The Nexus (professional wrestling)
The Nexus logo.
"You're either Nexus, or you're against us!"
– Motto under Wade Barrett
– Motto under CM Punk
The New Nexus
|Debut||June 7, 2010
(as The Nexus)
January 3, 2011
(as The New Nexus)
August 1, 2011
(as a tag team)
|Disbanded||December 26, 2010
(as The Nexus)
August 1, 2011
(as The New Nexus)
August 22, 2011
(as a tag team)
The Nexus (later renamed The New Nexus) was a heel stable in WWE who competed on Raw from June 7, 2010 to August 22, 2011. 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, with the exception of original leader Wade Barrett, already guaranteed a WWE contract for having won NXT season one. The group went on to antagonize the Raw roster, with John Cena as their main focus, who forcibly became a member of The 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 after David Otunga threatened to exile him as leader if he didn't. By the start of 2011, Barrett was exiled from the group by CM Punk, who became the group's new leader. Under Punk's leadership, the group was renamed The New Nexus and became a tight-knit group dedicated to one another by faith. Otunga was the only constant member. Throughout its existence, the group won the WWE Tag Team Championship three times, while Punk won the WWE Championship in his final match with the stable.
Vince McMahon announced NXT in February 2010 to replace the cancelled ECW in its time slot on Syfy. McMahon described the show as "the next evolution of WWE; the next evolution of television history". The concept of the stable was each original member of Nexus was a contestant (or "rookie") on the first season of the NXT program, which then composed of the talent from WWE's developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) in a competition to become WWE's next breakout star with the help of mentors from WWE's Raw and SmackDown brands. 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. The seven losers of the competition were left without a job, and Barrett immediately began performing on the Raw brand. Its most noticeable trait was that all members wore a black armband bearing the group's trademark black and yellow "N" logo (in the Wide Latin typeface).
Formation and attacks on WWE personnel
On the June 7, 2010 edition of Raw, the group debuted during the Viewer's Choice main event between Cena and Punk sporting matching armbands with the letter N. Barrett led the group in an attack on Cena, Punk, Luke Gallows, Jerry Lawler, Matt Striker, ring announcer Justin Roberts and other WWE personnel around the ring, as well as destroying everything at ringside, including the announce table and the ring itself. During the attack, Daniel Bryan strangled Roberts with his necktie and also spat on Cena's face, which led to WWE releasing Bryan on June 11, 2010 as they reportedly felt those acts were too violent for their TV-PG programming. 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. The following week, on the June 14, 2010 edition of Raw, 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, but Raw General Manager Bret Hart rejected the demand and fired Barrett, then ordered the rest of The Nexus to leave the arena or they would be arrested. Later that same night, Hart ordered the whole Raw roster to stand guard at the ringside and stage areas during the main event to prevent what happened the previous week from happening again, leaving The Nexus, who were presumably standing outside Hart's office when the order was given, to wait until the coast was clear to storm Hart's office and attack him backstage by having Barrett and Sheffield drag him down the hallway and Otunga ripping his shirt open before forcing him into a limousine and ordering the driver to floor it, which the driver did, in reverse all the way down the ramp and crashing into four other vehicles, causing significant damage to the limo in the process. On June 20, 2010 at the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view, The Nexus interfered in the main event for the WWE Championship, attacking all the wrestlers involved. Sheamus used the interference to win the title from Cena for a second time.
After Fatal 4-Way, The Nexus continued attacking various WWE figures, such as Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat and other legends on the June 21, 2010 edition of Raw 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), who immediately gave The 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 on the June 28, 2010 edition of Raw after he tried to take credit for The Nexus' actions.
