There seems to be a mixed reaction from the WWE Universe about the formation and major push of the destructive group now known as Nexus. Some think that the WWE Creative team has given these young superstars an undeserved push while others, including myself, are just enjoying how these seven rogues manage to entertain us from week to week. The WWE Universe seems to have gotten to know these seven young superstars since the premiere of NXT on February 23, but I was curious about how much experience all these guys had. Here’s a bit of a breakdown of each superstar in order of elimination.
Michael Tarver (Tyrone Evans) – This 33 year old debuted in early 2005 with Pro Wrestling Express. He went on to hold the PWX Brass Knuckles Championship. After wrestling in various independent circuits, Tarver went into WWE Developmental in mid 2008. I remained relatively unimpressed with Tarver during most of his time on NXT. Sure he developed his character a bit as a tough bulldog on a chain that refused to do menial tasks in order to pander to the crowd, but I expected something more in the ring with that type of character. I feel as if WWE might keep him around but that decision would disappoint me if he doesn’t improve soon.
Skip Sheffield (Ryan Reeves) – This “Corn Fed Meathead” debuted with WWE Developmental in 2004. He has held the OVW Heavyweight Championship in the developmental league and is currently 28 years old. I had high hopes for Sheffield, I’m not sure why. For some reason the character appealed to me. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed. He gave lackluster performances in the ring and is terrible on the mic. His contributions seem to always include “yup yup, whaddo?” which I’m not quite sure of the meaning. Even during the recent attack by Nexus on Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Sheffield disappointed me. Why didn’t he use an actual finisher? Gabriel did his beautiful 450 Splash, but all Sheffield did was clothesline? Ehh… I really don’t see this “meathead” sticking around for too long.
Darren Young (Fred Rosser) – Contrary to what the nickname implies, the superstar known as "The South Beach Party Boy” is actually a 30 year old New Jersey native. I was surprised by how much experience Young actually has. He debuted in 2002 in the independent wrestling circuits and spent several years thriving in those circuits, holding a good number of titles. Young made appearances in 2005-06 on WWE programming (Sunday Night Heat, Velocity) and appeared in several dark matches at Raw and Smackdown events. He signed with WWE Developmental in mid 2009. I was pretty impressed with Darren Young both in the ring and on the mic. He seemed to have the skills in both areas pretty much down, which one would expect when looking at his background. He’s got a good look, too. I was a little annoyed by his hair at first and was actually hoping CM Punk would shave it off at one point, but it’s grown on me (no pun intended). Some say he looks like a dark John Cena, which definitely bodes well in his favor. The only thing I can say is that he needs a bit of work on the mic but I see no reason why WWE shouldn’t keep this party boy around.
Heath Slater (Heath Miller) - "The One Man Rock Band,” known as Heath Slater attended the WWA4 Pro Wrestling School in Atlanta, GA and debuted in the independent circuits in 2004. Slater signed with WWE Developmental in late 2006, where he performed fairly well and held 3 titles. I wasn’t disappointed whenever Slater got into the ring. He seems to have the skills there; it’s on the mic that he needs the work. His southern drawl seems be holding him back a bit and all he really needs to do is annunciate his words a bit better. “Diction is done with the tip of the tongue on the teeth!” I think despite this the WWE will keep this rocker (not to be confused with The Rockers) around.
Justin Gabriel (Paul Lloyd Jr.) – I’ve dubbed this superstar the Master of the 450 (see what I did there, like Rey Mysterio, but not) because of his B-E-A-UTIFUL 450 splash. This 29 year old South African debuted in independent circuits in 1997. Think about that one. He was just 16 years old! Gabriel spent the next 11 years travelling between circuits (holding the WWP World Cruiserweight Championship) until being signed by WWE Developmental in 2008, where he held 2 titles. He is the first ever South African to have a WWE contract. Justin Gabriel’s matches on NXT were always ones I was looking forward to. He is a fantastic high flyer who could easily be up there with Rey Mysterio and Evan Bourne. On top of his in-ring talent he’s not bad on the mic, considering his accent. Although they might not be able to use him extensively for a while after this Nexus debacle is up, considering Bourne’s recent push and Mysterio being WHC, I have a feeling WWE will definitely keep this airborne African around for some time.
David Otunga (Sr.) – This former reality show star (a la The Miz) has had next to no professional wrestling experience prior to being signed by WWE Developmental in May 2009. Although it has nothing to do with his talent, Otunga is a Harvard Law graduate and is married to the former American Idol finalist and recording artist, Jennifer Hudson. These details just seem to make his character a bit more interesting. This “A-List” superstar definitely does seem to have the “it factor.” Though he’s hit and miss in the ring, he definitely has promise. Otunga’s mic skills are top notch and I could see him having a feud with The Miz over who is the better reality star.
Wade Barrett (Stu Bennett) – During the premiere episode of NXT I said to myself, “That’s the guy, right there. Wade Barrett will win NXT.” I was immediately impressed by his size, stature, and presence. Then I saw that he could wrestle and had terrific mic skills (later winning the “Talk the Talk” challenge, citing “the winds of change”). I was a bit partial to Barrett, being half British myself, but I truly did realize his talent. This 29 year old Englishman, also known as “The Pinnacle,” debuted in mid 2004 to NWA Hammerlock Wrestling. After also performing at numerous Dropkixx wrestling events (where he held the Dropkixx IWC European Heavyweight Championship), Barrett signed with WWE Developmental in 2007 (where he held 2 tag titles). I can see Barrett competing for the WWE Championship as soon as his contract allows (as the Raw GM has suspended all of Nexus from championship opportunities). I’ve already shed light on his outstanding performance on NXT and I truly believe he was the man to win the competition, as well as the man to lead this destructive division, this fatal faction, this catastrophic coalition, known only as Nexus.
What do you think? Who will stick around after the Nexus story arc plays out? Who has the talent and the heart for the WWE?