The Nexus: 10 Years On, Imagining What Could Have Been

A decade later, the Nexus angle still stands out as one of WWE’s biggest squandered opportunities…

I remember the night the Nexus invasion happened like it was yesterday.

Right after it happened I was in contact with all of my friends and we were so pumped about it. And yet, our interest slowly fizzed in it as it went on.

Why is that? Because the WWE didn’t book these guys like true invaders.

By August, the Nexus was dead. They had no hope of a rebound. These guys should have been treated as true outsiders. Yes, they were part of the NXT show. But only Barrett was awarded a WWE contract when the NXT show was done.

We all know the WWE screwed up a good amount of big angles. This might be in the Top 5. Nothing will ever top the Invasion debacle but this is close.

So, how would I have done it? Well, let me tell you exactly how I would have! I will book the Nexus angle as if I was in charge of the WWE at the time.

For starters, I’m keeping the invasion angle exactly as it happened. I thought it was perfect. Also, I am not firing Daniel Bryan after the whole Justin Roberts choking incident. Shit happens. Deal with it. No one thought twice about that while it was happening.

The main focus of this group over the next few weeks is to treat them just like the nWo in the early days of 1996. Show up whenever they want. Kick the ass of anyone they want. A couple weeks into the constant attacks, John Cena cuts a promo in the ring trying to rally the troops. Cena says we can’t let a bunch of outsiders destroy what they have built.

That night on RAW, during a main event involving Cena and Evan Bourne against Sheamus and Randy Orton, the Nexus invades again. But the teams join up to fight off the Nexus as armed cops come out as well to hold off the Nexus, similar to the nWo moment in WCW.

At Money in the Bank, during the Sheamus and John Cena WWE Title match, the Nexus invades again. They toss Sheamus out of the cage and double padlock the door. They beat Cena to a bloody pulp as they fight off wrestlers trying to get in the cage. The cage can’t be raised because we discover someone cut the motor to raise it.

Cops come out and finally break through the door as the Nexus drops to their knees and are handcuffed. This is similar to what Miz and R-Truth did a year later at Hell In A Cell (an angle I loved) so I’m taking a bit of it from there.

Cena is gone for two weeks as Nexus continues to run rampant on RAW. Nexus has come out and taken over RAW two weeks later when suddenly, Cena’s music hits. Cena leads a team similar to his original SummerSlam team: Evan Bourne, Edge, John Morrison, Chris Jericho, R-Truth, and the Hart Dynasty. They brawl with the Nexus throughout the building as the show goes off the air with chaos abound.

The next week on RAW, Cena and his team officially challenge the Nexus to a match at SummerSlam, which the Nexus accepts. Of course we all know ten years ago, this is where the angle started to sputter. Cena got the finish changed and went over. At least he has admitted now that it was a mistake.

We get some stipulations added to the match. If Nexus wins, they get to challenge for all titles at Night of Champions. But if team Cena wins, they can never appear in the WWE again. So of course we don’t let that happen here as the Nexus wins.

I know during this time Ryback/Skip Sheffield breaks his ankle at a house show. But I’m not having these guys wrestle on house shows. I pick and choose shows where they invade in groups. So that is how I avoid a Ryback injury. At Night of Champions the Nexus cleans house. Daniel Bryan wins the US Title from Miz, Ryback and Justin Gabriel win the Tag Titles and Wade Barrett defeats Sheamus for the WWE Title.

The next night on RAW, the Nexus demand the last portion of RAW for a formal celebration. During the show, we find Michael Tarver and Heath Slater beaten down at various points backstage. This is to write them out of the group. Tarver was always dead weight to me, and I always felt Slater didn’t fit the dynamic of the group. As Nexus is out for their celebration, they realized Darren Young is not out there.

We cut to a shot of Cena in the back. He has Darren Young in position for an AA. Cena demands a WWE title shot inside Hell In A Cell. Barrett agrees, then Cena drops Young off the hangover down for an AA. Think like when Angle got dropped for that chokeslam.

