Wade Barrett made his WWE debut in early 2010 as a heel on the inaugural season of NXT, and he’s been a heel ever since then.
He’s had some success in that role, too. He was the leader of one of the biggest stables in recent memory in The Nexus, he’s feuded with the likes of Randy Orton and John Cena in the WWE Championship scene, and he’s now a three-time Intercontinental Champion.
Unfortunately for Barrett, though, he’s been in a major slump over the course of the past six months or so—despite winning the Intercontinental title twice during that span.
For whatever reason, the WWE just doesn’t seem to care much about Barrett these days. He hardly ever has any must-see feuds, almost never gets placed in big matches and loses so many non-title TV matches that it’s honestly too hard to keep count.
Clearly, Barrett needs something to turn his fortunes around, and in a perfect world, something as simple as a push could probably achieve that. But because Barrett has hit a new low in recent months, he might need something even bigger than that.
He may need a face turn, and—you know what?—he might actually be capable of having a good run as a babyface, too.
To most fans, Barrett screams “HEEL” because he’s a big, brutal brawler who just so happens to be from a foreign country. But there’s another certain big foreign brawler who has had a whole lot of success since turning babyface in 2011.
I’m talking, of course, about Sheamus, who turned face nearly two years ago and has now solidified himself as one of the WWE’s top two or three good guys. Since turning face, he’s won the Royal Rumble, had a seven-month long World title reign and competed in plenty of major matches en route to becoming a major name in pro wrestling.
Although Barrett plays his heel role extremely well when the WWE actually puts some effort into booking his character, I think he could certainly follow in Sheamus’ footsteps and have a good run as a babyface. In fact, he might even make a better face than Sheamus has become.
When you look at Barrett, one major advantage he has over Sheamus is his mic work. Sheamus isn’t a bad talker, but as a babyface, the WWE has watered him down so much that he comes across as too corny and too much of a jokester.
Barrett, on the other hand, proved very early on in his career that he’s well above average on the microphone. In fact, when he’s in a feud that matters and is given the chance to show off his promo skills, he usually delivers in a big way—with promos that are better than the ones we hear from about 90 percent of the main roster.
As we all know, a superstar’s ability on the mic is often what makes or breaks him, especially when it comes to babyfaces. Whereas a top heel—like Brock Lesnar—can utilize a manager to do his talking for him, top faces generally have to do their own talking because they hardly ever enlist the services of a manager.
That’s why, for the most part, you only see great mic workers make it to the top of the WWE as faces—John Cena and CM Punk being perfect examples of that.
Although Barrett is a notch below the WWE’s elite talkers, he is a very good mic worker, and as a babyface, I think he could shine in that role.
The old unspoken rule that foreign-born superstars must be heel has been thrown out the window recently, thanks to the rise of guys like Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus, and Barrett could follow suit if the WWE ever pulled the trigger on a face turn.
Although some can’t see Barrett as a protagonist, how many fans would have ever imagined that Sheamus would achieve everything that he’s accomplished as a good guy? Better yet, who expected Alberto Del Rio to ever be a babyface, much less succeed in that role?
The bottom line is that you never know what’s going to happen in pro wrestling, and you never know if Barrett might be able to pull off a face turn.
After all, he certainly has the skills to do it. He’s made tremendous improvements in the ring over the last couple of years, and I think that the fans could definitely get behind his babyface-like skill set.
Barrett’s big boot to his opponent on the apron, his big kick to the gut, the Winds of Change slam and The Bull Hammer elbow are four moves that fans respond to really well now but would pop for in a major way if Barrett ever went face.
His Bull Hammer finisher could—like the superkick, the Brogue Kick, Trouble in Paradise or the KO punch—also be one of those moves that, whether it’s anticipated or hit out of nowhere, becomes one of the most over finishers in the WWE.
Seemingly forgotten things such as a superstar’s move set can be what make a guy succeed or fail as a face. Someone like Ezekiel Jackson never had a chance at succeeding as a good guy because his move set was so limited, but when you have a unique and entertaining move set, it can make your chances of succeeding as a good guy much higher.
Barrett’s got a great move set to do just that, and in a day and age where the fans appreciate a good brawler, he should be able to solidify himself as a babyface that the fans love to watch fight.
Admittedly, it would be hard to turn Barrett face at first because he’s a natural heel, and both his nationality and his style make him very fitting of a heel character. But most good heels know how to work as a face (you have to know how one works to be able to do the other), and Barrett could presumably work well as a good guy.
When you combine Barrett’s mic skills, abilities as a brawler and his move set, you get the recipe for a successful babyface in a WWE that badly needs them.
Hey, at the very least, he can’t possibly be any worse off than he is right now, can he?
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!