It was exactly two years ago today, on June 1, 2010, that Wade Barrett officially won the first season of NXT. Barrett had begun the season within the top two in rankings and never relinquished his top spot in power rankings once he took it over. It was as close to a wire-to-wire victory as it could get for Barrett, who looked more like a big star than the likes of Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel and David Otunga.
Alongside his pro, Chris Jericho, Barrett was on the fast track to being a big part of WWE once he won the season. In his home country of England, he stated that the Winds of Change were coming and that he would be the first English world champion in WWE history. For many, that was the first sign that Barrett was a real power player for WWE to use.
The week that followed the NXT season finale saw Barrett appear backstage for an interview on RAW, but he came out to the ring during a main-event match between CM Punk and John Cena. The Nexus was born that night and would lead to some of the biggest matches and moments for Barrett early on in his career. The group of eight was quickly seven due to Daniel Bryan taking it too far, but the seven remaining men would be a destructive force before taking a step back at SummerSlam. Losing a 7-on-7 tag team match to John Cena and company was a big blow.
Pretty soon, the group fell apart. Skip Sheffield would injure himself and would take a long time before returning as Ryback. Michael Tarver would be released, making him the only one of the original NXT rookies to no longer be with the company. Darren Young was removed from the group, only to see him on Superstars and return to NXT with their Redemption season.
All that remained of Nexus was Barrett, Otunga, Slater and Gabriel, who finished in the top four on NXT. The group gained a few members, including NXT season two rookies Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris. Those two helped Barrett in a match against John Cena that gave Barrett the win and forced Cena to join Nexus.
It seemed more than likely that Barrett was going to become WWE Champion at Survivor Series 2010. Facing WWE Champion Randy Orton and having Cena as the referee, the choice was simple for Cena. Either have Barrett win and be free of Nexus or see Orton retain and be fired for it. Cena did not let Barrett win and was fired for it. Cena wouldn't go away so easily, interfering in Barrett's rematch with Orton. Barrett would lose again and watch as The Miz swooped in with his Money in the Bank briefcase.
Cena continued to be a thorn in the side of the Nexus until he was hired back. The return of CM Punk them prompted Punk to take over as leader of Nexus, forcing Barrett off RAW and on to Smackdown. As it seemed like Barrett would be all alone on Smackdown, he went after Big Show. However, a group was forming with Barrett as a leader once again. Slater and Gabriel would leave Nexus to join Barrett on Smackdown. The trio, along with Ezekiel Jackson would form The Corre. The short-lived faction would tease a feud with Nexus, but it never happened. The group would help Barrett become Intercontinental Champion.
Eventually, The Corre fell apart and it was back to being alone for Barrett. All the while, Barrett set his sights on a world championship. Barrett rekindled a feud with Orton in the fall of last year, captaining a Survivor Series team against Orton's. The stellar record at Survivor Series for The Viper was no match for Barrett's team as Barrett, along with Cody Rhodes, survived and won in Madison Square Garden.
The two seemed to be on the road to a WrestleMania clash, which survived a concussion by Orton. It would not, however, survive a Barrett injury during a battle royal on RAW prior to Elimination Chamber. There was no WrestleMania for Barrett, and he has not been seen since.
Now with Orton on suspension, it is hard to predict what Barrett will do when he returns, likely this summer. The pending Money in the Bank match this summer is intriguing. Could the Winds of Change be blowing toward Barrett finally getting his world title reign?