The Nexus (professional wrestling)

The Nexus (later renamed The New Nexus in January 2011) was a heel stable in WWE that competed on the Raw brand from June 7, 2010, to August 22, 2011. It originally consisted 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.

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
Name(s)The Nexus (2010–2011)
The New Nexus (2011)
The Nexus Alliance (2018)
See below
DebutJune 7, 2010
(as The Nexus)
January 3, 2011
(as The New Nexus)
DisbandedDecember 27, 2010
(as The Nexus)
August 22, 2011
(as The New Nexus)
Years active2010–2011
2018 (reunion)

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. In October 2010, Cena forcibly became a member of The Nexus after losing in a match at Hell in a Cell. However, Cena was eventually removed from the group by being fired at Survivor Series after Barrett lost his WWE Championship match to Randy Orton in November 2010, only to be rehired by Barrett the following month.

On January 3, 2011, Barrett was exiled from the group anyway after losing a triple threat steel cage match against Orton and King Sheamus to determine the number one contender for the WWE Championship as well as Barrett's leadership, which Barrett lost in favor of CM Punk after losing to Cena a chairs match at TLC: Tables Ladders & Chairs in December 2010. Punk, who ended up costing Barrett the match, officially became the group's new leader in January 2011, 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.

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 July 17.


On the February 2, 2010, episode 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 television history."[1] The concept of the stable was each original member of Nexus was a contestant on the first season of the NXT program, which composed at the time of the talent from WWE's developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling in a competition to become WWE's next breakout star with the help of mentors from WWE's Raw and SmackDown brands.[2][3] On June 1, Barrett was declared the winner and, as a result, was awarded a WWE contract and a championship match at a WWE pay-per-view of his choosing (he ultimately chose Night of Champions) while the others were left without a job.[4]


Formation and feud with John CenaEdit

The Nexus at SummerSlam

On the June 7, 2010, "Viewer's Choice" edition of Raw, during the main event which saw WWE Champion John Cena face CM Punk after the leader of the Straight Edge Society won 45% of the viewer vote, 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 joined Lawler and Michael Cole at commentary), then-Raw ring announcer Justin Roberts, WWE timekeeper Mark Yeaton and other WWE personnel around the ring, not to mention destroying everything at ringside, including the ring itself.[5] 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, the latter of which led him to be released from his contract on June 11, 2010, as WWE reportedly felt those acts were too violent for the company's TV-PG programming.[6][7] His absence was explained by Barrett as having felt remorse for his actions and, as a result, was kicked out of the group, rather than reveal the truth.[8] Nexus was established as the main heel stable on Raw, attacking several wrestlers and legends, including Hall of Famers Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes, and Raw General Manager Bret Hart.[9][10] After Hart's attack, McMahon removed him as Raw 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 one not attacked by the group during their invasion).[11][12]

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

During the summer of 2010, Nexus had a feud with Cena. First, Cena was scheduled to face The Nexus in a 7-on-1 handicap match on the July 12, 2010, edition of Raw, but Cena attacked Darren Young the previous week, subsequently removing him from the following week's scheduled match,[13] which became a 6-on-1 handicap match, which The Nexus won anyway. On July 18, 2010 at Money in the Bank, The Nexus attempted to get involved in the WWE Championship match involving Sheamus and Cena in a steel cage, but Sheamus and Cena were able to hold them off and escape, with Sheamus winning the match and retaining the WWE Championship.[14] Their following match would take place at SummerSlam, where The Nexus faced the team of Cena, Hart, Edge, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, R-Truth and the returning Daniel Bryan (who replaced The Great Khali), losing after Cena last eliminated Barrett.[15][16] According to Edge and Jericho, the original plan was to put over Barrett, but Cena asked for a change and defeated Barrett and Gabriel.[17] The following night on 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 Randy Orton), with the stipulation that whichever Nexus member lost their match would be exiled from the group. Young was the only Nexus member who lost, as he failed to defeat Cena in the main event. As a result, The Nexus attacked Young with their respective finishing moves and officially exiled him from the group.[18] At a live WWE live event in Hawaii on August 18, 2010, Skip Sheffield broke his ankle during a tag match where he teamed with Otunga against The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd), putting him out of action for the next two years, leaving The Nexus with only five active members heading into September.[19] On September 19 at Night of Champions, Barrett used his guaranteed championship match that he won for winning NXT in the six-pack elimination challenge for Sheamus' WWE Championship, but he was eliminated by Orton, who later won the match and the title.[20]

