The NXT portion of the WWE system has undergone multiple shifts and changes over the years. While NXT is still WWE developmental that is used to ready wrestlers of different ages for the company’s main roster, there’s no question several stars capable of featuring for either Raw or SmackDown are tasked with carrying the NXT banner and selling tickets for that brand’s touring shows. After all, does anybody really believe the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Bobby Roode and others who made their names working in promotions around the world needed to be taught anything while in NXT? Even now, proven commodities are wrestling in NXT and are featured on weekly shows that air on the WWE Network heading into the fall months and the start of the 2018 WrestleMania season.
Logic suggests that at least a few NXT stars will be called up to either Raw or SmackDown before WrestleMania 34. For example, we already know Asuka will be wrestling on Raw as soon as she recovers from the injury that has her sidelined at the beginning of the fall months. On the other hand, however, there are, unfortunately, multiple NXT performers who won’t make it on the main roster for one reason or another. After all, the WWE can only hire and feature so many acts, and there are only so many roster spots available at any given time. Truth be told, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see fan-favorites and beloved NXT stars never be awarded with real chances to make it on the WWE main roster.
15 Buddy Murphy: Never Make It
It would be nice to see Buddy Murphy make it on the main WWE roster if only so that he could be reunited on the road with his real-life fiancee Alexa Bliss. Those who read pro wrestling newsletters and listen to podcasts are probably aware the WWE does not have the best reputation as it pertains to the treatment of couples working for the company, and Murphy has largely fallen off the face of the earth following the end of his tag team with Wesley Blake (more on Blake later).
The best bet we have for Murphy making it on the main roster at any point, let alone before WrestleMania 34, is if he were to be placed in a tag team, but there is currently no indication the promotion is going to go down that route anytime soon.
14 Authors of Pain: By WrestleMania 34
Some critics of this team may suggest that the Authors of Pain could use a little more seasoning and some extra time in NXT before being called up to the main roster ahead of WrestleMania 34. While there is probably at least a little validity behind that reasoning, there’s not much left for the Authors of Pain to achieve wrestling in NXT before being added to either Raw or SmackDown.
Besides, even those who wouldn’t consider themselves fans of the Authors of Pain would have to admit these two large athletes vastly and quickly improved while working with teams in NXT. They could have some fun feuds battling with the likes of the Usos or even the Hardy Boyz once they are added to the main roster, likely before WrestleMania 34.
13 Oney Lorcan: Never Make It
Oney Lorcan has done well to get himself over among pockets of the NXT audience with his hard-hitting style, and there’s some hope that he could have a shot at the main roster as a member of a tag team. Knowing how certain individuals working within the WWE think about wrestlers, it seems a safe bet to state that Lorcan will never be given much a shot to make it on the main roster.
Maybe, depending on what happens with that portion of the roster between now and WrestleMania 34, Lorcan could be added to the Live 205 show, but we wouldn’t be shocked if the Cruiserweight Division was eliminated, entirely, at some point in 2018. Here’s hoping Lorcan proves us wrong and makes it to the main roster.
12 Andrade "Cien" Almas: By WrestleMania 34
It wasn’t all that long ago when even the thought of Andrade "Cien" Almas making it to either Raw or SmackDown would’ve been rather humorous and nothing short of a dream. Then, the company changed strategy and turned Almas heel, and his character has since found new life while working in NXT. Like so many others currently wrestling in NXT, there’s only so much left for Almas to do for that brand.
He clearly isn’t going to be positioned as the top heel or top babyface in developmental, and there’s no real long-term feud available for him. Besides, Almas is absolutely ready for the main roster, and he could be one of the best heels on the SmackDown roster as of early 2018 and ahead of WrestleMania 34.
11 Dan Matha: Never Make It
Theoretically speaking, Dan Matha has the look supposedly possessed by WWE talent scouts and by those who would want to push that type of an act on the main roster. Matha remains very green, and he is well behind the majority of the male acts who are mainstays on the weekly NXT program that airs on the WWE Network each Wednesday.
There’s still plenty of time for Matha to develop and evolve as an overall act, and he could, in time, prove certain critics wrong and become a monster heel on the WWE main roster. That day, if it exists, at all, is a long way down the road, and it seems far more likely he’ll never make it to either Raw or SmackDown than be seen on the main roster before WrestleMania 34.
10 Billie Kay: By WrestleMania 34
The WWE has already teased that NXT’s “Iconic Duo” is coveted by both Raw and SmackDown, and both Billie Kay and Peyton Royce could link up with the main roster ahead of the push toward WrestleMania 34. Kay may not be the better overall worker of the two, but she is a tremendous act who worked to become one of the best heels in the NXT Women’s Division.
We are struggling to imagine a scenario where either Kay or Royce win the NXT Women’s Championship in 2017, meaning the two probably won’t have a lot to do in developmental. We’d like to see these two acts get called up to the main roster ahead of WrestleMania 34, with the hope being the company will consider adding a women’s Tag Team Division to either Raw or SmackDown.
9 Wesley Blake: Never Make It
Just like with Buddy Murphy, Wesley Blake is a victim of his tag team being broken up after that duo lost the NXT Tag Team Titles. We actually wouldn’t blame any fans for forgetting Blake is still a member of the NXT roster, as he hasn’t been featured on the weekly WWE Network program in quite some time.
