In 2011, something very exciting happened on Monday Night Raw. At that time, NXT wasn't the exciting developmental brand that has put on five-star matches for five years now. Instead, it was a reality show where young stars tried to win a spot on the main roster. In 2011, the competitors from NXT decided they all wanted to move on to the main roster, and the Nexus invaded Monday Night Raw, beating up John Cena, CM Punk, Luke Gallows, the announcers and even the ring announcer.
It was exciting and fresh, and people got excited -- even after WWE fired one of the members for going too far in the attack (that was Daniel Bryan). Sadly, at Survivor Series, only five months later, John Cena beat the entire faction, and they dropped down the card and eventually died off. Here is a look at the eight original members of The Nexus, ranked based on their success in professional wrestling.
8 MICHAEL TARVER
Easily, the least important and successful member of The Nexus is Michael Tarver. He was a scary guy coming out with the group, wearing a bandana over his mouth and looking like he was going to wipe the floor with anyone who got in his way. He did work in FCW developmental for two years before his NXT break.
Tarver ended up removed from the storyline just four months after The Nexus invasion and returned to FCW. One year after The Nexus tried to take over WWE, the company released Tarver from his contract, and he has worked on the indies and in New Japan since that time.
7 DARREN YOUNG
Darren Young will go down in history as one of WWE's first openly gay wrestlers, coming out while working as an active superstar on the roster. He was able to use that experience to become an ambassador for WWE while employed by them, speaking to youth organizations and at anti-bullying rallies.
As a wrestler, his most success came with Titus O'Neil as the Prime Time Players, where the two won the WWE tag team titles. After their tag team split up, Young got one more push with WWE Hall of Fame legend Bob Backlund as his manager. WWE released Young in 2017.
6 DAVID OTUNGA
David Otunga has the look of a WWE superstar with a bodybuilder's physique, but critics often pointed out he was not crisp or precise in the ring. Due to his wrestling skills not improving over time, but still being solid on the microphone and very smart, WWE moved Otunga from an active wrestler to a member of the commentating team.
While he might be best known for his spots on the pre-show panels, David Otunga was the longest lasting member of The Nexus and was there when the second wave of stars hit, which included Bray Wyatt and Curtis Axel. He is a two-time WWE tag team champion.
5 JUSTIN GABRIEL
When it comes to the members of The Nexus, Justin Gabriel was the most exciting to watch in the ring. While larger than most cruiserweights, that is the style that he wrestled and his 450 splash was awesome to behold. It was also unusual to see such a high impact fan favorite move used by a heel faction, but he did it all the time.
Before The Nexus, Gabriel was the FCW tag team champion and the FCW Florida Champion. After moving to the main roster, he won the tag team titles with Heath Slater three times. Since leaving WWE, he uses the name PJ Black and has worked for Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, and the NWA.
4 HEATH SLATER
Heath Slater is mostly a glorified jobber in WWE, but he has been pushed so often, even in comedy storylines, that he is one of the more recognizable names in WWE. He is also one of the longest-tenured Nexus members to still wrestle on the main roster.
Crazily, despite his lack of quality wins in WWE, Heath Slater is a four-time WWE tag team champions, three with Justin Gabriel and once with Rhyno. He is also the first person to win both the Raw and SmackDown Live tag team titles. Slater also led multiple factions, including The Corre, 3MB and the Social Outcasts. He doesn't win much, but he is always doing something.
Ryback was an original member of The Nexus under the name Skip Sheffield. He was the muscle of the group and ended up almost becoming the most successful member after they split up. After The Nexus broke up, WWE repackaged Sheffield as Ryback, and he debuted in a similar manner to Goldberg, just destroying anyone he fought.
The fans got behind Ryback, and he ended up in a feud for the WWE Championship. However, this is where the wheels fell off the bus because just when it looked like Ryback was going to beat CM Punk for the title, The Shield debuted and beat him down and Ryback never recovered. He did win the Intercontinental Championship one time after that but left WWE in 2016.
2 WADE BARRETT
When The Nexus attacked John Cena and CM Punk on Monday Night Raw, their goal was to force their way into the main roster and get contracts. That was true of seven of them, but one of the members already had a contract. Wade Barrett won the NXT competition, and that gave him a main roster contract and a guaranteed world title shot.
Sadly, Barrett never won a world title in WWE despite a great presence and solid in-ring skill set. He was the leader of The Nexus and remained in the spotlight his entire tenure in WWE, even making silly gimmicks like Bad News Barrett get over with the crowd. After Barrett took part in the League of Nations faction just to put over Roman Reigns, Barrett left WWE in 2016. He was a five-time Intercontinental Champion.
1 DANIEL BRYAN
It isn't even close when deciding who the most successful original member of The Nexus was. What is funny about this is that WWE fired Daniel Bryan after the initial attack because he choked Justin Roberts with his tie and WWE felt that was too violent for their PG-audience.
WWE hired him back two months later, and he competed against The Nexus. Since that time, no one in any iteration of The Nexus touched what Bryan did over his WWE career. Bryan is a five-time world champion, two-time tag team champion, and has held both the Intercontinental Championship and the United States Championship. Bryan is the only Nexus member that is a guaranteed future WWE Hall of Famer.