Feud with John Cena
On the July 5, 2010 edition of Raw, the anonymous Raw General Manager demanded Cena and Barrett call a truce later in the night, which Cena refused and attempted to attack Barrett, subsequently beginning a brawl between The Nexus and most of the Raw locker room. After Cena didn't stop assaulting Young, the GM announced that Cena would face The Nexus in a 7-on-1 handicap match the following week, causing Cena to further attack Young, removing him from the following week's scheduled match. The following week, on the July 12, 2010 edition of Raw, due to being injured after being attacked the previous week by Cena, Young was removed from the match, turning it into a 6-on-1 handicap match, which, despite being down a member, The Nexus still won after the 450° splash of Gabriel, who then pinned Cena. Before the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Nexus appeared on the July 13, 2010 edition of 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 The Nexus forming to "keep them in line"), but in reply to this, MVP called the other pros and became ready for a fight, at which point Striker, who was the co-host of NXT at the time, intervened and arranged a battle royal, also including The 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. On July 18, 2010 at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, The Nexus attempted to get involved in the WWE Championship match involving Sheamus and 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. The following night, on the July 19, 2010 edition of Raw, The 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 that same night, 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 before revealing his team one-by-one; Edge, John Morrison, R-Truth, The Great Khali, Jericho and Hart. On the July 26, 2010 edition of Raw, Team Nexus defeated Team Raw (Mark Henry, The Hart Dynasty, Lawler, Evan Bourne, Goldust and Yoshi Tatsu) in a 7-on-7 elimination tag team match with The Nexus getting the clean sweep, later mocking Cena's team, who were arguing amongst themselves, claiming an easy victory at SummerSlam. On August 15, 2010 at the SummerSlam pay-per-view, The Nexus' claim of an easy victory three weeks earlier was denied when they were defeated by Team WWE, featuring a returning Bryan (who joined Team WWE as a surprise member after The Nexus had injured Khali on the August 2, 2010 edition of Raw), who eliminated Young and Slater by submission before Bryan's former NXT Pro, The Miz, hit him with the Money in the Bank briefcase, leaving Barrett to eliminate Bryan. In the end, however, Cena ended up being the sole survivor, eliminating Gabriel and Barrett by pinfall and submission, respectively. The following night, on the August 16, 2010 edition of Raw, The Nexus evoked their SummerSlam rematch clause and competed in seven one-on-one matches Team WWE (except Hart, who was replaced by Randy Orton), with the stipulation that whichever Nexus member lost their match would be exiled from the group, a stipulation Otunga reminded Barrett of before Cena accepted on behalf of Team WWE. While The Nexus won the first six matches, Young, looking to repeat their clean sweep performance from three weeks earlier, was the only Nexus member who unfortunately failed to defeat Cena in the main event, leading the rest of The Nexus to storm the ring. Cena, anticipating another beatdown similar to the one from a few months earlier, waited to see what The Nexus would do next, but what he didn't anticipate was The Nexus letting him leave the ring on his own, as they turned their attention to Young, first attacking him with their respective finishing moves and, to add insult to injury, officially exiling him from The Nexus.
In a live event in Hawaii on August 18, 2010, Sheffield broke his ankle during a tag match where he teamed with Otunga against The Hart Dynasty, putting him out of action for the next two years. With Young having been exiled from the group two nights earlier for losing to Cena, The Nexus was down to only five active members remaining-- Barrett, Otunga, Slater, Gabriel and Tarver. On August 30, 2010, during the 900th episode of Raw, The Nexus defeated Cena, Edge, Jericho, Sheamus and Orton in a 5-on-5 elimination match, after Gabriel hit Cena with the 450-splash for a third time, pinning him for a second time, while Barrett pinned Orton. Earlier that same night, with help from Kane, The Nexus attacked The Undertaker. The following week, on the September 6, 2010 edition of Raw, thanks to a distraction from a returning Young, Barrett lost to Orton. On September 19, 2010 at the Night of Champions pay-per-view, Barrett used his guaranteed championship match that he won for winning NXT in the Six-Pack Elimination Challenge for the WWE Championship, but was eliminated by Orton, who later won the match and the title. The Nexus made an appearance on the October 1, 2010 edition of SmackDown (taped September 28) to mark the show's permanent move to Syfy. Throughout the night, The Nexus attacked Dolph Ziggler, MVP, Big Show and Cena and then served as lumberjacks for the night's main event between Cena and Kane.
On October 3, 2010 at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Barrett and Cena faced each other in a match with the stipulation that if Barrett won, Cena would have to join The Nexus and if Cena won or any other Nexus member got involved, the group would be permanently disbanded. Thanks to interference from Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty, Barrett managed to win the match. The following night, on the October 4, 2010 edition of Raw, Tarver was paired with Cena who brutally attacked him after the match. Later, Barrett said that Cena did him a favor by attacking Tarver, as 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 and was later released from his contract in June 2011). After Cena openly declared that he would destroy The Nexus from within by fighting them even though he was now a member, the anonymous Raw GM stated that Cena had to honor the stipulations of the pay-per-view match and since he is now a member of The Nexus, he must take orders from Barrett or be fired. Later that same night, Barrett ordered Cena to help him win the number one contendership in a battle royal for the WWE Championship. The match came down to Cena and Barrett, where Barrett ordered Cena to eliminate himself. On October 24, 2010 at the Bragging Rights pay-per-view, The Nexus won their first titles in WWE when Otunga and Cena defeated WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre to win the titles. Later that same night, the group helped Kane defeat The Undertaker in his Buried Alive match, for reasons never explained. In the main event, Barrett defeated Orton via disqualification, this time caused by Cena, who was then as a result chosen by Barrett as his own special guest referee for his WWE Championship match against Orton at the Survivor Series pay-per-view. Barrett chose Cena and declared that unless he had won the title at the pay-per-view, Cena would had been fired, but if he had defeated Orton, Cena would had been relieved of all responsibilities to The Nexus.
