Wayne Rooney theatrically slapped a brash 6ft 7in WWE superstar in front of thousands of fans during a ringside stand-off last night. The Manchester United and England captain hit Briton Wade Barrett at the Manchester Arena after the wrestler trash-talked him. Rooney, 30, was sat in the front row with his son Kai, six, last night when Lancashire-born Barrett grabbed the microphone and said: ‘In this ring are two men who can be easily be described as championship material.
‘Which is, of course, is more than can be said of Wayne Rooney and Manchester United.’ Footage shows the professional wrestler and former bare-knuckle boxer climbing down to confront Rooney before the footballer knocked him down in a theatrical climax to the mock battle, resulting in huge cheers from the crowd.
Last night’s fight was a culmination of a previous row between the pair on Twitter, dating back to last February when Barrett, whose real name is Stu Bennett, accused Rooney for diving during a FA Cup clash against his beloved Preston North End.
The Manchester United and England captain attended the Raw show along with Old Trafford assistant manager Ryan Giggs and former team-mate, now at West Bromwich Albion, Darren Fletcher.
The trio were pictured backstage before the event, smiling alongside former World Wrestling Entertainment champion John Bradfield Layfield.
But things soon turned ‘heated’ for Rooney as he arrived at his ringside seats with his six-year-old son, Kai. After spotting the record England goalscorer in the front row, Manchester-wrestler Wade Barrett attempted to humiliate the 30-year-old striker on the microphone.
Behemoth Barrett, 35, goaded the England international, saying: ‘In this ring are two men who can be easily be described as championship material. Which is, of course, more than can be said of Wayne Rooney and Manchester United.’ ‘I’d hate for your little boy to sit there and watch his own father fail. Because let’s face it, he gets to experience that every single time you step on a football pitch.’
The rant prompted Rooney to rise from his chair and challenge the one-time bare knuckle boxer Barrett to a fight. And moments later the pair came to blows with Rooney landing a thumping slap across the wrestler’s face.
The frenzied Manchester crowd chanted Rooney’s name as the striker’s blow left Barrett sprawling on the floor. The incident true to professional wrestling was of course scripted and England skipper Rooney ‘revelled’ his role.
Afterwards, Barrett tweeted: ‘I’m heading to Old Trafford early tomorrow morning. I hope @WayneRooney has the guts to meet me there.’ He then added: ‘Does anyone have Phil Bardsley’s phone number?’
A WWE source, speaking to Sportsmail, said: ‘It was brilliant. Wayne was in great spirits before the event and he happily agreed to take part in the stunt with Wade Barrett. The fans absolutely loved it and I’m sure his son Kai would have enjoyed it too.’