Wade Barrett lost the Intercontinental Championship at WWE Payback, but that loss was just the latest example of the creative team royally screwing up the career of a once promising superstar.
Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Barrett seemed destined to become one of the WWE’s top long-term heels. It was only in 2010 that Barrett was the leader of the buzzworthy Nexus faction and was feuding with the likes of Randy Orton and John Cena over the WWE Championship.
Barrett was only a rookie then, but he didn’t seem like one. He showed such tremendous poise and promise on the mic, and he seemed destined to be the biggest star to come out of the first season of NXT.
But oh, how times have changed.
No longer is Barrett feuding with the WWE’s biggest stars in the main event picture. No longer is he considered to be world title material. No longer is he someone who is consistently making an impact.
And it’s all because Barrett’s WWE career has been a tremendous waste of both talent and opportunity.
Barrett, of course, has the talent to make it big in pro wrestling. He proved that in 2010 when, although he had only been on TV for a handful of months, the fans were buying into him as a legitimate main-event-caliber superstar.
He had a lot of people talking during his time with The Nexus because of his great promo skills, his ability to get himself noticed and the undeniable impact he made in the WWE in such a sport span.
What’s crazy, though, is that Barrett has improved a great deal since then, mainly in the ring. He probably wasn’t ready to be a main-event in-ring performer back in his early days with The Nexus, but now, he’s easily one of the best big men in the business.
Although creative hasn’t always had his back, Barrett has put on plenty of great matches with the likes of Sheamus and Randy Orton, and he’s proved to be—although maybe not an elite wrestler—a consistently reliable in-ring performer.
Unfortunately, his unquestionable talent has been wasted because the WWE has missed out on a number of opportunities to utilize it.
Take, for example, Barrett’s surprising jump to SmackDown in early 2011 and his subsequent formation of one of the worst stables in recent memory, The Corre. Why on earth did the WWE completely kill Barrett’s momentum by moving him to the less-watched blue brand and then making him a part of an absolute joke of a stable?
The Corre accomplished nothing for anyone involved in it, most of all Barrett. It took one of the highlights of Raw in 2010 and almost instantly turned him to an afterthought on SmackDown in 2011.
The WWE tried to change that by giving Barrett an Intercontinental Championship run, but that seemed like nothing more than a step down after Barrett was main-eventing just six months prior. Take into consideration that his title reign featured no memorable matches or feuds and that he lost the belt to Ezekiel Jackson of all people, and it’s safe to consider that reign a total failure.
Realizing that, the WWE attempted to build Barrett back up later in the year by putting him in a notable feud with Orton. The rivalry between these two was actually pretty solid, but Barrett came out of it no better off than he was beforehand—no world title opportunities, no significant push, nothing.
As a result, Barrett entered 2012 with far less momentum than he probably should have. But things would get even worse when Barrett went down with a major injury on the road to WrestleMania 28.
The creative team reportedly had big plans in store for Barrett at the time, according to this report from PWinsider via WrestlingInc.com, but the injury derailed those plans as he wound up missing roughly half of the year after undergoing elbow surgery.
At least initially, it appeared as if Barrett’s injury might be a blessing in disguise, though. As his return neared, the WWE began airing vignettes promoting Barrett’s return as the “Barrett Barrage,” and many thought that this meant a huge push was on the horizon for Barrett.
But that huge push never came.
In fact, nothing really changed for Barrett upon his return. He was “pushed” by squashing lower talent upon his return, but he never got back to that main-event level, instead winning the Intercontinental Championship only a few months after his return.
That could have been a nice little stepping stone to catapult Barrett to the world title picture. Instead, it became a huge curse.
Almost the instant that Barrett won the Intercontinental Championship, the creative team decided to start having him lose what seemed like 90 percent of his matches. Whenever he wrestled a non-title bout, it was a safe bet that he was going to lose—no matter who he was facing.
Barrett lost and lost and then lost some more, so despite holding the once prestigious Intercontinental Championship, he lost virtually all of his credibility. He became a jobber to the stars, and even after he won the title back from The Miz the night after WrestleMania 29, nothing changed.
Barrett still loses about 10 times more often than he wins, and as a result, he gets little reaction from the crowd with anything that he does. His promos generate the dreaded “What?” chants from the crowd while his matches generate crickets.
His momentum has been completely killed, and after first making a monumental splash in the WWE with The Nexus three years ago, he’s done next to nothing in the three years since then.
That isn’t Barrett’s fault. You can put that blame on creative.
But either way, the fact remains: Ever since The Nexus ended, Barrett’s WWE career has proven to be a complete waste of one of the most talented performers in the company.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!