The Nexus (professional wrestling)
The Nexus logo.
"You're either Nexus or you're against us!"–Motto under Wade Barrett
"Faith!"–Motto under CM Punk
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)
The Nexus (later renamed The New Nexus in January 2011) was a heel stable in WWE which competed on Raw from 2010 to 2011 and originally consisted of all eight rookies of NXT season one and shifted their roster several times throughout their existence, with David Otunga being the longest-tenured member. 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. The group went on to antagonize the Raw roster (and, on three occasions, the SmackDown roster), with then-WWE Champion John Cena as their main focus, who forcibly became a member of The Nexus via a match stipulation 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, who many considered the man who would succeed Barrett as leader in 2011 before CM Punk was ultimately chosen, 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 and 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 and became a tight-knit group dedicated to one another by faith. Throughout its existence, the group won the WWE Tag Team Championship three times, most recently the May 23, 2011 edition of Raw, 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 ended its run on February 16, describing NXT 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, 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. 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. 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, during the "Viewer's Choice" main event that saw John Cena face CM Punk, 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 a move similar to that of The Shield, in an attack on Cena, Punk, Luke Gallows, Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler, Matt Striker, ring announcer Justin Roberts and other WWE personnel around the ring. They also dismantled 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 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 tell the WWE Universe the truth, that Bryan was released from his contract. However, the group did explain 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 members WWE contracts, but Hall of Famer Bret Hart, who was named Raw general manager three weeks earlier, rejected the demand and fired Barrett, then ordered the rest of The Nexus to leave the arena or they would be arrested. Later that night, Hart ordered the whole Raw roster (excluding the Divas) to stand guard at the ringside and stage areas during the main event, which saw Cena and Randy Orton team up to take on Edge and Sheamus in a Fatal 4-Way preview to prevent what happened in Miami from happening in Charlotte, leaving The Nexus, presumably standing outside Hart's office when the order was given, to wait until the coast was clear to storm Hart's office and accost him backstage and attack him by having Barrett and Sheffield drag him down the hallway into the parking lot and having Otunga rip his shirt open before the group forced him into a limousine and ordered the driver to floor it, which the driver did, in reverse down the ramp and crashing into four other vehicles, causing significant rear-end 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, having defeated the Cenation leader in a Tables match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs (2009) after having won an interpromotional Breakthrough Battle Royal, which guest host and storyline matchmaker Jesse Ventura arranged, on the November 23, 2009 edition of Raw.
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 as 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. McMahon removed Hart as general manager "due to his injuries" (in reality, it was because McMahon had scolded Hart for failing to appear at Fatal-4-Way) 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 "official spokesman" Michael Cole (the only person other than Serena of The Straight Edge Society who was not attacked by The Nexus in Miami), who immediately gave The Nexus WWE contracts and reinstated Barrett's championship match opportunity that was taken from him the previous week. 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, despite apologizing for their actions, The Nexus still 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, if not all, 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, subsequently removing him from the following week's scheduled match. 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 came 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 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 help The Nexus 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 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.
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. With Young having been exiled from the group two nights earlier for losing to Cena, The Nexus went from seven active members remaining to only five entering September-- Barrett, Otunga, Slater, Gabriel and Tarver. On the August 30, 2010 edition of Raw, which celebrated its 900th episode, 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. 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, 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 October 25, Barrett managed to win the match and keep the group going and Cena was forced to join the very group he defeated at SummerSlam. 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, as he implied that Tarver was no longer a member; like with Bryan, Barrett did not reveal the real reason why Tarver was kicked out of the group; it was actually because Tarver had a nagging groin injury and was later released from his contract in June 2011 (see below). 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 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 Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. 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 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.
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. 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. 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 exiled from The 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, thanks to an 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. 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, 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. 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. Cena faced the new leader of the Nexus CM Punk (who exiled Barrett from the group at some point after TLC) on the January 17, 2011 edition of Raw; the match ended in a no-contest after the debuting Mason Ryan attacked Cena, signaling him as a new member of The Nexus. At the Royal Rumble main event, Cena eliminated the majority of the Nexus during the match, officially ending his longtime feud with the stable.
The New Nexus
On the January 3, 2011 edition of Raw, 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 (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.  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, Ryan joined the Nexus after interfering in Punk's match against Cena and attacking both men before Punk handed Ryan a Nexus armband. 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); later that night, 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 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 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 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.
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 would leave with the WWE 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.
(The Nexus leader)
|June 7, 2010||January 3, 2011||Original leader of The Nexus, exiled in January 2011 for losing a steel cage match against Randy Orton and Sheamus; later established The Corre on SmackDown! in January 2011; later repackaged as Bad News Barrett in December 2013.|
|Daniel Bryan||June 7, 2010||June 11, 2010||Legitimately released from WWE in 2010 for his actions on "Viewer's Choice Raw" being deemed too violent for WWE's TV-PG programming. In storyline kicked out for showing remorse, though later revealed 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; later formed The Prime Time Players with Titus O'Neil.|
|Skip Sheffield||June 7, 2010||August 22, 2011||Legitimately broke his ankle in August 2010 at a live WWE event in Hawaii 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 in October 2010; in storyline, kicked out because Barrett deemed him "dead weight"; later released from the company in June 2011.|
|Justin Gabriel||June 7, 2010||January 10, 2011||Left the stable in January 2011 and joined The Corre on SmackDown!; later released from the company in January 2015.|
|Heath Slater||June 7, 2010||January 10, 2011||Left the stable in January 2011 and joined The Corre on SmackDown!; formed 3MB with Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal in September 2012; formed Slater Gator with Titus O'Neil in July 2014.|
|David Otunga||June 7, 2010||August 22, 2011||Only member to serve during the entire duration of the group; nearly exiled in November 2010 for leading Gabriel, Harris, McGillicutty and Slater to a second invasion of SmackDown! interrupting a match between Edge and Alberto Del Rio and was defeated in a 5-on-5 tag team match by Edge, Del Rio, Big Show, Kane and Kofi Kingston.|
|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; exiled in November 2010 after being fired following Barrett's WWE Championship loss to Randy Orton at Survivor Series.|
|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 The Wyatt Family patriarch 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 in November 2013.|
(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 for losing a steel cage match against Randy Orton and Sheamus 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; later released from the company following Royal Rumble.|
|Mason Ryan||January 17, 2011||July 11, 2011||Left the stable following an unknown injury in June 2011, although, like his predecessor did with Michael Tarver, CM Punk never revealed that Ryan had been exiled until July 2011; later released from the company in April 2014.|
- 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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