'I called out Wayne Rooney - but that's gone quiet'

Tuesday 14 Apr 2015
Wade Barrett and the Preston squad at WWE Live in Manchester
Wrestling superstar and football-mad Wade Barrett has exclusively revealed to TheFA.com his ambition to perform in the squared-circle at Wembley Stadium and become the first-ever English World Heavyweight Champion.

The 6ft 7in Preston-born grappler is back in his homeland on the World Wrestling Entertainment’s UK Tour, and he took time out of his busy schedule to reveal his dream of repeating the feat of his wrestling hero by performing at the National Stadium.

“That would be incredible to perform at Wembley,” he said. “I was a big British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith fan, he was my favourite as a kid, and I remember watching Summerslam 92 at Wembley and being blown away by how amazing the experience was.

“To be able to follow in his footsteps and do something like that by performing at the new Wembley, it would just be incredible.

“I know we would pack it out, the British fans would be hanging of the rafters, and I think I’d be the real favourite for that one so it would be a great show.

“It’s out of my hands whether that would ever happen, but if they could make it work that would be fantastic and a truly amazing event.”

Barrett is a former Intercontinental Champion

Barrett is a former Intercontinental Champion

The 34-year-old grew up watching his beloved Preston North End on the terraces at Deepdale.

Having had first-hand experience of the football fan culture in England, the former Intercontinental Champion believes the wrestling crowd within these shores are just as passionate.

“It’s been a hectic schedule but I always love coming back home. I’ve been at shows in Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester and now we are in London and it’s been a great experience so far,” he said.

“I’ve had a mix of cheers and boos, sometimes they go crazy for me or they hate me, but it’s great to come back home as these are the loudest fans anywhere in the world and it makes it all the more special being a home crowd.

“Anywhere we go around the world, wrestling fans are very passionate, but especially in the UK I feel there’s definitely some crossover from our football fan culture. With their singing and the chanting, a lot of the time over here the crowd is actually the star of the show.

“They are so special and different, and I know I speak on behalf of the entire locker room when I say that this is our favourite place to wrestle because the fans are so crazy. We never know what they are going to give us - they don’t always play along with the storylines and twist things their own way, so it’s great.”

And with a frantic following from his fellow Englishman, Barrett would love to one day stand before them as a history-maker.

“There’s never been an English world heavyweight champion,” he explained. “Some guys have come close in the past. The British Bulldog is one who I think should have won it, William Regal is another I believe should have won it at some point but didn’t. I myself have come pretty close in the past, especially in 2010 I came very close in a few matches on pay-per-view.

'It would be incredible to perform at Wembley'

Wade Barrett

“Eventually it’s got to happen - if you look at the calibre of wrestlers in the past that have come from our island it is incredible that it has not happened. Whether it’s me, or Adrian Neville, another Englishman who has recently debuted in the ring on TV, it will happen – but I would love to be the first.”

So how did a football-loving youngster from Lancashire end up thousands of miles away performing in front of thousands of WWE fans?

Barrett explains his path from the football pitch to the squared-circle.

“I played football all the time as a kid. I did other sports like athletics and rugby, but football was my favourite since being little. Believe it or not, I was actually a nippy right winger and I was pretty good until I was about 14 when I started growing taller and taller.

“I became way too slow to play that position, so I was moved to centre-back for a bit but I hated that – it wasn’t for me at all. I eventually quit and found wrestling.

“I always loved wrestling too as a kid, but it isn’t really something you can go out with your mates to the park and do. I was in Liverpool at university when I was reading former wrestler Mick Foley’s autobiography and when I got to the end of it I suddenly envisioned a path of how I could get to WWE.”

Barrett continued: “I started wrestling in the UK on the independent scene, which is very far removed from WWE. Sometimes I’d only be wrestling in front of 20 people, and we’d have more wrestlers than audience, and you wouldn’t be paid hardly anything.

'If Rooney did ever want to step in the ring then I’m waiting for him'

Wade Barrett

“I slowly climbed my way up over about three years and then the WWE came on tour to the UK in 2007 and invited me along to the show and to have a look at me in the ring during the ring. Luckily they liked what they saw and hired me and brought me over to the States.”

Barrett is certainly making an impact in the wrestling ring, but it was an incident on Twitter that hit headlines back in February. After Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney had won a penalty during the FA Cup victory over Preston, North End fan Barrett took to the social media channel to vent his frustrations at the England captain.

Stone Cold Steve Austin was drafted in as a potential tag-team partner by Rooney before Preston forward Kevin Davies was called upon by Barrett.

Despite the match-up never taking place, and admitting that he is actually a fan of Rooney, Barrett had a warning for the United frontman.

“I’ve already called out Wayne Rooney, but I saw recently that unfortunately he got knocked out by somebody else, so that’s all gone very quiet now.

“But I’m a huge Wayne Rooney fan, I always have been, and there’s no real beef there between us – but if he did ever want to step in the ring then believe me I’m waiting for him.”

Watch Wade Barrett in action at Extreme Rules on Sky Sports Box Office and WWE Network at 1am on Sunday 26th April.

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer