Former WWE superstar Wade Barrett recently spoke with Sports Illustrated about how a change in gimmick led to him losing his passion for professional wrestling.
From the time he was a boy, Stu Bennett loved professional wrestling. That boy grew up and became Wade Barrett, WWE Superstar, and the passion only grew. But something changed in recent years.
"I've had a lifelong passion, and really obsession, with professional wrestling since I was a very small kid. That passion never left me. I was always inspired to be involved and be part of good TV and do projects that would inspire me professionally. Unfortunately, in 2015 and again in 2016, I was asked to play a character and perform storylines that I found thoroughly uninspiring. After making repeated attempts to change my career trajectory and having those efforts turned down, my passion for playing the role of a WWE Superstar went away."
Barrett wasn't always pessimistic about the creative direction for his character.
"'Bad News' Barrett was a really fun time. The reactions from the crowd I was getting were really about my speaking and my portrayal of a character rather than my in-ring work," Barrett began. "You can even go back to the Nexus era, when I was cutting promos every single night. People were really hanging on my every word, and I was really dictating a lot of the shows that we were doing. I've always had that confidence in my performance ability and my ability to speak in character. One of the most exciting parts of the Nexus and 'Bad News' Barrett eras were I had a lot of influence in the character and I had a lot of influence in how I was going to portray myself."
That influence was short-lived, however. "When I became King Barrett, the influence I had in the character was taken away. I was told, 'This is your outfit, and here is your promo that you have to say word-for-word.' Any time I tried to tweak the storyline because I thought it wasn't working, or because it wasn't me, I was denied. The lack of control over my career reduced my passion more than anything."
For anyone, a lack of passion in their work can debilitating. It was no different for Wade Barrett.
"For the first time in my life, I was questioning why I was even getting out of bed and going to work. I wasn't enjoying it and it wasn't motivating me at all," said Barrett. "For that reason, I made the decision that I couldn't re-sign a contract and continue for three more years when I knew nothing was going to change. My choice was: to take the paycheck and accept that I was probably going to get the same kind of creative that I'd had for the last couple of years, or alternatively to walk away and look for something else. So I decided to do the latter. I've always been smart with my money, and I saved a lot during my time with WWE. I'm not in a position where I'm living paycheck-to-paycheck, and I can afford to explore other avenues."
Barrett also discussed what he misses about the business, his upcoming film projects and more. You can read the full interview by clicking this link, and you can watch a brief preview for his film "Eliminators" below.