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Prior to their formation, each original member of Nexus (Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, David Otunga, Skip Sheffield, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater and Michael Tarver) was a contestant (or "rookie") on the first season of the NXT program. The conclusion of the competition on June 1, 2010 saw Wade Barrett being the winner who was awarded a WWE contract and a championship match at a pay-per-view of his choosing. The seven losers of the competition were left without a job, and Barrett immediately began performing on the Raw brand.

On the Viewer's Choice edition of Raw, the group debuted during the main event between WWE Champion John Cena and CM Punk sporting matching armbands with the letter N. Barrett led the group in an attack on Cena, Punk, Luke Gallows, Jerry Lawler, Matt Striker, Justin Roberts, and other WWE personnel around the ring, as well as destroying everything at ringside, including the announce table and the ring itself. During the attack, Daniel Bryan strangled ring announcer Justin Roberts with Roberts' necktie and also spat on Cena's face. This led to WWE releasing Bryan as they reportedly felt those acts were too violent for their TV-PG programming. His absence was explained by Barrett saying that Bryan had felt remorse for his actions and as a result was kicked out of the group.

A week later, the group explained their actions as retribution for the poor treatment they received from WWE management during their time on NXT. The attack was also to threaten WWE into giving the remaining seven members WWE contracts. Raw general manager Bret Hart declined the demand and fired Barrett. When Hart then ordered the whole Raw roster to stand guard at the ringside and stage areas during the main event, Nexus attacked Hart backstage by forcing him into a limousine and crashing it into other vehicles. During the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view, Nexus interfered in the main event for the WWE Championship, attacking all the wrestlers involved. Sheamus used the interference to win the title from John Cena.

The group then spent the next few weeks attacking various WWE figures, such as Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat and other legends when they were celebrating Steamboat's DVD release following an edict that Nexus and the rest of the Raw roster could not engage in physical confrontation that week. WWE chairman Vince McMahon subsequently removed Hart as general manager due to his injuries, and appointed a new general manager, who chose to remain anonymous (communicating only through e-mails quoted by "official spokesman" Michael Cole). The general manager immediately gave Nexus WWE contracts and reinstated Barrett's championship match opportunity. Barrett revealed that this group was going to form no matter who wound up winning NXT, stating that the seven of them had formed a "Nexus" and had a common goal they all fought to have accomplished. However, even after apologizing for their actions, Nexus continued their hostile attacks, including one on McMahon who tried to take credit for Nexus' actions.

On the July 5 edition of Raw, the anonymous general manager demanded Cena and Barrett call a truce later in the night. Cena refused and attempted to attack Barrett, which began a brawl between Nexus and most of the Raw locker room. After Cena didn't stop assaulting Darren Young, the GM announced that Cena would face Nexus in a 7-on-1 handicap match the following week, which caused Cena to further attack Young. Young was removed from the match the following week due to his injuries, making the matchup a 6-on-1 handicap match, which Nexus won after the 450° splash of Justin Gabriel, who then pinned Cena.

Before the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Nexus appeared on NXT, and competed in a Battle Royal featuring the second season pros and rookies. The storyline started when Percy Watson invited his partners (the other rookies) to attack MVP (in retaliation for the pros attacking the rookies in the aftermath of Nexus forming—to "keep them in line"), but in reply to this, MVP called the other pros and became ready for a fight. Co-host Matt Striker then intervened and arranged a Battle Royal, also including Nexus (who were making a scheduled appearance on the show anyway). All seven Nexus members were declared co-winners after being the last men in the ring.

At Money in the Bank, Nexus attempted to get involved in the WWE Championship match involving Sheamus and John Cena in a steel cage by breaking the door. However, the referee on the outside of the cage threw the key into the crowd and took the tool that Tarver tried to use to break in. They then tried to climb up and get involved. However, Sheamus and Cena were able to hold them off and escape, with Sheamus winning. Afterwards, Cena began beating up Tarver and Young and then took Tarver's Nexus armband.

On the July 19 edition of Raw, Nexus continued their attacks on the Raw roster by first attacking Edge and then Chris Jericho, after the two longtime rivals attempted to manipulate the group against each other. Later on in the show, Barrett defeated Mark Henry in a singles match. After that, Barrett and Nexus asked Cena to join them. Cena refused and said that he would take them all down at SummerSlam, and that he had found some help to do it. Cena revealed his team one by one; the members were Edge, John Morrison, R-Truth, The Great Khali, Chris Jericho and Bret Hart. The next week of Raw featured Nexus defeating Team Raw (Mark Henry, The Hart Dynasty, Jerry Lawler, Evan Bourne, Goldust and Yoshi Tatsu) in a 7-on-7 elimination tag team match with a clean sweep. Nexus later mocked Cena's team, who were arguing amongst themselves, saying that they'd have an easy victory at SummerSlam.