On the November 5, 2010 edition of SmackDown (taped November 2), Otunga, who had been questioning Barrett's leadership in the past several weeks, led Gabriel, Harris, McGillicutty and Slater to an invasion of SmackDown, interrupting a match between Edge and Alberto Del Rio. The Nexus was then defeated in the main event in a 5-on-5 tag team match by Edge, Del Rio, Big Show, Kane and Kofi Kingston. Barrett didn't approve Otunga's decision to lead The Nexus to SmackDown and as a result forced him to defend his spot in the group a week later. On the November 12, 2010 edition of SmackDown (taped November 9), thanks to an interference from Kane, Otunga defeated Edge in a lumberjack match to keep his spot in The Nexus. On November 21, 2010 at the Survivor Series pay-per-view, Orton retained the WWE Championship against Barrett via pinfall and Cena was fired (kayfabe) from WWE and subsequently departed from Nexus. Despite being fired by The Nexus, Cena continued to show up on Raw in the subsequent weeks, causing interference in The Nexus' matches and attacking them backstage, in the ring and in the arena parking lots. On the December 6, 2010 edition of Raw, following an interference from Cena, Slater and Gabriel lost the WWE Tag Team Championships against the team of Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov in a Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Elimination match. Later that same night, Cena informed The Nexus that his attacks on them may stop, but only on the condition that Barrett rehires him. Wanting the attacks to stop, The Nexus (excluding McGillicutty, who was (kayfabe) injured after being attacked the previous week by Cena) threatened to exile Barrett from the group unless he got Cena rehired the following week. The following week, on the December 13, 2010 Slammy Awards edition of Raw, Barrett, for fear of being exiled by The Nexus, rehired Cena on the condition that they settle the score in a Chairs match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. On December 19, 2010 at the TLC pay-per-view, Cena defeated Barrett in the main event, after attacking all the other members of The Nexus throughout the event, by dropping 23 steel chairs on Barrett, thus officially ending Cena's six-month feud with The Nexus.
The New Nexus
On the January 3, 2011 edition of Raw, after months of repeated attacks on Cena, The Nexus ambiguously announced that it was under "new management", with Punk being revealed to be the new leader, having acquired the position after Barrett lost a steel cage match against Orton and Sheamus and was subsequently exiled from The Nexus. The following week, on the January 10, 2011 edition of Raw, after refusing to follow Punk's orders of initiation by hitting each other with kendo sticks, Gabriel and Slater left the group, opting to join Barrett and former ECW Champion Ezekiel Jackson on SmackDown! as The Corre, while Harris, McGillicutty and Otunga successfully completed the initiation and, thus, stayed in The New Nexus. On the January 17, 2011 edition of Raw, Mason Ryan joined Nexus, interfering in a match between Punk and Cena. The group participated in the 2011 Royal Rumble pay-per-view, but were eliminated by Cena (aside from Harris who was eliminated by The Great Khali). On January 30, 2011, at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, The New Nexus also cost Orton the WWE Championship. The following night, on the January 31, 2011 edition of Raw, McGillicutty and Harris teamed up against Marella and Kozlov for the WWE Tag Team Championship, which they lost. After the match, Orton entered the ring and punted Harris in the skull, injuring him. Orton, over the ongoing weeks, punted all members of The New Nexus, despite interference by Punk, removing each, one-by-one, from active competition. On April 3, 2011 at the WrestleMania XXVII pay-per-view, Orton defeated Punk, but was unable to punt him in the skull, leaving Punk as the only active member of The New Nexus. On the April 11, 2011 edition of Raw, McGillicutty, Otunga and Ryan returned, once again costing Orton another shot at the WWE Championship and, for the first time since January 31, bringing The New Nexus back to full strength. On the April 25, 2011 edition of Raw, during the WWE draft (the last under the brand extension), Orton was drafted to SmackDown and, on May 1, 2011 at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, defeated Punk, thus officially ending his four-month feud with The New Nexus. On the May 23, 2011 edition of Raw, McGillicutty and Otunga defeated Big Show and Kane for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
Tag team and dissolution
On the June 20, 2011 "Power to the People" edition of Raw, Punk was originally going to be named the number one contender for the WWE Championship, but instead, he was forced to compete in a triple threat match with Del Rio and Rey Mysterio with a falls count anywhere stipulation voted for by fans, which Punk won and, after the match, revealed that his WWE contract would expire at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, where he would face Cena for the WWE Championship, meaning that if he wins, he will leave with the championship. Ryan was voted to face Evan Bourne in a singles match and won, but it was later revealed that, due to a technical error, Sin Cara was the actual winner. The following week, on the June 27, 2011 edition of Raw, it was announced that Ryan had suffered an injury over the weekend, thus leaving the group. That same night, a brash Punk disrespectfully interrupted and threatened the returning Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, reminding him and the entire WWE Universe that once his contract expires at WWE Money in the Bank, that would have been the last time WWE would ever seen him and the WWE Championship. It was at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view that The New Nexus' quiet dissolution was confirmed, when Punk shunned his Nexus T-shirt and armband in favor of a new T-shirt. Despite this, Punk was labeled as part of Nexus in his entrance graphics. 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 when the group permanently disbanded.
