NXT has become a place for WWE to develop new stars, and giving the best independent stars in the world a platform away from the WWE main roster to show what they can do, but at the end of the day, NXT will always be a developmental territory. Some of the characters like Tyler Breeze and No Way Jose have been products of the WWE, and they have succeeded in NXT, but they’ve also delivered some failed characters that will be forgotten very quickly. Some stars have gone on to have success on the main roster, and others haven’t even succeeded on NXT television. The most recent call-ups include The Revival, Shinsuke Nakamura and Tye Dillinger, and we're excited to see how they'll do.
Today we are going to predict both sides of the coin, as we look at 10 stars who will be on the main roster by the end of this year, and five who we won’t be seeing on NXT television after the end of the year.
15 MAIN ROSTER: Elias Samson
This one may not be a popular decision, but after the Drifter lost a "Loser leaves NXT" match to Kassius Ohno on a recent TV taping, it might just be happening sooner than we all think. The character is a unique one, and if he is booked correctly, he could be a great heel on the main roster, with the ability to draw great heat, but if he can’t expand on his character or in ring ability, he may not last too long on RAW or SmackDown. That move set does feature many basic strikes and moves, so it will be on the writing team to hide his obvious weaknesses. Until he arrives, we can’t be certain of how he will go, so only time will tell.
14 MAIN ROSTER: Liv Morgan
When the WWE held its 2016 draft, they took Carmella, Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax from NXT, leaving the women’s division severely depleted behind NXT Champion Asuka, and they have struggled with depth ever since. But Liv Morgan has proven herself to be quite the exciting performer that the fans can get behind. Similar to Alexa Bliss in her time with NXT, she hasn’t been featured near the top of the card, but she has a likeable personality, and if she is given the freedom like Bliss on the main roster, she could be a star. There have been rumors that the company are interested in promoting her, and with the Women’s tournament upcoming (with some likely to join NXT), her services may be utilized better to provide depth to RAW or SmackDown.
13 RELEASED: Wesley Blake
Wesley Blake was introduced to the NXT fans as a part of a tag team with Buddy Murphy, and when they paired with Alexa Bliss and won the NXT Tag Team Championship, it looked like the company had a phenomenal tag team on their hands. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to develop their character, and they became a bland, if athletic team, and as Alexa Bliss went onto superstardom, they have split and found virtually no success since. NXT have tried to present them as singles stars since, but no matter how many times they appear on TV, the fans just don’t care, as they have no personalities beyond their athleticism. It would just be better for NXT to cut the dead weight and part ways with Blake.
12 MAIN ROSTER: Billie Kay
Billie Kay is just one of the many Australian stars featured in NXT today, and although her annoying, mean girl type character may be outdated, there is a place for it in the WWE today, as she can draw genuine heat from the fans. Along with her partner Peyton Royce, the two have been given the time to develop their characters, and combined with their great in-ring ability, the pairing could be incredibly dangerous together on the main roster. Whether the two stick together on the main roster or not, Kay should be able to not only survive but thrive on the main roster, and as we’ve spoken about, the upcoming women’s tournament will restock the NXT Women’s division, and Kay could become an integral part of either of the main roster's divisions.
11 MAIN ROSTER: Kassius Ohno
Kassius Ohno returned triumphantly to NXT recently after reinventing himself again on the independent scene, and although he lost his first shot at the NXT Championship to Bobby Roode, it looks like the company is completely behind him as a star performer. That's all well and good for now, but by the time this year is out, the WWE may look to add depth to it's mid card divisions, and the former Chris Hero would be the perfect man to slot into that role. He may not exactly look like a prototypical Vince McMahon guy, but he can go in the ring, and if booked correctly, could be a phenomenal United States or Intercontinental Champion.
10 RELEASED: Angelo Dawkins
Angelo Dawkins is another athlete-turned pro wrestler, and unlike Big E, Chad Gable or Jason Jordan (just to name a few), it just isn’t working, as the fans can’t get invested in whatever form of Angelo Dawkins NXT presents to the fans. The NXT landscape is different today, and if someone like Big E Langston was presented today, maybe he wouldn’t have been over the way he was. But it’s simple; today's NXT fans need more to invest in, and Dawkins just isn’t anything special. Whether he decides to pursue his wrestling career on the independent scene or he goes after any other athletic endeavor, he just isn’t going to succeed in NXT, and the company should let him go to make way for other stars within the next few months.
9 MAIN ROSTER: DIY
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa are incredibly talented individuals, so when the two came together for the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Tournament, you had to expect they would gel perfectly. Since then, they have exceeded all possible expectations. They recently defeated the Revival in the NXT Match of the Year to win their first Championship together, but quickly lost it to the Authors of Pain, and after losing their rematch at Takeover: Orlando, their future hangs in the air. There are of course temptations to split the two considering how good their match in the Cruiserweight Classic was, but that needs to wait until they’ve been introduced to the biggest audience possible, as they could become huge stars on the main roster, both as a team and then as singles stars.
