If you’re here for The Ascension, Bo Dallas, and Paige then this list isn’t what you’re thinking. This list is about busts in NXT that didn’t even sniff championship gold or make an impact in the development promotion and/or in the big leagues. The Ascension were at one point in time, tag team legends down in NXT, Bo Dallas was pushed as the NXT Champion, and Paige won gold everywhere she went. You can say they’re a WWE bust at this point in their career, however, Triple H has little control on Raw and SmackDown Live.
As fans, we’ve been spoiled by NXT in the last few years. Its main purpose is supposed to be developing raw talent and making sure they're ready for the big show, however, the WWE has brought in top notch talent. Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, and Samoa Joe all deserve to work in the big leagues but WWE has kept them down in NXT to boost the brand and get comfortable with the WWE system. Although NXT has some very big hitters, we can’t forget their main purpose is developing talent, especially the "greener" talent. Many of these wrestlers had a lot of potential due to their physical capabilities or cult following on the indie circuit but for some reason, things didn’t work out. Enjoy the article as we take a look at the 15 worst cases.
15 Apollo Crews
At just 29 years old, Crews still has ample time to become a success in the WWE, however, since he’s come up to the big leagues last year, he has neither connected with fans nor put on fantastic matches. We can’t put the entire blame on Crew’s shoulders because we all know WWE creative has destroyed many gimmicks that went well in NXT or on the indie circuit.
With a new storyline involving Titus Young, Crews has received more attention on WWE’s Raw than he ever did when working SmackDown Live, the so called, "land of opportunity". With that said, Crew’s character is still a blank canvas with little to no personality. If he doesn’t put on some great performances and connect with the fans, he will either be released or sent back down to NXT.
14 Eva Marie
For the fans that consider themselves a purest of the wrestling industry, hearing the name Eva Marie wants to make them run for the hills and never watch wrestling content. We understand thousands, maybe millions, hate Eva Marie because she was put out there not for wrestling purposes but to sell the product for a certain demographic. However, it was more than just the looks that get people heated.
There have been tons of ladies who had better looks than wrestling skills but were still loved by a fanbase, Sable being the most popular. Marie could have had that “Sable” fanbase, however, she clearly wants nothing to do with the fans or the wrestling industry and is just using this as a stepping stool to getting money and fame (most believe). She could have been Miss Elizabeth, instead, she’s a bust.
13 Simon Gotch
You'd would think a guy trained by legends Daniel Bryan and Harley Race would be a great wrestler and a humble person but by all accounts, since Gotch left the WWE, he was a headache and nuisance. He would sign with NXT in 2013 and spent three years working on his form and gimmick in the development promotion. It took three years for Gotch to be called up to the big leagues.
Three years is a lot of time, resources, and money that the WWE spent on Gotch to make him a star. The project failed horribly. As one-half of the Vaudevillians, Gotch was clearly had less talent than his partner Aiden English. While working on the lower-card, Gotch didn’t help his WWE career by getting into a fight with Sin Cara backstage and losing. We all know Triple H wishes he had a chance to get a redo and never sign this guy to begin with.
12 Chris Atkins
Chris who? Atkins may not be as well-known as others on this list but that doesn’t mean Triple H regretted ever signing this former bodybuilder. He makes this list because his failure in the WWE hurts the pro-bodybuilder enthusiasts that are behind the scenes in the company. We all know there is an inside war about big bodies versus wrestlers who can wrestle but don’t have the look.
Triple H is a huge proponent of bodybuilding and so is Vince McMahon. What better way to shut up the indie crowd who rather see a guy like high-flying Will Ospreay in the WWE instead of Jinder Mahal than by developing a huge stud that the fans fall in love with in NXT? Atkins is six feet six inches tall, shredded to the gills, and was signed in 2015. He had the look but failed miserably at wrestling and was released this year, proving Triple H can't teach everyone the ropes.
11 Sylvester Lefort
Known as Tom LaRuffa, the French native was trained by Lance Storm and made his wrestling debut in 2006. LeFort was doing a great job in the international scene and caught the eye of the WWE in 2011. He would sign with the company in 2012 and be booked as an “evil foreigner” manager until he made his in-ring debut in 2014. He would be paired with Marcus Louis and formed the pro-French team, The Legionnaires.
The team’s biggest feud would be against Enzo Amore and Big Cass before he and his partner Louis would be released. Both wrestlers would go to the TNA, however, LeFort would leave the company within a year. NXT was looking for that foreign heel character and instead of pushing Lefort they found Ruzev and Lana, a better duo we can all admit.
10 Bull Dempsey
The Sportster supports the “Bull-Fit” regiment and diet, however, we can still be critical of Bull Dempsey. He would make his wrestling debut in 2005 and be trained by none other than ECW icon Tazz. The WWE would sign him in 2013 and would make his debut for the company that same year. He mostly worked as a heel enhancement talent but was starting to gain momentum in 2015. Although fans were starting to like a babyface Dempsey, he would still be regulated to jobbing for stars like Samoa Joe.
The WWE would release him in 2016 and he would famously sell his old ring gear on eBay. Before WWE, Dempsey would be involved in championship matches for promotions such as New York Wrestling Connection and American Championship Entertainment. After WWE we can now say he was one of their biggest busts.
9 Thomas Kingdon
Just like we mentioned with Chris Atkins, Thomas Kingdon is another bodybuilder that failed miserably in NXT. The guy is built like a tank and you'd think he could use his athletic hunger to become a star in NXT but that just wasn’t the case. Another pet project of Triple H, Kingdon would only perform in a couple of matches before being released by the company in 2016.
