Wrestler Wade climbing the WWE ladder

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On the New Year’s Eve episode of WWE Raw, one of the hottest young stars in professional wrestling today won the WWE Intercontinental Championship.

Wade Barrett beat Kofi Kingston to clinch the title in front of 11,000 fans at the Verizon Center in Washington DC, America.

Wrestling star: Wade Barrett

Wrestling star: Wade Barrett

The 32-year-old triumphed with his Bull Hammer elbow finishing move in a broadcast watched by millions of viewers in more than 145 countries, in 30 different languages, around the world.

In doing so he gained a belt traditionally seen as a stepping stone to a world title - previously worn by wrestling greats such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.

But how many people in his hometown of Penwortham would be aware of his success, or recognise him if he walked down the street?

The former Whitefield Primary School pupil, real name Stuart Bennett, left Lancashire and moved to Wales at the age of six.

He gained a marine biology degree at the University of Liverpool and worked in a science laboratory while studying on Merseyside, before taking up a job as a recruitment consultant in London.

At the age of 21, the 6ft 7ins, near 18st Preston North End fan decided to try and become a professional wrestler.

He was trained by veteran London grappler Jon Ritchie, before appearing in British-based promotions such as NWA UK Hammerlock Wrestling, Dropkixx Wrestling and All Star Wrestling.

In 2007, after a couple of auditions, he was signed by the biggest wrestling company in the world, and set on the road to stardom.

Steven Fludder, 29, from Ashton, who runs the UK’s fastest growing wrestling promotion, Preston City Wrestling, has met Wade on several occasions.

The former Ashton High School pupil said: “He is always nice and professional.

“Wade excels because he has both size and a strong vocal ability.

“While his in-ring skills are still being developed, he can carry himself like a pro due to how he works the crowd.

“People can either do this or they can’t and it makes or breaks a star.”

Now living in Florida, Wade won the first season of WWE’s talent-contest NXT in 2010 and made his Raw debut in June of that year, rising to prominence as the leader of the Nexus, a villainous group made up of NXT contestants.

He headlined five WWE pay-per-view events in the next six months, including the company’s second biggest show of the year, SummerSlam, and challenged for the WWE Championship on three occasions.

After moving to the promotion’s secondary show SmackDown in 2011, Wade formed a short-lived group known as The Corre.

Despite winning the Intercontinental Championship for the first time, he slipped down the pecking order, and was absent from television from February to September last year, after suffering a dislocated elbow.

However, since his return last summer and the adoption of a new, more aggressive in-ring style, he has flourished again.

Shortly after recapturing the Intercontinental Championship, Wade cleanly defeated nine-time world champion Randy Orton on the 20th anniversary episode of Raw.

He is now in pole position for a starring role at WrestleMania 29 in New York this April.

Steven said: “I think this year he will start to move up the ladder, as a victory over Randy Orton doesn’t happen for everybody.”