Former WWE superstar-turned-actor Wade Barrett felt like he’d hit a dead end when he left the ring, he recently stated during a frank interview.
Bad News Barrett shocked fans in 2016 when WWE announced the five-time intercontinental champion had been released from his contract.
At the time, Barrett was a promising wrestler still in his prime, prompting a flurry of speculation as to what prompted his sudden departure from WWE.
Now, he’s admitted things weren’t going as great for him as it might have seemed. During an interview on Sam Robert’s Wrestling Podcast, Barrett opened up about his disenfranchisement with the industry. Speaking frankly, he admitted he had been unhappy even in some of his best years.
“I was miserable for a long time for the last few years I was in WWE,” he said.
Barrett, however, expressed no bitterness toward WWE, hinting his problems were more personal.
“I have no beef or hate for them, but it was just how I was feeling at the time,” he said.
Barrett first entered professional wrestling at 21-years-old in 2004 after years in the European bare-knuckled boxing scene. However, it wasn’t until 2007 that he was contracted with the WWE under the ring name Stu Sanders.
In the following years, Barrett headlined five WWE pay-per-view events, including three championship challenges. In 2015, he won the King of the Ring tournament.
To his fans, Barrett looked like he was a force to be reckoned with. In his personal life, however, he was struggling to find meaning.
“If you go back to the early 2000s all the way to 2014 all I cared about in life was being a wrestler; going on the road, performing in front of crowds. Getting big. Climbing the ladder,” he said.
Barrett continued, “But then at some point around 2015 it took a giant U-turn and thought to myself, ‘wait a minute? What am I doing here?'”
At the same time, he explained how he was inundated with lucrative outside offers, including in the acting industry. In 2013, he got a taste of acting when he made a minor appearance in the crime thriller Dead Man Down.
“TV deals had come to me, movie deals had come to me, sponsorship deals had come to me and they were all turned down by WWE because they would involve me being taken away from their shows,” he said.
To Barrett, it seemed impossible to both explore these opportunities and remain with WWE.
“I knew that if I wanted to go and do something else, the only way for me to do that is to first step away from WWE,” he admitted.
By 2015, the allure of the acting industry had eclipsed his struggling passion for professional wrestling. It was also around this time that he took up a role in Eliminators, a direct-to-video action flick where he played a leading role as a hired assassin hunting a former federal agent in witness protection. For Barrett, the acting world suited him better than the grueling WWE lifestyle.
“It is a grind lifestyle and it never ends until you get hurt,” he said of wrestling.
“Then you sit home rehabbing for three months or whatever it is until you get back straight on that train grinding again,” he said.
Barrett still hasn’t cut all ties with wrestling, though. Since 2017, he’s provided commentary on a handful of matches. In July 2018, World of Sport Wrestling announced via Twitter, Barrett had been hired as an executive and commentator.