We understand he was a raw talent with no formal wrestling training but isn’t that the purpose of NXT and their Performance Center?To bring in these gifted athletes and make them wrestling machines? Kingdon did fail on his accord but he's also considered a bust and another failed bodybuilder project by Triple H and the team at NXT.
8 Zahra Schreiber
Mostly known as the former girlfriend of Seth Rollins who was accused of supporting Hitler and the Nazis, Triple H wished he had nothing to do with Schreiber after that scandal. The model would be trained at Truth Martini’s House of Truth Wrestling School and would be signed by the WWE in 2014. She would be regulated to making small cameo appearances such as a “Rose Bud” and in the background of segments.
The company would make her a ring announcer as well as a manager for Sami Callihan before finally getting axed due to her Instagram controversy in 2015. Her dream of being in the WWE was destroyed in an instant. This story is a word of caution; always check what’s in your background when you put up pictures on social media.
7 Oscar Vasquez/Magno
Oscar Vasquez originally was signed by Triple H and NXT as a coach for the Performance Center. He's known as a luchador wrestler and was brought in to teach that style to the youngsters. The WWE and Vazquez came to an understanding that he should be used as a wrestler instead of a coach. He would make his first wrestling appearance for NXT at a live event in 2015 battling Bull Dempsey.
He would be used sparingly and the WWE eventually would release him in February of 2016. Within less than a year, Vasquez went from a coach to a wrestler and was fired. So you can call this a double-doozie because not only was he a bust as a coach but also a wrestler.
6 King Constantine
If you’re a legit athlete in Greco-Roman wrestling then transitioning over to professional wrestling, then things should be a cake walk. This industry was partly built on amateur wrestlers transferring over to the industry in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. We also witnessed Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar come from wrestling backgrounds. Radomir Petković otherwise known as King Constantine in NXT had won medals in the Mediterranean Games and European Championships.
We guarantee Triple H and NXT were licking their chops when they signed this powerhouse from Serbia in 2015. After several matches, WWE would release him a little over a year after signing with the company. He’s a name you don’t know but with his background in wrestling, NXT should have easily made him a legit contender. Instead, he became one of their biggest busts.
5 Hugo Knox
We have to give professional footballer Stuart Tomlinson some credit for leaving a professional sport as a goalie to live out his dream as a WWE Superstar. He has the athletic ability and fansbase in Europe to make a splash for the company but something didn’t click. He would sign with the WWE in 2013 and begin training immediately.
Taking the name Hugo Knox, he would be used for live events and dark matches, however, he was involved in a squash match against the Vaudevillians on episode #186 of NXT. The English native would mostly work as a jobber but he did have a few wins over Wesley Blake and Tino Sabbatelli. Knox is considered a bust because WWE had all the tools to make an already professional athlete into a legit wrestler but failed.
4 Kenneth Cameron (Bram)
When WWE decided to re-brand their developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, into NXT, Bram was already part of the company for two years as Kenneth Cameron. As an original member of The Ascension with Conor O’Brian (Konnor), the two would make their NXT debuts in June of 2012. Things were looking really bright for the big guy as he would work with The Usos, Justin Gabriel, Tyson, Kid and Kassius Ohno.
We believe the WWE was ready to push him but Bram became his own worst enemy and was involved in a battery charge and disorderly intoxication. The WWE would release Bram and instead of being a top prospect with a bright future, he became one of the biggest busts in NXT. He’s still wrestling today but he’s also still getting into trouble as he was recently suspended by Pro Wrestling Noah for inappropriate behavior.
3 Solomon Crowe
Solomon Crowe or otherwise known as Sami Callihan, is lighting it up on the indie circuit since he was released by the WWE in 2015. Although he has had a lot of success outside of the WWE, that doesn’t mean he's immune from being one of the biggest busts in NXT. He would be signed by the WWE in 2012 but it was a strange and long road for Crowe to get television airtime.
He would be involved in several dark matches before he made his televised debut as a cyber punk wrestler. He had a strong following but the WWE and Crowe weren’t clicking in the ring. All the training in the world couldn’t help the lackluster effort from both Crowe and NXT creative. The two would part ways in 2015 and Crowe has been on fire ever since.
2 Adam Rose
If only they let Adam Rose remain as the heel Leo Kruger and all things might be okay in the world. It would take 15 years for Rose to get signed by the WWE. In 2010, he was a member of Florida Championship Wrestling and was part of the transition to NXT. The WWE decided to change his gimmick from a tough S.O.B hailing from South Africa to a party loving baby face in 2014 which you could make the case for the fall of his WWE career.
For some reason, the WWE kept pushing the gimmick and he would make his big league debut in 2015. Rose would be in some turmoil outside of the ring and the WWE eventually was fired, making his entire time with NXT a waste for him and Triple H.
1 Mason Ryan
Mason Ryan is very different from everyone else on this list because he made the big league after paying his dues in the developmental organization Florida Championship Wrestling in 2011 but then was sent back down to NXT in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, Triple H had all the resources and tools to reinvent Mason and make him a powerful star in the company.
They already made him a champion in FCW so why couldn’t they do the same in NXT? His return to NXT was a nightmare as he was rarely used for television and his character never changed. Maybe Triple H was given Ryan as a test from his father-in-law to really gauge how well Triple H is at developing talent. If it was a test, Triple H failed and probably regrets ever seeing Ryan in an NXT ring.