front of maybe 200 people in small community centers and things like that with very low budget, low glamour, that sort of thing. So it’s been a huge difference to them. I think they all thought I was pretty crazy when I was wrestling on the independent scene, because I come from a good education background, I had a good career in recruitment going on, so to suddenly step down and being doing independent shows across the U.K, I think they thought I was crazy. But now it’s good to have them see me and see that the hard work and sacrifices all paid off and I’m at the top with WWE now.

You have history with Sheamus and Drew McIntyre. When the three of you were wrestling on the independents together, is making it in WWE something you all talked about? Secondly, would you like to work a program someday with those guys?

I met Sheamus and Drew I think it was in early 2006. We started doing a lot of shows together out in Ireland and across the U.K. The thing about the three of us was that I knew immediately that we were all standout guys, mainly based on our height. We were way bigger than any of the guys in the U.K. and we all looked good, we all worked out, which was quite rare for the U.K. at the time. Most of the independent wrestlers didn’t even lift weights or anything like that, so I knew that we looked like stars compared to everyone else. But I thought the problem at that time was the fact that with WWE there had never been that many foreign guys in the company at any one time. They always tended to have maybe one Englishman like a William Regal or going back further they just had The British Bulldog when I was a kid. So I thought it was going to be very difficult that all three of us would get signed. I thought maybe one of us might get signed and one of us may get a shot with WWE if we were lucky. I certainly never expected all three of us to get there. Sheamus, on the other hand, I remember him talking to us back in probably 2006 when we were still on the independent scene, he was very confident that one day all three of us were going to get there. So he predicted it.

In terms of working a program with those guys, I would love to. The problem is at the moment all three of us are guys that the crowd generally doesn’t like, so I don’t know how many people would want to see a Sheamus versus Wade Barrett match or a Wade Barrett against Drew McIntyre match being that the crowd is going to hate both guys in the match. But I could see one day certainly with Sheamus the fans really getting behind him. He’s got a very unique look and a good style as well. I think one day he’s definitely going to be a crowd favorite, and when that happens, I definitely look to lock horns with him and see where we can go.

You impressed people with your mic skills pretty much from the beginning since you’ve been on WWE television. Is that gift of gab something that just comes naturally for you or is it something that you’ve had to work at over the years?

I think that it’s definitely something that comes quite naturally to me, but it’s mainly due to my background. I’ve done a lot of work with recruitment, which involved me giving sales pitches and things like that and spending a lot of time on the phone selling my services to people. I think my skills on the mic come from that – just the fact that I basically had to pitch to some of the top directors at some of the biggest companies in the U.K. and try to win their business. I learned a speaking style from doing that for years – projecting confidence and being strongly spoken and being able to get my ideas across to a guy like a major director or a financial director of one of the biggest companies in England. You need to sound confident at all times, and I think the fact that I did that certainly helps my microphone style and my promo skills. And also I was the commentator with FCW like I said for a long time while I was out injured in 2009 – I think that helped as well. I was on the mic for three hours every week while we were filming our shows, and I was basically giving an on-the-fly promo for three hours in character. Aside from that, I’ve always had a good voice. I’m lucky that I have a deep, strong voice naturally, and the rest of it I just worked on as far as confidence and projecting myself.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in the business and who gave it to you?

The very best piece of advice I’ve been given I probably can’t tell you because it’s not PG-rated [laughs]. But I suppose Chris Jericho has definitely given me a good piece of advice in that when I started in NXT he told me that I couldn’t just be strong in one area of what I do. I couldn’t just be good on the mic. I needed to be good on the mic; I needed to be good in the ring; I need to be good in my presentation; my ring attire need to look good, my appearance. Everything about me needed to be the best. I couldn’t be weak in any area because you’re only as good as your weakest aspect. So that’s something that I’ve been very conscious of and I know where my weak points are and what I’ve got to work on – and I also know what my strengths are. So that’s probably the best piece of advice that I’ve been given.


Photo courtesy of WWE

Posted by Kevin Eck at 1:34 PM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Q&As
        

Comments

Always great to hear from the superstars out of their persona.

Great interview Barrett sounds like a real good guy who listens to the advice he's given.

If we were to go 5 years in the future who do you think would be the bigger star, Sheamus or Barrett?

