The Nexus (professional wrestling)

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The Nexus


"You're either Nexus or you're against us!"
- Motto under Wade Barrett
"Faith."
- Motto under CM Punk
Statistics
MembersWade Barrett (Nexus Leader)
CM Punk (New Nexus Leader)
David Otunga
Michael McGillicutty
Michael Tarver
Husky Harris
Skip Sheffield
Darren Young
Heath Slater
Justin Gabriel
John Cena
Daniel Bryan
Mason Ryan
Name(s)(The) Nexus
(The) New Nexus
DebutJune 7, 2010 (as The Nexus)
December 27, 2010 (as The 'New' Nexus)
DisbandedAugust 1, 2011 (As the Nexus) August 22, 2011 (tag team)
PromotionsWWE
FCW[1]
 
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The Nexus


"You're either Nexus or you're against us!"
- Motto under Wade Barrett
"Faith."
- Motto under CM Punk
Statistics
MembersWade Barrett (Nexus Leader)
CM Punk (New Nexus Leader)
David Otunga
Michael McGillicutty
Michael Tarver
Husky Harris
Skip Sheffield
Darren Young
Heath Slater
Justin Gabriel
John Cena
Daniel Bryan
Mason Ryan
Name(s)(The) Nexus
(The) New Nexus
DebutJune 7, 2010 (as The Nexus)
December 27, 2010 (as The 'New' Nexus)
DisbandedAugust 1, 2011 (As the Nexus) August 22, 2011 (tag team)
PromotionsWWE
FCW[1]

The Nexus and the New Nexus were a heel professional wrestling stable in the professional wrestling promotion, WWE, that competed on its Raw brand. The group originally consisted of all eight rookies of NXT season one and shifted their roster several times throughout their existence. Their initial goal was to obtain WWE contracts for all members—save for original Nexus leader Wade Barrett, who was already guaranteed a contract for winning NXT. The group went on to antagonize the Raw roster, with John Cena as their main focus, who forcibly became a member of Nexus via a match stipulation at Hell in a Cell. Cena eventually exited the group by being fired at Survivor Series but was later rehired by Barrett. By the start of 2011, Wade Barrett was exiled from the group by CM Punk, who became the group's new leader. Under Punk's leadership, the group was renamed to the New Nexus and became a tight-knit group dedicated to one another by faith.

Under the leadership of both Barrett and Punk, The Nexus' most noticeable trait was that all members wore a black armband bearing the group's trademark black and yellow "N" logo; David Otunga was the only constant member. Throughout its existence, the group won the WWE Tag Team Championships three times and Punk won the WWE Championship in his final match with the stable.

History (2010–2011)[edit]

Formation and attacks on WWE personnel[edit]

Prior to their formation, each original member of Nexus was a contestant (or "rookie") on the first season of the NXT program. The conclusion of the competition on June 1, 2010 saw Wade Barrett being the winner who was awarded a WWE contract and a championship match at a pay-per-view of his choosing.[2] The seven losers of the competition were left without a job, and Barrett immediately began performing on the Raw brand.

On the Viewer's Choice edition of Raw, the group debuted during the main event between WWE Champion John Cena and CM Punk sporting matching armbands with the letter N. Barrett led the group in an attack on Cena, Punk, Luke Gallows, Jerry Lawler, Matt Striker, Justin Roberts, and other WWE personnel around the ring, as well as destroying everything at ringside, including the announce table and the ring itself.[3] During the attack, Daniel Bryan strangled ring announcer Justin Roberts with Roberts' necktie and also spat on Cena's face. This led to WWE releasing Bryan as they reportedly felt those acts were too violent for their TV-PG programming.[4][5] His absence was explained by Barrett saying that Bryan had felt remorse for his actions and as a result was kicked out of the group.[6]

A week later, the group explained their actions as retribution for the poor treatment they received from WWE management during their time on NXT. The attack was also to threaten WWE into giving the remaining seven members WWE contracts. Raw general manager Bret Hart declined the demand and fired Barrett. When Hart then ordered the whole Raw roster to stand guard at the ringside and stage areas during the main event, Nexus attacked Hart backstage by forcing him into a limousine and crashing it into other vehicles.[7] During the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view, Nexus interfered in the main event for the WWE Championship, attacking all the wrestlers involved. Sheamus used the interference to win the title from John Cena.[8]

Nexus attacking Ricky Steamboat.

