Wade’s WrestleMania dream

WWE Superstar Wade Barrett from Penwortham drops an elbow on Randy Orton
WWE Superstar Wade Barrett from Penwortham drops an elbow on Randy Orton
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“There hasn’t actually been an English world champion before, which I think is a travesty, so I’d like to be the guy who does something about that.

“We’ve got a great professional wrestling history and the fact we’ve never had a world champion is a stain on our wrestling heritage.”

WWE Superstar Wade Barrett is undoubtedly the man best-placed to change that fact.

The 32-year-old, from Penwortham, is currently the WWE’s Intercontinental Champion – traditionally seen as a stepping stone to a world title.

Now living in America, the former Whitefield Primary School pupil, real name Stuart Bennett, is preparing for the company’s biggest event – WrestleMania – on April 7.

And after a year blighted by injury, he is determined to make the most of the months ahead.

He said: “WrestleMania is our biggest show of the year, our FA Cup Final, our Super Bowl, and it’s not the time of year you want to get injured.

“Last year I got injured just before WrestleMania and that was the worst. My injury was actually a completely dislocated elbow. It snapped at the joint and I ended up tearing two ligaments so it was a bit of a nasty one.

“The surgeon had to cut me open and reattach stuff that had torn away from the bone. The healing time for that was six months.

“Physically the rehab and the physio wasn’t too bad.

“But the worst thing was definitely having to sit on the sidelines and watch TV every week while everyone else was out there performing, which is obviously what I love doing.

“We always tell our fans not to try these things at home for a reason. I know we are trying to provide entertainment but there is still a huge element of risk involved.”

Something positive came out of Wade’s injury, as he got a part in a major WWE-backed film, Dead Man Down.

He said: “It stars Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard and a number of other big names.

“It was a great experience for me. It’s probably the biggest film that WWE studios have been involved with so far in terms of the budget and the scale of the release.

“It was great to chat with guys like Colin and get advice from him.”

Since his return to the ring, Wade has risen up the WWE ranks.

He said: “My main concern coming back was to make sure I didn’t re-injure my arm. I was very careful with it. It’s held up really well.

“On top of that I kind of revamped the character, went back to my roots and became a little more edgier. “I’m the Intercontinental Champion at the moment, which is one of the main titles in WWE, and ultimately I’d like to use that as a springboard to go on and win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.”

The latest episodes of WWE Raw have teased a possible confrontation for Wade at WrestleMania against the ‘Celtic Warrior’ Sheamus – renewing the age old rivalry of England versus Ireland.

He said: “I’m very excited, I’ve taken part in WrestleMania before in 2011 when I was part of the Corre but that was a very short match and it didn’t end too well for us.

“I’d like to go in the ring with somebody like Sheamus, he’s somebody whose always been a great opponent of mine.

“As long as I’m involved in something!”

After WrestleMania, WWE returns to the UK, with 10 live events as part of the WrestleMania Revenge Tour from April 18 to April 23.

Wade says: “It’s my favourite time of the year. It’s a rare chance for me to come back and eat some English food and hear some English accents, do a whistle-stop tour of all the people I need to see and catch up with my parents.

“I never really go out to seek a positive reaction from fans in my career but there is something very special about going home and the UK fans cheering for me.

“I had a great reaction in Birmingham in November -–it’s probably the best memory I’ve got of my career so far.”

Wade now lives in Tampa, Florida.

He said: “Obviously there are a lot of positive things about living here, like the nice weather and the beaches, but I definitely miss watching the football with my buddies, just going to the pub, the banter and seeing my family.

“It’s very difficult to find a good curry or get fish and chips – all the food I probably shouldn’t be eating – as a WWE Superstar you have to have a very clean, healthy diet.

“Even though they sell fish and chips out here it doesn’t taste anything like what we know it should taste like, they might be fooling the Americans but they are not fooling me! I love to come home and get a nice meat and potato pie.”

A big Preston North End fan, Wade met the players on a previous tour and has been following events at Deepdale closely.

He said: “I think the change came at the right time, to try and salvage something from this season.

“The key is ensuring we don’t go down.

“I think Simon Grayson is a good appointment - personally I was hoping we would look at him because I think he’s a natural leader and somebody who will do well at the club.”

Despite his fame overseas, Wade can still live a relatively normal life when back in England.

He said: “It’s not too bad, I tend to walk around with a baseball cap on.

“I think I’m definitely recognised in the States more than I am in the UK just because wrestling is bigger out here.

“I’m a little hard to miss really when I’m 6ft 6in and 250lbs walking down the street – I tend to get attention everywhere I go!

“But it’s great to meet the British fans and I love bumping into people who tell me they are going to our shows and how excited they are to see us.”

You can watch WWE WrestleMania 29 on Sky Sports Box Office at midnight on Sunday, April 7.