The NXT brand has completely changed the WWE developmental system. It has given WWE prospects a bigger stage to show off their skills. While it's true with the bigger stage comes a lot more pressure, the wrestlers have exceeded expectations so far. NXT has become another WWE brand extension. Its TakeOver specials are more entertaining than WWE's traditional pay-per-views.
While getting to perform in NXT is a great gig for wrestlers, their ultimate goal is to get called up to the main roster. Unfortunately, not every person on the roster gets called up. In order to be called up you have to show the WWE brass that you are willing to put in the work each day to better your craft. If wrestlers aren't willing to put in the work, not only will they not get the call-up, but they will eventually get outright released from the company.
For the purpose of this article, let's pretend the NXT brand was to be shut down. A draft would be held between the both RAW and SmackDown, each picking NXT Superstars until none remain. Here is how that draft most likely would go.
25 RAW: Shinsuke Nakamura
When the WWE announced they had signed four guys from New Japan Pro Wrestling, most of the talk was about A.J. Styles. Shinsuke Nakamura deserved just as much, if not more attention than Styles. Nakamura built up an incredible resume during his time with NJPW, most notably being the youngest IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history.
Nakamura made his WWE debut at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, defeating Sami Zayn in an incredible match. He would continue his dominance with a victory over Finn Balor, before shortly after defeating Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship. "The King of Strongstyle" would be an immediate contender for the Universal Championship. His first entrance on RAW, would be enough on its own to get him over with the fans, without him even having to wrestle a match.
24 SmackDown: Samoa Joe
The possibility of Samoa Joe coming to the WWE was always an exciting prospect. Fans got their wish when he joined NXT in May of 2015. Joe had been a top guy in TNA for over a decade, so it wasn't a huge surprise that he started off at the top of the food chain in NXT. He would shock the wrestling world when he defeated Finn Balor at a house show for the NXT Championship. Samoa Joe also became the first ever two-time NXT Champion when he defeated Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT TakeOver: Toronto.
If Samoa Joe was drafted to the main roster today, he would almost immediately take over the number one heel spot on SmackDown. Although he is such legit bad ass that fans might not have much of a choice but to love him. No matter what role the WWE gives him on the main roster, Joe has put in more than enough work to earn his spot as one most pushed guys in the company.
23 RAW: #DIY
The team of #DIY consists of former independent wrestling stars Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. Ciampa is known for his four-year run with Ring of Honor where he is a one-time ROH Television Champion. Gargano has also wrestled for ROH, but he is most known for his time with Dragongate USA where he held the Open the Freedom Gate Championship for an incredible 873 days.
The team made their NXT in the first ever Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. They would continue to gain momentum as a team, before having a coming out party at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. They stole the show in a losing effort against The Revival. #DIY would get the last laugh as they defeated The Revival for the NXT Tag Team Championships in another stellar match at NXT TakeOver: Toronto. While #DIY have the potential to be one of the top tag teams in the WWE, both Ciampa and Gargano should have bright futures as singles competitors.
22 SmackDown: Asuka
T0 most North American fans the name of Kana doesn't mean anything, but to the fans in Japan, it reminds them of the one most dominant women wrestlers in recent history. Kana became known for her very aggressive and stiff style of wrestling. She wrestled for multiple promotions in Japan, winning titles everywhere she went.
After wrestling for over a decade in Japan as well as a few appearances in North America, Kana made her NXT debut in 2015 as Asuka. She has been running through her competition ever since she arrived in the WWE. At NXT TakeOver: Dallas, Asuka surprised everybody by making Bayley submit, winning the NXT Women's Championship in the process. It might be a while until she makes her debut on the main roster as there isn't really any competition on the NXT roster for her title. When Asuka does eventually get the call-up she will be an immediate threat for the SmackDown Women's Championship.
21 RAW:Bobby Roode
It's not a huge surprise that Bobby Roode got over with NXT fans given the talent he has, but the fact he might just be the most over guy is a bit surprising. Roode has been able to find success in NXT due to his solid mic and in-ring skills, but it's his insanely catchy entrance theme song that has taken his popularity to a whole other level.