The group then spent the next few weeks attacking various WWE figures, such as Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat and other legends when they were celebrating Steamboat's DVD release following an edict that Nexus and the rest of the Raw roster could not engage in physical confrontation that week. WWE chairman Vince McMahon subsequently removed Hart as general manager due to his injuries, and appointed a new general manager, who chose to remain anonymous (communicating only through e-mails quoted by "official spokesman" Michael Cole). The general manager immediately gave Nexus WWE contracts and reinstated Barrett's championship match opportunity. Barrett revealed that this group was going to form no matter who wound up winning NXT, stating that the seven of them had formed a "Nexus" and had a common goal they all fought to have accomplished. However, even after apologizing for their actions, Nexus continued their hostile attacks, including one on McMahon who tried to take credit for Nexus' actions.[9][10]

Feud with John Cena[edit]

On the July 5 edition of Raw, the anonymous general manager demanded Cena and Barrett call a truce later in the night. Cena refused and attempted to attack Barrett, which began a brawl between Nexus and most of the Raw locker room. After Cena didn't stop assaulting Darren Young, the GM announced that Cena would face Nexus in a 7-on-1 handicap match the following week, which caused Cena to further attack Young.[11] Young was removed from the match the following week due to his injuries, making the matchup a 6-on-1 handicap match, which Nexus won after the 450° splash of Justin Gabriel, who then pinned Cena.

Before the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Nexus appeared on NXT, and competed in a Battle Royal featuring the second season pros and rookies. The storyline started when Percy Watson invited his partners (the other rookies) to attack MVP (in retaliation for the pros attacking the rookies in the aftermath of Nexus forming—to "keep them in line"), but in reply to this, MVP called the other pros and became ready for a fight. Co-host Matt Striker then intervened and arranged a Battle Royal, also including Nexus (who were making a scheduled appearance on the show anyway). All seven Nexus members were declared co-winners after being the last men in the ring.

At Money in the Bank, Nexus attempted to get involved in the WWE Championship match involving Sheamus and John Cena in a steel cage by breaking the door. However, the referee on the outside of the cage threw the key into the crowd and took the tool that Tarver tried to use to break in. They then tried to climb up and get involved. However, Sheamus and Cena were able to hold them off and escape, with Sheamus winning. Afterwards, Cena began beating up Tarver and Young and then took Tarver's Nexus armband.[12]

On the July 19 edition of Raw, Nexus continued their attacks on the Raw roster by first attacking Edge and then Chris Jericho, after the two longtime rivals attempted to manipulate the group against each other. Later on in the show, Barrett defeated Mark Henry in a singles match. After that, Barrett and Nexus asked Cena to join them. Cena refused and said that he would take them all down at SummerSlam, and that he had found some help to do it. Cena revealed his team one by one; the members were Edge, John Morrison, R-Truth, The Great Khali, Chris Jericho and Bret Hart.[13] The next week of Raw featured Nexus defeating Team Raw (Mark Henry, The Hart Dynasty, Jerry Lawler, Evan Bourne, Goldust and Yoshi Tatsu) in a 7-on-7 elimination tag team match with a clean sweep. Nexus later mocked Cena's team, who were arguing amongst themselves, saying that they'd have an easy victory at SummerSlam.[14]

At SummerSlam, Nexus were defeated by Team WWE, featuring a returning Daniel Bryan (who joined Team WWE as a surprise member after Nexus had injured Khali), and eliminated both Young and Slater. Cena ended up being the sole survivor.[15] The following night on Raw each member of Nexus competed in matches against members of Team WWE (except Bret Hart, who was replaced by Randy Orton), with the stipulation that whichever Nexus member lost their match would be exiled from the group. While almost all the members of Nexus won their respective matches, Darren Young failed to defeat John Cena in the main event and was not only kicked out of Nexus, but attacked by the group following his loss.[16]

Nexus after excommunicating Darren Young and losing Skip Sheffield to injury.

