The Nexus could have been brilliant. In fact, the Nexus was brilliant…for a few weeks, because when they debuted on the June 7 episode of Raw, it really felt like WWE was onto something. The way the group was introduced to the WWE Universe was unlike anything anyone had seen for a very long, and it’s this that makes their demise so disappointing.
If you ignore their frankly comical ring-names, you had some of the brightest stars in wrestling, forming a group and taking on Raw. It felt as though WWE was trying to build new stars, and in 2010 new stars were few and far between. We had spent the last five years drowning in endless John Cena vs. Randy Orton matches, so the idea that these young upstarts wanted to shock the system made fans genuinely excited.
So, what went wrong? Well, I thought I would asked my esteemed colleagues to summarise that for me, so that you could have a flavour of what is to come.
Louis Dangoor: “After their debut, pretty much everything went wrong. The storyline sums up WWE’s inability to book new stars due to their bias towards main eventers who don’t need the rub.”
Brian “Tempest” Joyce: “In a perfect opportunity for WWE to look to the future and build the next generation of stars, they instead chose to stand pat, using seven potential new stars to put over an aging John Cena when he didn’t need it.”
Nate Craver: “The Nexus booking showed WWE’s unwillingness to look to the future. Instead they chose to go with a decision they felt benefited them in the short term. However, even the short term benefits of Cena going over can be debated.”
If you think these answers are all quite similar, well there’s a reason for that.
The first nail in the coffin for the Nexus took place less than a week after they debuted. During their debut, Daniel Bryan got a little over-excited and decided to choke ring-announcer Justin Roberts with his tie. As a result of this, Bryan was fired, and the “NXT 8” was suddenly the “NXT 7”. Not a great start.
The group would spend the next few weeks attacking WWE legends, random babyfaces and heels backstage, but their focus it seemed was very much on John Cena, who for so long had been WWE’s poster boy.
Cena lost to the Nexus in a 6-on-1 handicap match on the July 12 episode of Raw, but that was about as good as it got for the group in terms of wins over big match John.
If you ask most fans, they’ll point towards SummerSlam 2010 as the biggest mistake WWE made, as this was their opportunity to make the Nexus a genuine threat. In fact, both Edge and Chris Jericho have said the original plan was for the Nexus to go over, but as we know, that didn’t happen. Instead, John Cena as the last man standing for team WWE defeated both Justin Gabriel and Wade Barrett, and their momentum hit a wall.
Darren Young was then deemed “the weak link” in the group, and Skip Sheffield (Ryback) was sidelined for two years after breaking his ankle. So just under a month after they debuted, the original 8 was now down to just 5.
It seemed some momentum would be regained, as John Cena was forced to join the Nexus after losing to Barrett and Hell in a Cell. However, WWE booked Cena to more of less take the piss out of the Nexus, refusing to follow rules, and he was eventually kayfabe fired for breaking the rules.
Barrett was forced to rehire Cena after being threatened with exile from The Nexus, and would go on to lose to Cena at TLC, getting buried under hundreds of chairs in the process. Yes, he was literally buried by John Cena. Subtle.
The Nexus was dead, and despite an attempt by CM Punk to revive the group with “The New Nexus”, the original group which promised so much was gone.
Wade Barrett failed to win the WWE Championship despite trying several times. They only won the tag championships because John Cena helped them, and one of them was called Skip Sheffield.
While several members of the original Nexus have gone on to be successful away from WWE, names like Michael Tarver, Darren Young, David Otunga and Justin Gabriel were little more than fodder for John Cena. Wade Barrett had a decent run after the group disbanded, but he never won the top title he always deserved.
We do have to thank the group for introducing us to Daniel Bryan, but let’s not pretend they actually helped him get over in any way.
So, in summary, what went wrong with the Nexus?
In just 6 months, WWE went from having one of the most exciting stables in all of wrestling, to quite literally burying its leader. If the group had been used to get someone over by beating them, that would have been much more watchable, but it was John Cena. Cena was quite possibly the last person on earth who needed the rub, but it’s clear that at some point between June and December 2010, Vince McMahon made the call to make The Nexus one of the most disappointing “should have been” stories in modern wrestling history.
Let me know what you thought of my reasoning in the comments. Do you think the Nexus went right? Convince me!