This upcoming summer, beginning with a fantastic Money in the Bank PPV this past weekend, could prove to be the most important in the future of this great company, with many fantastic and innovative events to look forward too, such as Battleground & SummerSlam, the always brilliant next instalment of NXT Takeover, the first ever Cruiserweight Classic, Brock Lesnar’s UFC return while still under WWE contract, and of course, most important of all, the impending brand split. On this topic, Dave Meltzer has recently been reporting that WWE has reached out to several former stars to help boost this split, including Goldberg, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Carlito and MVP, and while these would all be welcome additions to the roster, especially to help bring much needed star power to both brands, there is another well of talent that Vince and the rest of management can dip into to help make this as successful as possible, the ‘developmental’ brand of WWE, NXT.
While there may be criticism of Vince’s misuse of several NXT stars to date, such as Bo Dallas, Neville and the Ascension, there is no doubt the talent level of several performers on the yellow brand, and with the rosters being stretched as thing as possible, McMahon and managements hand may be forced to utilize these stars in a greater role. With all that being said, the following 15 NXT stars are no doubt worthy of promotion to assist in the brand split, but they would thrive in making WWE once again the best wrestling product in the world.
When Enzo & Cass were promoted to RAW and Smackdown the night after WrestleMania, many were disappointed that on screen valet Carmella was not with the duo, and it was since revealed on Breaking Ground that Triple H felt she had much more growing to do on her own, as she has a promising singles career ahead of her. Whether it be by the side of the insatiably talented duo, or as a budding baby face superstar, Carmella definitely has the IT factor which is necessary and a call up during the brand split would allow her to grow and experience even more, which will definitely help improve the depth of the current women’s roster. As her growth in NXT is more important than moving up to the main roster, many expect to see her remain on the yellow brand for a year or so more, and when the time finally arrives, she will no doubt be another female asset to come from developmental and thrive on either RAW or Smackdown.
14 Tye Dillinger
The Perfect 10 has experienced a long, hard road in NXT, and in recent months he has grown to become one of the most popular stars in Full Sail Arena, while gaining momentum in the ring, being allowed to show off more personality and over all wrestling talent. Tye has only just come into his own and been able to show off his wrestling ability, which may leave questions in the case of a call up for the brand split, but those who have watched him grow and developed over the years in NXT know that Dillinger has wrestling ability and personality in abundance, and would make more than a valuable mid card competitor, which would allow other performers to elevate to the upper card/main event. While speculation on the talent of The Perfect 10 is all good and well, there is not much chance of a call up, as he is quickly becoming one of the most valuable pieces in NXT, and if he continues to improve and develop a following, it won’t be long before we see him in the main event picture.
13 The Revival
The Revival are a throwback to tag teams of old, and while in the stand out division of NXT including TM61, Gargano & Ciampa and American Alpha they blend together and don’t seem anything special, they have continued to prove that the old school brawling style can still work in the modern day when matched with flashy, talented teams like the aforementioned 3. Much like the division on the developmental show, the main roster tag team division is stronger than ever, with contrasting styled teams such as the Vaudevillians, Enzo & Cass, The New Day, The Club and the Wyatt Family, and slotting in a ruthless, hard hitting team like the Revival would not only help improve the division as a whole, it would create more unique and compelling match ups, as the two have begun to show a new fire and personality when matched up with fan favorites Enzo & Cass and American Alpha. As they have recently become champions again and the main roster division is currently stacked, the call up may be a while in the making, but it is no doubt that when it happens, the “no flips just fists” attitude will serve the pair well on their way to RAW or Smackdown success.
Although they only debuted on NXT TV very recently, the team formerly known as The Mighty Don’t Kneel have made a major impact in their short time, and due to their amazing in ring ability & chemistry and their extensive success in Japan, the duo are set to be major players in the tag team division for a long time to come. The team of Nick Miller and Shane Thorne were the first gaijin tag team in the past 20 years to win tag team of the year in Japan, a huge honor, and in 2 matches since their debut, both against Gargano & Ciampa, they have impressed with their erratic personalities, athleticism and smooth tag team wrestling, all which will translate into success on either RAW or Smackdown. While again, for now, this seems unlikely due to the lack of contending tag teams on NXT, don’t be surprised to see these two fast tracked to the main roster into success within the next year.
