You'd be hard-pressed these days to try and argue that there's any wrestling brand on the planet that's hotter than NXT. From their great character development to the consistently entertaining Takeover events WWE has found a great way to showcase some of their newest signings from around the world as well as any potential homegrown talent that they've been working on.
The greater goal for all the stars on the NXT brand is to make enough waves to get noticed and sent to one of the weekly television shows, getting their faces on millions of televisions. For most of the higher end stars, everything seems to go according to plan and they maintain their momentum built up from NXT to make great runs on the main roster. Unfortunately for some others, they find that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
10 Success: Kevin Owens
After finally landing under the WWE umbrella Owens didn’t wait long to make his mark with a surprising heel turn on his best friend Sami Zayn on Kevin’s first Takeover event. Owens climbed the ladder all the way to the NXT Championship which he carried with him on his Raw debut answering John Cena’s open challenge with a vicious attack.
Taking the character he honed on NXT Kevin Owens defeated Cena on his first Pay Per View proving to the audience that he’s not to be taken lightly. Owens has gone on to win or contend for every major singles title WWE has to offer and remains a main eventer to this day
9 Success: Finn Balor
Before joining WWE, Balor showed the fans of New Japan Pro Wrestling the level of superstar that he truly is. Unfortunately for Finn men of his size typically don’t get the best treatment in the land of the giants but Balor’s time spent in NXT showed everyone what he is capable of.
Bringing his “Demon” character to life always sends the crowd into a frenzy and while he has had his ups and downs on the main roster, Finn was the choice to be the first ever Universal Champion, is one of the few men to go toe to toe with Brock Lesnar, and finds himself featured on TV week in and week out
8 Success: Samoa Joe
Samoe Joe was almost one of the greatest what-ifs in WWE history as time seemed to be passing him by without any sign of him ever working for the company. Since Joe’s heel turn in NXT he’s shown exactly why everyone was waiting for him to sign as he’s been one of, if not the, top heels week in and week out.
Samoa Joe is someone the WWE can count on to deliver either a scathing heel promo or a brutal in-ring showcase which keeps him hanging around title scenes whether he wins or loses.
7 Success: Drew McIntyre
After Drew’s first run in the WWE as “The Chosen One” it seemed as if he completely fizzled out into a nothing comedy character that was just around to take up space when needed and would never find the success he once had. Following his release McIntyre worked on his physique, turning into the bulking monster that he is, and persona before returning to WWE under the NXT umbrella to prove himself to the higher-ups that he has what it takes.
After dominating the title scene in NXT, Drew was called back up to the big leagues where he’s since been consistently featured in major feuds and seems poised to a Universal Title challenger sooner rather than later
6 Success: 4 Horsewomen
With the Women’s Revolution in full swing it’s hard to believe that four women with the star power of Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch were all in the “developmental” brand at the same time.
Every member of the group will end up being in the history books with Sasha and Bayley as the first holders of the tag titles and Charlotte and Becky seemingly poised to be two-thirds of the first ever WrestleMania main event for the women. There’s no denying that these four have taken what they learned in NXT and are using it to push the women’s division to new heights
5 Failure: Adam Rose
The man formerly known as Leo Kruger, Rose was never given much of a chance outside the small confines of Full Sail. Saddled with an unbearably goofy gimmick, Rose marched his way down to the ring followed by his “Rosebuds” but never made much of an impression once the bell rang.
Despite Rose never really catching on even in NXT the decision was made to bring him up to the main roster, rose buds and all, where he continued to flounder and never managed to really get noticed.
4 Failure: Bo Dallas
Bo Dallas was truly on top of the world for a time while in NXT, he was the NXT Champion going into the first ever Takeover event and had solidified himself as a smarmy main event heel that people couldn't wait to see get beat.
Once on the main roster there was an effort to replicate that success with his "Bo-Lieve" character but the fans were never interested in his shtick relegating him to being a background player in various comedy tag teams never even coming close to the heights he saw on the developmental brand.
3 Failure: The Ascension
The Ascension was without a doubt the most dominant tag team in NXT history for some time, holding the tag titles for a record-shattering amount of team and running through any competition in their paths.
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Whatever clout that they gathered under the NXT banner quickly disappeared though as they were treated like jokes, like they were just knock offs of teams from previous generations and were never able to get any traction while the lights were their brightest.
2 Failure: Emma
There once was a time where Emma was seen as a precursor to the horsewoman of sorts, someone with the innate likability of Bayley and the in ring prowess to hang with any women in the company. After multiple great bouts with stars like Paige in NXT, she was finally moved up to the main roster to be paired with Santino Marella of all people.
Emma was never really given a chance to show the fans what she can do in the ring and was stuck as a comedy sidekick, but maybe Emmalina will finally debut and turn things around
1 Failure: Tye Dillinger
Whether he's known as Tye Dillinger, Gavin Spears, or Stan who gets super-kicked by Shawn Michaels, there's no doubt that Dillinger has paid his dues to the business. After being stuck in purgatory for ages he finally found something that clicked with the Perfect Ten gimmick that lit NXT audiences up like a wildfire.
Unfortunately for him past his debut at the Royal Rumble, in the number ten spot, of course, it seems like there was no plan to keep him in the spotlight before he recently asked for his release.