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

On October 3, 2010, at Hell in a Cell, 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 Harris and McGillicutty, who would join The Nexus on October 25, 2010, edition of Raw as a reward, Barrett managed to win the match and keep the group going and Cena was forced to join The Nexus.[21] The following night on Raw, Michael Tarver was paired with Cena who attacked him after the match. Barrett in the next segment said that he was planning on getting rid of Tarver anyway and that Cena did him a favor, implying that Tarver was no longer a member[22] (in reality, Tarver had a nagging groin injury and was later released from his contract in June 2011).[23] The anonymous Raw General Manager stated that Cena had to honor the stipulations of the Hell in a Cell match and take orders from Barrett or be fired, but later that night, he instead ordered Cena to help him win the number one contender battle royal for Orton's WWE Championship and as the match came down to Cena and Barrett, Barrett ordered Cena to eliminate himself and won the match.[22] On October 24, 2010, at Bragging Rights, The Nexus won their first championships in WWE when Cena and Otunga defeated Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.[24] 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 rematch against Orton at Survivor Series, declaring that unless he won the title, Cena would be fired, but if Barrett defeated Orton, Cena would be relieved of all responsibilities to The Nexus.[25]

John Cena reading an address as 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, 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 Alberto Del Rio and Edge, but 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.[26] Barrett did not 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 SmackDown.[27] On the November 12, 2010, edition of SmackDown, thanks to interference from Kane, Otunga defeated Edge in a lumberjack match to keep his spot in The Nexus.[28] On November 21, 2010, at Survivor Series, Orton retained the WWE Championship against Barrett via pinfall and Cena was fired (kayfabe) from WWE and subsequently exiled from The Nexus.[29] Despite this, Cena continued to show up on Raw in the subsequent weeks, causing interference in The Nexus' matches and attacking them as well as costing Slater and Gabriel the WWE Tag Team Championship to Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov in a fatal four-way tag team elimination match on the December 6, 2010, edition of Raw.[30] 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.[30] On the December 13, 2010, edition of Raw, Barrett rehired Cena for fear of being exiled by The Nexus, but on the condition that A. Cena face Otunga in the main event and B. Barrett and Cena settle the score in a chairs match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.[31] At TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs on December 19, Cena defeated Barrett in the main event, and after the match, he dropped 16 steel chairs from the stage on him after dispatching the rest of The Nexus.[32]

The New NexusEdit

The New Nexus after exiling 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 McGillicutty in the background

On the January 3, 2011, edition of Raw, The Nexus ambiguously announced after months of repeated attacks on Cena and the WWE roster 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 himself and was subsequently exiled from The Nexus (now renamed The New Nexus to distance itself from former leadership).[33] After refusing to follow Punk's orders of initiation by hitting each other with kendo sticks, Gabriel and Slater left the group the following week on Raw, opting to join Barrett and former ECW Champion Ezekiel Jackson on SmackDown as The Corre while Harris, McGillicutty and Otunga successfully completed Punk's initiation.[34] On the January 17, 2011 edition of Raw, Mason Ryan joined The New Nexus after interfering in Punk's match against Cena, attacking both before Punk handed Ryan a Nexus armband.[35] At the Royal Rumble, The New Nexus cost Orton his rematch clause for The Miz's WWE Championship, starting a feud with him.[36] Over the ongoing weeks, Orton punted all members of The New Nexus, causing storyline injuries.[37][38][39][40] Punk and Orton faced each other at WrestleMania XXVII and Extreme Rules, where Orton defeated Punk both times.[41][42] On the May 23, 2011 edition of Raw, thanks to a distraction from Del Rio, McGillicutty and Otunga defeated Big Show and Kane for the WWE Tag Team Championship.[43] On the June 20, 2011, "Power to the People" edition of Raw, Punk was originally going to be named the number one contender for Cena's 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, revealing after the match that his WWE contract would expire at Money in the Bank, where he would face Cena for the WWE Championship.[44] The following week on Raw, it was announced that Ryan had suffered an injury over the weekend and left the group.[45] That same night, a brash Punk realized a worked shoot promo (which he dubbed a "pipe bomb"), reminding that once his contract expires at Money in the Bank, that would be the last time WWE would ever see him and the WWE Championship, as he considered taking his talents to another wrestling promotion.[46] With his victory over Cena on July 17, 2011, the WWE Championship was finally held by the stable on their last night of existence.[47]

