Wade Barrett started his WWE career red hot, and as a result, there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the former bareknuckle brawler ever since then.
After he won the first season of NXT in 2010, he immediately skyrocketed up the WWE ladder as the leader of one of the biggest factions in recent memory, The Nexus.
Not even a year into his stint on the main roster, he consistently found himself battling it out with the WWE’s top dogs. By the end of 2010, the Nexus front-man had already been at the center of major storylines with both John Cena and Randy Orton.
Barrett’s faction of NXT rookies received an absolutely massive push upon its arrival in the WWE. The group battled “Team WWE” in a huge 7-on-7 match at SummerSlam that year, and as the group’s leader, Barrett himself feuded with Orton over the WWE Championship and Cena over Cena’s inclusion in the group.
These were incredible heights for a main roster rookie to reach---heights that he, quite simply, hasn’t been able to reach since then.
Once Barrett parted ways with The Nexus, he moved over to SmackDown in early 2011 and had a really rough year on the blue brand. Even though he managed to win the Intercontinental Championship, he also was part of the awful group known as The Corre and took a substantial slide down the card.
It wasn’t until late 2011 during his feud with Orton that Barrett made any real noise on the blue brand, but after a great back-and-forth rivalry between the two, Barrett suffered a devastating elbow injury on the road to WrestleMania 28. The injury caused him to miss Mania and a big chunk of 2012.
After the WWE aired several vignettes promoting his return, Barrett came back in early September and appeared to be in line for a monster push. While he has battled it out with top guys like Sheamus and Orton, he suddenly finds himself taking yet another slip down the card.
Barrett is currently feuding with Kofi Kingston over the Intercontinental Championship and is set to challenge for the title at WWE TLC in less than two weeks ago. However, most fans will agree that an Intercontinental title win would be a step backward rather than a step forward for Barrett.
The good news, though, is that Barrett doesn’t figure to walk out of TLC with the Intercontinental Championship because the WWE apparently has bigger things in store for him. According to F4WOnline.com (via WrestlingInc.com), WWE officials feel that Barrett is “ready for the ‘big time’ main event.”
As someone who has experience working at the top of the card and has made tremendous improvements in the ring over the last few years, Barrett is more than ready to step back into the main event picture. Luckily for Barrett, it appears as if the WWE is starting to realize that.
While his current feud with Kingston can’t be considered to be much more than a disappointing setback, that doesn’t mean that Barrett is doomed to be a midcarder for the remainder of his career.
In fact, the F4WOnline.com report suggests that, after Dolph Ziggler, Barrett could be the next heel in line to make a splash in the World title picture. With The Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 29 rapidly approaching, that puts Barrett in a prime position at the WWE’s most important time of the year.
There are likely only a handful of candidates to win the Royal Rumble, and Barrett has to be near the top of that list. Even if he doesn’t win it, however, he’s simply too talented to be left out of the loop when it comes to WrestleMania 29 and beyond.
Barrett has developed into one of the WWE’s best all-around performers, and there’s been nothing to suggest that he’s in the doghouse or that he won’t be a major part of the WWE going forward. After all, this is a guy that performed very well as a main roster rookie when he was the leader of The Nexus.
If he can hold his own at the top of the card as a relative newcomer, then he’s more than capable of doing so with a few years of seasoning under his belt. It’s not an issue of if he can do it; it’s an issue of whether the WWE will give him the chance to do it.
With company officials apparently firmly behind Barrett again and the WWE’s need to elevate new heels, he has as good of a chance as anyone to be a major main event player going forward. There’s no reason to think that, given the right booking, Barrett can’t surpass what he did with The Nexus back in 2010.
He’s better in every facet of the game now and established enough to be a legitimate threat to the WWE’s biggest stars. That wasn’t the case two years ago.
As long as Barrett keeps performing well, he won’t just be involved in a main event angle like he was with The Nexus. Instead of going after the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship, he’ll be the guy who’s holding it.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!