WWE's Special MC Report: Life After Attitude Era (New Era, New Divide Part III)
Following the departure of Jeff Hardy, more WWE superstars would make their exits from the company.
Dave Batista for several years was WWE's second top guy next to John Cena. The Animal's big break came as being the dominant force in Triple H's Evolution stable.
After winning the World Heavyweight Title, he moved to Smackdown and became the face of the brand. But by late 2009, rumors swirled that Batista didn't see his tenure in wrestling lasting for long.
By early 2010, Batista turned into a bitter heel who resented his place as second hero of the company. He traded in his smile for a Peter Fonda biker-type appearance and rejected everything he believed in before.
During feuds with company heroes Rey Mysterio and John Cena, Batista vented resentment for never being "the guy" and even denounced his close friendship with the late Eddie Guerrero. Batista's heel character carried serious overtones, hinting Batista's time in the company was up.
At Over the Limit, Batista lost an "I Quit" match to John Cena. Afterwards on Raw, he came out in a wheelchair and played the heavy antagonist to fans. Similar to how Lita left, Batista expressed unhappiness and feeling unappreciated and quit the company.
Batista in real life has remarked that he did not favor the more "PG" direction that the WWE was taking. I guess it was only fitting in that regard to have him sent off almost Lita-heel style.
But another exit from the business evoking more passion and tears was that of legend Shawn Michaels.
In the previous year, Michaels sought to end the Undertaker's Wrestlemania undefeated streak, to no avail. At many times in that legendary matchup, he was close to ending the Deadman's Wrestlemania dominance.
So it was only fitting that the loss haunted Michaels. While he was reunited with his longtime D Generation X partner Triple H, he couldn't let go of the crushing defeat. It also didn't help that Michaels was starting a losing streak of sorts.
Another sign that Michaels was near his end was when he made peace on-air with a returning Bret "The Hitman" Hart. The two finally put their tumultuous past and The Montreal Screwjob incident behind them.
Michaels vowed to beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXVI and end the streak once and for all. If he couldn't, he would retire from the business.
The sequel to Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker had an almost impossible burden in attempting to top the battle from the year before. However, both men performed another stellar outing as they hit each other's signature moves, showing their submission skills.
HBK kicked out of two tombstone piledrivers in a courageous effort to top the Deadman. His last act witnessed a slap to Taker's face as a final challenge. But a third tombstone piledriver made the Undertaker go 18-0 and ended the legendary career of The Showstopper.
On the following Raw, Michaels gave a tearful speech to the fans in his last appearance as a WWE regular performer.
Speaking of Bret "The Hitman" Hart, his shocking return to a World Wrestling Entertainment ring also headlined the year.
After the infamous Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart left the WWE on a very sour note. Thirteen years witnessed Hart profess his grief and gripe with the way he left his former employer.
But after a Hall of Fame induction and years of healing, the Hitman was welcomed back by both old and new wrestling fans. He played a big role on screen, becoming Raw GM and challenging his nemesis and boss Vince McMahon.
Wrestlemania XXVI witnessed Hart wrestle and defeat Vince McMahon as he performed the submission he made famous, the Sharpshooter.
While the exit of Shawn Michaels and the return of Bret Hart instilled nostalgia into wrestling fans, there was a new force on the horizon.
WWE NXT was an on-screen competition between wrestling rookies who wanted to earn the chance at a WWE contract.
In my opinion, the first season wrestlers were in a class of their own in terms of talent and charisma. Talents such as Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver and Darren Young all showed a promising future.
Even though Wade Barrett won the first season, it was obvious that the rest of the rookies would not go to waste.
On June 7, 2010, all of the NXT season one rookies, led by winner Wade Barrett, made their way to a WWE ring. They viciously attacked superstars John Cena and CM Punk, as well as the WWE staff and crew. Commentators, ring announcers, and even cameramen were not safe from the vicious clan.
Later on, they would call themselves "The Nexus" as they attempted to put their name in WWE stable history. They viciously attacked the whole roster and even WWE legends to get their point across.
But as with any big WWE storyline, it was a given that sooner or later they would cross paths with one John Cena.
From my viewpoint, when the Nexus angle was made more and more about Cena, it began to lose its luster fast. Focusing on Cena took away from the rise of these young superstars, especially Wade Barrett.
Barrett is a unique big man who actually has the charisma, mic skills and in-ring talent to back up his looks.
When John Cena lost to Barrett at Hell in a Cell, he was forced to join the stable. While numerous fans hoped that this signaled a heel turn for the Cenation leader, it was obvious a heel Cena was not even close to the minds of the writers.
By the end of the year, the Nexus was burning out and burning out fast. The group suffered from numerous injuries to Skip Sheffield, Michael Tarver and Darren Young.
In addition, it was obvious Wade Barrett, the star of the bunch, would have to be on his own sooner or later.
While the Nexus angle started out bright, it fell victim to injuries and faulty writing. Revolving their angle around Cena proved to be a huge blow to the group.
But this storyline, in my honest opinion, did foreshadow another huge and more realistic angle that would take the WWE by storm in the year to come.
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