You’re Either Nexus or…Better Off in the Long Run
Once again, I want to thank all the readers who emailed me after my last column. I got a LOT of great feedback, with a number of them not exactly agreeing with what I had to say. Either way, good stuff.
I remember when the Nexus first came on the scene. Every WWE fan sat on the edge of their seat and took notice of the immediate dominance and danger this group posed. They would just come out and lay waste to anything and everything. WWE had something very special on its hands – something that could change the landscape of the company. The much-delayed wave of new superstars and main-eventers could finally emerge.
A large number of viewers were wondering what Nexus would do next. The snarky fans were wondering when and how WWE was going to screw this gem up.
For awhile, it seemed like WWE was playing this out right. Nexus was in total control. Under Barrett’s leadership, they were a solid unit. Then they settled their sights on John Cena. I had mixed feelings about this when it first happened. Like many people, I’ve been getting tired of the Superman character Cena has been for years. I realize it’s the same concept of Hulking Up from the 80s/90s, but that doesn’t make it any better. I didn’t believe back then that Hulk Hogan could get back to 100% after getting pummeled for 15 minutes, and I don’t believe it when Cena does it now. The kids love it when he comes back to life – but kids also eat their own boogers – so maybe what they like isn’t always the right thing to do.
Like I said, I was conflicted. I didn’t want Nexus (which I thought was a brilliant concept) to just become the new and improved way to show how Cena can do anything. He says his prayers, takes his vitamins, eats his vegetables, never lies on his taxes, helps old ladies across the street, and can single-handedly take down a whole bunch of bad guys!! I also think one time he cut down a cherry tree, but couldn’t lie to his father about it – but I may be thinking of someone else.
You know what happened? Of course you do – but shhh, I’m telling a story! Nexus actually stood their ground and were regularly beating down Cena. It was amazing to see the beast find the cracks in the white knight’s armor. Added to that, the GM seemed to be on their side. We got the PPV stipulation where Cena had to fight Wade – and if Barrett lost, Nexus was no more. However, if Cena lost, he had to join Nexus. The latter rule was very interesting. Once again, I was conflicted. If WWE played it safe (which happens 9 times out of 9), SuperCena would save the CeNation/Ceniverse/ArgenCena – thereby killing the best thing to happen to WWE since maybe the Attitude Era. But then…
I couldn’t freaking believe it! Cena got his Cenus whooped. It was…beautiful. I was very thankful for the fact that WWE knows their fans so well (hell, they should. They cater to them every friggin’ week), because we got amazing fan reaction shots. Every kid in the audience seemed crushed – like they were at Disneyworld and the guy dressed as Mickey took off his head piece in front of them. Just completely traumatized. Most of the adults were shocked too.
So far, everything had been done perfectly. You saw this helpless new Nexus member John Cena having to do Barrett’s bidding (rebelling every once and awhile). And if Cena very obviously went against Barrett, Wade threatened to fire him. John Cena did a great job portraying being in torment and conflicted. I loved the Bragging Rights match with Barrett vs. Orton – where Cena caused the DQ so Barrett wouldn’t lose (but Orton wouldn’t lose the belt either). This was the first time in quite awhile that I actually enjoyed a storyline with Cena in it.
The Cena/Nexus storyline continued to build until it happened: Wade Barrett fired John Cena!
Pay attention, kids – because this is where it all went wrong.
Something happened the following Raw that began the downward spiral of the hopeful group of newcomers – Cena showed up. Turns out, the dude never actually left. Not even for a week!
This is the point where I feel I need to make my feelings for John Cena very clear, because I want to make sure all that I say is put in the correct context: I understand and appreciate what Cena is for WWE. In an era with very few dynamic superstars, WWE has needed him this past year. Chris Jericho & Shawn Michaels leaving, HHH & The Undertaker out injured for huge chunks of time, and others ducking in and out hasn’t helped much either. Even at full staff, Cena merchandise is the most profitable. John Cena and Rey Mysterio are the kids’ favorites. So I get it.