In a live event in Hawaii on Aug 18, 2010 at the Blaisdell Arena, Skip Sheffield broke his ankle during a tag match where he teamed with Otunga against the Hart Dynasty, putting him out for months, thus leaving only five active members of Nexus remaining.[17] On the 900th episode of Raw Nexus defeated John Cena, Edge, Chris Jericho, Sheamus and Randy Orton in a 5 on 5 elimination match, after Gabriel hit Cena with the 450-splash for the third time, pinning him a second time, while Barrett dropped and pinned Randy Orton. Earlier on in the night the group also attacked The Undertaker with help from Kane.[18] The following week, Wade Barrett lost to Randy Orton, after a distraction from the returning Darren Young.[19] Barrett used his guaranteed championship match in the Six-Pack Elimination Challenge for the WWE Championship at Night of Champions but was eliminated by Orton, who later won the match and the title, following an RKO.[20]

Nexus made an appearance on the October 1 live episode of SmackDown, to mark the show's move to Syfy. Throughout the night, Nexus attacked Dolph Ziggler, MVP, Big Show and John Cena. They then served as lumberjacks for the main event of the evening, between John Cena and Kane. This was the first time they had appeared on SmackDown since their formation back in early June.[21]

The Nexus after the additions of Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty.

At Hell in a Cell Barrett and Cena faced each other in a match with the stipulation that if Barrett won, Cena would have to join Nexus, and if Cena won or Nexus got involved, the group would be disbanded. Barrett managed to win the match, following interference from Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty.[22]

On the October 4 edition of Raw, Tarver was paired with Cena who brutally attacked him after the match. Later Barrett said he was planning on getting rid of Tarver anyway implying he was no longer a member (in reality Tarver was pulled due to a nagging groin injury).[23][24] After Cena openly declared that he would destroy Nexus from within by fighting them even though he was now a member, the mystery GM stated that Cena had to honor the stipulations of the PPV match, and since he is now a member of Nexus, he must take orders from Wade Barrett or he will be fired. Later that night, Barrett ordered Cena to help him win the No. 1 contendership in a battle royal for the WWE title. The match came down to Cena and Barrett, where Barrett ordered Cena to eliminate himself.[24] At Bragging Rights, Nexus won their first titles in the WWE when David Otunga and John Cena defeated WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre to win the titles.[25] Later on in the same night, the group helped Kane defeat The Undertaker in his Buried Alive match, for reasons which have yet to be explained.[25] In the main event of the pay-per-view, Barrett beat Orton in a WWE Championship match via disqualification, caused by John Cena, thus not winning the title.[25] On the October 25 episode of Raw, Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel won the Tag Team Championship, after beating Otunga and Cena in a match in which Barrett ordered Otunga to lie down and be pinned.[26] During the same night Barrett revealed that Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty had become official members of Nexus.[26] In the main event of the night Cena defeated Orton via disqualification, this time caused by Barrett, who then as a result was allowed to select his own special guest referee for his WWE Championship match against Orton at Survivor Series. Barrett chose Cena and declared that if he doesn't win the title at the pay-per-view, Cena will be fired, but if he does, Cena will be relieved of all of his responsibilities to Nexus.[26]

John Cena reading an address while a member of Nexus.

On November 5 Otunga, who had been questioning Barrett's leadership in the past weeks, led Gabriel, Harris, McGillicutty and Slater to an invasion of SmackDown, interrupting a match between Edge and Alberto Del Rio. Nexus was then defeated in the main event of the show in a ten-man tag team match by Edge, Del Rio, Big Show, Kane and Kofi Kingston.[27] Barrett didn't approve Otunga's decision to lead Nexus to SmackDown and as a result forced him to defend his spot in the group a week later.[28] On the November 12 edition of SmackDown Otunga defeated Edge in a lumberjack match, after an interference from Kane, to keep his spot in Nexus.[29] At Survivor Series on November 21, 2010 Randy Orton retained the WWE Championship against Wade Barrett via pinfall and John Cena was fired (kayfabe) from WWE and subsequently departed from Nexus.[30]

