On June 7, 2010, the NXT Season One rookies came together to attack John Cena (and CM Punk for that matter) and save what was a very lackluster and lazily thrown together Viewer’s Choice episode of WWE Monday Night Raw:
It was on this day that the original group known as the Nexus began to coagulate, and it certainly got everyone talking about the endless possibilities that were in front of us now that WWE actually gave us something — ANYTHING — different than another bland John Cena victory to close the show and send the crowd home happy.
That’s right, instead of Super Cena laying out CM Punk (who was not THE MAN at that time) with an Attitude Adjustment and/or locking in an STFU, there were eight men — Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Skip Sheffield, Darren Young and Michael Tarver — who simply stole the show, literally and figuratively. In one fell swoop, the NXT Season One rookies took out the WWE’s biggest hero while destroying everything and everyone in their path. They supposedly had an underlying purpose for doing this, one that was sure to be revealed in a clear manner as the storyline progressed to its logical conclusion, when the time was right.
We were going to find out who was pulling the strings for the Nexus; we were going to see this gang of relative unknowns (at least to the WWE Universe) cause so much destruction that it would ultimately lead to their leader — Wade Barrett — winning the WWE Championship by wresting — and WRESTLING — it away from the suddenly fallible John Cena; and we were going to see this group become so strong and so HATED that whoever was able to overtake them in the end would be seen as a tried and true protagonist who was able to not only lead the charge against their evildoings, but succeed in unseating their leader and bringing back the WWE Championship — the most coveted prize in all of wrestling — back into the hands of someone who worked his ass off to triumph over this big, bad group of flat-out thugs.
But Daniel Bryan — the group’s most recognizable name and also their most credible wrestler — was fired the same night that the Nexus was formed. And Nexus leader Wade Barrett never actually won the WWE Championship despite several chances to do so. And when John Cena was actually forced to join forces with the Nexus, he may have worn the arm band, but he never joined the band. And of course, the icing on the cake is that when John Cena was ultimately fired, he gave such a rousing speech about going home …
… but he was gone for not even 1 week before popping back up …
… and that effectively cut off the Nexus’ head, as they would never be taken seriously as a game-changing faction after all of that transpired. In fact, by December 27, 2010 — just six months and ten days since it’s formulation — the Original Nexus was disbanded and split off into two factions: The New Nexus led by CM Punk; and the CoRRe, which was formed by Wade Barrett on SmackDown after he was replaced by CM Punk.
No matter what happened from there, the original angle and its original purpose was completely lost, and what started out as a storyline with so much promise and intrigue was already a shell of its former self by the end of 2010.
Yet again, WWE couldn’t close the deal on a buzzworthy angle (see: WCW Invasion / ECW Alliance; see also: Higher Power, Anonymous GM, et al.), and more than that, they proved yet again that if you wait six months, nothing will really have changed in the first place.
You may end up with a few different names on the roster, but really, there just isn’t anymore killer instinct when it comes to closing the deal.
Hell, even CM Punk — who gave us an amazing Summer of Punk II to talk about and dissect and latch onto culminating with his dramatic title win at Money in the Bank — had to come back after re-signing and immediately was thrown into a dueling-championship belts feud with John Cena that failed to recreate the magic of MITB and then an inexplicably miscalculated feud with Kevin Nash and Triple H following SummerSlam. Was that really fun for anyone?
Digressions aside, and before I go, let me leave you with a breakdown of the Original Nexus (with a little help from Wikipedia) and what they are currently up to after the original faction dissolved:
The Original Nexus Faction: June 7, 2010 to December 27, 2010
1. Wade Barrett – joined June 7 2010, dismissed January 3 2011 — Original leader of The Nexus, overthrown by CM Punk. Later established the Corre on SmackDown.
Currently injured (elbow) after a relatively strong SmackDown singles push, out 4 months, still never has become a World Heavyweight or WWE Champion (but was rumored to possibly win Money in the Bank at WrestleMania 28, for what it’s worth)
2. Daniel Bryan – joined June 7 2010, dismissed June 11 2010 — Released for his actions on Raw being deemed too violent for the WWE’s TV-PG programming. In storyline, kicked out for showing remorse.
Currently the World Heavyweight Champion, 4 days in Nexus lessens the curse for Bryan
3. Darren Young – joined June 7 2010, dismissed August 16 2010 — Exiled from The Nexus after losing a match against John Cena
Currently STILL on NXT: Redemption, plus his roster page finally moved to SmackDown.
4. Skip Sheffield – joined June 7 2010, dismissed August 18 2010 — Legitimately broke his ankle and was left inactive throughout the rest of The Nexus’ tenure
Currently wrestling dark matches and house shows, has not been officially back on WWE TV since his injury
From Wikipedia: Reeves, under his Skip Sheffield ring name, made his return on January 2, 2012 as a face, where he defeated Michael McGillicutty in a dark match prior to Raw. On the January 6 tapings of SmackDown, Reeves, under his old ring name Ryback, defeated Jimmy Uso in a dark match. On January 13, Reeves reverted back to the Sheffield ring name in a dark match victory over Percy Watson prior to SmackDown. On March 9th, Reeves defeated JTG at a house show in Toronto, Canada.
5. Michael Tarver – joined June 7 2010, dismissed October 4 2010 — Left the stable due to injury and was fired by WWE
Currently out of WWE and merely feuding with CNN host Piers Morgan on Twitter about the recent Kirk Cameron interview.
6. Justin Gabriel – joined June 7 2010, dismissed January 10 2011 — Left the stable and joined the Corre on SmackDown
Currently wrestling lower card matches on Friday Night SmackDown
7. Heath Slater – joined June 7 2010, dismissed January 10 2011 — Left the stable and joined the Corre on SmackDown
Currently losing a lot of matches across WWE programming and occasionally answering fan questions for WWE Inbox on YouTube while wearing a fedora.
8. David Otunga – joined June 7 2010, dismissed August 1 2011 — Only member to serve during the entire tenure of Nexus and New Nexus
Currently wearing bow ties, drinking from his THERMOS OF DOOM and serving as legal counsel for Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager of Monday Night Raw, Mr. John Laurinaitis.
As you can see, Bryan (with an asterisk because he was only in the group for four days) and Barrett remain the clear standouts from this class, and Otunga has carved out a role for himself that serves him well since it involves less wrestling and more lurking. You can also make a case for Justin Gabriel showing some promise over on the blue brand, but that still leaves half of the Original Nexus either jobbing (Slater), in WWE limbo (Sheffield and Young), or off the roster completely (Tarver).
I just wonder how much more success this group could have had over the past 21 months under the Nexus name if WWE still prided themselves on pulling the trigger on affecting change, instead of pulling back at all costs.