8 MAIN ROSTER: Asuka
Asuka is quickly approaching the unbeaten record of Goldberg from his WCW days, and she looks as dominant today as she did the day she walked into the WWE, and after walking away successful at NXT Takeover: Orlando, it looks like no one can stop her. She obviously has to lose her championship before leaving, and that looks quite impossible at this point, but the division behind her is slowly building with some strong contenders, and with the upcoming Women’s tournament, Asuka’s services may be better utilized on the main roster. We all know about the Four Horsewomen and their history, but Asuka missed out on their time in NXT, so there could be some very exciting rivalries and stories to be crafted between the Empress of Tomorrow and the talented women on both main roster brands.
7 RELEASED: Oney Lorcan
Biff Busick had become a major star on the independent wrestling scene, and when he was scooped up by NXT like so many before him, the fans expected him to succeed on TV in no time. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case. He has appeared on several shows, having great matches with the likes of Tyler Bate and Tye Dillinger, but with Drew Galloway, Kyle O’Reilly and others on their way to NXT, as well as the stars already there, it doesn’t look like Oney Lorcan will be getting his shot anytime soon. For his own benefit, it would be better for him to leave and succeed on the independents, as his talents are being wasted away in NXT.
6 MAIN ROSTER: Peyton Royce
When Peyton Royce first came to NXT, she struggled like many did to craft a defined character to go along with her abilities, but after she began teaming with Billie Kay as the "Iconic Duo," she found her footing, and the two make a very annoying heel duo, which is how they need to be presented on the main roster. With her years of experience and striking with her long limbs, Royce looks like she could be a major star, and future Champion on the main roster, and I’d be surprised if that promotion didn’t happen sometime in 2017. It should happen, but if it doesn’t, she is still very young and has time to develop her persona, so however it happens, expect Royce to become a shining star wherever she is competing in the WWE.
5 MAIN ROSTER: Bobby Roode
The Glorious Bobby Roode is the current NXT Champion, and he is bringing a certain prestige to NXT and its top championship, so it may be a while before we see him under the brightest lights WWE have to offer. Still, there is just too much World Championship potential in Roode to keep him away from the main roster for more than a few months. Sure, there are several challengers with which Roode could have amazing matches while telling enjoyable stories, but to capitalize on such a big money performer, he needs to be at the top of RAW or SmackDown, and he soon will. Obviously his chances are in the hands of Vince McMahon, but from the way he has been treated in NXT, he looks like just the kind of star that Mr. McMahon would love to have at the top of his main roster card.
4 RELEASED: Buddy Murphy
Like Wesley Blake, Buddy Murphy has relied on his partner for all of his success in NXT, and since their failed partnership, he just hasn’t been able to hack it, whether he is portraying a heel or a babyface. They have tried to pair him with Shinsuke Nakamura and the top babyfaces on live shows and television, and the fans just don’t want to cheer for him, which leaves him to be a top heel. Unfortunately, he is about as bland as anyone that’s ever been seen on a wrestling promotion, and the fans just can’t get invested in him enough to care to boo him. With his television time growing shorter as we speak, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see both Murphy and his partner Wesley Blake released before the end of the year, where they could possibly become stars on the independents, due to the focus more on in ring competition.
3 MAIN ROSTER: Andrade "Cien" Almas
When the former Mexican superstar La Sombra made his debut in the WWE, fans expected big things, but as a baby face, he fell incredibly flat, but when he turned on his partner Cedric Alexander, he gained the attitude and confidence that made him the biggest star in all of Mexican wrestling. He is now one of the better heels on the roster, and with an unmatched arrogance, he really rubs fans the wrong way, and he can back it up in the ring, which makes his character that much better. He may have lost to Aleister Black at the most recent NXT Takeover, but with the main roster looking for some enjoyable yet credible heels, this move makes sense for both parties, as he could be the Mexican star the WWE have been searching for since Rey Mysterio's departure.
2 MAIN ROSTER: No Way Jose
This gimmick looks like it was made for NXT, as it works well in the intimate environment of Full Sail University, but we have seen the main roster call stars like Tyler Breeze and Adam Rose before, so why wouldn't they give Jose a chance? His energy is infectious, and although he is still very young in the ring, his mannerisms and move set reflect his character perfectly, and the WWE may look to bring him up to RAW or Smackdown before the year is out. This may be one of the more unlikely entries on this list, but we've seen crazier things happen, and if given the right time and character development, this could be one of NXT's best success stories on the main roster (if booked correctly).
1 RELEASED: Hideo Itami
In comparison to some of the others on this part of the list, this will be of Itami’s own volition, as although he may be over with the NXT fans, Hideo Itami looks like a shell of the Japanese legend that KENTA became before arriving in NXT, and he is just being way too limited by the WWE. We have seen this before with the likes of Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno) and Sami Calihan (Solomon Crowe), and it may just be a case of his reputation exceeding him, as he hasn’t looked to be a major superstar in NXT, and the injuries don’t help. Fans just can’t get invested in Itami with the injuries and shaky character, and it would just be better for all parties involved to see Hideo return to the independents to prove just how big a star he is.