McGinnis: WWE performer Barrett returns to ToledoWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Being a wrestling champion isn’t as easy as it looks. Just ask World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) performer and Intercontinental titleholder Wade Barrett.
Beyond the grueling road schedule and heavy demands that wrestling puts on the body, there are secondary concerns with holding one of the company’s most prestigious titles. Like, say, taking the title belt with you. Seriously.
“It’s very heavy to be carrying around in my hand luggage, and I can’t be putting it in my main luggage that goes in the hold on the plane, because those things get lost occasionally, or it might get stolen out of there. So I have to keep it on my person at all times. Or when you’re going through the security belt at the airport or stuff like that, people always want to take it out of the bag, going ‘Oh, what’s this giant metal thing you’ve got in your bag?’”
Still, the positives far outweigh the negatives for Barrett, who will be appearing with WWE’s “SmackDown” brand at a live event at Savage Arena on March 17.
A 32-year-old native of Great Britain, Barrett has toured with WWE for nearly three years now, establishing himself as a prominent character in the company. Not to say that there haven’t been setbacks along the way, like the dislocated elbow he suffered last year on an episode of Raw.
“It was a pretty nasty injury. I got it in February 2012, and it took the wind out of my sails with regard to the run-up to WrestleMania last year. It was a very disappointing time, if you get injured. And the diagnosis was it was probably going to take six months to recover from that.”
After surgery on the elbow, Barrett spent six weeks doing next to nothing, and another four months going through therapy to rebuild his range of motion. “It’s a very slow process. And obviously with something like wrestling, where you’re constantly jumping around and getting slammed and all that, people kicking it and things like that, it really needs to be 100 percent before you can get going again.”
Still, the time off gave Barrett an opportunity — he auditioned for and was offered a role in the movie “Dead Man Down,” a WWE Films production that was released in theaters this past Friday.
“That kinda tied up two and a half months of my six-month injury. So that was a great experience to be a part of that. It had some great actors involved — Terrance Howard and Colin Farrell were both in the film; I was working very closely with them. And this was the first film, or acting role, I’ve been a part of, so it was a great experience.”
He finally made his return to WWE television in August, beginning with a series of vignettes that played up his real-life background as a bare-knuckle fighter.
“I really liked the vig-nettes that WWE put together; I thought those were really cool. We got a lot of good feedback from people saying it was like a Hollywood movie or something like that. I think it was kind of a chance to give me a little shift in the right direction when I came back and let people know I mean business.”
Barrett has worked hard to continue to make his name on WWE television in the days since his return, leading up to this, the most crucial time of the year. WrestleMania, the company’s biggest show (and for its stars, the biggest payday) is just around the corner.
“It’s pretty tense, actually,” Barrett said, describing the WWE locker room. “Especially for me, because I obviously missed last year’s WrestleMania because of the injury I got just beforehand. Everyone’s looking at the card, it’s really starting to take shape — I think we’ve got two or three matches that are kind of set for WrestleMania — and everyone’s looking at that card and thinking, ‘I’ve got to get myself on there pretty quickly,’ because unfortunately, there are limited spaces on the WrestleMania card. It’s not like everyone is going to get on there.”
And as for the long-term future? Well, if the past year’s events have taught Barrett anything, it’s that nothing is certain.
“I’d like to do this for a long time. I saw myself last year, with the injury that I got, that things can change very quickly. It doesn’t matter how well you plan anything out — things can change pretty quickly. Nothing ever goes to plan in WWE. So, in the back of my mind, I’ve got the age of 40 as the age I want to retire. So that’s another eight years away. So I’ve got a time to go, if that were the case. But there are so many things that can change in the meantime.”
Email Toledo Free Press Star Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.