It went down as one of the more memorable moments on Monday Night Raw. A group of young wrestlers who were vying for a main roster contract with the WWE formed an alliance and destroyed the set and attacked all the wrestlers, referees and even the ring announcer. They called themselves ‘The Nexus’ and you were either, “Nexus or against us.”
On June 7th, 2010…8 young men…who were last seen on the reality competition show NXT (Before NXT was re-branded as the WWE developmental system)appeared from the audience…surrounded the ring and violently attacked everyone and everything in sight. The 8 men were, Wade Barrett (The leader) Skip Sheffield, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, Daniel Bryan, Heath Slater, David Otunga and Darren Young. Their ‘scripted’ objective was to all obtain WWE contracts…but the real objective by the WWE was to catapult the careers of these young talents.
Over 4 years has passed since that faithful night in June. The Nexus are no longer an active faction within the WWE…so did the angle work? Who capitalized and who faltered with this nWo style gimmick?
Let’s first remove the biggest name…Daniel Bryan from the equation. While he was indeed a part of the initial attack and launch of the Nexus, he was fired from the WWE soon after the angle began due to overly excessive violence. As ridiculous as it sounds, D-Bry was released after the camera showed Bryan strangling ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own neck tie. WWE management at the time was trying to portray a “PG style” to advertisers…not only in the wake of the Chris Benoit murder/suicide three years prior…..but also for a Linda McMahon senate bid that same year.
Of course, Bryan Danielson was eventually rehired by the company and became one of the WWE’s most popular stars. He did so, however, without being a member of this faction…so he has been excluded. That leaves Barrett, Sheffield, Tarver, Gabriel, Slater, Otunga and Young to be analyzed.
Perhaps the most successful and perhaps most popular of the original incarnation of the group. Wade Barrett has established himself as a legit player in the WWE’s universe. As of this writing, he is a former 4 time Intercontinental champion. He is currently on the mend from a serious shoulder injury that once again stunted his growth as a star…but no question Barrett has got “it”…whatever “it” is.
After being re-re-repackaged as Ryback…he was almost immediately thrust into main event status. Despite multiple attempts as both a face and a heel to win over fans and become a main event player…Ryback just couldn’t shake of the comparisons to former WCW/WWE star Goldberg. He is currently toiling in the tag team division with Curtis Axel.
Yes, believe it or not…despite not being on WWE TV for months and only making sporadic appearances at non wrestling WWE events like ‘Be A Star’ and Reading Challenges…Otunga is still on the payroll. While Otunga may not have been the greatest wrestler in the world…he does have a very quick witted personality. My only theory to why he’s still employed in the wake of multiple firings and releases…is his marriage to Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. Is Vince McMahon holding out hope to have such a mainstream actress/singer appear at a Wrestlemania perhaps?
Justin Gabriel is an extremely talented, high flying performer. His major downfall…he lacks a personality comparable to what the WWE likes to have. He has made some sporadic appearances as of late on the WWE’s C list shows (mostly putting over other talent) and NXT where he has really shined with his abilities. The problem is whether the WWE can find him a spot back on the main roster and utilize him properly.
During the Nexus’ run, Michael Tarver was perhaps the most intimidating looking wrestler in the group. Unfortunately, injuries sidelines his progress and was eventually released by the company. He currently works in Japan and the indies.
“Slater’s gonna Slate!” After initially being pushed (Winning a couple of tag titles with Justin Gabriel) Heath Slater found himself as a comedic heel jobber. Despite the goofy persona, Slater can work a solid match and has a fantastic personality. He formed 3MB with both Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal and was able to get the gimmick over with fans. The problem was…he never won matches and was used mostly to put over other talents. It appears that Slater has finally broken through the glass ceiling and is not only seeing more TV time…but actually winning matches as well.
He was once referred to as “The Black John Cena…” for his looks closely resembled that of Cena’s. After being kicked out of Nexus…Darren found himself at the bottom of the card jobbing to others. He finally found a nice little niche for himself when he was paired with Titus O’Neil as the Prime time Players. Inexplicably though, the team was split up and Darren is currently off TV trying new looks to get back on. The biggest splash Darren Young has made in his WWE career was when he came out of the closet revealing himself to be homosexual. Every mainstream outlet covered his story…but alas…wasn’t allowed to fully capitalize on the exposure.
You may notice that I have not included the “New” Nexus which was led by CM Punk. While the new Nexus did bring in more new talent…it just didn’t have the initial impact the original incarnation had. The new Nexus did give us a first look at Husky Harris (Future Bray Wyatt) Michael McGuillicutty (Curtis Axel) and recently released talent Mason Ryan. While Bray Wyatt has rapidly become a real legit player in the company and Curtis Axel is a former tag team and IC champion….it still doesn’t compare to this shocking moment…
A shame more couldn’t come out of this once formidable unit….