Wade Barrett has admitted he didn’t feel like he was John Cena’s equal during their time working together in WWE.
The current NXT commentator – who will be calling the action during tonight’s spooky Halloween Havoc special – first became known to most fans when he led the Nexus group in a brutal assault of the then-WWE champion and his opponent CM Punk, laying waste to all in their path during an emphatic debut.
Great things were expected from the faction, which also included new stars – the likes of Ryback, Daniel Bryan and Heath Slater – who went onto make waves in the company to various degrees
However, the storyline as a whole didn’t necessarily pan out how everyone hoped, with Cena largely credited with putting one of many nails in their coffin on screen after his team defeated them at SummerSlam 2010.
Reflecting on the experience, Wade exclusively told Metro.co.uk: ‘Obviously, there was a huge disparity between where he was at career-wise and where I was at.
‘There was never that level – I never felt like we were level as peers, when it came to putting the matches together or working on storylines or anything like that.
‘Whereas shortly after that, I would have programmes with Kofi Kingston who I very much saw as my kind of level at the time in 2011. We’d gone through developmental together and I felt much more comfortable working with him.
‘You just have to take those opportunities when they come, and I was very, very grateful to be in there with John Cena.’
Despite the tendency of wrestling fans to see things as black and white, Barrett is able to look back with a more balanced and optimistic view of the position he was put in.
‘You’ve gotta put it in perspective of where I was in life at the time. I’d been chasing this dream of getting to the top of WWE for a very long time,’ he explained.
‘I’m not complaining about this, but really, I was struggling to get by financially when I first moved to the US.
‘Every apartment I had – I think the first five places I lived in the United States all had cockroaches in them. My car – I lived in Tampa, Florida – I had no air conditioning.’
For the Preston lad to go from this to working with the biggest star in the company was a fantastic experience and vote of confident, while it also set him up well for the future.
‘No matter what happens, I’m now part of this huge storyline and what I’ve done here is going to live forever in the world of pro wrestling, and probably help secure at least my near-term future financially and career-wise,’ he added.
‘I’d seen so many of my peers from the indy scene in the UK or from the developmental system fall by the wayside and not get the opportunities that I got.
‘So, I was really appreciative that I got the opportunity to be in the ring with John Cena, get this spotlight on me and secure my career future through that.’
The camaraderie Wade – who worked in WWE developmental with Florida Championship Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling early in his career – felt with his peers is significant, and he sees the same family feel with the current NXT roster, with a shared journey and goal in mind.
‘Once you get to the main roster, Raw and SmackDown, you might have guys who’ve been on that main roster for 20-plus years in some cases, guys who are multi-millionaires, they’ve got Ferraris and these mansions,’ he said.
‘You just feel like, “I’m a world apart from this guy I’m wrestling tonight. We are nothing alike, we’re in the same environment and in the same company, but I’m not on a level with this guy in any way, in experience, ability, my lifestyle. There’s nothing I’ve got in common with him apart from this thing, which is pro wrestling”.
‘That nature of struggle and the thing you’re chasing, that unites a locker room and brings them together very tightly.’
It’s that level of desire which made Wade so open to heading to black and gold brand and working with the NXT talent at this stage in their careers.
‘They’re so hungry, so excited and it’s just such a positive environment to be in,’ he pondered. ‘You feel, perhaps, like you’re a bigger cog in a machine than I ever felt with Raw and SmackDown or anything like that.’
*NXT: Halloween Havoc airs tonight at midnight on BT Sport.
Credit: Original article published here.