And to be honest, I actually like him. I don’t hate him for the Superman routine, since that’s how WWE needs him to be. Also, how can you hate (or even not like) someone who has done so much for Make-A-Wish? Doesn’t he have the most wishes granted of any individual ever? That’s a golden heart right there. I have nothing but respect for him.
If anything, this “firing” could have given John Cena that long-overdue vacation he’s more than earned for all his hard work. But nope – he just kept showing up. This becomes Step 1 in the process of diluting Nexus. Seriously though, did WWE think that not having John Cena on TV for a few weeks would hurt ratings that bad? Even for only four weeks?
This spells the beginning of the end for Nexus. Soon after, Wade rehires Cena (and no, I don’t know why either), and then he loses an ugly match where he hides under something as Cena drops a whole crap-load of chairs on top of him. Cena defeated the evil foe, literally burying him.
Another factor is the fact that the GM stacked everything in the favor of Nexus. Repeatedly. So the ultimate WWE authority gets toppled by one man. When that happens, do you know what that does to the credibility of authority (and by relation Nexus)? Have you been paying attention to the protests in the Middle East?
With the cracks in the foundation, in comes CM Punk to take over the group. My understanding was they did this so Wade could go to Smackdown to be a heel in the singles scene; also, since Punk had been injured, being the leader of the Nexus gives him something to do and keeps him established as a top heel while he recovers from the injury. This was win-win in my opinion. Granted, I hated how it seemed like Wade didn’t really care when he lost the leadership. It was a little too abrupt for my taste. That said, I was fine with the overall shuffle. I love Punk, and it would make sense for the Nexus to shed a member every time one was ready to go it alone. That’s how I would have booked it.
Then it seemed like WWE had a change of heart. When Wade got to Smackdown, he gets a few members of Nexus and forms Corre (*yawn*). This not only weakened the original Nexus, but also Wade’s heel legitimacy. Also, I guess CM Punk heals quickly because he got back in the ring soon after gaining leadership – and all of a sudden Nexus turned into the Straight Edge Society part 2. Did you care about any of the original members of SES? I know I didn’t.
Once again, I should clarify. I have nothing against the individuals in the group, but SES was meant as nothing more than a mute group to propel Punk to the next level – which it did. He had Uncle Fester, Sinead O’Conner, and a gimp. That’s right, I said it. SES became the PG version of a sadist/masochist relationship. The only thing Joey Mercury’s mask was missing was a zipper on the mouth. It was brilliant watching Punk go from a holier-than-thou figure to a dominatrix. He would verbally abuse his followers and if you looked really closely, you could see them mouth: “Thank you, Mistress. May I have another?” I loved Punk being able to show his talent by putting the adult subtext into a PG environment.
So I was saddened watching Nexus just become another pedestal for Punk. With his leadership, Punk could have helped put over each of the Nexus talent. Instead, it stalls Punk’s growth and it stifles any Nexus credibility.
Ever since then, things have just crumbled. For one, Husky Harris gets sent back to development (by the way, why did WWE name him that?! Was Tubby Tumbler taken?). Also, John Cena reminds everyone how harmless the group is by taking them all out in The Rumble.
Which brings us to the present. Since John Cena and Randy Orton are the top two stars of WWE, I guess it’s only fair – after Cena beat them pointless – that Orton has his turn beating them irrelevant.
Overall, I’m sad for a lot of reasons. After their amazing emergence and the chaos they created, it’s too bad to see their current status. I find it tragic that (instead of leaving the stable a strong singles competitors) some members of Nexus will peak at mid-card status, some won’t even reach that, and the others will be future endeavored. I’m bummed the snarky viewers were right. Mostly, I find it depressing that what could have been a major game-changer ultimately ended up a minor speed bump; a slight detour to get back on Highway Status Quo.
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