The Nexus (professional wrestling)

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The Nexus
WWE Nexus logo.svg
The Nexus logo.
"You're either Nexus or you're against us!"–Motto under Wade Barrett
"Faith!"–Motto under CM Punk
Members See below
Name(s) The Nexus
The New Nexus
Debut June 7, 2010 (as The Nexus)
January 3, 2011 (as The New Nexus)
Disbanded December 27, 2010 (as The Nexus)
August 22, 2011 (as The New Nexus)
Years active 2010–2011
Promotions WWE

The Nexus (later renamed The New Nexus in January 2011) was a heel stable in WWE that competed on Raw from June 7, 2010 to August 22, 2011, originally consisting of eight rookies of NXT season one and shifted their roster several times throughout their 14-month existence, with David Otunga being the only member to serve the group throughout the entirety of its 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. After NXT, the group went on to antagonize the Raw roster (and, on two occasions, the SmackDown roster), with then-WWE Champion John Cena as their main focus, who forcibly became a member of The Nexus after losing in a match at Hell in a Cell, but was eventually removed from the group by being fired at Survivor Series after Barrett lost his WWE Championship match to Randy Orton only to be rehired by Barrett, but that was only because Otunga threatened to exile him as leader if he didn't. On January 3, 2011, Barrett was exiled from the group anyway after losing a steel cage match against Orton and Sheamus. Then CM Punk became the group's new leader, at which point the group was renamed The New Nexus in an attempt to distance itself from The Nexus, becoming a tight-knit group dedicated to one another by faith. 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 at Money in the Bank.


On the January 26, 2010 edition of ECW, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced that NXT would replace ECW on Syfy when the latter ends its run on February 16, describing NXT as "the next evolution of WWE; the next evolution of television history."[2] 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, at the time, 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.[3][4] On June 1, 2010, Barrett was declared the winner and, as a result, was awarded a WWE contract and a championship match at a pay-per-view of his choosing,[5] while the others were left without a job. 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[edit]

The Nexus at SummerSlam.

On the June 7, 2010 "Viewer's Choice" edition of Raw, after WWE backstage reporter Savannah asked him how he felt about winning NXT, Barrett replied with, "the result of that show was never once in question and it's just the start of something much, much greater, so if you want to talk to me about achievements and accomplishments, maybe you should ask me the same question in one week's time when something will be accomplished that has never been accomplished in the entire history of the WWE." Later in the night, during the main event which saw Cena face Punk after the leader of the Straight Edge Society beat out Rey Mysterio and then-World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger with 45% of the viewer vote, as Cena was looking to put Punk away with the Attitude Adjustment, the group debuted sporting matching armbands with the letter N. Barrett, who entered from the ramp, led the group, who entered through the crowd and jumped the barricades in an attack on Cena, Punk, Luke Gallows, Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler, NXT host Matt Striker (who had joined Lawler and Michael Cole at ringside to commentate the main event), Justin Roberts (who was the Raw ring announcer at the time), WWE timekeeper Mark Yeaton and other WWE personnel around the ring, not to mention tearing the safety mats off the ground, flipping over the announce table, taking apart the barricades and dismantling the ring itself by having Barrett and Michael Tarver unscrew the turnbuckles and causing the middle rope to become completely loose.[6] During the attack, which ended with Cena being taken out of the American Airlines Arena on a stretcher, Daniel Bryan strangled Roberts with his necktie and, in a sign of disrespect, spit in Cena's face which led to Bryan being released from his contract on June 11, 2010 as WWE reportedly felt those acts were too violent for the company's TV-PG programming.[7][8] His absence was explained by Barrett on the June 14, 2010 edition of Raw by stating that Bryan had felt remorse for his actions and, as a result, was kicked out of the group, rather than reveal that Bryan had actually been released from his contract, although the WWE Universe in Charlotte already knew the truth.[9] However, the NXT rookies did explain their actions as retribution for the poor treatment they received from WWE management during their time on NXT, saying that the attack was to threaten WWE into giving the remaining members guaranteed WWE contracts, stating that "if Hart fails to comply with even one of their demands, what happened in Miami the previous week was just the beginning," but WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart, who was introduced as Raw General Manager three weeks earlier, not only rejected the demand and fired Barrett, but revoked his WWE contract and championship opportunity he earned for winning NXT, then ordered the NXT rookies to leave the ring or they would be forced to by security. Later that night, during the main event which saw Cena and Orton take on Sheamus and Edge in a Fatal 4-Way preview, the NXT rookies attacked Hart backstage while the rest of the Raw roster stood guard at the top of the entrance ramp.[10] On June 20, 2010 at the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view, The NXT rookies interfered in the main event for Cena's WWE Championship, attacking all the wrestlers involved. Sheamus used the interference to win the title from Cena for a second time, having put the Cenation leader through a table in a Tables match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs (2009) after winning an interpromotional "Breakthrough Battle Royal," which WWE Hall of Famer, guest host and storyline matchmaker Jesse Ventura arranged, on the November 23, 2009 edition of Raw, in which he retained his heel persona, sided with Sheamus and confronted Cena about how it was unfair that Cena always got a title shot in the WWE while Ventura did not during his WWE career.[11]

The Nexus after exiling Daniel Bryan and attacking Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat on the June 21, 2010 edition of Raw.

