Stuart Alexander “Stu” Bennett (born 10 August 1980) is an English professional wrestler, actor, and former bare-knuckle boxer. He is signed to WWE, where he performs under the ring name King Barrett. Barrett won the first season of NXT in 2010 and made his Raw debut on 7 June of that year, rising to prominence as the leader of the The Nexus, composed of the remaining NXT rookies of season 1. He headlined five WWE pay-per-view events during the remainder of 2010, challenging for the WWE Championship in three of those, and also competed for the World Heavyweight Championship at the 2011 Elimination Chamber event. Barrett formed the Corre with former Nexus members Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel in January 2011 and won his first Intercontinental Championship, a title that he has won overall five times. He breifly became Bad News Barrett before becoming the 20th King of the Ring winner in 2015, where he changed his name to King Barrett.
Bennett was born in Penwortham, Lancashire. He lived in Preston until the age of six, when he moved to Wales with his family. He was inspired by his idol Davey Boy Smith to become a professional wrestler, and named the WWF Intercontinental Championship match in the main event of SummerSlam 1992 (between Smith and Bret Hart, another childhood hero) as his all-time favourite match. He earned a degree in marine biology from the University of Liverpool, working in a science laboratory and as a recruitment consultant whilst training to become a wrestler. Barrett also has origins in Spain by his maternal grandmother.
While living in Liverpool in his early twenties, Bennett became a champion bare-knuckle boxer, going on to fight in various locations throughout Europe. He competed in a match dubbed by the bare knuckle underworld as “The Battle of Buda”, in which he defeated a reputable opponent for a big cash prize. Afterwards, as he walked through an alleyway in search of a taxi to the airport, Bennett was stabbed with an eight-inch blade by someone who attempted to steal the cash. He has refused to elaborate on the incident for legal reasons, but the assailant incurred serious injuries, and Bennett escaped with the cash despite significant blood loss. The attack left him with a 12-inch scar that stretches from his upper back to halfway down his right triceps and the punches he took during his bare-knuckle career left him with a disfigured nose, but he has expressed no regret over that period of his life. He incorporated his bare-knuckle career into his WWE gimmick at the request of Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, being introduced to the WWE crowd as a European bare-knuckle champion who had fought on the streets of Europe. His Wasteland move is named after the site of many of his fights.
Bennett decided to become a professional wrestler at the age of 21, and was trained by Jon Ritchie and Al Snow. He made his professional wrestling debut in June 2004, using the ring name Stu Sanders, as a surprise entrant in a 30-man battle royal held by NWA UK Hammerlock Wrestling. Sanders also performed at numerous Dropkixx Wrestling, Real Quality Wrestling and All Star Wrestling events, as well as wrestling in Wales for Welsh Wrestling. In June 2005 he beat Danny Beckwith for the Dropkixx IWC Heavyweight Championship. In 2005 he feuded with Nick Aldis and Danny Dexter in Dropkixx Wrestling.
Barrett had a small role in the 2013 crime-thriller film Dead Man Down, for which he was required to use a New York accent. In April 2015, it was announced that he would star as “Europe’s most dangerous assassin” in a WWE Studios-Richwater Films action-thriller film titled Eliminators alongside Scott Adkins.
Bennett has three tattoos: barbed wire on his left deltoid, which he later expanded to cover the entire deltoid, a tribal design directly underneath the first tattoo, and a rose on his right deltoid with the words “Culture, Alienation, Boredom, & Despair” (a line from the Manic Street Preachers song “Little Baby Nothing”).
Bennett is a supporter of English football club Preston North Endan and American football team Chicago Bears. He plays the guitar in his spare time, and enjoys reading the works of Hunter S. Thompson. His favourite bands include Guns N’ Roses, Manic Street Preachers, The Beatles, The Jam, Oasis, The Smiths, Stereophonics, and The Stone Roses.
On 15 June 2008, Bennett was arrested in Tampa, Florida, and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer (a felony) and obstructing an officer (a misdemeanor). The arrest took place outside of Champps Restaurant and Bar at 2am. He was released the next day. According to FCW sources, all charges were subsequently dropped by police. The officer that Bennett obstructed was not wearing a uniform and Bennett later stated that, had he known the man was part of law enforcement, he would not have obstructed him.
In November 2014, Bennett received a U.S. green card, which entitles him to unconditional permanent residency in the United States of America for the next 10 years.
Bennett previously dated fellow wrestler Alicia Fox.