Despite being fired, Cena continued to show up on Raw in the subsequent weeks, causing interference in Nexus' matches and attacking them backstage, in the ring and in the arena parking lots. On the December 6 episode of Raw, Slater and Gabriel lost their WWE Tag Team Championships against the team of Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov in a Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Elimination Match, following an interference from Cena.[31] Later the same night, Cena informed Nexus that his attacks on them may stop, however attacks on Barrett would continue. Wanting the attacks to stop, Nexus (excluding McGillicutty, who was (kayfabe) injured after being attacked the previous week by Cena) threatened to eject leader Wade Barrett from the group if he did not get Cena rehired the following week.[31] The following week Barrett rehired Cena in exchange for a Chairs match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.[32] On December 19 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Cena defeated Barrett in the main event of the evening, after attacking all the other members of Nexus throughout the event.[33]

The New Nexus[edit]

CM Punk as leader of New Nexus.

The group, sans Wade Barrett, after repeated attacks on John Cena, ambiguously announced that it was under "new management". CM Punk was revealed to be the new leader, acquiring the position after Barrett lost a Steel Cage match against Randy Orton and Sheamus, in which he would lose his status as leader and be exiled from Nexus should he lose the match.[34] On January 10, 2011, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater left the group, after refusing to follow CM Punk's orders of initiation by hitting each other with kendo sticks, to join Barrett and Ezekiel Jackson on SmackDown! as The Corre, while Husky Harris, Michael McGillicutty, and David Otunga successfully completed the initiation, and stayed in Nexus.[35] On the January 17 edition of Raw, Mason Ryan joined Nexus, interfering in a match between Punk and Cena.[36] The group participated in the 2011 Royal Rumble but were eliminated by John Cena (aside from Harris who was eliminated by The Great Khali), this finally ended the feud between Cena and The Nexus.

At the Royal Rumble, The New Nexus cost Randy Orton the WWE Championship. The next night on the January 31 edition of Raw, Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris teamed up against Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov for the WWE Tag Team Championship in which they lost. After the match, Randy Orton entered the ring and punted Husky Harris in the skull, injuring Harris.[37] Randy Orton, over the ongoing weeks, punted all members of the New Nexus, despite interference by CM Punk, removing each, one by one, from active competition. At WrestleMania XXVII, Randy Orton defeated CM Punk, but was unable to punt him in the skull, thus leaving CM Punk as the only active member of the New Nexus. McGillicutty, Otunga and Ryan returned on the April 11 edition of Raw and again cost Orton another shot at the WWE Championship and bringing New Nexus back to full strength. On the April 25 edition of Raw, at the WWE draft, Orton was drafted to SmackDown and beat Punk at Extreme Rules 2011 thus ending his feud with New Nexus.[38][39] On the May 23 edition of Raw, Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga defeated Big Show and Kane for the WWE Tag Team Championship.[40]

Tag team and demise[edit]

At the June 20 "Power to the People" edition of Raw, CM Punk was originally going to be named the No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship, but he was forced to compete in a triple threat match with Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio with a falls count anywhere stipulation voted by the WWE Universe. After the match, Punk won and revealed that his WWE contract would expire on the same date as Money in the Bank, where he would face John Cena for the WWE Championship, meaning that if he wins, he will leave the company with the championship. Mason Ryan was voted to face Evan Bourne in a singles match and won, but was later to be revealed to be a glitch in the voting process, as Sin Cara was the actual winner. The following week, it was announced that Ryan had suffered an injury over the weekend, thus leaving the group. The group's quiet dissolution was confirmed at Money in the Bank, when Punk shunned his Nexus T-shirt and armband in favor of a new T-shirt. Despite this, Punk was labelled as part of Nexus in his entrance graphics.[41] With his victory over Cena, the WWE Championship was finally held by the stable on their last night of existence. The group's final members then functioned as a tag team with the Nexus banner until August 1, 2011 and continued without the banner until August 22, 2011.

