Pro Wrestling

Nexus: Then And Now

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Nexus: Then And Now

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On June 7 of 2010, eight men shook the wrestling world by making the boldest statement seen on live television in years. The eight rookies of WWE’s NXT feature followed up the lengthy elimination contest by forming an alliance and attacking two of the most significant pro wrestlers of our generation.

The group went by the name Nexus and attacked John Cena and CM Punk during Raw’s main event bout. The group went above and beyond to make an impact. Cameramen and commentators were assaulted and the Raw set was torn apart. The group also proceeded to take the ring apart which has never been seen on before.

Nexus featured NXT winner Wade Barrett, independent wrestling sensation Daniel Bryan, monstrous mammoths by the name of Skip Sheffield and Michael Tarver, American lawyer and reality television star David Otunga, South African native Justin Gabriel, a ginger by the name of Heath Slater and Darren Young.

The popular question at the time was about what kind of mark would Nexus leave as a group and as individuals? Many members of the WWE Universe and the media alike debated over which Nexus members were the standouts with bright futures and which ones were sure to be associated which the future endeavored tag.

Since then most members of the group have gone on to hit some impressive highs while others endured some lows. All-in-all it would be fair to say that the WWE’s investment in the stable has paid off.

Let’s take a look at each members progression.

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Wade Barrett

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The winner of the original NXT contest flourished from the get go with his bare-knuckle boxing style and his finely tuned mic skills. In his earlier days, Barrett was the leader of Nexus and then The Corre. After failing to accumulate some significant victories and coming short during the big title bouts, Barrett was repackaged with a more aggressive ring style. He called this movement “The Barrett Barrage.”

Unfortunately, the promising Englishman suffered a dislocated elbow injury which kept him off WWE television for the majority of 2012. In recent months, Barrett quickly captured the attention of the WWE Universe with yet another evolution. Barrett began to sport a scruffy beard and further transitioned his in-ring style to his brawling ways. He has earned some notable wins since against the likes of Randy Orton and is set to face Kofi Kingston at the TLC PPV with the Intercontinental title on the line.

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Daniel Bryan

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American Dragon was an independent wrestling sensation who was once dubbed as the best wrestler in the world. Sound familiar? However, his early days in the WWE did not seem to reflect such sentiments. Bryan started out on NXT being mentored by The Miz whose career was the polar opposite of his. This created quite the controversy among wrestling die-hard fans. Bryan was eliminated early and was constantly berated by WWE commentator Michael Cole for being an “indy guy”. Bryan’s struggles continued when Nexus formed and Bryan was legitimately fired for being too aggressive in the stable’s debut. Bryan was seen spitting on John Cena and choking ring announcer Justin Roberts with a neck tie.

After returning to the independent scene, Bryan was signed back for the SummerSlam PPV as a member of Team WWE to face off against Nexus in a seven-on-seven main event bout. Bryan’s star began to shine as he captured the US Championship, a Money In The Bank briefcase, the World Heavyweight Championship, and most recently the WWE Tag Team Championships with tag partner Kane. The WWE has also invested in Bryan as a character developing a lady’s man persona at first followed by the “Yes!” and “No!” chants. Nowadays, he can be seen in a highly invested comedic role with Kane as a dysfunctional tag team.

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Skip Sheffield/Ryback

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Ryback’s journey into the world of professional wrestling started when he made it as one of the eight finalists on WWE Tough Enough 4. He has since been a development territory journeyman and one of the eight rookies to be featured on WWE’s new program, NXT.

Persistence paid off for the caloric indulging machine after suffering setbacks from injuries to a Wellness Policy suspension. Since January 2012 Ryback has been stepping into the ring in one-sided affairs has become a regular PPV feature. He is currently feuding with the WWE Champion CM Punk and The Shield to the echoes of the masses chanting, “Feed me more!

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Justin Gabriel

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Gabriel began his career competing in the UK and South Africa. After being signed to a WWE development contract, Gabriel progressed his way from development to the main stage in less than two years. He made his start on the NXT feature and soon after with the Nexus stable like everyone else. Gabriel came in third place on NXT and has since been one of the more dependable newcomers with his mix of impressive aerial maneuvers and ability to perform at an elite level within the WWE style.

Despite the multiple tag team championships and being well supported by the WWE fan base, Gabriel has mostly been a star with promise and no significant push. One must assume that they are grooming him and waiting for the right time. Ideally, Gabriel can be one of the few leading men to reinvigorate a cruiserweight division that is nearly non-existent (Gabriel vs. Tyson Kidd anyone?). Cruiserweight features have always been a successful showcase in the past from ECW’s prime to the mid days of WCW and notably with Impact Wrestling’s X-Division. Here’s hoping that Gabriel gets a ball to run with.

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Heath Slater

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“Slaters gonna slate!” The trending meme that plays off the more commonly known “haters gonna hate” phrase is an appropriate reflection of how the WWE Universe views Slater. That negative attitude is more common among the internet wrestling community who do not recognize his accomplishments from being a former FCW champion to a three-time WWE Tag Team Champion.

To be honest, I thought Slater was going to be the first to be released or at least spend years in jobber purgatory. However, it seems office is well behind him with his current role as the leader of the newly formed faction of 3MB. The stable may likely never reach the main event scene but a ball is surely to be placed in their hands. It might be a shitty ball to run with but you can bet that 3MB and Slater will do their best to turn chicken shit into chicken salad.

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David Otunga

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The Harvard law graduate and beau of celebrity Jennifer Hudson seems to have long term security as a professional wrestler. Despite being related to on-camera roles and squash matches Otunga consistently appears on WWE television and often as a sidekick to more prominent heels.

The NXT runner-up’s portfolio includes portraying the legal advisor of former WWE General Manager John Laurinatis and winning the WWE Tag Team Championship that seems to have been held by every member of the original Nexus faction. Otunga’s wild card is his exceptional physique which will always come as a plus in the land of giants. Maybe he is more than just a body since he hasn’t been given a chance to showcase more. Then again, he hasn’t done much to earn more air time either.

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Darren Young

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Not much can be said about Young’s earlier days. He made his way through development and onto the first season of NXT. He didn’t make much noise and that lack of excitement continue during his tenure as a member of Nexus. He later was featured on NXT’s fifth season entitled NXT: Redemption where he feuded with Horsnwoggle and Titus O’Neil.

During that time frame Young served a 30-day suspension under the Wellness Policy and came back to end his feud with O’Neil. The feud ended with O’Neil turning heel and the start of the Prime time Players was under way. The tag team was the first time Young received real direction and had something to work with. Despite the fact that the duo haven’t made much noise they have picked up some momentum in past months that was highlighted by a recent episode of Raw where PTP shined as guests on commentary.

The future looks bright for the duo and Young has plenty to be grateful about because he may have just been on his way out if nothing came his way. I for one look forward to watching PTP as regulars on WWE programming and hope they are kept together for the long term as they have a lot to offer up to a weak tag division.

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Michael Tarver

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Signed. Joined Nexus. Groin injury. Released.