In the summer of 2012, WWE announced that it was going to be closing the Florida Championship Wrestling developmental promotion and rebranding it as NXT. Ever since then, NXT has been accessible to more fans through the WWE Network and has become a bit of a success separate from WWE. It’s also given us stars such as Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and many more.
However, not everybody that gets the call to move from NXT to WWE has been a success. There have been several that have flopped on the roster and have gotten pushed down the card almost immediately after debuting. There’s plenty of hope for some of the current NXT wrestlers who hope not to suffer the same fate as these flops.
Keep in mind that all of the NXT talent that we used for the list have all reached the main roster, and that some of them still have time to turn things around. However, current booking (and booking over the past few months) have not given any indication that there are plans for a big push anytime soon. With that said, here are eight call-ups from NXT that have flopped, and seven current NXT wrestlers that should find big success on the main roster.
15 15. Flop: Luke Harper and Erick Rowan
In the early days of NXT, Husky Harris was repackaged as a cult leader named Bray Wyatt, leading his own family with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. The three would remain a stable for quite some time after they were called up to the WWE main roster, but eventually parted ways. While Wyatt himself has been in and out of the main event scene and remains a staple of the main roster, the other two have floundered.
Since neither one has a mouthpiece anymore, it’s hard to imagine either getting themselves over on the microphone. In fact, we haven’t heard them speak much at all over the past five years, and have hardly seen them on television in 2017. All in all, it seems that the experiment with these two of the Wyatt Family members is all but finished.
14 14. Future Success: Andrade “Cien” Almas
There are some fans in the internet wrestling community that absolutely hate Andrade “Cien” Almas, and then there are others that think he’s destined for stardom. Almas has a lot of charisma that should be able to get him over on the main roster, and he’s drawing early comparisons to what Alberto Del Rio’s character should have been when he was with WWE. It’s a bit early to tell how far Almas will make it, especially with all of the talent currently in NXT.
Almas’s personality is great for a main roster heel, and the 27 year old should get plenty more in-ring experience to fully grasp the WWE style. Many are starting to come over to the side that sees the potential with Almas and his international appeal, and the WWE has always been high on stars that can bring in money from other countries.
13 13. Flop: Tyler Breeze
There is still plenty of time for Tyler Breeze to become a big name in the WWE since he’s only 29 years old, but it simply hasn’t happened for him yet. Breeze was a big part of the main event scene on NXT up until 2015 when he was called up. Now, there are many fans of Breeze, but you have to admit that his debut and first year in the WWE were lukewarm at best. Crowds were dead for most of his appearances, and his gimmick didn’t stick.
Breeze disappeared from television for a while until he was paired up with Fandango, another wrestler the creative didn’t have many plans for. They floundered for a bit in the lower card, but have been able to get themselves over a bit through backstage skits in 2017. Still, there hasn’t been much in-ring success for the duo, but hopefully that changes sooner rather than later as Breeze is too good for a backstage comedy gimmick.
12 12. Future Success: Hideo Itami
Another international star (this one from Japan), Hideo Itami already had a lot of fans from his independent wrestling days in Pro Wrestling Noah and Ring of Honor. Ever since joining NXT in 2014, however, people have said that his run with the company has been a bit underwhelming. It’s clear that Itami has all the talent in the world, but it hadn’t really been put to good use. Just a few months ago, fans were saying that Itami was all but done, and that there was no chance for him to make the WWE main roster.
Over the past few weeks, though, rumors have sparked up that Itami could be set to make the main roster sooner rather than later. He’s still very much in the big picture in NXT currently, and it’s really just some untimely injuries that have held him back thus far. The early success of Shinsuke Nakamura has opened a door for Itami to make it big on the main roster, or at least get to the higher level of the mid-card.
