Great invasions in sports-entertainment history

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November 28, 2012

The Nexus

The inaugural class of WWE NXT Rookies wanted to make an impression in their WWE debut, so they made it in the biggest way possible: They literally tore the house down. During a “Viewer’s Choice” episode of Raw, the nefarious newbies swarmed the ring during John Cena’s match against CM Punk. Clad in matching T-shirts, the Superstars perpetuated a brutal beatdown on Cena, Punk, Luke Gallows, color commentator Jerry Lawler and the particularly unfortunate ring announcer Justin Roberts before dismantling the ring, piece-by-piece. It turned out the act, now firmly lodged in WWE legend, was both a savage mission statement and a dark harbinger of things to come.

In the months that followed, the “Nexus” — under the stewardship of WWE NXT season one winner Wade Barrett — would follow up their symbolic disassembly of the ring with a literal decimation of the WWE roster. At Barrett’s behest, the black-and-yellow–clad goon squad operated under the sole principle of “If you’re not Nexus, you’re against us,” and those who were deemed “against us” were truly shown no quarter. While Barrett’s quest to claim the WWE Championship for himself didn’t quite pan out, The Nexus did strike championship gold when Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel claimed the WWE Tag Team Titles. Barrett achieved one towering victory when Cena was forced to assimilate into his ranks for a number of weeks, and another when he briefly fired Cena from WWE altogether after the Englishman found himself fed up with the Cenation leader’s refusal to commit to the cause.

For all of its bravado, however, The Nexus met a fairly ignominious end in 2011 after control of the team was wrested from Barrett by (ironically enough) CM Punk. While Barrett and fellow defectors Slater & Gabriel formed The Corre on SmackDown, The Second City Saint recruited a new class of rookies to fill out his flock (Husky Harris, Michael McGillicutty and Mason Ryan) and re-christened them as the “New Nexus.” But his efforts to reform the Nexus into his own personal cultish army fell short when his disciples were systematically eliminated by Randy Orton in the months leading up to WrestleMania XXVII, with the team quietly disbanding after Punk laid claim to the WWE Championship in July 2011.

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