Lutz's Blog: Wade Barrett has it all, but is anyone noticing?
By Jeffrey Lutz
A few weeks ago in this space, I expressed my admiration and enjoyment of Sheamus, suggesting a couple minor tweaks to his character that I felt would help him complete his breakthrough.
Today I'm doing the same for Wade Barrett, except without the tweaks. Nothing needs to change about Barrett except for his positioning. He is so good that it makes me wonder if anyone backstage in WWE even watches the product anymore. Hasn't Barrett's combination of a good look, oozing charisma, innate wrestling ability and an understanding of his character earned him an advocate that will push him beyond feuding, yet again, for the Intercontinental Championship?
At Survivor Series, JBL on commentary said that if someone were to build a sports entertainer from scratch, the finished product would closely resemble Randy Orton. If someone were to similarly build a professional wrestler, he would look, act, carry himself and perform like Wade Barrett. I've thought all week about a possible weakness for Barrett and I haven't come up with one. He truly has it all.
Of course, we knew that about halfway through the first season of NXT. What was supposed to be a vehicle for the worldwide introduction of Daniel Bryan turned into a showcase for Barrett. WWE seemed to be interested in elevating Barrett by making him the leader of Nexus, but that group unnecessarily flamed out and since then WWE has put potentially damaging roadblocks in front of Barrett.
First he was the leader of The Corre, a useless faction that didn't define its purpose before dissolving. The Barrett languished for a while in the mid-card, being given a nonsensical catchphrase, Barrett's Barrage, that he made seem not all that bad. An injury also threatened to derail Barrett, but since his return this summer he has been better than ever. He drives around roadblocks like he's Mario Andretti, but no one important seems to notice.
I was driven to write about Barrett after hearing his appearance on commentary last Monday on Raw. The previous week, Titus O'Neil was thoroughly entertaining in the same role, essentially making me an advocate for him.
Barrett was better. O'Neil was hilarious, but I found myself hanging on Barrett's every word because he stayed in character the whole time and delivered lines true to that philosophy. When Michael Cole mentioned that Barrett made the WWE website's list of the 50 most beautiful people, Barrett shrugged it off by informing Cole that he had no interest. He was only there to beat up people.
Barrett is similarly educated in ring psychology, as shown by a recent match with Kofi Kingston in which Barrett worked on the eye he injured on Kingston the night before. The use of such tactics are no surprise since Barrett was trained by William Regal. Barrett reminds many of fellow Brit Regal, but I see Barrett as Regal 2.0 -- Regal with the 'It' factor. That charisma is what is making must-see TV out of an Intercontinental title feud, which are usually afterthoughts.
WWE should have been prepared to go all the way with Barrett after he proved himself following NXT Season 1, but it didn't and now he may be lost in the shuffle. It seems reliability and versatility have become drawbacks as WWE appears more interested in pushing younger characters with built-in question marks. Ryback has limited promo and wrestling skills, how far can he develop them? The members of the Shield appear to have plenty of tools, but who knows if fans will fully accept three stars who were in the equivalent of the minor leagues a month ago?
Whenever a WWE performer is being misused or under-pushed, I am reminded of the Shawn Michaels story in which, feeling undervalued, Michaels stormed into Vince McMahon's office to extol his own virtues and convey his desire to be a main-event player. That might be a dangerous move in a tenuous WWE environment these days, but Barrett should go for it. It might be the only way to get anyone to notice.
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