Missed 3:16: The Bad News of Wade Barrett

Since John Cena won the WWE Championship in 2005, the next four years represented a sense of stasis in the company. Vince McMahon and the WWE creative team began...

Since John Cena won the WWE Championship in 2005, the next four years represented a sense of stasis in the company. Vince McMahon and the WWE creative team began to rest on their laurels. They took a “business as usual” approach without ever attempting to create any new stars behind their cash cow because of the money Cena was bringing to the company.

But as 2010 crept closer, panic began to set in. Injuries were catching up to Edge and Chris Jericho, and Randy Orton’s heel characters (while two of the best of the era) had begun to go stale. Furthermore, Triple H’s role in the company began to shift. As a result, a sense of desperation began to develop that can easily be seen when examining the creative direction of the product.

Sheamus became a WWE Champion after spending less than two months on Raw, Alberto Del Rio came out of nowhere to win the Royal Rumble in 2011, and The Miz main evented WrestleMania 27.

But perhaps the most evident example of WWE’s insistence on fast-tracking new wrestlers to the top of the card was the first season of NXT. In its inaugural season, NXT was the most primitive version of the show: a cross between reality television and a regular pro-wrestling format that saw eight “rookies” from developmental paired with eight pros. With wrestlers getting voted off one at a time, the last remaining wrestler would earn a WWE contract in addition to a title match at the pay-per-view of their choosing.

How’s that for a push to the moon?

The winner was a six-foot-seven sharp-tongued Brit by the name of Wade Barrett—who we have come to know by monikers such as Bad News Barrett, and today, King Barrett.

With poignant verbal skills and size, it quickly became obvious that Barrett was the guy creative had in mind for the role, though it should be noted that just about every “rookie” on the show managed to stand out in one way or another except for Michael Tarver.

For this reason, when the time came for Barrett to debut, he did not debut alone. Barrett and the seven other NXT cast members formed a new group called the Nexus that was cult-like in their mission, and gang-like in their in-ring attire, which featured t-shirts and armbands donning the letter “N.”

The faction’s debut occurred on the June 7, 2010 edition of Raw, interrupting a “Viewer’s Choice” main event between John Cena and CM Punk. Exhibiting a form of “total warfare” comparable to Ulysses S. Grant’s Civil War tactics, Nexus beat down Cena, Punk, Luke Gallows, Jerry Lawler, Justin Roberts, Matt Striker, and the rest of the crew around the ring before dismantling the squared circle piece by piece.

From that moment onward, Nexus were an instant hit, and today, are revered among the likes of other great modern wrestling stables like the nWo and D-Generation X.

The group’s initial objective was to earn the rest of its members WWE contracts by brute force, utilizing its strength in numbers to wreck havoc and do whatever they pleased. As the group’s only natural talker, Barrett thrived as the leader with his influence growing rapidly as the storyline progressed.

As is par for the course for any heel that gets over in this era, a feud with Cena was imminent.

While feuding with the top babyface in the company should be looked at as a good thing, there is a Triple H-like stigma attached to Cena that he has a propensity to bury rising talent and send them trickling back down the card not unlike the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

From the onset, there seemed to be a ton of potential in a Cena-Nexus feud. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to elevate Barrett due to the strong booking the group had received since their debut. Outnumbering Cena seven-to-one, it seemed completely logical for Cena to take a few clean losses, because if this were real, there is no question that one man would not be able to successfully fend off seven on his own.

Considering the talent gap between developmental at this time and developmental today, Barrett turned out to be the perfect man to lead the group of rogues. His British accent alone could draw him heat, but the conviction with which he spoke particularly caught fan’s ears. If Barrett made a promise, you knew it was going to come to fruition. He was believable in an era where it was becoming increasingly difficult to be authentic. He was a great heel.

With a guaranteed title shot still in his back pocket, a one-on-one encounter with Cena was in the making. But before that could happen, they would have to face off as leaders of their respective teams.

After spending the better part of July trying to get Cena to join Nexus on their quest for insurrection, Barrett gave Cena one more chance to join them on July 19. Cena once again refused and said that he had fielded a team to take Nexus down once and for all. Team Cena included Edge, John Morrison, R-Truth, The Great Khali, Bret Hart, and Chris Jericho—Barrett’s former NXT pro.

The weeks leading up to SummerSlam teased dissention on Team Cena, and also a new partner to fill the void left by Khali, who Nexus took out prior to the match. They mystery partner ended up being Daniel Bryan, who turned out to be the perfect choice after his mysterious disappearance following the group’s debut was explained by his “showing remorse” over the initial attacks.

The prior booking was great, the chosen participants—while imperfect—made sense, and the subtleties were all accounted for. We should have been in-store for an all-time classic match; we were essentially getting Survivor Series in the summer. Unfortunately, the in-match booking left a lot to be desired.

Sure, one could argue that Bret Hart should not have been in the match considering his current physical condition and the fact that another young wrestler could have benefited from the exposure, but this was the least of the match’s problems.

Since it was booked more like a match and less like an angle, as the members of Nexus had become accustomed to, it exposed most of them as green, relatively poor workers. Barrett, of course shined, but any momentum he had gained during the match came to screeching halt when the finish came; the Missed 3:16 moment.


What's A Missed 3:16?
Former wrestling journalist Andrew Khellah defines the terms “3:16 moment” and superstar as such:

3:16 Mo·ment (mmnt)
1. The rise to superstardom
2. A particular period of importance, influence, or significance in a series of events or developments
3. The wrestling promo that can make you a legend
su·perstar (spr-stär)
1. A widely acclaimed star, as in movies or sports, who has great popular appeal.
2. One that is extremely popular or prominent or that is a major attraction.

In essence, the 3:16 moment represents the small window of opportunity a wrestler has to connect with the crowd and ultimately
make the impact that is going to cement his status at the top of the card.

Vince McMahon has famously stated that WWE grants opportunities, not promises. It is the job of the talent (and to a degree the writers) to make the most of the opportunities they are afforded to climb the corporate ladder and reach levels of success they only could have dreamt of.

Steve Austin’s tirade after King of the Ring is perhaps the best example of what a 3:16 moment is, considering he coined the infamous phrase, “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!” Other notable 3:16 moments include Shane Douglas throwing down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship to usher in a new era of extreme, CM Punk’s pipe bomb, and Hulk Hogan cutting a promo on Hulkamaniacs everywhere when he joined the Outsiders in WCW.

For as many 3:16 moments as there have been however, there have been nearly ten times the amount of 3:16 moments that never were. This new series of columns aims to take a deeper look at missed 3:16 moments with an open mind as we think about what could have been.

According to Jericho and Edge, both men lobbied heavily for Barrett and Nexus to go over but Cena, for whatever reason, saw things differently. Rather than succumbing to Nexus’ then two-on-one advantage, Cena beat both Barrett and Justin Gabriel, even after taking a DDT from Barrett onto the concrete floor just minutes prior. This marked the end of Nexus’ popularity spike as the group was never the same after this match.

Had Barrett gotten the win, we would have finally had a top heel and his stable standing over Cena for the first time since Cena became the company’s top star. It would have established Barrett as a real threat to not just Cena, but the rest of the WWE, thus increasing both the floor of his popularity as well as the ceiling.

Although he would regret not putting Barrett over later, Cena would not be denied on this particular night.

The aftermath saw Barrett use his promised title shot as a ticket to enter a six-pack challenge at Night of Champions (which made no sense) and the long-awaited one-on-one showdown between Barrett and Cena at Hell in a Cell with the stipulation that if Cena lost, he would have to join Nexus.

The short-lived Nexus feat. John Cena was short lived and meaningless, causing the Hell in a Cell stipulation to also lose its meaning in retrospect. Barrett did get to challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series, albeit in another stipulation-laden match that also involved John Cena as the special guest referee.

Had Cena simply taken the fall back at SummerSlam, both he and Barrett could have prospered immensely. That one victory would have been significant enough to keep Nexus, and Barrett specifically, trending upward in popularity. Cena would look human for the first time since 2005 and the loss would have really given him something to fight for, while also making him more relatable to the WWE audience. And if nothing else, it is a safe assumption that at peak popularity, Cena vs Barrett for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 27 would have been a significant upgrade over Cena vs The Miz.

But alas, the lofty prospects of the original Nexus never came to fruition. By the end of the year, Nexus was no more. As for Barrett, he has since reinvented himself a couple times, but has never been able to recapture the heat he once had as the leader of wrestling’s last truly dominant faction.

Wrestledelphia.com columnist Jack Goodwillie can be reached at . Follow him on Twitter at .

2 Comments on this post.
  • Levin: WWE Fails To Get Ryback Over. Again. | Wrestledelphia
    14 March 2016 at 5:03 PM
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    […] If WWE honestly believes Ryback can be a huge success as a heel, then I ask them to consider the case of Wade Barrett. […]

  • Levin: When Will WWE Let Kevin Owens Steal The Show? | Wrestledelphia
    29 March 2016 at 9:09 AM
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    […] them steal the spotlight, and then quickly allow them to become absorbed in the wrestling machine. It happened to Wade Barrett. It engulfed Rusev and Lana. It destroyed wrestlers like Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, and now Dolph […]

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