Legacy[edit]

As the group predicted, it would ultimately serve as a launching pad for several debuting superstars in the WWE at that time. Daniel Bryan would to date go on to have the biggest success out of the former Nexus members, due in no small part due to his strong following on the independent circuit and Ring of Honor carrying over to WWE. To date, Bryan is a two-time WWE Champion, a one-time World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time United States Champion, a one-time Tag Team Champion with Kane as part of Team Hell No, and the holder of the 2011 Money in the Bank briefcase for the World Heavyweight Championship. Wade Barrett would also go on to a successful singles career, having won the Intercontinental Championship three times.

Three Nexus members would later be repackaged with different gimmicks with varying degrees of success. Skip Sheffield would return to his previous FCW gimmick as Ryback, a powerhouse-style wrestler similar in style and physical appearance to Goldberg.[42] Husky Harris would return to FCW and be completely repackaged as the Southern Gothic-like Bray Wyatt, portrayed as an evil cult leader who believes himself to be more monster than human and leader of The Wyatt Family, eventually returning to the main roster in 2013. Neither Ryback nor Bray Wyatt have to date won any titles on the main roster under their current or former gimmicks. Michael McGillicutty, who would win a Tag Team Championship with David Otunga while as a part of the New Nexus and initially downplayed his family connections as part of the Hennig family, renamed himself Curtis Axel in 2013 as a tribute to his father "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig and his grandfather Larry "The Axe" Hennig. Like Barrett, Axel is also a former Intercontinental Champion. Currently Axel and Ryback are now allied as a tag team, formerly managed by Paul Heyman.

Darren Young would become part of season 5 of NXT, called NXT Redemption, feuding with Titus O'Neil before the two teamed up to form The Prime Time Players on the main roster. In August 2013, Young became the first active WWE wrestler to come out as gay in real life.[43]

David Otunga, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater would largely become jobbers in the ensuing years, although Otunga would be utilized as a "legal advisor" at times to a few wrestlers due to his real-life background as a lawyer. Michael Tarver was released by WWE in June 2011, while Mason Ryan remains under WWE contract in NXT but is rarely utilized.

Members[edit]

MemberJoinedDismissedNotes
Wade BarrettJune 7, 2010January 3, 2011Original leader of The Nexus, overthrown by CM Punk. Later established the Corre on SmackDown.
Daniel BryanJune 7, 2010June 11, 2010Legitimately released from WWE for his actions on Raw being deemed too violent for the WWE's TV-PG programming. In storyline kicked out for showing remorse, though later claiming it was because Barrett deemed him a threat. He later returned at Summerslam.
Darren YoungJune 7, 2010August 16, 2010Exiled from The Nexus after losing a match against John Cena.
Skip SheffieldJune 7, 2010August 18, 2010Legitimately broke his ankle and quietly left the group in 2010.
Michael TarverJune 7, 2010October 4, 2010Left the stable due to injury and was fired. Later released from contract in June 2011.
Justin GabrielJune 7, 2010January 10, 2011Left the stable and joined the Corre on SmackDown.
Heath SlaterJune 7, 2010January 10, 2011Left the stable and joined the Corre on SmackDown.
David OtungaJune 7, 2010August 22, 2011Only member to serve during the entire tenure of the group.
John CenaOctober 3, 2010November 21, 2010Forced into the group after losing a match against Wade Barrett at Hell in a Cell, left after being fired at Survivor Series.
Husky HarrisOctober 25, 2010January 31, 2011Quietly left the group after a minor injury, scripted to be removed following a punt from Randy Orton.
Michael McGillicuttyOctober 25, 2010August 22, 2011One of the last two remaining members of the Nexus. Tag Teamed with David Otunga from May to August 2011. The team disbanded after losing the Tag Team Championship, thus ending Nexus.
CM PunkDecember 27, 2010July 17, 2011Became the new leader of The Nexus after overthrowing Wade Barrett and renamed the stable. Distanced himself from the remaining group members in July 2011 and was last seen wearing Nexus attire on the July 11, 2011 edition of Raw but still had The Nexus banner until Money In The Bank on July 17.
Mason RyanJanuary 17, 2011July 11, 2011Suffered an injury in late June, membership ceased with the dissolution of the group.

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Otunga and McGillicutty as WWE Tag Team Champions.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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