Founded in 2012, NXT has become a force in the wrestling community and WWE Universe. Located at Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, the brand is ground zero for the development of future stars in the WWE. After Triple H decided to not take on a full-time schedule as a wrestler, Vince McMahon would give him the reigns of NXT.
We doubt anyone would have thought in 2012 that NXT would become a thriving promotion that can compete with other brands like Raw and SmackDown Live. The blend of experienced workers with young up-and-comers make the brand highly entertaining. Although NXT has a lot of heavy hitters, including Adam Cole, reDRagon, and Drew McIntyre, the brand still focuses on novices and pet projects.
A lot of people only watch NXT on the WWE Network and don’t know about all the live events that showcase these novice wrestlers. It’s at these shows where a wrestler can make or break his career. A lot of fans only watch WWE and have no clue about the best talents outside the WWE. We decided to give you a double dose of who Triple H wants in NXT and who he wants to release. Enjoy.
15 EC3 - Wants
Trouble! Trouble! Trouble! Will the prodigal son return to NXT? EC3 used to be known as Derrick Bateman in NXT but was released in 2013. He would join Total Nonstop Action Wrestling/ Impact Wrestling/Global Force Wrestling (maybe third time is the charm) and has been a focal point for the company ever since. He’s been a champion and has shown he could be a polarizing figure in the WWE if the company signs him.
If Triple H and EC3’s relationship hasn’t soured, a return could happen sooner than later. Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, and Eric Young all took the plunge to NXT, so it’s not like EC3 can’t either. The only question would be, does he stay as EC3 or does Bateman get resurrected?
14 Tino Sabbatelli - Fire
Like many wrestlers, Tino Sabbatelli has a background in American football. After a solid collegiate career at Oregon State, he would be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He would bounce around and sign with the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs before retiring from the sport.
The WWE loves legit athletes and would sign him to a developmental contract in 2014. He’s definitely a project for Triple H and NXT so he still has time to get it together before being cut. As of now, Sabbatelli has been working with the top guys in NXT but as someone who puts people over. With him being a raw talent, Triple H could have enough of this experiment if he doesn’t improve.
13 The Briscoe Brothers - Wants
The Briscoes have always been rumored to be in talks with the WWE whenever their contract with Ring of Honor was over but each and every time, the two sides couldn’t come to a deal. The real life brothers have the look, athletic ability, and proven track record to be a force in NXT. Although they play wild characters, you never hear any negative news about their work ethic.
They have become legends in ROH and are arguably the most important tag team outside of the WWE. With a mix of speed and power, Triple H would definitely sign them if the numbers were right. They don’t win the Tag Team Titles in each promotion they work for because they’re terrible, that’s for sure. In their early thirties, the Briscoes are still in their prime and will be a force for years to come.
12 Angelo Dawkins - Fire
Angelo Dawkins was signed in 2012 and has seen NXT rise to new heights in the WWE and that’s a problem. He’s been watching the brand compete with Raw and SmackDown Live, while not actually contributing anything to that. Can you honestly remember one-moment Dawkins has had on a TakeOver event? Can you honestly remember one match that separated him from the rest of the group?
If you’ve been with NXT since 2012 and five years go by with nothing really to show for it, you may end up getting cut sooner than later. We understand Dawkins had no wrestling experience before the WWE and is only 27 years old but when culling happens due to budget cuts, expect his name on the chopping block and not someone like Roderick Strong.
11 Michael Elgin - Wants
Although he’s 5 feet 11 inches tall, Michael Elgin is built like a grizzly bear. He has pure strength but can back that up with a great wrestling skill set. Every year it seems like the WWE has interest in signing this muscle machine but every year nothing comes out of it. Elgin has become a huge force in Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling but has made his way into Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) as well.
At 30 years old, Elgin made his wrestling debut in 2004 and already has enough experience to be in NXT. He has also built up a great resume in high profile matches around the world. If WWE wants more power in NXT instead of high-fliers, Elgin is the perfect fit for that role.
10 Wesley Blake - Fire
Wesley Blake had something going with Buddy Murphy in the Tag Team Division but that ship sailed a long time ago. In 2017, Blake is trying to reinvent himself as a wrestler. He has a cowboy gimmick but hasn’t really knocked the socks off with it. He would make his wrestling debut in 2011 and signed with the WWE in 2013. The Texan has been in NXT longer than others so a cut isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Blake has been involved in a lot of matches for NXT in 2017 but mostly on the pre-show or live event loops. He’s usually in the losing corner and helps put a wrestler over. He’s been teaming up with another wrestler on this list, which you’ll see in a bit.
9 Jay Lethal - Wants
NXT is no longer just about developing young talent in the WWE but also making a great product. The WWE has signed several big hitters that would work in NXT for about a year before moving onto the big show. Guys like Bobby Roode and Samoa Joe didn’t need NXT, however, the WWE decided to put them there to not only help the young talent but also carry the promotion.
Jay Lethal could be the next Bobby Roode or Samoa Joe. Lethal is the life and blood of Ring of Honor but we can see him signing with the WWE if the numbers are right. At just 32 years old, Lethal has been a top performer for years now and a move to NXT would be a game changer for the WWE Universe.