11 11. Flop: Apollo Crews
After getting over on the independent scene as Uhaa Nation, Sesugh Uhaa signed with WWE in late 2014 and made his NXT debut in spring 2015 as Apollo Crews. Crews didn’t even have to wait for a year until he was called up to the WWE main roster in early 2016, where interestingly enough he debuted with a win over Tyler Breeze. It seemed like there was a big push planned for Crews, but it stalled out quickly.
Crews has been buried on the card for the past few months after a brief alliance with Titus O’Neil, and even lost to Kalisto on a B-level pay per view pre-show (Extreme Rules). Since then, we haven’t seen much of Crews, but like Breeze, he’s only 29 years old so it’s not too late for the WWE to figure out how to effectively use the athletic Crews.
10 10. Future Success: Asuka
While many injuries have awful timing, perhaps Asuka suffering a broken collarbone at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn could have been the best thing for her career. Asuka hasn’t lost a singles match while with NXT, and has held the Women’s Championship for over 500 days. It would have been hard to have Asuka drop the belt and somehow make her a convincing threat by moving her up to the main roster, but now the WWE has an out.
With Asuka out for nearly two months, they can vacate the Women’s Championship while still maintaining Asuka’s win streak to move her up once she’s healthy. With the streak intact, Asuka can immediately start going for the SmackDown or Raw Women’s Championship without skipping a beat, and with as much as she’s mentioned by the main roster announcers, plenty of people know her background.
9 9. Flop: Aiden English
Within two years of graduating from college, Aiden English had made enough of an impression as a pro wrestler to get signed to WWE. English was around for the final few months of the FCW days before becoming a part of NXT. English spent much of his time as a jobber in the first year of NXT, and then started to pick up steam, eventually being paired up with Simon Gotch to form the Vaudevillains.
While it was a fun gimmick for NXT, most fans saw the writing on the wall in the fact that there was no way that the gimmick was going to get over seriously with the main roster. This is especially true since they weren’t a comedy team. With Gotch gone, English has been on his own with a new (and equally strange) gimmick. His momentum seems to stop and start, and he hasn’t gotten much attention from the crowd as of yet.
8 8. Future Success: Authors of Pain
With the tag team division on the main roster being a bit lacking, they could use some revitalization with an injection of youth. Enter the Authors of Pain, made up of Akam (24 years old) and Rezar (23 years old). There’s really no rush to get these two on the main roster just yet due to their age, but they’re getting closer to being ready. Within the past year, the two have made tremendous strides in improving and have put on some great matches.
Both members of the Authors of Pain also don’t have to rush into improving on the microphone, either, as they already have a manager in Paul Ellering. Ellering is no stranger to getting over on the main roster as he was the manager for the Legion of Doom, and can help the AoP get immediate crowd reactions and establish themselves as tag team division staples.
7 7. Flop: Simon Gotch
If we’re going to say that Aiden English has been a flop so far, then we obviously have to say that Simon Gotch was an even bigger flop. Gotch and English came up as the Vaudevillains together in 2016 on SmackDown. Quickly, the team became the number one contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship after a no-contest finish against Enzo & Big Cass, but they would ultimately lose the titles and flamed out from there.
Gotch’s final appearance came at WrestleMania 33 as part of the pre-show, where he was in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Just three days later, Gotch was out of the WWE, leaving many to wonder what happened. Rumors said that Gotch was hard to work with, though Gotch said he wasn’t given a reason why. He’s now back on the independent circuit trying to make his way back toward the top.
6 6. Future Success: Kassius Ohno
After years on the independent scene, Kassius Ohno was finally signed to FCW in 2011 and rolled over into the NXT brand. There were big plans for Ohno to get called up to the main roster and receive a huge push, but rumors said that it was his physique (specifically his weight) that was holding him back. Ohno was released in 2013, and would eventually make his way back to NXT at the end of 2016.