At SummerSlam, Nexus were defeated by Team WWE, featuring a returning Daniel Bryan (who joined Team WWE as a surprise member after Nexus had injured Khali), and eliminated both Young and Slater. Cena ended up being the sole survivor. According to Jericho and Edge, the original plan was to put Barrett over. At the end, Jericho and Edge would lost against Nexus. However, Cena asked for a change and he defeated Barrett and Gabriel. Jericho said that it was a bad idea, because Barrett wasn't pushed. The following night on Raw each member of Nexus competed in matches against members of Team WWE (except Bret Hart, who was replaced by Randy Orton), with the stipulation that whichever Nexus member lost their match would be exiled from the group. While almost all the members of Nexus won their respective matches, Darren Young failed to defeat John Cena in the main event and was not only kicked out of Nexus, but attacked by the group following his loss.

In a live event in Hawaii on Aug 18, 2010 at the Blaisdell Arena, Skip Sheffield broke his ankle during a tag match where he teamed with Otunga against the Hart Dynasty, putting him out for months, thus leaving only five active members of Nexus remaining. On the 900th episode of Raw Nexus defeated John Cena, Edge, Chris Jericho, Sheamus and Randy Orton in a 5 on 5 elimination match, after Gabriel hit Cena with the 450-splash for the third time, pinning him a second time, while Barrett dropped and pinned Randy Orton. Earlier on in the night the group also attacked The Undertaker with help from Kane. The following week, Wade Barrett lost to Randy Orton, after a distraction from the returning Darren Young. Barrett used his guaranteed championship match in the Six-Pack Elimination Challenge for the WWE Championship at Night of Champions but was eliminated by Orton, who later won the match and the title, following an RKO.

Nexus made an appearance on the October 1 live episode of SmackDown, to mark the show's move to Syfy. Throughout the night, Nexus attacked Dolph Ziggler, MVP, Big Show and John Cena. They then served as lumberjacks for the main event of the evening, between John Cena and Kane. This was the first time they had appeared on SmackDown since their formation back in early June.

At Hell in a Cell Barrett and Cena faced each other in a match with the stipulation that if Barrett won, Cena would have to join Nexus, and if Cena won or Nexus got involved, the group would be disbanded. Barrett managed to win the match, following interference from Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty.

On the October 4 edition of Raw, Tarver was paired with Cena who brutally attacked him after the match. Later Barrett said he was planning on getting rid of Tarver anyway implying he was no longer a member (in reality Tarver was pulled due to a nagging groin injury). After Cena openly declared that he would destroy Nexus from within by fighting them even though he was now a member, the mystery GM stated that Cena had to honor the stipulations of the PPV match, and since he is now a member of Nexus, he must take orders from Wade Barrett or he will be fired. Later that night, Barrett ordered Cena to help him win the No. 1 contendership in a battle royal for the WWE title. The match came down to Cena and Barrett, where Barrett ordered Cena to eliminate himself. At Bragging Rights, Nexus won their first titles in the WWE when David Otunga and John Cena defeated WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre to win the titles. Later on in the same night, the group helped Kane defeat The Undertaker in his Buried Alive match, for reasons which have yet to be explained. In the main event of the pay-per-view, Barrett beat Orton in a WWE Championship match via disqualification, caused by John Cena, thus not winning the title. On the October 25 episode of Raw, Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel won the Tag Team Championship, after beating Otunga and Cena in a match in which Barrett ordered Otunga to lie down and be pinned. During the same night Barrett revealed that Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty had become official members of Nexus. In the main event of the night Cena defeated Orton via disqualification, this time caused by Barrett, who then as a result was allowed to select his own special guest referee for his WWE Championship match against Orton at Survivor Series. Barrett chose Cena and declared that if he doesn't win the title at the pay-per-view, Cena will be fired, but if he does, Cena will be relieved of all of his responsibilities to Nexus.

