The WWE career of Wade Barrett was one of peaks and valleys, and was one of the greatest “what-if” stories in recent pro wrestling history. From the moment he appeared on the first season of NXT (back when it was a game show), he appeared to be one of the company’s golden boys, a massive guy who was great in the ring, great on the microphone, and had the “WWE look” that has mostly fallen by the wayside since then.
Barrett was the leader of the beloved Nexus and was on the verge of becoming a legitimate main event threat for years to come. But then John Cena made one mistake. The last several years of Barrett’s tenure in WWE had him ensconced in the midcard, and although he became a five-time Intercontinental Champion, he also established the trope of “the Intercontinental Champion loses every match he’s in.”
There were bright spots, like the early days of the Bad News Barrett character and the League of Nations, but ultimately Barrett was defined more by squandered talent and potential than any actual career highlights. He opted not to renew his contract and took his leave from WWE to pursue acting and other ventures.