In the initial season of "WWE NXT," before it evolved into the premier developmental ground for WWE, the show took on a reality competition format. It was here that aspiring WWE stars were paired with seasoned wrestlers to navigate the challenging journey to stardom.
Among the rookies was Justin Gabriel, who had the fortune of being mentored by none other than Matt Hardy. On a recent episode of "The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy," the veteran wrestler shared insights into his time mentoring Gabriel, highlighting the profound bond they formed during the competition.
Hardy expressed his admiration for Gabriel, praising his athletic prowess and the camaraderie that developed between them. "I was very impressed [with Gabriel]. He was a great athlete, and I got to know him good," Hardy remarked.
Even after more than a decade since their NXT stint in 2010, their relationship remains strong, with Gabriel affectionately referring to Hardy as "coach" during their encounters. Before the cameras rolled for "NXT," Hardy took the initiative to learn about Gabriel's potential by reaching out to WWE's developmental territory at the time, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW).
Gabriel's peers likened him to a "young AJ [Styles]," a comparison that amused Hardy and hinted at Gabriel's promising future in the wrestling world. NXT" was marked by fierce competition, culminating in a commendable third-place finish, just behind David Otunga and season winner Wade Barrett.
This trio, along with other "NXT" participants, went on to form The Nexus, a group that left an indelible mark on WWE. The mentoring relationship between Hardy and Gabriel underscores the significance of veteran guidance in shaping the careers of emerging wrestlers.
As "WWE NXT" continues to evolve, the legacy of its original format and the bonds formed therein resonate through the stories of wrestlers like Hardy and Gabriel.