On November 5 Otunga, who had been questioning Barrett's leadership in the past weeks, led Gabriel, Harris, McGillicutty and Slater to an invasion of SmackDown, interrupting a match between Edge and Alberto Del Rio. Nexus was then defeated in the main event of the show in a ten-man tag team match by Edge, Del Rio, Big Show, Kane and Kofi Kingston. Barrett didn't approve Otunga's decision to lead Nexus to SmackDown and as a result forced him to defend his spot in the group a week later. On the November 12 edition of SmackDown Otunga defeated Edge in a lumberjack match, after an interference from Kane, to keep his spot in Nexus. At Survivor Series on November 21, 2010 Randy Orton retained the WWE Championship against Wade Barrett via pinfall and John Cena was fired (kayfabe) from WWE and subsequently departed from Nexus.

Despite being fired, Cena continued to show up on Raw in the subsequent weeks, causing interference in Nexus' matches and attacking them backstage, in the ring and in the arena parking lots. On the December 6 episode of Raw, Slater and Gabriel lost their WWE Tag Team Championships against the team of Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov in a Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Elimination Match, following an interference from Cena. Later the same night, Cena informed Nexus that his attacks on them may stop, however attacks on Barrett would continue. Wanting the attacks to stop, Nexus (excluding McGillicutty, who was (kayfabe) injured after being attacked the previous week by Cena) threatened to eject leader Wade Barrett from the group if he did not get Cena rehired the following week. The following week Barrett rehired Cena in exchange for a Chairs match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. On December 19 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Cena defeated Barrett in the main event of the evening, after attacking all the other members of Nexus throughout the event.

The group, sans Wade Barrett, after repeated attacks on John Cena, ambiguously announced that it was under "new management". CM Punk was revealed to be the new leader, acquiring the position after Barrett lost a Steel Cage match against Randy Orton and Sheamus, in which he would lose his status as leader and be exiled from Nexus should he lose the match. On January 10, 2011, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater left the group, after refusing to follow CM Punk's orders of initiation by hitting each other with kendo sticks, to join Barrett and Ezekiel Jackson on SmackDown! as The Corre, while Husky Harris, Michael McGillicutty, and David Otunga successfully completed the initiation, and stayed in Nexus. On the January 17 edition of Raw, Mason Ryan joined Nexus, interfering in a match between Punk and Cena. The group participated in the 2011 Royal Rumble but were eliminated by John Cena (aside from Harris who was eliminated by The Great Khali), this finally ended the feud between Cena and The Nexus.

At the Royal Rumble, The New Nexus cost Randy Orton the WWE Championship. The next night on the January 31 edition of Raw, Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris teamed up against Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov for the WWE Tag Team Championship in which they lost. After the match, Randy Orton entered the ring and punted Husky Harris in the skull, injuring Harris. Randy Orton, over the ongoing weeks, punted all members of the New Nexus, despite interference by CM Punk, removing each, one by one, from active competition. At WrestleMania XXVII, Randy Orton defeated CM Punk, but was unable to punt him in the skull, thus leaving CM Punk as the only active member of the New Nexus. McGillicutty, Otunga and Ryan returned on the April 11 edition of Raw and again cost Orton another shot at the WWE Championship and bringing New Nexus back to full strength. On the April 25 edition of Raw, at the WWE draft, Orton was drafted to SmackDown and beat Punk at Extreme Rules 2011 thus ending his feud with New Nexus. On the May 23 edition of Raw, Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga defeated Big Show and Kane for the WWE Tag Team Championship.

At the June 20 "Power to the People" edition of Raw, CM Punk was originally going to be named the number one contender to the WWE Championship, but he was forced to compete in a triple threat match with Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio with a falls count anywhere stipulation voted by the WWE Universe. After the match, Punk won and revealed that his WWE contract would expire on the same date as Money in the Bank, where he would face John Cena for the WWE Championship, meaning that if he wins, he will leave the company with the championship. Mason Ryan was voted to face Evan Bourne in a singles match and won, but was later to be revealed to be a glitch in the voting process, as Sin Cara was the actual winner. The following week, it was announced that Ryan had suffered an injury over the weekend, thus leaving the group. The group's quiet dissolution was confirmed at Money in the Bank, when Punk shunned his Nexus T-shirt and armband in favor of a new T-shirt. Despite this, Punk was labelled as part of Nexus in his entrance graphics. With his victory over Cena, the WWE Championship was finally held by the stable on their last night of existence. The group's final members then functioned as a tag team with the Nexus banner until August 1, 2011 and continued without the banner until August 22, 2011.

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