The WWE main roster will eventually need bodies to work live events and put others over, and Blake could, potentially, serve in that role for either Raw or SmackDown. A wrestler who is out of sight is, to borrow the adage, out of mind, and it appears as if the promotion has moved on and decided to push multiple acts over the likes of Blake and Murphy during the fall of 2017.
8 Peyton Royce: By WrestleMania 34
As was already pointed out in this piece, the “Iconic” duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay has been one of the most entertaining acts in the NXT Women’s Division for several months. Both women have the mic skills needed to get over on the main roster, and both are solid in-ring performers.
If we were forced to pick between the two, we’d probably say that Royce is the better overall wrestler, but that doesn’t mean the WWE should split them up at any point in 2017 or even 2018. There could, down the road, come a time when Royce and Kay feud with each other over a championship, but we want to see them called up as a united duo before WrestleMania 34. If nothing else, we know both can bump for Asuka.
7 Aliyah: Never Make It
Some WWE and NXT viewers would probably suggest it’s far too early to make any deep predictions about the main-roster future of Aliyah. That’s fair, but we’re merely doing math while attempting to guess if we will ever see her on either Raw or SmackDown, let alone at a Pay-Per-View such as a WrestleMania.
Aliyah has a long way to go before she is even close to catching up with the previously mentioned Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, who are still stuck down in NXT and haven’t yet been given chances to wrestle on the main roster. Unless the WWE decides to expand the overall Women’s Division en route to giving that portion of the roster it’s own show, we’re struggling to find a spot for Aliyah.
6 Lars Sullivan: By WrestleMania 34
Will Lars Sullivan be ready to wrestle on either Raw or SmackDown by WrestleMania 34? Probably not, but let’s not kid ourselves here. Sullivan is a monster of a man who has a unique look and who is going to get over throwing opponents all around rings while in NXT. It’s a matter of time before he is on either Raw or SmackDown and being pushed as the next version of Braun Strowman.
Heck, it wouldn’t be all that much of a surprise to see the WWE promote a program featuring the two large wrestlers. That could be a lot of fun, because casual wrestling fans love watching two big powerhouses clubber each other. Maybe we’ll see Sullivan wrestle Brock Lesnar in 2018 after WrestleMania 34 if Lesnar remains with the company through next summer.
5 Kassius Ohno: Never Make It
You don’t have to be a former wrestler or a WWE scout to understand Kassius Ohno is already better than several members on both the Raw and SmackDown rosters as of October 2017. Still, we have serious trouble trusting the WWE will give Ohno the push he deserves because of his look and his inability to drop excess weight.
Even in NXT, where acts normally ignored by those hired to write for the main roster have been given opportunities to thrive, Ohno is somewhat floundering as somebody who is just a guy on the roster. He’s not the top babyface on that brand, and turning him heel probably wouldn’t do anybody any good since others are already in such a role. We cannot envision Ohno being on the main roster in the foreseeable future.
4 Drew McIntyre: By WrestleMania 34
Once it was learned that Drew McIntyre had re-signed with the WWE to join the NXT roster, the countdown to his eventually linking up with either Raw or SmackDown began ticking. McIntyre is a WWE veteran with experience working on major shows, he’s improved since his first stint with the promotion, he can work as either a babyface or a heel and he has a great look.
A feud between McIntyre and Adam Cole should end with Cole winning the NXT Title and serving as the top star of that brand, and such a feud should conclude before the end of 2017. When that happens, possibly in November of this year, they’ll be little left for McIntyre to do but join the main roster by WrestleMania 34.
3 No Way Jose: Never Make It
We’d like to know what, if anything, happened with No Way Jose over the past several months. While there was never a time when it felt as if Jose was going to be pushed as a main-event worker in NXT, he was still a fun act who became a fan-favorite and who knows how to energize a crowd early into an event.
He has routinely been jobbed-out while in NXT, however, and it seems as if he has fallen out of favor even before being added to the main roster. Maybe the plan is for Jose to work in NXT as a heel for a period of time, but that decision could ultimately do more harm than good for both his character and for the wrestler. Jose still has a lot of promise, and we hope the WWE sees that sooner than later.
2 Aleister Black: By WrestleMania 34
Those looking to forecast the future of NXT beyond 2017 may believe Aleister Black is headed toward a feud with Adam Cole over that brand’s championship. We’ve seen, in the past, that not everybody needs to hold a title in NXT in order to get on the main roster, and it’s clear from watching the weekly WWE Network show that the organization is putting a huge rocket underneath the Black character.
Black has a look that separates him from everybody else on the roster, and he’s already a talented wrestler who doesn’t need to improve in that aspect of his craft. Everyone would probably be better off if Black had a mouthpiece cutting promos for him. Maybe Paul Heyman would consider signing a new client by WrestleMania 34.
1 Hideo Itami: Never Make It
Before multiple injury woes sidelined Hideo Itami, he seemed on his way to holding the NXT Title and becoming a top babyface on that brand en route to joining the main roster. Sadly, Itami is now a lost figure within NXT. His babyface push was given to Shinsuke Nakamura and, more recently, Drew McIntyre, and Adam Cole has entered the brand as its top heel and the leader of an invading faction.
The only reason we believe Itami could be on the main roster by WrestleMania 34 is because there’s not much else to do with him. The reality of the situation is that it is probably more likely Itami leaves the WWE, entirely, before he's called up to either Raw or SmackDown in early 2018.