So now we have three members of the group trimmed down. But I still have my main core put together. Now that they have titles, I will slowly let the Nexus wrestle more on TV. At Hell In A Cell, Bryan retains the US Title and Gabriel/Ryback retain the tag titles.

In our main event, Wade Barrett defeats John Cena inside the Cell. How does he do it? With the help of CM Punk. The show goes off the air with Punk revealing a Nexus shirt and standing with them at the top of the ramp.

Punk reveals the next night on RAW that he was the master mind behind the entire Nexus invasion. He saw a group of men wanting to prove themselves and he decided to show them how to take control and lead by force.

Punk says he knows what it is like to be held down in this company, and he was determined to not let these men meet the same fate. And Punk will make sure the main culprit of this will be responsible for his actions by the end of the night.

After the Nexus wins a six man tag in the main event, Punk, Barrett and Otunga emerge from the back with a battered and bloodied Vince McMahon. The show ends with Nexus standing over a beaten Vince.

Bragging Rights comes and we see Wade Barrett defeat Randy Orton on the show. CM Punk and John Cena fight to a double DQ. And I’m sticking with the Nexus helping take out The Undertaker in his buried alive match against Kane.

We see the first crack in the armor of the Nexus in the lead up to Survivor Series, as Daniel Bryan loses the United States Title to John Morrison. Chaos ensues at ringside as Nexus brawls with members of the roster. During this, John Cena appears and hits the AA on Bryan. Morrison runs through the crowd to celebrate as the Nexus is left stunned in the middle of the ring.

Survivor Series brings us two big matches: Wade Barrett defending the WWE title against Randy Orton and CM Punk’s lead Nexus team against John Cena, Sheamus, John Morrison, Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre. With Cena’s team winning, they get to challenge for all of Nexus titles at TLC. That includes a triple threat TLC match between Barrett, Cena, and Sheamus.

Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes win the tag titles back from Gabriel and Sheffield at TLC, but Barrett retains the WWE title in a TLC match. With more cracks building in the Nexus, Punk eliminates the man who started the cracks in the group. Daniel Bryan gets kicked out in a beat down that causes a stretcher job.

Daniel Bryan comes back the first RAW of 2011. He demands a shot at Wade Barrett and the WWE title. Barrett agrees, but only if he can beat Sheffield, Otunga and Gabriel in consecutive matches. Bryan does and gets his shot at Barrett at the Royal Rumble. I am a big believer of always taking a chance with your title matches at the Rumble. The Rumble match sells itself. That is the draw.

Wade Barrett defeats Bryan at the Rumble. The rest of the members of the Nexus are in the Rumble match. As the match progresses, we get to #20 and as the buzzer goes off, we hear the Undertaker’s gong. Undertaker appears in the ring and takes out the Nexus, eliminating CM Punk in the process. John Cena ends up winning the Royal Rumble match and challenges Wade Barrett for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania.

Nothing too crazy happens in the months between the Rumble and Mania. I have always been a big believer of not having any PPVs between these shows and just build to Wrestlemania. But we do get the Nexus laying out The Rock on the last RAW before Wrestlemania.

Wrestlemania comes and our two big matches are John Cena against Wade Barrett for the WWE title and CM Punk against the Undertaker. Cena and Barrett both come out on top. Of course, we have The Rock as the host of the show. After Cena wins, The Rock comes out to shake his hand. But we get a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow on Cena. That is when The Miz’s music hits, and Miz comes out and cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE title.

The next night on RAW we see the breakup of the Nexus after an almost year long angle. Punk and Barrett come to blows as the rest of the Nexus is forced to choose sides. We build to a Punk/Barrett match at the next PPV.

It may not have been perfect, but this is much better than what actually happened with the Nexus. The WWE failed to capitalize on a hot angle that had everyone buzzing. It fizzled out in two months because the WWE was scared to get behind anyone new.

But with my angle, we had two big Wrestlemania matches come out of it.

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