There is nothing better than a good trio or stable. Simply mentioning these words bring back immediate flashbacks to memorable groups like the NWO or DX. How could anyone forget the formation of the NWO at Bash of the Beach 1996? Or DX invading Nitro during the Monday Night Wars? Groups can help create everlasting moments like these that will never be forgotten. Sometimes, a group is created to provide opportunities for wrestlers, allowing each member to shine in their own role. The Shield gave opportunities for Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to shine, whilst being able to hide the shortcomings of a developing Roman Reigns and make him look like a star. Fans love groups, which is why it makes it all the more frustrating when they fail through poor bookings.
Tragically but perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s more common to find a poorly booked group than one that has reached its full potential. For every group like DX, there is the Nexus. For every trio like The Shield, there is The Straight Edge Society. What has often seemed like straightforward booking paths, have been roadblocked by mindboggling decisions that have often permanently derailed a group’s momentum. Usually, it involves matches, when one side should’ve clearly been booked to pick up a victory and continue gaining momentum. Other times, a group just isn’t featured prominently enough to make an impact. Whilst the WWE has had some success this decade with groups like The Undisputed Era, The Shield and The New Day, there have been far more groups with sky high potential that have faltered.
When you look at missed opportunities and poor booking of stables in the WWE, The Nexus stand out as one of the biggest examples of WWE misbooking in general. Back in 2010, SuperCena syndrome was still running deep through the WWE. So when 8 NXT rookies led by Wade Barrett jumped the barricade in June 2010 and launched a sickening assault on John Cena, it created a lot of buzz. They also attacked the ring announcer (that led to Daniel Bryan being fired for a few months), commentators and the timekeeper whilst tearing the ring to shreds. They followed this up with more attacks on the WWE roster, Hall of Famers, Bret Hart and even Vince McMahon. In a time when it seemed like WWE was struggling to create new stars, with the help of one of the hottest angles in WWE history, it seemed like The Nexus were destined for stardom.
It looked like the angle couldn’t fail. After months of tormenting members of the roster, Cena formed a team to take on The Nexus at Summerslam 2010 in a 7 on 7 match. With Team WWE featuring highly respected main eventers like Cena, Chris Jericho, Edge and a legend in Bret Hart, everything was set up for The Nexus to gain major credibility by defeating some of the WWE’s top stars in their first test as a team. Until they didn’t. Originally booked to defeat Team WWE, a late push from Cena would involve changing the match finish, instead having Cena overcome a 2-on-1 disadvantage to eliminate Justin Gabriel and Barrett to win the match for Team WWE. Despite heavy protests backstage from The Nexus and Jericho and Edge, the change was made and The Nexus failed in their first major match on the WWE roster.
This would arguably be the beginning of the end for The Nexus. Many members would leave and join, with Cena joining the group after being beaten by Barrett due to outside interference from new members Husky Harris (Bray Wyatt) and Michael McGillicutty (Curtis Axel). Barrett would fail in three title matches on pay-per view, before “firing” Cena after he refused to cheat as the guest referee in Barrett’s match against WWE Champion Randy Orton at Survivor Series 2010. Cena began to harass members of The Nexus, regularly interfering in their matches despite being fired, forcing Barrett to give Cena his job back. Barrett would later lose to Cena at TLC, before Barrett himself was then exiled from the group by CM Punk, with Punk renaming the group “The New Nexus”. This officially ended the tenure of the original Nexus, with some remaining in the new group whilst others joined “The Corre” on Smackdown with Barrett. That group didn’t have much success either.
Where did it all go wrong? How did WWE manage to botch one of the hottest angles in modern memory and halt the pushes of 8 young and upcoming stars? The Nexus simply shouldn’t have lost as much as they did, especially not the big matches. As much as The Nexus won, they never quite got over losing that match at Summerslam. Their leader Barrett couldn’t even gain a clean singles win over Cena.