11 Hideo Itami
He hasn’t been seen on NXT in over a year, and despite his lackluster beginnings in WWE developmental, the former KENTA is one of the best Japanese wrestlers in recent history, and would no doubt use his arsenal of hard strikes to make an impact on the broader main roster audience. Rumor has it that he will be returning any day now, and while it would be enticing to add him to the main roster to improve a mid card championship division, there is no doubt that Itami needs promo work and to continue developing his WWE style move set in NXT, and would also give Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura a worthy contender when he eventually does return. He will be promoted in the near future to further push the notion of the ‘new era’, and when he does he will no doubt shine, but should not be expected to join the main roster until at least 2017.
10 Andrade “Cien” Almas
The most recent edition to the NXT Television roster is the former La Sombra, who despite poorer crowd reactions than management would have wanted, has showcased his high flying, athletic abilities to the fullest, combined with his likability both on screen and off, there is no doubt he will be a major player in WWE for years to come. It is highly unlikely that Almas will be on the main roster any time soon, as patience to let him develop into the WWE style is needed, but when he eventually reaches the pinnacle of NXT, which should no doubt be within the next 12 months, Vince McMahon and the rest of WWE management should be seeing dollar signs with Andrade as the next big Latino star they have been searching for, as he essentially has everything the WWE want in one of their top stars.
9 Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode is a highly interesting case, as he has technically yet not made his NXT debut, but has made sporadic appearances on the last 2 NXT Takeover events, and even made his in ring debut at the NXT live event at Download. The 18 year veteran has made his living in TNA as part of both the fantastic team Beer Money Inc. or as the ‘IT’ Factor of professional wrestling, and such a solid, experienced hand would be a welcome edition to either NXT or the main roster following the upcoming draft. The 39 year old Canadian native is unlikely to have a long, successful career in WWE, due to the extended time in TNA, but would be an amazing help given his experience all around the world, and would assist in molding the younger generation into the stars WWE need to really give this ‘new era’ push substance, and a mid card title reign or two for Bobby would certainly add to the credibility and importance of the championship belts.
Asuka is a one of a kind female competitor in a revamped division which has gone against all the norms that WWE had pushed on these female performers in the past, and during this short and incredibly dominant run, she has looked every bit the fearsome competitor she was in her home country of Japan, eventually culminating in a championship victory over fellow crowd favorite Bayley at NXT Takeover: Dallas. The Japanese sensation is definitely far from the normal looking ‘diva’ WWE has pushed to the top of their division, but her strong style brings an element of a real physical altercation to a division which used to be focused on ‘cat fights’, which along with the recently arrived members of NXT (Charlotte, Emma, Becky & Sasha) should help improve the standing of women’s wrestling not only in WWE but all around the world.
7 Austin Aries
Another instance of NXT being the best, and often most viable wrestling promotion in the world, ‘The Greatest Man that ever Lived’ was signed to WWE, and most believed with his arrogant charisma and in ring ability that he, like AJ Styles would make his way to the main roster, yet found himself on NXT matching up against stars like Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura (not a bad substitute). While his baby face run was good, Aries, much like NXT Champion Samoa Joe was renowned on the independent scene for his work as a heel, and this was realized on the latest NXT episode as he turned on No Way Jose, which will hopefully kick start a major push for one of the more under rated wrestlers in the last decade. The size of Aries however may work against him, but many independent stand outs like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins have proven that the old mentality of big men being the only viable candidates for superstardom is slowly fading out, and with a promotion, Aries may be able to do some fantastic heel work in the mid-upper card.
6 American Alpha
The most popular team in NXT currently, the wildly talented and over Chad Gable and Jason Jordan excel in every possible aspect of professional wrestling. They are charismatic, entertaining, and their blend of smooth double team maneuvers and incredible amateur wrestling style has made them quite possibly the best tag team in all of WWE and NXT, despite being a team for less than a year. After their recent defeat to now two time tag team champion the Revival, all signs seem to be pointing to AA plying their craft on the main roster, as two potentially unique tag team rosters will be made, and even rumors of them combining with a returning Kurt Angle have been gaining steam in recent weeks. However they mark their arrival, there is no doubting that this duo will win over the wider WWE audience and captivate them with their awe inspiring tag team wrestling ability.
