Let me preface this by saying thanks to Cthulhu for Jerry Lawler’s improving health just days after the heart attack that could have killed him.
With that out of the way, I was watching Wade Barrett’s return squash last Friday on Smackdown and I was immediately hit with an idea for my latest column. A little over a year-and-a-half ago, I graded the New Nexus and the Corre as both entities ran roughshod over Raw and Smackdown respectively. Well, I suppose “ran roughshod” is a bit of a hyperbole, as by that time both factions were heavily watered down (despite Punk’s involvement over on Raw). I provided a report card of sorts for each member of the two factions, and I even threw in some predictions as to where they’d be in their individual careers in the future. It’s been more than a year since both the Nexus and the Corre disbanded so let’s see where they’ve wound up…..
Incidentally, I apologize for the bizarre grammar mistakes in the link above. Evidently when Pulse received its facelift last year, any columns posted beforehand were affected by some sort of coding glitch. And hell, even if you choose not to give an old column some new hits, allow me to provide you with a quick cut and paste of my earlier thoughts as I steal a page from Scott Keith’s book.
1) Wade Barrett
2011 Mike Gojira sez: I think we all know that Barrett is still treating himself as the leader of the Corre, since he seems to direct traffic a lot lately when the Corre is ready to attack guys like the Big Show. I enjoy his mic work and he is certainly improving as a wrestler. Barrett will go far this year, probably around Summerslam, but for now he’s a midcard heel since Del Rio is poised to become the top heel on Smackdown.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: Just two months after that post, the Corre jobbed like Tito Santana at Wrestlemania XXVII in a throwaway multi-man tag match. The Corre subsequently disbanded and Barrett went on to gain a victory over Daniel Bryan at Summerslam, followed by a decent feud with Randy Orton. His injury some months ago put him on the shelf until just recently. If I were to grade him based on his comeback alone, there’s not enough to work with. Instead, I’ll focus on his growth since the Corre fell apart and he went off on his own.
2) David Otunga
2011 Mike Gojira sez: I get that the ‘E didn’t want a heel vs heel match two weeks ago when Sheamus was set to face “A-List,” but it just brought more attention to the fact that Starscream is still too green in the ring. His matches are often relegated to one or two spots in a tag match, or a two-minute “classic” against someone clearly better than him. If you notice his mannerisms he seems to have trouble selling well and finding himself in the ring. If given more opportunity, he can definitely improve, but right now all he has going for him is his future wife and his decent wordplay on the mic.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: After Nexus flew the coop, Otunga was repackaged as an ambulance chaser who became Johnny Ace’s right hand man. He wrestled sparingly, and the times he DID step in the ring he was summarily treated like the Brooklyn Brawler. Good ol’ Starscream did receive a mini-push against Santino Marella, but a title change was scrapped and he went on to film “The Hive.” He came back a few weeks ago and is still jobbing to the stars (but I have seen a bit of improvement in the ring).
3) Heath Slater
2011 Mike Gojira sez: Slater just seems too damn generic for my tastes. I’m sorry, but the One Man Rock Band hasn’t shown me how he can stand out from the crowd. Even his finisher is bland and tasteless. However, he’s not too bad in the ring. He needs a real gimmick or he’ll be the next Primo once he’s out of the spotlight. Sorry to be so harsh, but that’s how I see it.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: Jeez, I was really hating on Primo back then, huh? Slater has found his place as the comedic heel jobber. That didn’t take very long. The guy is a big goof; it’s obvious he’s having fun out there, but I can’t see him ever being taken seriously. For that alone he’ll be stuck in quick matches without the opportunity to really improve. For the record, I still think he’s bland as hell.
4) Justin Gabriel
2011 Mike Gojira sez: Gabriel has got some skills, especially as a high flyer. He hits an impressive 450 Splash, as evidenced by both the Nexus AND the Corre utilizing him as the exclamation point of their various beatdowns. The company clearly sees something in him as well, as he lasted until the end of the Raw vs Nexus Summerslam match and put on a great match with Cena on Raw around that time. I can’t wait to see Gabriel versus Kofi, Bryan, or even Bourne, as he reminds me of a young (not-so-drugged) Jeff Hardy.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: The so-called South African Werewolf disappeared after his injury, relegated solely to house shows and Superstars with his tag partner Tyson Kidd. And just like Evan Bourne (who’s injured) and the aforementioned Kidd, Gabriel is doing absolutely nothing of note. I keep hearing about the roster woes and I think to myself, “What about the young talent wasting away in dark matches?” He showed up two weeks ago on Smackdown to complain about not being in the tag title scene and followed that up by being promptly forgotten. His rating drops simply because he’s not being utilized.