8 Steve Cutler - Fire
Steve who? Known as Thomas “Tommy” Maclin, Cutler served in the United States Marine Corps before moving onto wrestling in 2012. He would be a talented prospect on the indie circuit and would gain the attention of Triple H and the WWE. In 2014, WWE would sign Cutler to a developmental contract.
Although he has experience working under Monster Factory Pro Wrestling, he’s still considered a project for the WWE. The New Jersey native has been very active in 2017 so a cut might not happen in the near future but the clock is ticking. Cutler has teamed up with Wesley Blake this year but only on live events away from the camera. He could become a star, you never know, or he could become another generic character and wrestler that no one wants to cheer or boo.
7 Will Ospreay - Wants
The WWE loves their big guys, however, the company has shown a lot of love for the smaller guys in recent years. Finn Balor and 205 Live are just a few examples of the WWE giving the Cruiserweight type a chance in the company. Will Ospreay has been redefining what wrestling is in recent years. He doesn’t have wings but can fly all over the arena. At just 24 years old, Ospreay has a ton of potential to be one of the greatest to ever step foot inside a WWE ring.
His popularity is only soaring and several of his matches have this year have had a major impact on the wrestling community. The English native is currently making the rounds in promotions such as Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling but don’t be surprised to see him in NXT by this time next year.
6 Dallas Harper - Fire
He’s a very young talent in his mid-20s and the WWE releasing him so he picks up some indie experience could happen sooner or later. At 6 feet 9 inches tall and a background in basketball, Harper is one big athlete the WWE loved to hire. He would sign with the company over a year ago and did have a few matches in 2016.
The summer of 2017 is almost over and Harper has yet to perform this year. He’s been inactive for a long time so either he’s going to be released or maybe he gets a big push out of nowhere. It looks like his Twitter account is more exciting and relevant than his WWE career, which isn’t a good thing if you’re aspiring to be a professional wrestler.
5 Ricochet - Wants
As we mentioned with Will Ospreay, Ricochet is another high-flyer who's revolutionizing what an athlete can do in a ring. His matches with Ospreay this year have brought a lot of discussion to countless wrestling forums online. You can love him or hate him but the fact remains that Ricochet is one of the best wrestlers outside the WWE today.
At 28 years old, Ricochet has paid his dues on the indie scene more times than we can count. He’s held countless titles and is a main eventer for many promotions. This experience separates him from most of the NXT roster. As one of the best Cruiserweights on the planet, Ricochet could make WWE’s 205 Live very special after a stint in NXT (if WWE chooses that path). It’s only a matter of time before he lights up the company.
4 Sawyer Fulton - Fire
What in the world happened to Sawyer Fulton in NXT? Fulton would sign a development contract with the WWE in 2012. For years he would be floating around the promotion but in 2016 he would be paired with Alexander Wolfe. The two would form sAnity with Eric Young and Nikki Cross. Things were looking up for Fulton but he'd removed from the stable after an injury in November of 2016.
Recently, Fulton has been wrestling in 2017 but only on live events and not as a representative of sAnity. He’s been jobbing to Babatunde Aiyegbusi for months now and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. He could come back to the stable but it seems like Triple H doesn’t want due to Killian Dain so who knows his future in NXT.
3 Matt Riddle - Wants
Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, and Brock Lesnar are in a class of their own as they worked for both the WWE and UFC. The WWE loves legit looking fighters and signing MMA fighters is a practice that has been going on with the company for decades. We’re actually surprised Matt Riddle, former UFC fighter, wasn’t signed with the company when he originally debuted in the industry in 2015.
He didn’t get a shortcut because of his former job and in 2017, Riddle has become one of the best wrestlers on the indie circuit. He’s headlining cards, winning titles, and has received nothing but great reviews. He has broken out as a wrestling star in 2017 and a contract with the WWE is just a stone’s throw away.
2 Bronson Matthews - Fire
Joshua Bredl would make history by becoming a winner of WWE’s Tough Enough series in 2015. Fans would vote for him to receive a $250,000 one-year contract. As a towering prospect, the WWE is also known as The Yeti. It has been a slow ride since then and Matthews has barely been heard of in NXT. He did get into hot water tweeting about jobbers in the WWE, which didn’t sit well with a lot of the wrestlers in NXT and on the main roster.
Maybe that incident would get him into hot water but that was 2016 and we’re in 2017 now. Matthews hasn’t performed on any shows this year and he’s most likely going to be cut or not re-signed by the company. Recent injuries also hurt his case for a future with the company, some suggest his pro wrestling days in general might be done with.
1 Kenny Omega - Wants
Although it’s pretty clear Omega should be in the big leagues if he signs with the WWE, he could follow the same path Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and Bobby Roode took. All three wrestlers are talented enough to skip the NXT brand, however, they each took the contract and helped make the development promotion a thriving product. Omega has been on fire in several years and will once again be the hottest free agent on the market when his contract is over with New Japan Pro Wrestling.
One huge reason why he has stayed with the company is to win the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship but won’t be near the title anytime soon. Tetsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada most likely will be feuding for the ultimate prize of them all for the rest of the year heading into the next Wrestle Kingdom event.