The developmental system known as NXT has blossomed into a beautiful weekly product over the last few years, with many stars both home grown and from the independents flourishing in ways that some fans never could’ve dreamed of.
On the flip side, however, you’ve got a breadth of talent up on the main roster that are in desperate need of something relevant to do before the flame goes out on their WWE careers once and for all. Sure that may seem a tad morbid, but once you’ve seen this list and all of the names that are included you’ll start to understand a little bit more.
We aren’t suggesting that NXT is the only possible route for these guys and girls at this stage, because god knows we’ve seen the likes of Braun Strowman turn things around fairly quickly, but it’s probably the most logical way to go. It’s not even that these people are bad performers either (even though some of them are) it’s just that their booking hasn’t exactly been ideal.
15 Apollo Crews
The warning signs were there from the very beginning when it comes to Apollo Crews’ time on the main roster, with WWE clearly not knowing how to handle a man who was all moves and no charisma. In all fairness, they did try everything in their power and are still doing so to this day, but let’s face it, things aren’t quite working out.
Titus Worldwide, the faction that Apollo is now a part of, is a bumbling mess and there’s no two ways about it. Nobody knows whether they’re heels or faces and it’s time for Crews to take a trip back down to the yellow ropes of NXT, which is a shame as the doubters who said he was called up way too soon have all been proven right.
The inventor of "good lucha things" has been on a downward slope for well over twelve months now, with the glory days of retaining the US Championship at WrestleMania 32 now well beyond him. Kalisto was initially being positioned as the successor for Rey Mysterio, but it’s clear to the wrestling world that it may be too much too soon for the 30-year-old.
Sending Kalisto (and probably Sin Cara) back down to NXT would give the Authors of Pain another team to run through in the midst of their current tag title reign. After all the Lucha Dragons were able to topple The Ascension in order to win the straps, meaning they could build towards an interesting feud between the David and Goliath teams.
13 Dana Brooke
Speaking of being called up way too soon, let’s have a little chat about Dana Brooke. It seems as if her sole purpose when being bumped up to Raw was to be a mini-me version of Charlotte Flair, and now that run is over, she has been dramatically exposed as a horrendously weak babyface. Seriously, it’s painful to watch at times.
Brooke is the definition of being "green" and no amount of assistance from Mickie James is going to change that. NXT needs a bit of bolstering when it comes to the women’s division, and Dana could be a nice adversary for Asuka on a televised episode of NXT in the lead up to Takeover: Brooklyn III. Or, you know, she could go back to bodybuilding.
12 Elias Samson
Yes, we know, everyone now seems to ironically love Elias Samson and his guitar for reasons that we can’t quite comprehend. The problem with that is trends always seem to fade, and now that WWE appear to be booking Samson into a feud with Finn Balor it’s becoming increasingly obvious that he isn’t quite ready for the big time.
He’s a perfectly capable performer down in NXT, and that’s exactly where he should’ve stayed for the majority of his WWE tenure. They’ve managed to fix a few of his problems on the main roster, but the fans just aren’t clicking with The Drifter as a character and unfortunately it isn’t all too difficult to see why.
11 Mike Kanellis
It feels as if there’s a string of warning signs up ahead when it comes to the former "Miracle" Mike Bennett, and we’ve already smashed through the first one with WWE deciding to change his character’s last name to Kanellis. You know, the same last name as his wife Maria, who apparently wears the pants in this relationship. Dear oh dear.
We aren’t saying it’s an instant death wish for him, but Mike needs to show what he can do in the ring before he starts parading around with this gimmick. That way fans will actually know who he is (because not everyone watches ROH or Impact), and we can get an idea of his background prior to arriving in WWE. Oh, and just imagine a promo with him and Bobby Roode: glorious indeed.
10 Mickie James
Oh, Mickie. We had such high hopes for you on the main roster, but alas you’ve been lost in the shuffle as has been the case on far too many occasions throughout your wonderful career. It all started off so well, too, with the NXT Women’s Championship match against Asuka at Takeover being one of the best bouts on the entire card.
Some may not think it makes too much sense to relegate women from the top tiers right now, but Mickie is a veteran, which is something that NXT could desperately utilise right now. There are several feuds that would allow her to shine bright down in developmental, with a rivalry against the Iconic Duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay initially coming to mind.
9 Darren Young
The operation to make Darren Young great again failed miserably, which probably has more to do with the inclusion of Bob Backlund than anything else. Still, WWE did Darren Young a massive dis-service last year and once he returns from injury he needs to go back to where it all started: NXT.
The contrast would be really interesting given that the NXT Young appeared on was the game show version, and we could even see DY attempt to form a new version of The Nexus. It’d certainly bring some old school fans back into the fold as everyone loved the early progression of Nexus, and most importantly it would give Young a purpose. We aren’t sure how long it would last, but it’s a start.