The Nexus should’ve been a dominating force that ran all the way up to Wrestlemania and potentially beyond. Instead, most of the original Nexus had left the group by the start of 2011. Today, only two of the original Nexus remain with the WWE in a wrestling capacity, Daniel Bryan and Heath Slater. WWE’s misbooking of The Nexus not only caused the stable to fail, but also prevented the making of 8 potential stars in the process. Had The Nexus succeeded, it’s likely that the WWE could’ve created a highly memorable program and elevated the 8 members of Nexus to a position in which most would still be with the company today.
The Straight Edge Society
Coming off heated rivalries with Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship in the second half of 2009, CM Punk’s career was at a bit of a crossroads. Whilst the matches he had wrestled with Jeff Hardy were given critical acclaim, Punk’s feud with The Undertaker had a different effect. Punk’s main event status was damaged considerably as he was made to look like a chump in all of his matches with The Deadman. Punk at best could only manage a meek “submission” victory over Taker in an effort to repeat the Montreal Screwjob again at Breaking Point 2009. This would lead to a rematch inside the cell at Hell in a Cell 2009, in which Taker almost squashed Punk, taking his World Title and leaving him directionless.
In danger of being lost in the shuffle, Punk smartly chose to reinvent himself. He began leaning even more into the straight-edge aspects of his persona, turning himself into a cult figure who proclaimed he needed to “save” the fans from themselves. Punk recruited Luke Gallows, known as Festus at the time, to his cause, before beginning to shave the heads of fans in attendance at WWE shows. At this point, Punk recruited Serena to his team, a woman in the audience whose head Punk had shaved on Smackdown. The three would become known as The Straight Edge Society, a unique trio with a gimmick that hadn’t been done before in the WWE.
The Straight Edge Society didn’t do a lot during their time as a group. Punk would try to recruit various superstars to the group, trying several times in the Royal Rumble in 2010. Not long after this, The Straight Edge Society entered a feud with Rey Mysterio, which involved Punk creepily singing Happy Birthday to Mysterio’s daughter on an episode of Smackdown. They traded wins at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules, before Joey Mercury later joined the group. Mysterio then took the definitive win in the series at Over the Limit, forcing Punk to shave his own head. Punk continued on to a feud with The Big Show, who beat The Straight Edge Society in a countless amount of matches. They would officially split up in September after Serena, Mercury and Gallows had all been released. There were rumors of Serena not “living the gimmick” and drinking booze in public, which led to WWE putting an end to the angle.
Could more have been done with The Straight Edge Society? Absolutely. Punk mentions this on his DVD when he states the reactions they were getting from the fans should’ve led to a bigger push for the group. Should they have wreaked havoc across the WWE like The Nexus? Probably not. But to say the maximum potential was taken from the group wouldn’t be true. There were more unique opportunities to tell stories with a cult-like gimmick such as this one. Perhaps Punk could’ve actually recruited some superstars into the society who weren’t doing anything on TV like Zack Ryder or Trent Barreta? Whilst a group doesn’t need to win all the time, regular squashes by The Big Show didn’t help with their development.
Even though it didn’t have to nor should it have been the star attraction, The Straight Edge Society could’ve been more than a fodder for babyfaces that was regularly overcome with no wins coming the other way.
Unfortunately, this is only scratching the surface when it comes to the countless examples of poorly booked stables in the last decade. The Nexus had everything going for them during their run in 2010. The crowd was reacting to them, they had a fresh look and were dominating other wrestlers on the roster. The WWE could’ve and should’ve been done with them to help turn them into stars. The Straight Edge Society, whilst on a different level to The Nexus, should’ve been more than fodder for faces to beat for credibility. With such a unique gimmick, there was a place in the WWE in 2010 for The Straight Edge Society to thrive.
Both The Nexus and The Straight Edge Society stand out as missed opportunities that could’ve been used to tell memorable and unique stories.
Hello there! My name is Jake Thomas and I’m one of the many new writers joining the TJRWrestling team. I’m from the land down under in Melbourne, with my fellow Aussies Buddy Murphy and The IIconics killing it in the WWE. Wrestling is a big passion of mine and I’ve been following TJR since I first started watching wrestling around the Summer of Punk in 2011. Since then, I’ve tirelessly caught up on my wrestling knowledge and I’m really excited to contribute more articles on the site as time goes on.