After Fatal 4-Way, The NXT rookies continued their hostile attacks on various WWE figures, including one on Lawler and WWE Hall of Famers Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat on the June 21, 2010 edition of Raw as they were celebrating Steamboat's DVD release following an edict that the NXT rookies and the rest of the Raw roster could not engage in physical confrontation that week. McMahon removed Hart as General Manager "due to his injuries" and subsequently appointed a new General Manager, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of being attacked like Hart was, communicating only through e-mails quoted by Cole, the "official spokesman" (and the only person other than Serena of the Straight Edge Society not attacked by the NXT rookies in Miami), who immediately gave the other rookies their WWE contracts and reinstated Barrett's WWE championship opportunity that was stripped from him the previous week by Hart. Barrett revealed afterwards 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, despite finally apologizing for their actions, the NXT rookies still continued their hostile attacks, including one on McMahon himself on the June 28, 2010 edition of Raw, the same night the anonymous Raw General Manager proclaimed an edict that if any member of The NXT rookies put their hands on a WWE superstar, they would be terminated, but if any WWE superstar put their hands on any member of The NXT rookies, they would be suspended, after McMahon tried to take credit for the NXT rookies' actions.[12][13]

Feud with John Cena[edit]

On the July 5, 2010 edition of Raw, the same night the NXT rookies became known as The Nexus, 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 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, subsequently removing him from the following week's scheduled match.[14] 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, The Nexus won after the 450° splash of Gabriel, who then pinned Cena. The following night, on the July 13, 2010 edition of NXT, The Nexus appeared for the first time since Barrett was crowned the winner six weeks earlier to compete in a battle royal featuring the season two pros and rookies. 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.[15] The following night, on the July 19, 2010 edition of Raw, The Nexus continued their attacks on the Raw roster by attacking Edge and Chris Jericho after the two longtime rivals attempted to manipulate the group against each other, to no avail. Later that night, The 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.[16] On the July 26, 2010 edition of Raw, Team Nexus defeated Team Raw (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.[17] On August 15, 2010 at the SummerSlam pay-per-view, The Nexus was 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). Cena ended up being the sole survivor, eliminating Gabriel and Barrett by pinfall and submission, respectively.[18] According to Jericho and Edge, the original plan was to put Barrett over. At the end, Jericho and Edge would lose against Nexus. However, Cena asked for a change and he defeated Barrett and Gabriel. Jericho said that it was a bad idea, because Barrett wasn't pushed.[19] The following night, on the August 16, 2010 edition of Raw, The Nexus invoked their SummerSlam rematch clause and competed in seven one-on-one matches against Team WWE (except Hart, who was replaced by Orton), with the stipulation that whichever Nexus member lost their match would be exiled from the group. Young was the only Nexus member who failed to defeat Cena in the main event, leading the rest of The Nexus to storm the ring. Cena, anticipating another beatdown like the one he suffered at the conclusion of "Viewer's Choice Raw," 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.[20]

The Nexus after exiling Darren Young for losing to John Cena on the August 16, 2010 edition of Raw and losing Skip Sheffield to injury at a live WWE event in Hawaii.

At a live WWE 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, leaving The Nexus with only five active members heading into September.[21] 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 Sheamus' WWE Championship, but was eliminated by Orton, who later won the match and the title.[22]

The Nexus after losing Michael Tarver to injury and adding Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty on the October 25, 2010 edition of Raw.

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, but 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, who would join The Nexus on the October 25, 2010 edition of Raw, Barrett managed to win the match and keep the group going and Cena was forced to join the Nexus.[23] 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 he was planning on getting rid of Tarver anyway, but that Cena did him a favor by attacking Tarver, implying that Tarver was no longer a member. As it turned out, it was actually because Tarver had a nagging groin injury and was later released from his contract in June 2011.[24][25] 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 General Manager 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 night, Barrett ordered Cena to help him win the number one contendership in a battle royal for Orton's WWE Championship. The match came down to Cena and Barrett, where Barrett ordered Cena to eliminate himself.[25] On October 24, 2010 at the Bragging Rights pay-per-view, The Nexus won their first titles in WWE when Otunga and Cena defeated Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.[26] Later that 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, as a result, was chosen by Barrett as his own special guest referee for his WWE Championship match against Orton at the Survivor Series pay-per-view, who declared that unless he won the title at the pay-per-view, Cena would be fired, but if Barrett defeated Orton, Cena would be relieved of all responsibilities to The Nexus.[27]

John Cena reading an address to a member of The Nexus after losing a match to Wade Barrett at Hell in a Cell.