RESPONSE FROM KE: Barrett.

I gotta say wade got really good mic skills & i ll have to ask him whats gonna end up with da nexus

Kevin,

Great interview with Wade. He seems like a very intelliegent person as well as a good guy. Did he come off that way during your conversation with him?

RESPONSE FROM KE: Absolutely.

wade barrett will become the wwe champion and i would like to join the nexus

Great job as usual, Kevin. I like Wade's honesty and he didn't tow the company line with stuff, especially with Randy Orton being colder.

Who was your biggest influence in life and why?

Great interview. I've been very impressed with Barrett since he came up, I'm a big fan and I'm glad he's getting a push. I been thinking it would be cool if in the future, Barrett, Sheamus and Drew McIntyre formed a heel stable since they are all from different countries in the U.K.

Great stuff from Barrett and good interview Kev. The Orton stuff was very interesting (you don't usually get that stuff until they are retired or gone from the company). I could definitely see a Barrett v. Bryan program with some of the stuff Wade mentioned included. Wade Barrett has been the breakout star of 2010 and he'll definitely be a great heel for the WWE for years to come.

I have just started working for the same recruitment company Barrett worked for.
So there is hope for me yet!!

Another solid interview with good questions that obviously shows the homework that was done, such as the Sheamus/McIntyre/Barrett connection.

It's pretty remarkable how far Barrett's come in such a short time, but he just has "it." Nice to hear how grounded and sensible he is outside the ring persona, too.

Great interview. Glad to get one. He seems very humble

I find the thought of Sheamus turning babyface to be rather intriguing...

Very good interview as usual, Kevin. Out of curiosity, when you do these interviews, does the WWE usually contact you and say we've got so-and-so available, or do you contact them with a request?

RESPONSE FROM KE: WWE often designates one wrestler to do a media tour to promote an upcoming pay-per-view, so they contact me and other members of the media. Although if I'm doing a story or a Q&A to advance a WWE appearance in Baltimore, I'll make a request.

Did that dude say that Orton and Cena were some of the best....of all time?

I'm guessing he's never watched wrestling in all this time.

I suggest he do some searching on the next and look up guys like Bruno, or Buddy, or just watch and Undertaker or HBK match. Then go compare those guys to an Orton or Cena.

Those boys don't even rate.

But what do you expect from someone that works for the wwe.

Good to see someone like Jericho helping these young guys.

Great interview, very interesting stuff. I'm with you, Joe Cruz, I want to join Nexus too! haha.

I hope Sheffield heals up soon and rejoins... that dude is a beast and makes an awesome enforcer. Right now Barrett's kind of his own enforcer, which he seems totally capable of, but still...

Actually Ken, Barrett will learn a hundred times more watching Cena and Orton than he ever will Sammartino, and that's simply because it's a different era.

Cena and Orton are money draws in 2010 like Barrett wants to be, whereas Sammartino's style drew money a few decades back. It's a different time in wrestling now.

By the way, that's not me criticizing Sammartino - far from it.

Not really surprised that Orton wouldn't be praised as much as Cena as someone that you can approach.

Also want to respond to Ken's comment:

I think he's referring to John and Randy's professionalism more than anything. John and Randy both seem to have great respect for the business and they take their positions as top guys seriously.

As opposed to people like Flair who was a top guy but was dripping with so much ego that he couldn't get out of his own way. Or like Dwayne Johnson who was a genius on the mic but had his sights set on something else ultimately.

I think the way people like Cena and Orton value their roles and have a degree of reverence for the product is definitely something to learn from for up-and-comers like Barrett. And it seems like Barrett recognizes that.

Great interview. Barrett has really come out with a bang and he's fantastic. A great persona for the WWE and he helped fuel my interest in the wrestling world once again. Can't wait to see more of him and Alberto del Rio.

Great interview. I enjoyed it. Wade and Sheamus are great reasons to watch Raw.

I knew it from the start, this man is not only good at the ring, but this man is also good when it comes to mental ability. he's got the brains baby. and he may sound arrogant or what so ever, but admit it! he WOWd us right? He's going to be a big star as he is right now. WADE BARRETT has definitely proven to us that he deserves to be thee next. Just discovered google earth and having fun with it, so cute:D love love love

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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