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Wade Barrett Says WWE Had Plans for OVW UK in 2008, Why It Fell Apart And How Far It Got

April 2, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
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Stu Bennett, the former Wade Barrett, spoke with Colt Cabana on the Art of Wrestling and discussed his being signed by WWE and how it was initially part of a plan to establish a UK training center. Obviously, these days the idea of a developmental territory in the UK is reality with NXT UK, which is Triple H’s expansion plan to branch out into localized training centers. But long before that, Barrett noted that John Laurinaitis had a similar plan which led to him hiring eight UK roster members in one day. That group included Barrett, Sheamus and Drew who were the only ones who made it to WWE.

Barrett talked about why the plan ultimately failed, why Laurinaitis was so keen on it and how far along it all got. Highlights and the full podcast are below:

On initially getting signed in a group: “The reason they hired like eight of us in one day, this was the original plan, actually. So they would hire — the original plan was, okay for years they hired a British guy once every four or five years … it was really rare that a Brit got signed. And then suddenly, seven or eight of us on the same day all got signed at the beginning of 2007 after we went for this tryout. So we were all overjoyed obviously, but I found it very strange that, ‘Why would they take all of us over?’

“Anyway, we go to OVW … we go over there and we start wrestling at Ohio Valley Wrestling. Now if you know your economy, 2008 was a massive crash, historic crash, the worst since the ’20s. The Great Depression or whatever like that … Anyway, we all get over there, we’re all training, they’re starting and then the economy crashes. And around this time, they started cutting a few of these British guys here and there. And eventually it just ended up being me, Drew and Sheamus. I keep calling us British guys; Sheamus is not British, Sheamus is Irish, we need to make this point. There are people out there that would be very, very mad. And I’m English and I’m kind of scared of those people.”

On the whole “master plan” behind it all: “So anyway, it turns out — and I subsequently find this on the grapevine that the plan was to hire us eight guys, take us to Ohio Valley Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling, train us up for six months or so. Bring us all back to the UK, and then set up a training center in the UK which would have been OVW UK or whatever they would have called it. And then we were gonna be the stalwarts, or the guys that teach all the other British guys. We were gonna be the experienced guys who could — so this is the WWE way. ‘No, the s**t you’re doing in other parts of the world’ — because apparently it was a lot easier, certainly at the time, to get a British visa for people from like Africa or Australia or Japan than it was to get a US one. So that was the plan, and we were going to have a farm in the UK. And who knows if we’d have ever made it back to the US. So I’m kind of thrilled to the economy crashed, that got cancelled and they kept me out there.”

On how close they were to pulling the trigger on OVW UK: “Apparently it was legit. It was all in place, John Laurinaitis’ master plan. No idea [who was going to be the head coach]. I don’t know if they’d figured that out. Maybe Robbie Brookside, maybe they were gonna send Regal back. I never got the full details of it. But yeah, that was apparently John Laurinaitis’ master plan. He wanted to get away from OVW, because OVW was a Jim Ross baby from his time heading up developmental. And then you know, he wanted to set up FCW like it was his own thing. Kind of like Hunter did with NXT, he wanted to get rid of FCW and set up NXT which was Hunter’s own thing. Everyone who takes over seems to want to have their own thing. But that was John Laurinaitis’ big master plan was to set these two up so you’d have something in FCW and something in the UK..”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the Art of Wrestling Podcast with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.

article topics :

OVW, Wade Barrett, WWE, Jeremy Thomas