On the August 6th episode of Raw, the WWE Universe was treated to a video package for the much anticipated return of the injured Wade Barrett. The 30-second video featured a newly-bearded Barrett in his element, what appeared to be an underground fight club that highlighted Wade’s experience as a bare-knuckle boxer in Liverpool. The August 13th episode featured a similar video, with Barrett decimating a fellow fighter and declaring ominously at the end of the clip that his “barrage has just begun.”
The return of Barrett is exciting due to his powerful charisma. Prior to suffering a partially dislocated elbow in late February, many fans, myself included, predicted that Barrett would have a break-out year and capture championships. Unfortunately, fate intervened and Barrett missed WrestleMania, Money in the Bank, and is likely not going to appear at SummerSlam either. If the promo videos are any indication, however, Wade is slated to come back to wrestling in full force, leaner and meaner than before. After a 6-month hiatus, however, who should he feud with?
The first Superstar that comes to mind is Randy Orton. Few fans have forgotten the violent, hard-hitting matches and backstage brawls the two engaged in at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 before Barrett’s injury. When Orton lays eyes on Barrett in that ring again, flashes of RKOing Barrett on a car and then Wade throwing him down a flight of steps will certainly be at the forefront of his mind. Barrett will have a score to settle, since the Viper came out the victor in most of their matches together. The animosity the two hold for each other goes deeper than wins and losses, however. Both men are textbook Alpha males who don’t like to be one-upped, and their segments made for some great TV. If either man decides to reprise this rivalry, and if it is every bit as personal and angry as the first time around, it will leave little to be desired. I would like to see the feud culminate in a pay-per-view stipulation match with Barrett coming away victorious; a decisive victory over someone as visible and popular as the Viper would truly launch Barrett to main-event status.
Another man who may have a bone to pick with Barrett is the indomitable John Cena. After all, it was Cena who cost Wade the WWE title more than once. And it was Cena who essentially had to answer to Barrett and the Nexus, or else he would be fired. The past few months that Barrett has been off TV, Cena has had his hands full with the likes of the Rock, CM Punk and Big Show. John Cena is very proud and takes his position as the face of the WWE very seriously; having to kowtow to someone like Barrett is not going to sit well with him. Barrett is everything Cena is not: anti-authority, domineering, angry and ready to fight. If these two cross paths backstage and words are exchanged, Cena would likely relish the opportunity to put one over on Barrett. Deep down, Cena may even see Barrett as a threat, and he who is threatened will almost always attack.
Another Superstar who has given Barrett fits is Heath Slater. The two clearly don’t like each other, and have exchanged jabs over Twitter the past few months in particular. Slater has mocked Barrett’s speech and appearance and Barrett has expressed his disdain for Slater and his antics, and neither of them are shy about their hatred for the other. Barrett believes that he is physically above Slater and much more talented, not to mention more intelligent. In fact, Barrett has even gone as far as to call Slater an “imbecile” and “the dumbest human being I have ever met.” Slater has been carving out a nice little niche for himself on Raw as of late as the One Man Band, a moniker that Barrett, no doubt, finds farcical. Slater has seen Barrett unleash his barrage first-hand, but he has never actually been on the receiving end. It will be interesting to see how the two former Nexus teammates interact with each other in the ring when they are not on the same side.
The video packages have not given a specific date for Barrett’s return, but I know that when “Just Don’t Care Anymore” hits and Barrett struts down to the ring in his cape, it will be the most anticipated return of the year for many fans. He will grab the mic and address the WWE Universe for the first time in six months and all of us will be riveted to his every word.