Welcome one and all to the first edition of What If? In this series we’ll be asking the age-old question as it pertains to pro wrestling (or sports entertainment). To kick things off, we’re asking a question that has been on our minds for a while now: What if Daniel Bryan had not been released by the WWE in the summer of 2010?
It’s well known what went down that fateful summer: as the first season of NXT came to a close, the Rookies began the stable known as Nexus in a huge way on RAW, attacking John Cena and all the WWE staff and Superstars they could lay their hands on. In the midst of the attack, Daniel Bryan (known to the independent scene as Bryan Danielson) choked out Justin Roberts with his own tie, an act that corporate sponsors found appalling. Daniel was released from his contract, allowing him to work the indies for a couple of months before overwhelming fan support and demand brought him back in time for Summerslam. For this story, we’re revisiting the night the Nexus began their rise…
June 7, 2010 – Monday Night Raw
It’s a special Viewer’s Choice edition of RAW, and CM Punk is taking on John Cena in the main event of the evening when suddenly…
“Wait, what are THEY doing here!?”
The group of rookies from the inaugural season of NXT make their way through the crowd, arriving at ringside wearing matching armbands with the letter “N” and looks of malicious intent on their faces. Wade Barrett, the NXT winner of season 1, directs traffic as the group begins a vicious assault on Cena, Punk, and everyone else at ringside before they go to work on the announce table and even the ring itself. They tear apart the aprons, untie the ring ropes, and even rip the canvas off at the seams to the shock of the entire WWE Universe. As the attack comes to a head, Daniel Bryan is noticeably not as aggressive as the rest—something Wade Barrett manages to catch on to as he begins shouting at the “indy darling.” This begins a shouting exchange between the two men, which escalates to a shoving contest. The rest of the Nexus holds Barrett back as Bryan merely walks away from the scene, shaking his head as the show comes to a close.
June 14, 2010 – Monday Night Raw
The show opens with a recap of what happened last week, before cutting to Wade Barrett in the ring. After explaining that the General Manager told him to apologize for his actions last week, he calls out the rest of the NXT rookies. One by one they enter the ring, looking rather smug as Wade approaches Heath Slater first.
“Slater, are you sorry for what you did last week?”
Heath cracks a big grin on his face as Wade hands him the microphone.
He hands the microphone to Michael Tarver, who says the same thing. Each of the NXT Rookies has the same answer—except Daniel Bryan, who refuses to say a word. Wade grabs the microphone from Bryan in anger.
“Last week we made a statement to everyone in WWE, everyone that treated us like filth. However, it seems we have some dissension in the ranks. Daniel Bryan, you refused to cooperate with the plan we laid out last week. Explain yourself!”
Daniel still refuses to speak, just staring angrily at Barrett before walking out of the ring. He shakes his head in disappointment as Barrett continues his speech.
“During NXT, we were all treated like animals. Our careers, our very livelihoods were at the mercy of the NXT Pros and the so-called WWE Universe. They tried to make a joke out of us, but we wouldn’t allow it—so we took out our frustrations on your precious WWE Champion, and everyone else that tried to make a fool out of us.”
Bret Hart’s music plays, signaling the arrival of the Raw General Manager to the approval of the fans in the building. Bret stands on the stage, microphone in hand and looking none too pleased.
“Wade, what you and the other NXT Rookies did last week was barbaric and unacceptable. Despite what you might think, however, John Cena WILL be defending his WWE Championship at Fatal 4 Way!”
The crowd cheers, but Barrett just laughs.
“You old fool, do you think we care about John Cena? All we want is what we deserve. While I have a WWE contract because of your little game, my fellow Rookies deserve the chance to compete as well.”
Bret Hart doesn’t take this too well at all.
“You must really think I’m a fool, if you think I’m going to let you and your buddies run rampant in this company! As Raw General Manager, I’m letting you know right now Wade, that your title shot is hereby revoked–as is your WWE contract!”
The crowd cheers heavily, as Wade yells in anger. Bret points to the security force now walking out from the back.
“Now, all of you need to leave that ring and this arena, before security has to kick you out!”
Wade and the other Rookies stand down, looking to start a fight as the show cuts to commercial. After the commercial break, we find that the NXT Rookies have disappeared…for now. As the night progresses, many Superstars make their feelings known about the actions of the NXT Rookies; during a John Cena promo, the Rookies make a return, but are headed off by the locker room taking a stand.
To be continued…