Since then, Ohno has been working on looking more like a superstar and used the name that earned him more fame instead of the Chris Hero gimmick that he used in his first stint. As long as he stays the course, the sky’s the limit for Ohno, who can be an intimidating force at 6’4” and 270 pounds. Plus, there are already plenty of WWE fans that know him from his previous work in wrestling that should be able to get him over.
5 5. Flop: Adam Rose
Ray Leppan had a rough upbringing, but things seemed to be going well when he landed at FCW as Leo Kruger. Though he found some success in FCW and then NXT, Kruger would ultimately be repackaged as Adam Rose in the spring of 2014. Just a month later, Rose was placed onto the main roster where he would get some early wins. Then, the Bunny storyline happened.
Nobody seemed interested in Rose after a very short period of time, and he made his way down the card. His gimmick changed a bit and he became part of the Social Outcasts before ultimately getting suspended in 2016 for violating the Wellness Policy. While suspended, Rose was arrested for domestic violence and was subsequently released from the company, leaving behind a very forgettable main roster run.
4 4. Future Success: Ember Moon
Most casual fans don’t know that 28 year old Ember Moon has actually been wrestling professionally since 2007. It wasn’t until late 2015, though, that she started in NXT under her real (but misspelled by NXT) name, Adrien Reese. The summer of 2016 saw the emergence of Ember Moon after a repackaging that has been successful thus far. Moon hasn’t won the NXT Women’s Championship just yet, but has been the biggest threat to Asuka’s title so far.
Moon has something that a lot of the women on the main roster have, and that’s a distinguishable look and gimmick. It would be a breath of fresh air compared to the generic personas that the WWE creates for most of the female talent. There are already rumors of Moon making the move up, which could bring some great matches against Asuka when they’re both part of the main roster.
3 3. Flop: Bo Dallas
With his family lineage that includes brother Bray Wyatt, there seemed to be a path to stardom for Bo Dallas, even if fans booed him. Reactions are what it’s all about, even when babyfaces get booed, but now Dallas is an afterthought on the main roster for the most part. It’s been an interesting fall for Dallas, as he was a three-time FCW Champion, two-time FCW Tag Team Champion with his brother and the third longest reigning NXT Champion.
Dallas’s gimmick fell a bit flat on the main roster with his inspirational speeches, telling fans to “Bo-lieve.” Since then he’s been thrown into the Social Outcasts stable that was doomed to fail from the beginning, and now he finds himself in The Miz’s “Miztourage” with Curtis Axel. The good news for Bo is that at 27 years old, he’s got a lot of wrestling left in his future.
2 2. Future Success: Drew McIntyre
Typically when an NXT Champion drops the belt, they almost immediately make their way to the main roster. When Drew McIntyre defeated Bobby Roode for the title at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, Roode was brought up to SmackDown Live. Now, we just wait until it’s McIntyre that drops the belt so he can make his triumphant return to the main roster. So what makes us so confident that McIntyre can capitalize on a second chance with the main roster?
McIntyre was the clear-cut best of the 3MB stable that included current WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, so why not, really? McIntyre’s contract reportedly has him getting multiple years on the main roster this time around, so the WWE already seems to have plans for him. Once he drops the belt, it’s game on for McIntyre, and it would be interesting to see him in a feud with Mahal down the road.
1 1. Flop: The Ascension
Just to think, no tag team has held the NXT Tag Team Championship for longer than The Ascension, lasting for just one day short an entire year. The team that’s made up of Konnor and Viktor had impressive showings in NXT, if only for their entrance and presence. People noted that even early on in their careers that they needed a lot of promo and in-ring improvements that we haven’t been able to see lately.
The Ascension was almost immediately buried by WWE announcers when they made their main roster debut, and zero response from the crowd. After disappearing from television for an extended period of time, we’ve really only seen The Ascension turn into more of a comedy team in backstage skits with Tyler Breeze and Fandango. Judging by their work on the skits and the “Southpaw Regional Wrestling” series, it seems that the duo has a lot of personality and simply needs a massive repackaging, pronto.
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