Tag team and dissolutionEdit

The group's final members then functioned as a tag team with the Nexus banner until August 1, 2011,[48][49] and continued without the banner until August 22, 2011, when the group permanently disbanded.[50]

Chikara reunion (2018)Edit

In 2018, The Nexus reunited for Chikara King of Trios tournament as The Nexus Alliance, being represented by Fred Rosser (Darren Young), PJ Black (Justin Gabriel), and Michael Tarver.[51]


As the group predicted, it would ultimately serve as a launching pad for several debuting superstars in the WWE at that time, but some members would later be repackaged with different gimmicks with varying degrees of success. Daniel Bryan and Husky Harris would go on to have the biggest success out of the former Nexus members. To date, Bryan is a three-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time World Heavyweight Champion, a one-time United States Champion, a one-time Tag Team Champion, and a Money in the Bank winner. Husky Harris would return to FCW and be completely repackaged as the Southern Gothic-like Bray Wyatt, portrayed as an evil cult leader who believes himself to be more monster than human and leader of The Wyatt Family, eventually returning to the main roster in 2013 before tweaking his gimmick as an eerie children's television host along with his alter ego, "The Fiend" starting in 2019. Wyatt is a former two time tag team champion (one Smackdown tag team championship and one Raw tag team championship) However Wyatt's greatest success happened at the 2017 Elimination Chamber pay per view where he would win the WWE Championship.

Michael McGillicutty, who would win a Tag Team Championship with David Otunga while as a part of the New Nexus and initially downplayed his family connections as part of the Hennig family, renamed himself Curtis Axel in 2013 as a tribute to his father "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig and his grandfather Larry "The Axe" Hennig. Like Barrett, Axel is also a former Intercontinental Champion. Currently Axel is now allied with Bo Dallas, real life brother of Bray Wyatt, as a tag team called The B-Team.

Three-time Tag Team Champion Heath Slater would eventually become the leader of his own stable - the rock band themed 3MB - portraying himself as the "front man" with partners/"band mates" Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal, before teaming up with Rhyno in 2016. Two-time Tag Team Champion David Otunga would be utilized as a "legal advisor" at times to a few wrestlers due to his real-life background as a lawyer and has since hosting WWE pay-per-view pre shows.

No longer in WWE are Michael Tarver, who was released in June 2011, while Mason Ryan remained under WWE contract in NXT until April 2014 when he was released. Three-time Tag Team Champion Justin Gabriel, used as a lower card wrestler departed in January 2015. Skip Sheffield returned to his previous FCW gimmick as Ryback, a powerhouse-style wrestler similar in style and physical appearance to Goldberg, before parting ways in August 2016.[52] Wade Barrett - going by the name of "Bad News Barrett" - would also go on to a successful singles career, being a five-time Intercontinental Champion, was released in June 2016. Darren Young, who would become part of season 5 of NXT, called NXT Redemption, feuding with Titus O'Neil before the two teamed up to form The Prime Time Players on the main roster for the next two years, was released in 2017. In August 2013, Young became the first active WWE wrestler to come out as gay in real life before being released.[53]

Former membersEdit

Member Joined Left
Wade Barrett (Original Leader) June 7, 2010 January 3, 2011
Daniel Bryan June 7, 2010 June 11, 2010
Darren Young June 7, 2010 August 16, 2010
Skip Sheffield June 7, 2010 August 18, 2010
Michael Tarver June 7, 2010 October 4, 2010
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
Michael McGillicutty October 25, 2010 August 22, 2011
CM Punk (New Leader) December 27, 2010 July 17, 2011
Mason Ryan January 17, 2011 June 26, 2011



Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

See alsoEdit


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