Roode spent over a decade with TNA, establishing himself as one of the best singles and tag team competitors in company history. He has only been wrestling in NXT for a few months, but he has already has found a place among the top guys. It shouldn't be too long before "The Glorious One" will have the NXT Championship around his waist. Once he gets the call-up to Raw, Roode has all the talent to be a top heel on the brand. Although his gimmick so over with the fans that the WWE might have no choice but to make him a babyface.
20 Smackdown: The Revival
There might not be a better tag team in the WWE right now than The Revival. The team consists of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. The team has also been known as The Mechanics and Dash and Dawson, but no matter what they were called, they always brought their hard-hitting style to the ring. Scott Dawson had originally joined NXT back in 2013, but he was never able to find a permanent role. It wasn't until Dash Wilder joined NXT in 2014, that Dawson was able to find his true calling card in the Tag Team Division.
The Revival, who have the awesome motto of "No Flips, Just Fists," have used their aggressive style to defeat teams like The Vaudevillians, Enzo and Cass, and American Alpha. They were the first and currently only team to win the NXT Tag Team Championship on two different occasions. The team once again stole the show at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, but it was in a losing effort. With The Revival no longer being Tag Team Champions, it might be time for their shot on the main roster. Another great feud with American Alpha on SmackDown would be a great way to start.
19 RAW: Authors of Pain
The Authors of Pain are one of the newest tag teams in NXT, having only made their television debut in June of 2016. The team is comprised of two gigantic men in Akam and Rezar, alongside their legendary manager Paul Ellering. Both men may have only been in the wrestling business for a couple of years, but that hasn't stopped the WWE from giving them a big push. They have absolutely dominated every opponent they faced so far. At NXT TakeOver: Toronto they defeated TM-61 to win the second ever Dust Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Now their eyes seemed to be totally focused on winning the NXT Tag Team Championship.
While there is no doubting that The Authors of Pain have talent, they are still a bit rough around the edges. They are both still in their early twenties, so they have plenty of time to get better. While they could both use at least another year in NXT to polish their in-ring skills, when they do eventually get their call up, they are going to be a fun team to watch for years to come.
18 8: Smackdown: Tye Dillinger
Tye Dillinger has had a pretty interesting journey to get where he is today. Dillinger was already part of the WWE back in 2008, wrestling for the ECW brand under the name of Gavin Spears. His first run with the WWE didn't even last a year, but after wrestling on the independent circuit, Dillinger rejoined the WWE in 2013. Although he made his NXT debut in November of 2013, it wasn't until he took on the moniker of the "Perfect 10" that his career really started to take off.
Tye Dillinger has probably lost more matches than he has won, but that hasn't stopped the fans from getting behind him. He was probably never more over with the fans then he was at NXT TakeOver: Toronto. Dillinger has paid his dues by spending three years in NXT, and he is more than ready for another shot on the main roster. While he will most likely never be a contender for the WWE World Championship, he is a perfect underdog that the fans could get behind for an Intercontinental Championship run.
17 RAW: Austin Aries
Austin Aries finally made his NXT debut in early 2016 after lengthy runs in both Ring of Honor and TNA. In ROH Aries was the first ever wrestler to hold the ROH World Championship on more than one occasion. He wrestled a couple of separate stints for TNA, working for the company for a combined seven years. He was a highly decorated champion in TNA having won the X-Division Championship an incredible six times.
With his excellent wrestling resume, it wasn't a surprise that Aries has been given a large push since joining NXT. The self-proclaimed "Greatest Man That Ever Lived" has had notable feuds with the likes of Baron Corbin, No Way José, and Shinsuke Nakamura. He is one of the best workers NXT has in the ring and on the mic. It is only a matter of time until Aries gets called up to the main roster, and he would be an excellent addition to the RAW brand.
16 SmackDown: Hideo Itami
When Hideo Itami signed with the WWE in 2014, it was considered to be the biggest signing in the brand's history. Itami, better known as Kenta, was a huge star in his native home of Japan. He gave up a great gig in Japan to fulfill his lifelong dream of wrestling in the WWE. So far his run in NXT has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Upon entering NXT he was put into a high-profile feud with The Ascension and then with Finn Balor. It looked like Itami was on his way to earning a spot on the main roster, as he was even given a spot in the first ever André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 31. Unfortunately for Itami, he suffered a shoulder injury that put him out of action for over a year and halted all the momentum he had going for him.
