Wade Barrett says he’s passionately committed to a full-time WWE role, admitting time away had healed some major wounds that forced him to quit the business seven years ago.
The popular Brit is a former Intercontinental champion and King of the Ring winner with the sports entertainment giant.
First joining the ranks of WWE as a developmental talent in 2007, making a main roster debut three years later.
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Five reigns as ‘IC’ champ followed, along with his 2015 King of the Ring win and even a Slammy Award.
Despite the many accolades and the fame that came with it, Barrett became disillusioned with the wrestling industry and his role in it.
His frustrations over the relentless scheduling and WWE’s often quirky or questionable creative storytelling peaking over the course of 2015 and 2016, the Lancastrian called time on his career to pursue other interests.
Of feeling worn down, the star told Daily Star Online: “I dedicated all of my adult life to my pursuit of being in-ring with WWE and climbing the ladder.
“In 2015 and 2016 I really had a black cloud over my head for quite a long time and that was one of the main reasons I had to step away – I’d stopped finding enjoyment in what I was doing.
“I think if you feel that way about anything, you have to go away and find something else to do because nothing else is going to come [of it].”
Time proved to be the proverbial healer for the Preston North End mega-fan turned grappler and actor.
Slowly easing himself back into the business with smaller roles on the independent scene, Barrett rediscovered his love for the business.
He describes a “black cloud” being lifted from his head – culminating when Tom Hannifan – then known to WWE fans as commentator Tom Phillips – picked up the phone with an offer to make a return to the company.
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Barrett explained: “Slowly, over time, that passion grew back, and I realised I didn’t have that animosity towards the industry that I’d in 2016.
“By 2018, 2019 I was back in full ‘addiction mode’ to this industry of ours. It wasn’t like I actively planned to remove this cloud from my head, but time away was a great healer for me.
“I came back full-throttle in 2020 when I got that call from WWE offering me a role on their commentary team.”
Daily Star reported recently that Barrett hasn’t ruled out one day stepping back into the ring as a wrestler, but the man himself has always been clear about how realistic that prospect is.
He revealed that as far back as his initial departure from the company, he even had to make peace with never wrestling again in order to move on.
Of weather being an active wrestler was even floated as an idea in those initial comeback discussions, he went on to say: “It really wasn’t.
“When I left in 2016 there was a big part of me that, in order to get over this misery that I felt I’d endured, I needed to brain dump everything I had been focusing on for the last 15 years or so.
“Part of that was accepting ‘okay, I’m leaving WWE, and this might mean I never step in a ring again.’
“I had to get to a point that I was okay with that before I walked away.
“When I came back and started getting re-involved in the industry, at no time was I thinking ‘I want to be back in ring right now.’”
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For the first time since he was winning crowns and championship belts, Barrett is now fully immersed back in the crazy world of professional wrestling.
The 41-year-old says he continues to juggle his WWE commitments with a pending TV show and movie he’s involved in, but very much considers wrestling to be his main focus.
“I’m incredibly lucky to have the spot,” he continued. “It’s a spot I love. My addiction to WWE has come back, a hundred percent.
“I left in 2016 and was kind of down about the industry in general and walked away for a while.
“That love and passion for it has really come back so I see myself as a hundred percent full time back in WWE.
“I do have a couple of things bubbling over in terms of outside projects, but in terms of [being] focused, careerwise on WWE, that’s where I’m at right now.”
More than perhaps anywhere else in professional wrestling, life in WWE remains as changeable as ever.
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After a stint behind the NXT commentary desk for his initial return, Barrett was switched to SmackDown, alongside lead commentator Michael Cole, who the Britt hailed as “The GOAT."
That was, initially, to fill in for Pat McAfee after the American’s decision to add a role with EPSN to his growing list of duties.
Now, Barrett says his stay on SmackDown has become permanent..ish, quipping: “It’s as permanent as you can ever be in a role in WWE!
“Historically things have always been switched around and teams have been moved from here to there, and I’m not saying I’m going to be in the SmackDown hot seat for the next ten years or anything like that.
“But in terms of the foreseeable, it’s going to be me and Cole going forward.
“Pat McAfee is always going to be a friend of WWE. He’s an incredibly talented guy and we’re all fans of his, too, but he has a lot on his plate.
“I am sure he’ll come in and out from time to time and be involved in various roles but, as far as I’m aware, he’s not going to be sat in the SmackDown hot seat for now at least.”
WWE presents WrestleMania Goes Hollywood, the 39th instalment of its grandest annual show, across the weekend of April 1 and 2. Fans in the UK can watch it live on WWE Network – visit wwe.com for more.
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