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 later go on to have the biggest success out of the former Nexus members to date, due in no small part to his strong following on the independent circuit and Ring of Honor carrying over to WWE. To date, Bryan is a three-time WWE (World Heavyweight) Champion, a one-time World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time United States Champion, a one-time WWE Tag Team Champion with Kane as part of Team Hell No, a one-time Intercontinental Champion, the holder of the 2011 Money in the Bank briefcase for the World Heavyweight Championship and has also headlined WrestleMania XXX. Wade Barrett, who would later renamed himself Bad News Barrett, would also go on to a successful singles career, having won the Intercontinental Championship five times and the 2015 King of the Ring.
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. 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, although Wyatt did proceed to take on The Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXXI . Michael McGillicutty, who would win once the WWE 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. From November 2013 to November 2014, Axel and Ryback were allied as a tag team (RybAxel), 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.
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 and Mason Ryan were later both released by WWE, respectively in June 2011 and in April 2014, while Gabriel had quit WWE in January 2015.
(The Nexus leader)
|June 7, 2010||January 3, 2011||Original leader of The Nexus, overthrown by CM Punk in January 2011. Later established The Corre in January 2011. Repackaged as Bad News Barrett in December 2013.|
|Daniel Bryan||June 7, 2010||June 11, 2010||Legitimately released from WWE for his actions on Raw being deemed too violent for WWE's TV-PG programming.
In storyline kicked out for showing remorse, though later claiming it was because Barrett deemed him a threat.
|Darren Young||June 7, 2010||August 16, 2010||Exiled in August 2010 after losing a match against John Cena on Raw.|
|Skip Sheffield||June 7, 2010||August 22, 2011||Legitimately broke his ankle in August 2010 but never officially left the group. Repackaged as Ryback in April 2012.|
|Michael Tarver||June 7, 2010||October 4, 2010||Left the stable due to a groin injury.|
|Justin Gabriel||June 7, 2010||January 10, 2011||Left the stable in January 2011 and joined The Corre on SmackDown.|
|Heath Slater||June 7, 2010||January 10, 2011||Left the stable in January 2011 and joined The Corre on SmackDown.|
|David Otunga||June 7, 2010||August 22, 2011||Only member to serve during the entire tenure of the group.|
|John Cena||October 3, 2010||November 21, 2010||Forced into the group after losing a match against Wade Barrett at Hell in a Cell in October 2010.
Membership ceased after Cena was being fired at Survivor Series in November 2010 following Barrett's WWE Championship loss to Randy Orton.
|Husky Harris||October 25, 2010||January 31, 2011||Quietly left the group after a minor injury in January 2011, scripted to be removed following a punt from Randy Orton. Later repackaged as Bray Wyatt in April 2012.|
|Michael McGillicutty||October 25, 2010||August 22, 2011||One of the last two remaining members of The Nexus (the other being David Otunga, who he tag-teamed with from May 2011 to August 2011). Later repackaged as Curtis Axel.|
(The New Nexus leader)
|January 3, 2011||July 17, 2011||Became the new leader of The Nexus in January 2011 after Wade Barrett was exiled and renamed the stable The New Nexus to distance itself from The Nexus.
Distanced himself from the remaining group members in July 2011 and was last seen wearing Nexus attire on the final Raw before Money in the Bank, but still had The Nexus banner until the pay-per-view.
|Mason Ryan||January 17, 2011||July 11, 2011||Suffered an injury in June 2011 and membership ceased with the dissolution of the group in July 2011.|
- Entrance themes
- "We Are One" by 12 Stones (June 7, 2010–January 30, 2011)
- "This Fire Burns" by Killswitch Engage (January 17, 2011–July 14, 2011)
- "Death Blow" from VideoHelper Production Library (July 21, 2011; Otunga and McGillicutty)
- "All About the Power" by S–Preme (July 28, 2011–August 22, 2011; Otunga and McGillicutty)
Championships and accomplishments
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE
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