On the November 5, 2010 edition of SmackDown (taped November 2), Otunga, who had been questioning Barrett's leadership over 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.[28] Barrett didn't approve Otunga's decision to lead The Nexus on SmackDown and as a result forced him to defend his spot in the group a week later.[29] On the November 12, 2010 edition of SmackDown (taped November 9), thanks to interference from Kane, Otunga defeated Edge in a lumberjack match to keep his spot in The Nexus.[30] 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 exiled from The Nexus.[31] Despite this, 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 as revenge for the group's previous attacks. On the December 6, 2010 edition of Raw, thanks to interference from Cena, Slater and Gabriel lost the WWE Tag Team Championship to Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov in a Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Elimination match.[32] Later that 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, with the exception of 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.[32] 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.[33] 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.[34]

The New Nexus[edit]

The New Nexus after exiling Wade Barrett for losing a triple-threat steel cage match to Randy Orton and Sheamus on the January 3, 2011 edition of Raw and naming CM Punk new leader, with Michael McGillicutty in the background.

On the January 3, 2011 edition of Raw, after months of repeated attacks on Cena and the WWE roster, 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, thanks to Punk (see above) and was subsequently exiled from The Nexus. With this move, the group was renamed The New Nexus to distance itself from The Nexus.[35] 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.[36] On the January 17, 2011 edition of Raw, Ryan joined the Nexus after interfering in Punk's match against Cena-- the first match between the two since the main event of "Viewer's Choice" Raw-- attacking both men before Punk handed Ryan a Nexus armband.[37] 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), ending his longtime feud with the stable; later that night, The New Nexus also cost Orton his rematch clause for The Miz's 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 which Orton entered the ring and punted Harris in the skull, injuring him.[38] 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, the same night Edge announced his retirement, McGillicutty, Otunga and Ryan returned, once again costing Orton another shot at The Miz's 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 2011 WWE Draft (the last under the old brand extension), Orton was drafted to SmackDown and, on May 1, 2011 at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, defeated Punk in a match where The New Nexus was banned from ringside, officially ending his four-month feud with The New Nexus.[39][40] On the May 23, 2011 episode of Raw, thanks to a distraction from Del Rio, McGillicutty and Otunga defeated Big Show and Kane for the WWE Tag Team Championship, giving Otunga his first WWE Tag Team Title since Bragging Rights.[41]

Tag team and dissolution[edit]

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 defeats Cena, he will leave with the WWE Championship, while 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 that once his contract expires at Money in the Bank, that would be 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.[42] 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.

Present day[edit]

Tarver was released in June 2011, Punk left WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble, Ryan was released in April 2014, Gabriel left WWE after the 2015 Royal Rumble, Bryan retired in February 2016 and is now General Manager of SmackDown Live and Barrett left WWE in May 2016. Otunga began working roles including pre-show panelist and color commentator in February 2015 and Sheffield (who is now Ryback) was sent home due to a contract dispute and later released in August 2016. Cena, Young, Slater, McGillicutty (who is now Curtis Axel) and Harris (who is now Bray Wyatt) are the only wrestlers on the active roster of The Nexus remaining.


Member Joined Left Notes
Wade Barrett June 7, 2010 January 3, 2011 Original leader of The Nexus.[43]
Daniel Bryan June 7, 2010 June 11, 2010 [44][45]
Darren Young June 7, 2010 August 16, 2010 [46]
Skip Sheffield June 7, 2010 January 3, 2011 Suffered an ankle injury at a live event in Hawaii in August 2010, but never left the stable. However, he was never mentioned as member of The New Nexus.
Michael Tarver June 7, 2010 October 4, 2010 Left The Nexus after suffering a groin injury[47]
Justin Gabriel June 7, 2010 January 10, 2011
Heath Slater June 7, 2010 January 10, 2011
David Otunga June 7, 2010 August 22, 2011
John Cena October 3, 2010 November 21, 2010
Husky Harris October 25, 2010 January 31, 2011 [48][49]
Michael McGillicutty October 25, 2010 August 22, 2011
CM Punk December 27, 2010 July 17, 2011 Became the leader of The New Nexus in January 2011 after Wade Barrett lost a triple-threat steel cage match to Randy Orton and Sheamus.
Mason Ryan January 17, 2011 March 14, 2011 [50]


In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

See also[edit]


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