Demoting a 45-year-old performer to NXT may seem a little bit extreme on the face of it, but hear us out. R-Truth has had absolutely nothing of interest to do for years up until this current Goldust feud, and even that isn’t worthy of a spot on the Great Balls of Fire card. Hell, it’s apparently not even good enough for the pre-show.
Truth’s conspiracy gimmick was one of the most interesting storylines in recent memory, and NXT is the perfect place to re-ignite the fire so to speak. As a midcard heel, Truth could do wonders as a crazy veteran who ends up putting plenty of younger stars over. Predictable? Perhaps. Entertaining? You know it.
It’s barely been a month since the Ravishing Russian re-debuted on SmackDown Live and we already want to claw our eyes out. Oh, and it’s not Lana’s fault either, it’s the writers. They have systematically destroyed the former valet’s character in record-breaking time, taking her from a title contender all the way down to "crying damsel in distress."
It’s pathetic, and it’s quite surprising considering that she was actually doing quite well on the NXT live event circuit. If you work her back into the storylines down there, then you’d have a bonafide star who fans are familiar with, and she could even be pushed as one of the top heels in the promotion, if you will.
6 Aiden English
We’re inclined to blame Simon Gotch for this, but at the end of the day he couldn’t help being fired when push comes to shove. Aiden English is clearly doing everything within his power to remain relevant on a week-to-week basis, and that’s certainly admirable. Alas, it doesn’t seem to be doing much more than assisting in the 700th push of Randy Orton.
In NXT, there’s a distinct lack of main event talent that were brought up through the NXT system, and English fits into that mould perfectly. He was there from the very beginning and he deserves to be there now, plugging away and boosting his reputation even further before giving it another go on the main roster in the future.
5 The Ascension
We may be cheating a little bit here but it’s certainly warranted, because Konnor & Viktor aka The Ascension are all but done on SmackDown Live. Finished. Ruined. Obliterated. WWE have succeeded in their evil plan to break the former NXT kings down to the point where literally nobody cares about them anymore.
When surrounded by the comfort of the Full Sail crowd, Konnor & Viktor were outstanding performers, and they felt more like cool descendants of The Undertaker as opposed to Road Warrior rip-offs. They could storm in as valiant former champions looking to reclaim their throne against the unstoppable Authors of Pain. We’d watch that.
4 Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox is arguably the most underrated female wrestler of the last decade, with her stunning looks being matched only by her unique in-ring ability. Unfortunately, instead of being used as a main event star on either Raw or SmackDown Live, Fox has been relegated to the role of "crazy girlfriend valet," which just feels wrong to us.
Alicia could control the NXT women’s division once Asuka inevitably gets called up to the main roster, holding the title hostage for months on end. She could become the female version of Bo Dallas with the belt, and you just know that Triple H would love to use her as a marketing machine – because let’s face it, she’s absolutely gorgeous.
3 Jack Gallagher
The WWE’s resident gentleman Jack Gallagher hasn’t really been seen all too much ever since failing to dethrone Neville as the Cruiserweight Champion. The Brit is just kind of floundering on 205 Live with no real direction, and that’s a great shame because the guy is one of the most interesting characters to stem from WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic.
Down in NXT, Jack doesn't have to be pushed into a corner like he is on the purple brand, and can be utilised as a top talent to go up against several of NXT’s big names. Oh, and can you imagine how good a Pete Dunne vs Jack Gallagher match would be?
2 The Brian Kendrick
Speaking of talents who have dropped off after losing a Cruiserweight title match, say hello to WWE veteran The Brian Kendrick. The former tag team superstar is still one of the best all-round performers to step inside the purple ropes, and the same would still be true if he were to take a step down from the main roster.
Kendrick does his best work when he’s put in a storyline that actually has some kind of meaning behind it, and you just know that’s exactly what would happen if he made the trip to Full Sail. Who knows, maybe you could even partner him up with a monster heel and have them go after the tag titles. The possibilities are endless.
1 Eva Marie
Oh, Eva. We didn’t deserve your fantastic trolling or phenomenal good looks. We as fans took you for granted, and for that we can only apologise. Eva truly was one of wrestling’s most fascinating characters, and no, despite what you may think, we aren’t joking around here. The woman could’ve been something huge if booked correctly.
Of course, the status of her run in WWE is currently unknown with some people believing that she is in fact done with the company, but we’re choosing to look on the bright side of things. Just imagine if they did her voiceover/fake injury gimmick down in NXT at Full Sail – the heat would be absolutely extraordinary. Make it happen, Vinnie Mac.