The earliest incarnation of NXT was nothing like it is today. The first season of NXT was made up of a bunch of guys who were honing their craft at WWE’s Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory. NXT was created in an attempt to find out the next breakout star, the keyword being ‘star.’ The first version of NXT was an amalgam of tradition wrestling, interviews and reality TV. WWE picked eight wrestlers from FCW and paired them with main roster pros, who would vote out rookies one by one until the last remained. That being said, here are eight FCW performers who became part of the first season of NXT.
Tarver was the first participant to be voted out of the competition, ending his stint with a 1-7 record. Tarver picked himself as the person to be eliminated and was subsequently dropped out from NXT season one on May 11, 2010.
Tarver joined Wade Barrett on the main roster as a member of the Nexus and was part of the group’s match against Team Cena at SummerSlam 2010. Unfortunately, a groin injury coupled with alleged heat with top star Cena led to WWE completely sidelining him from a major role. He was released from his contract in 2011.
Daniel Bryan had been a champion in ROH prior to joining WWE. Bryan was a household name on the independent circuit, but ended up having one of the worst records in the competition. He also had a tumultuous relationship with his pro, The Miz, whom he would later have a match with at Night of Champions 2010.
Bryan suggested himself to be eliminated from the program and was cut on May 11, 2010. He joined Nexus only to turn on them and join Team Cena at SummerSlam 2010. A series of anger management issues forced WWE to release him from his contract in the middle of the Nexus storyline. Bryan returned after a few months and the rest, as they say, is history.
Skip Sheffield. You know that guy that always wanted you to feed him more. No? Though he had an experienced pro in William Regal, Skip Sheffield became the first participant to be voted out via Pro’s Poll due to his 2-5 record. Sheffield joined the Nexus in their quest for main roster dominance.
After the group disbanded, WWE repackaged him as Ryback and pushed him on a path similar to Goldberg’s. Despite feuding with top draws like CM Punk and John Cena, Ryback never tasted world championship gold. He was released from his contract in 2016.
Darren Young had the Pro in CM Punk. The Straight Edge had an open disdain for Young due to his partying lifestyle. Darren Young was booted out of the competition on May 18, 2020, ending his NXT run with seven wins and four losses.
Young accepted Nexus before running it back with NXT for the Redemption season, where he formed the Prime Time Players with Titus O’Neil. The duo eventually won the WWE Tag Team Championship. Young is currently signed to NJPW under the ring name Fred Rosser, and is their Strong Openweight Champion in his first reign.
Heath Slater was the fifth contestant to be eliminated from the program despite having a somewhat underwhelming record of five wins and six losses. Heath’s pro was Christian and he came half way through the program before getting cut on May 25, 2010.
Heath worked in a number of tag teams in addition to the Nexus. He formed the Three Man Band alongside Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre. Heath was often involved in brief yet hilarious segments that would end up with him getting the beatdown of a lifetime.
Justin Gabriel amazed the crowd and his pro, Matt Hardy, with his tremendous athleticism. He was the second last person to be eliminated from the program. His elimination came on June 1st, the final day of the competition. Gabriel joined his Nexus peers to wreak havoc on the main roster.
Gabriel found success in WWE with three tag title wins alongside fellow season one alumni Heath Slater, but failed to found a firm solo career. WWE released him from his contract upon his request in 2015. Gabriel currently performs on the independent circuit as PJ Black.
David Otunga had the looks and the physique that earned him a place in the top 2. Otunga was mentored by R-Truth and ended season one with six wins and five losses. He is the only competitor from season one who worked in both Nexus and New Nexus.
Otunga ultimately parted ways with wrestling to focus on his educational pursuits. He worked as an on-screen legal advisor for John Laurinaitis from 2011 to 2015. He slowly transitioned to commentary duties and panel interviews before quietly leaving the company in 2018.
Barrett was, hands on, the favorite to win NXT season one. The Englishman had multi-time world champion Chris Jericho as his pro. Barrett also had eight wins and five losses going into the finals, which made him an overall great pick as the last one standing.
Barrett led the other seven rookies against the main roster. After the Nexus storyline came to a rather disheartening conclusion, Barrett formed the Corre. His first WWE stint ended with an impressive five Intercontinental Championship reigns and a King of the Ring victory in 2015.