Break The Walls Down – The Failed Reign Of King Barrett (WWE King of the Ring 2015, Harley Race)

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The Failed Reign Of King Barrett

As all devout royalists will be well aware of, it has been over three months since we were blessed with the coronation of His Royal Highness, ‘King Barrett the First, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of WWE and of His other Realms and Territories King, Head of the Intercontinents, Defender of the Faith’. Crowned at the entertaining WWE Network special in a delectably apt all English final, I was hoping that the King of the Ring entitlement would be a bouncy springboard for the boxer from Preston. That hope has been wildly massacred.

Wade has had an odd array of ups and downs since his WWE debut, like some sort of enjoyable yet capricious rollercoaster. Having set the precedent on the first season of NXT, taking victory over the likes of a certain Daniel Bryan and the hilariously forgotten Michael Tarver, Barrett burst on to the scene as the leader of The Nexus in one of the most compelling storylines of the post Attitude era. And then the see-saw began…

Up – The Nexus tear apart the WWE.
Down – Fails in all challenges for the WWE Title.
Up – Creation of The Corre.
Down – The Corre.
Up – Intercontinental Champion.
Down – Loses title to mediocre machine Ezekiel Jackson.
Up – Gets his own eponymous team at Survivor Series 2011 and defeats Team Orton.
Down – Blows out elbow.
Up – IC Champ again and a run making Bo Dallas relevant for the only time in his non NXT tenure to date.
Down – Visa issues keep him off TV. Again.
Up – Bad News Barrett becomes the most entertaining gimmick in the history of life, the universe and everything.
Down – Separates his shoulder and stripped of the Intercontinental Title.
Up – King Of The Ring winner.
Down – Barrett’s reign challenges George IV for most indolent English monarch ever.

Now as we can see, the King has had his share of moderate pushes before, but this time round, his push seems to have been directly off the White Cliffs of Dover. What could have been a catalyst for ascending the ladder to championship prominence has had him feud with R-Truth in a storyline that blurred the boundary of comedy and nonchalance. Barrett is proficient in comedy wrestling, as, begrudgingly admittedly, is R-Truth, but their narrative was spiritless and shoved the talented Bullhammer wielder not down the card, but off the card entirely if Pre-Show matches aren’t technically regarded as valid PPV bouts. Granted, Barrett has beaten both Jack Swagger and Zack Ryder in recent weeks, but not even WWE Creative can have both participants lose a match. His battles with Neville were entertaining and fed adequately off the King of the Ring showcase. Since that point however, Barrett, like a lead rock in a vacuum, has gone absolutely nowhere.

Without doubt, Wade’s most engaging incarnation since the Nexus days has been when delivering Bad News. Bad News Barrett was witty and exuberant, yet still supercilious and with the aura of a man able to whoop your ass. That’s a difficult combination to hold, and at the height of the gimmick, BNB was arguably the most over he has ever been. Bewildering then, that on his return from injury and subsequent kingship, WWE abandoned the moniker and accompanying persona in favour of a cape and crown. The character could have run for years and evolved naturally over time, assisting in elevating the Englishman to the next level. Why not continue the character alongside a King of the Ring victory? The two didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. At least, that’s what a normal person would conclude.

However, this is WWE, and simply because Harley Race was lathered in cheap royal garments all those years ago, that’s reason enough for the company to force feed us a caped and be-crowned monarch when the need isn’t there. That was a different era. It didn’t work for Sheamus. It certainly didn’t work for William Regal. Somehow Booker T just about pulled it off. But who was the last King of the Ring before Barrett, Sheamus, Regal and Booker? Brock frickin’ Lesnar. Could you imagine the Beast prancing around in a Modroc crown and swishy scarlet cloak? I mean yes, we can imagine it, because we’re sports entertainment fans and are not devoid of fanciful inventiveness, but what I’m saying is that it wouldn’t have suited the character. There was no need to mimic a royal. The tournament was a push in its own right and propelled the man on to greatness. The same can be said of Edge after his tag team days. Or Stone Cold Steve Austin. I’m not saying the King appellation is completely without merit, although I’m very nearly saying it. It should just be adjusted to the talent chosen to triumph. Without the Bad News Barrett device, making a charismatic Brit a King makes total sense, but with an over character that could easily have existed as a face or heel, the whole sovereign nonsense only serves to delegitimise his threat.

Maybe it’s because the man is as fragile as a stained glass glasshouse. Maybe there’s a bigger picture that I’m yet to fully comprehend. Maybe it’s because there’s just more guys ahead of him in the queue. Either way, I’ve always found Wade Barrett to be an able superstar. Solid in the ring and great on the mic, he has the potential to be a major player in the hunt for WWE’s biggest titles and I don’t think the company would regret it if they gave him the ball to run with. A ball without a cloak and sceptre attached.

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