5) Darren Young
2011 Mike Gojira sez: Nada, because Young was released from Nexus months before the earlier article was posted.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: Millions of dollars, millions of dollars, millions of dollars!!! I like the chemistry between Young and Titus O’Neil; you can tell that these guys want to do well. It’s just not their time, as evidenced by their losses in title matches and their elimination from Sunday’s PPV. Young’s got quite the personality and he’s improved a lot since I saw him on NXT (the first time).
6) Skip Sheffield AKA Ryback
2011 Mike Gojira sez: Nada, because Sheffield was injured and released from Nexus months before the earlier article was posted.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: The former Cornfed Meathead didn’t have much time to show the goods before he busted his ankle, but his unstoppable monster character picked up steam for awhile. The live audience plays sing-along with his chants, but time will tell if the fanbase will embrace him in a more meaningful feud. He is being heavily promoted and given more time in the ring, so I think he’s worthy of this rating.
7) Michael Tarver
2011 Mike Gojira sez: Nada, because Tarver was released from Nexus months before the earlier article was posted.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: Pretty much the same thing as my younger self. Tarver became a non-entity for a time before returning to….mysteriously watch things happening backstage. Thrilling. Tarver was subsequently released in June of 2011 and now “sports-entertains” for Florida Underground Wrestling.
Rating: D (well, he does have a job as a wrestler still)
8) Daniel Bryan
2011 Mike Gojira sez: Nada, since Bryan had long since been kicked out of Nexus and wrestled exclusively on Smackdown.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: The one guy who spent the least amount of time in Nexus also wound up the better for it. Mr. Money in the Bank, the World Heavyweight Championship, and the most interactive heel on the roster; Daniel Bryan is in a league of his own. The original idea of the Nexus was to elevate a bunch of WWE rookies, and the irony of it is that the man who (by all rights) SHOULD HAVE won NXT ultimately received the biggest push of all.
9) Husky Harris
2011 Mike Gojira sez: Nada, because Harris had been punted out of Nexus thanks to Randy Orton right around the time the earlier article was posted.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: The son of IRS hasn’t been seen on WWE television since his injury, but he currently wrestles in their farm league, FCW, having undergone numerous gimmick changes in several months.
10) Michael McGillicutty
2011 Mike Gojira sez: It’s weird seeing Curt’s face on his kid, but with a short haircut. Regardless, McGillicutty seems to be getting more of an opportunity to showcase his skills. He shows decent ring presence in his tag matches but he still needs more one-on-ones before I can give him a decent rating.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: McGillicutty has popped up on Superstars and house shows in various tag matches, but has yet to return to Raw or Smackdown. Hell, I see him more on Santino’s Youtube show than I do anywhere else…and I just admitted that I watch Santino’s Youtube show. What have I done?
11) Mason Ryan
2011 Mike Gojira sez: After Ryan’s surprise appearance a few weeks back, my friend Richie began calling him BatisTwo for rather obvious reasons. He shows a lot of promise as a big man and is the muscle the New Nexus sorely needed. Until we see more, his rating won’t break the B barrier.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: Holy shit, did I really give that green giant a C+?! Ryan returned after the dissolution of the New Nexus as an inexplicable face, then disappeared. He was last seen courting the managerial services of Abraham Washington. As of now….nothing. Zip. Zilch.
12) CM Punk
2011 Mike Gojira sez: The leader of the New Nexus is treating his flock like the second coming of the Straight Edge Society, talking down to the fans and superstars alike for their “immoral” ways….and you can’t help but agree with most of the rhetoric he spews! Punk is one of the few heels who can legitimately back up their smack talk with solid evidence as opposed to flat-out lying through his teeth like most heels. Punk’s got a real eye for the business, as he was responsible for reminding Creative about his past with Orton. That, plus his great chemistry with Cena, make Punk an awesome leader for the New Nexus and lends them some credibility.
2012 Mike Gojira sez: As of this writing CM Punk has held the WWE Championship for about 300 consecutive days. I think that speaks volumes about how far along he’s come since February of 2011.
13) John Cena…nah, just kidding
Agree? Disagree? Don’t give a rat’s ass? Let me know in the comments below.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Tags: abraham washington, alberto del rio, big show, cm punk, Corre, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, David Otunga, evan bourne, FCW, Heath Slater, husky harris, IRS, Jerry Lawler, john cena, John Laurinaitis, Justin Gabriel, Kofi Kingston, mason ryan, michael mcgillicutty, Michael Tarver, Mike Gojira, monday night raw, money in the bank, nexus, Primo, randy orton, ryback, Santino Marella, Skip Sheffield, Smackdown, Summerslam, Tito Santana, titus o'neil, Tyson Kidd, Wade Barrett, World Heavyweight Championship, wrestlemania XXVII, WWE, wwe championship