Submitted by Matthew Sheehan on Sat, 5/31/2014
Despite what his moniker says, Bad News Barrett does have some good news. This Sunday, June 1, the English Superstar of World Wrestling Entertainment will be defending his Intercontinental Championship against veteran performer Rob van Dam at WWE Payback at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
The four-time Intercontinental champion is looking to make his own mark at an arena that has already had plenty of iconic moments in WWE history--from the Wrestlemania 13 'I Quit' match of Bret Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to The Rock challenging Hulk Hogan to an Icon vs. Icon match at Wrestlemania X8. Barrett's favorite moment in Chicago? You'll have to wait until Sunday night.
"I've never had the ebst luck in Chicago," he said. "I'm looking to stamp my authority on that crowd. This is my chance to create some memories in Chicago."
Barrett first debuted on WWE television as Wade Barrett, a leading member of The Nexus, a group of up-and-coming Superstars from the WWE developmental program known as NXT. Led by Barrett, the Nexus invaded the WWE main roster and terrorized the talent roster, claiming it's time for some new blood to establish themselves in the squared circle's spotlight. Upon his disassociation with the Nexus, Barrett led himself on a 'Barrett Barrage' gimmick, looking to beat and bash his opponents enroute to championship glory while employing Barrett's past as a bare knuckle brawler as inspiration. Late last year, Barrett brought forth his current--and most successful--gimmick, that of Bad News Barrett.
Originating on wwe.com online show "JBL and Cole Show," Barrett began giving promos of a negative nature, knocking local citizens of the town WWE was performing in or bashing local sports teams. This incarnation of the character appears to be 'getting over' with audiences, both live and watching on TV at home. Barrett became someone they loved to hate. Barrett attributes this success to the WWE creative team.
"They got behind me, they got behind the character and gave me an outlet to create a Superstar that people can connect to," he said. "It's the opportunity to get on the microphone and talk and perform and get highlighted on the show."
Barrett is also no amateur: he's been wrestling for 11 years. He credits this constant learning over the years as another reason why the WWE Universe has taken a liking to Bad News Barrett.
"I think people can see I am enjoying myself and having fun," Barrett said. "People seem to relax and enjoy it a bit more. It's helped me connect with the crowd."
According to Barrett, he and fellow Superstar Cody Rhodes created the character for the "JBL and Cole Show" based on Rhodes' suggestion.
"We've got some great writers on that show who come up with these ridiculous scenarios," Barrett said. "And we see where it will take us." Once the character hit the main WWE TV airwaves, Barrett credits not only himself but others with being collaborative in terms of character input, including the boss himself.
"The creative team has direction, brings suggestions," he said. "[WWE Chairman] Vince [McMahon] himself has been very hands-on with the character. There's some things I bring to it, there's some things they bring to it, and, together as a team, we move forward with it and the reactions we've been getting."
Those reactions, initially 'cheap heat' with the aforementioned knocking of local cities, began to take a life on it's own. Getting over that initial establishment of the character was the natural step one.
"Whenever you introduce a new character, it's going to take a little while for people to embrace it, especially when it was something completely different that I've done in the past," Barrett said.
Barrett says he suggested bringing a gavel down to the 'Bad News' podium to help him "not feeling it." This led to the podium next to the ring announcers become one next to the stage that elevated five feet in the air and, eventually, thirty feet. Barrett compares the evolution of any character that generates before a live crowd to that of a moving body of water.
"It's like a river meandering down, past obstacles," he said. "We keep adding to it, and we get where we want to be."
As for that rising podium, I'm not the first to inquire if Barrett is afraid of heights.
"That's exactly what Vince said when I told him about the elevating podium," Barrett said.
The genuine moment of creativity Barrett was proud to bring to the boss transformed into terror.
"Vince's immediate response [to the idea] was, 'I hope you're not afraid of heights,' and then he walked off," Barrett said. "Then, I got a little nervous. Fortunately, I am not afraid of heights, but those podiums are pretty wobbly when they get to the top."
Barrett's beginnings in NXT helped shape this and each version of himself. Barrett was a member of the debut class of NXT, and he credits this a major cornerstone in his career and the shaping of future Superstars.
"I definitely needed to convert myself from a European wrestler into this WWE-style sports entertainer," he said. "With the performers down in NXT these days, you can see firsthand they've grown the developmental system. You've got an amazing facility down there that's producing people like the Shield and the Wyatt family, who are incredibly polished performers before they even set foot into WWE.
"I think it's great the system is there. It clearly works, and it's producing some amazing performers."
According to Barrett, he says the UK is the second biggest market after the US for WWE and the wrestling business. Naturally, England has produced it's fair share of popular and talented in-ring performers, including the "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith and William Regal. Barrett highlights current Britons like Divas champion Paige and NXT star Adrian Neville are future stars to carry the 'across the pond' lineage, as well has being quite humble in his own small part of it.
"It's great to we bridge that legacy in WWE," he said. "I'm very excited to be one of those guys."
Barrett lists many past wrestlers of inspiration--Bret Hart, "Ravishing" Ric Rude, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, the Ultimate Warrior--but his favorite was Davey Boy Smith, the "British Bulldog," who was from near where Barrett grew up.
"I was very proud he was the biggest, strongest guy and he was where I was from, so I thought he was very cool," Barrett said.
Barrett's dream opponent not only would be SMith, but would be his match vs. Hart at Summerslam '92, held at Wembley Stadium in the UK.
"I would've loved to have been involved," he said. "That would be my ultimate match fo all-time."
As for this Sunday's match, Barrett simply wants to go out and do his best.
"I know Rob very well, and I think I know his weaknesses pretty well," Barrett said. "Believe me, he's got a lot of offense. He's got a lot of extreme kicks and high-flying stuff. I want to go out there and put in the best performance we can. Hopefully, we can give the Chicago crowd a reason to remember Bad News Barrett."