The transition from NXT to the WWE main roster has become important to a wrestler’s success. Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss each achieved instant success as top stars solely based on their work in NXT. Finn Balor was the first-ever Universal Champion before the injury prevented the massive push that came from his momentum. Basically, the popularity of NXT is a huge tool to help a wrestler become a major player in WWE. Most of the current main roster talent on both Raw and SmackDown spent time down in NXT developing their characters and learning from the coaches at the Performance Center.
There have been changes for most of the wrestlers on the long road from NXT to Raw or SmackDown. Some of these wrestlers have drastically changed their characters or overall physical appearances. It makes it a surprise to watch back today and realize these are the same performers currently doing big things on the main roster. We'll look at some of the current WWE stars that spent time in NXT. These wrestlers have made big changes through the years to get where they are today. Here are fifteen photos of WWE stars you probably wouldn’t be easily able to recognize from their NXT days.
15 Roman Reigns
WWE wanted Roman Reigns to be a top star from day one. The look, background and potential of Reigns clearly all worked in his favor. CM Punk revealed during a podcast interview that he pitched the idea of The Shield, but WWE had one demand that Reigns become a part of the group. Reigns was meant to be the chosen one a long time before his monster push.
14 Charlotte Flair
The journey for Charlotte Flair in NXT saw her receive opportunities right away due to being the daughter of Ric Flair. However, she was quite new to wrestling and has stated she felt overwhelmed quite often in NXT. The first look of Charlotte is unrecognizable today as she used to rock the brunette hair and tried to present a different package.
Vince McMahon is high on Elias’ potential. This is the reason we have seen him hold his own against the likes of John Cena and Roman Reigns. In a time where many singles stars on Raw are seeing their stock go downhill, Elias gets consistent television time and has been able to develop his character. It took quite some time in NXT before Elias would get his current character as The Drifter.
12 Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman is one of the few call-ups from the Performance Center in recent years to avoid having a run in NXT. Vince McMahon has been his biggest supporter and it led to him getting called up with minimal in-ring experience to be a member of the Wyatt Family. The early matches of Strowman on the main roster were tough to watch, but he has improved dramatically at a fast pace
11 Tyler Breeze
The NXT run of Tyler Breeze showed just how pivotal the right character could be. Breeze was in WWE developmental for quite some time struggling to find his way. It wasn’t until he adopted the arrogant male model gimmick that he found the magic to get positive results. Breeze became one of the top stars in NXT during the strongest time of growth.
Bayley is a great success story of how to develop a character with great storytelling. We saw Bayley get introduced backstage as a super fan in awe of the big stars she would encounter backstage. This evolved in a major way when it became more important that we realized that this love for professional wrestling is what drives her to achieve her dream and be the best.
9 Baron Corbin
The main roster run of Baron Corbin has seen various ups and downs in a short time period. Corbin’s high moments have been debuting at WrestleMania 32, winning the United States Championship and winning the 2017 Money in the Bank ladder match. Unfortunately, the way he lost the MITB title shot in a matter of seconds to Jinder Mahal was the lowest moment.
8 Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt technically looked this way during the original NXT days when the show was about a wacky competition for a WWE contract rather than an exciting developmental promotion. The second season of the original NXT concept saw Bray work under the name of Husky Harris. He was one of the standout performers on the show despite ultimately losing to Kaval.
We are celebrating Rusev Day by looking back at his early days in NXT. The road to NXT truly was hard work as Rusev worked two jobs each day in between his training as a wrestler before getting to WWE. Rusev showed great potential from day one and became one of the first successful call-ups. The talent of Rusev saw Triple H push him in NXT and Vince McMahon allow him to have an undefeated streak on the main roster.
6 Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss had one of the most successful transformations in NXT. The first character she played on NXT television was a fairy like gimmick. Bliss would come out with glitter for her entrance while sporting a blue tutu. This babyface character would never get momentum as it was a bit hokey compared to the characters of the current era likes.
5 Sonya Deville
The recent debut of Sonya Deville on the Raw brand as a member of Absolution has seen her become one of the most credible ladies on the roster. Deville pairs with her real life best friend Mandy Rose and former Tough Enough judge Paige to play the top heel group in the Women’s Division on Raw. A short run in NXT using her legitimate MMA background helped her get to the main roster faster than most expected.
4 The Revival
Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder both struggled to find the right role in NXT for quite some time. You can find matches of Dawson on old NXT shows playing just about every role as an enhancement talent. It wasn’t until he formed a tag team with Wilder that things started rolling for both men. Their old team was known as The Mechanics.
Both guys went with different looks as shown in this picture here. This portrayal clearly didn’t work, and they became a forgotten team in NXT. Things changed when they adopted the Revival name and started to develop characters looking to bring back old school wrestling. Dawson and Wilder have yet to make an impact on the main roster due to injuries, but they appear on the right track now that Dawson is back.
3 Jason Jordan
The push of Jason Jordan has seen him become an upper card act on Raw in the storyline as Kurt Angle’s son. Jordan is currently one half of the Raw Tag Team Champions with Seth Rollins after defeating Cesaro and Sheamus on Christmas night. This makes Jordan the first person to win both Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Champions with different partners.
2 Enzo Amore
Enzo Amore has been one of the wrestlers to go through the most changes through the years. We have seen Enzo with different hair styles, different hair colors, different facial hair styles and different gear. Amore changed from a beloved face to an annoying heel in 2017 following the split of his tag team with Big Cass leaving him with nothing to do. WWE sent him to the Cruiserweight Division to be the face of 205 Live.
1 Becky Lynch
The career of Becky Lynch has taken many turns through the years. Lynch retired for a short time before finding her way to NXT. We're all better off with Becky back in the wrestling business as she has made her mark in wrestling. Lynch along with Charlotte Flair, Bayley and Sasha Banks make up the Four Horsewomen that helped bring the Women’s Revolution to WWE with outstanding matches.
Becky had the honor of being the first-ever SmackDown Women’s Champion. The current look of “straight fire” associated with her bright red hair wasn’t always part of her appearance. Lynch had a darker shade of red hair in the picture shown here and was a brunette at one point. This specific image shows her in the green gear she wore back when she tried an Irish jig dancer gimmick. Luckily, we got to see a more well-rounded side of her today.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!