5 Samoa Joe
When Joe was signed to NXT, many felt it was only a matter of time until he made his way onto the main roster, but a stagnant run as a babyface left him lost in the shuffle on the yellow brand. It was only when he turned on Finn Balor and became the monster heel he was meant to be that he began opening people’s eyes, and with a recent NXT Championship victory, a replication of this dominant streak is sure to be seen on the main roster very soon. For a long while now, the main roster has been lacking a dominant, heel monster like Joe in the upper card/main event scene, with Seth Rollins playing the only major heel over the last 12 months, and a role as a secondary heel in the company alongside AJ Styles (now that Rollins is kind of baby face) would be perfect for Joe, who possesses the in ring ability to pull it off perfectly.
4 Corey Graves
It’s not only wrestlers who would thrive on the main roster, as lead announcer Corey Graves has been a stand out for the NXT promotion since his premature retirement, improving the product with every show, and he would be a mighty upgrade compared to Byron Saxton, Michael Cole and JBL. Graves has had fantastic chemistry with every co-commentator, the best with current partner Tom Phillips, and his combination of heel antics, correctly calling moves and elevating performers and the importance of each match would be perfect to play off stand out Smackdown commentator Mauro Ronallo. Many fans and industry experts alike have been calling for the promotion of Corey Graves for months on end, due to the stale and unbearable nature of the 3 RAW announcers, but this comes with some trepidation as the freedom and move calling of Graves in NXT may be significantly altered by Vince McMahon upon his promotion, but if given this freedom, Corey would add a whole new positive element to whichever brand he would be promoted too.
Bayley is the perfect modern age female competitor in WWE, appealing to each and every fan base alike, which she has used to become arguably the most popular performer in NXT history, through sheer likeability, a relatable personality and an incredible pure wrestling ability, which was showcased best against arch nemesis Sasha Banks. Without a doubt, Bayley is due for a call up, especially with limited baby face women on the roster, and when she is done with her rivalry with Asuka, she will be given a shot to prove herself to a wider audience, but if her time in NXT is any indication, she will be able to win them over with her infectious personality, and in no time will be out selling many other performers at the merchandise table, and her matches will give her credibility with ‘smart’ fans, making her an ideal performer to build a second, unique female roster around (if WWE do indeed go with 2 separate women’s divisions).
2 Shinsuke Nakamura
Is there any man in the wrestling world more charismatic than the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura? As a fan of independent and main stream wrestling, I’ve yet to find one if there is, and this has translated perfectly to the small time, wrestling based promotion of NXT, where he has quickly risen to the top in fans minds, with a Championship match no doubt in his future. The one thing Vince McMahon and WWE have truly lacked in the past decade is a true Japanese superstar, and in Nakamura the WWE have found themselves one who one day should main event WrestleMania with his charisma and wrestling ability perfect to combat any competitor of any style. Whether he is given a reign as NXT Champion or not, there is no doubting that Shinsuke will be on the main roster before next years WrestleMania, and if that is the case, fans can look forward to one of the most entertaining wrestlers to ever step foot in a WWE ring, and if treated right should be a future WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
1 Finn Balor
For months on end, since the arrival of AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, fans and industry experts alike have been speculating on the main roster debut of Finn Balor, which has got to the point where every event WWE puts on, fans wait anxiously for the surprise arrival of ‘the Demon.’ Due to his charisma, amazing wrestling & story telling ability, and his likeability both on screen and off, when Finn eventually does reach the main roster, whether its to join The Club or fly solo, there is no doubt he will be a main event star for many, many years to come, and with the help of his incredible popularity as the face of NXT, he should be able to slot right in to the top of the card immediately. The top of each brand will no doubt be given to Seth Rollins, John Cena, Roman Reigns & AJ Styles, but due to his incredible run in NXT and his backstage popularity, Balor should work his way to the top of either card before next year's WrestleMania, and who knows, maybe the rumored (at least from many fan’s perspectives) match with the Deadman or a Championship match could solidify him as the future of wrestling.
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