Itami made his return to NXT in the Summer of 2016, but once again went down with an injury. There is no denying that Hideo Itami is one the most talented wrestlers on the NXT roster, but he just hasn't been abe to stay healthy. If he can put his injury problems behind him, he should have a bright future ahead of him the WWE.
15 RAW: Ember Moon
Ember Moon is one of the newest female competitors in NXT, but she has already established herself as one of the top women in the division. The former student of Booker T, made her NXT debut this past August at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II defeating Billie Kay in quick fashion. While she stands out from the other NXT women with her distinct red contact lenses, it's her devasting finishing maneuver, The Eclipse that has gotten herself really over with the fans during her very brief time in NXT.
The current NXT Women's Champion Asuka has stated that there isn't anyone on the NXT roster who's ready to challenge her for the title. Asuka may have spoken too soon, as Ember Moon looks like a legit contender for her championship. Moon has already been in the business for nearly a decade, so she shouldn't have to stay too long developing in NXT. Her red eyes seem like a perfect match for the RAW brand.
14 SmackDown: TM-61
TM-61 are one of the newer tag teams in NXT consisting of Australians Nick Miller and Shane Thorne. Prior to joining NXT in 2016, the two men had impressive careers wrestling Japan. They spent five years wrestling for Pro Wrestling Noah where they are former two-time GHC Tag Team Champions. Besides wrestling in Japan the team has also made brief appearances for both ROH and TNA.
Having been as successful as they were in Japan, they came into NXT with a fair amount of hype, and so far they have delivered. The team entered the second annual Dusty Rhodes Classic and made it all the way to the finals. However, they were eventually defeated by The Authors of Pain. While the two men are definitely talented in the ring, they need to show a bit more personality if they want to make it in the WWE. If they put everything together they should have a bright future in the tag team division.
13 RAW: Roderick Strong
Roderick Strong is the latest big signing by the WWE. Strong is best known for his thirteen-year run with Ring of Honor, where he is one of the most decorated champions in the company's history. Besides competing in ROH, Strong has also wrestled in Japan as well as for TNA.
Strong made his NXT debut as Austin Aries partner in the second annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. While the team was able to win their first round match, Strong came up empty handed in a one on one match against Shane Thorne and the team was eliminated from the tournament. While it's still pretty early to predict how much Strong will get pushed in NXT, if his past resume is any indication he should eventually be a top guy in NXT. If things go smoothly for him in NXT, Strong should eventually make his way to the main roster.
12 SmackDown: Billie Kay
Billie Kay has only been in NXT for barely two years, but with the amount of new women wrestlers coming to NXT recently, she is considered a veteran on the brand. The Australian Billie Kay first received a tryout with the WWE back in August of 2014, but didn't sign a developmental deal with them until April of 2015. She spent the majority of her first year in NXT as jobber, even getting to job out to Dana Brooke on an episode of SmackDown.
However, with all the recent women getting called up to the main roster, it is now time for Billie Kay to shine. Kay has been given the role of being the top heel on NXT, and a lot more television time has come with it. So far she has played the arrogant and cocky role pretty well. If she can continue to develop in NXT it won't be too long before she's back on SmackDown, and this time it would be a permanent role.
11 15: RAW: Andrade "Cien" Almas
Andrade "Cien" Almas is best known for his eight-year run in CMLL under the ring name of La Sombra. During his time with the company he won numerous titles. At one point he was a triple champion, having held the Mexican National Trios Championship, NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship, and CMLL World Tag Team Championship at the same time. In November of 2015, he signed a developmental deal with the WWE.
Almas made NXT debut at NXT TakeOver: The End defeating Tye Dillinger. Almas was pushed heavily as a babyface, but the fans just didn't seem at all interested in his character. His gimmick was recently given a fresh coat of paint by having him turn heel. While there is no doubting he is talented in the ring, Almas needs to work on his English if ever wants to become something in the WWE.
10 SmackDown: SAnitY
When it comes to factions in NXT, the newly debuted team of SAnitY is actually the only one. The team consists of four members: Nikki Cross, Alexander Wolfe, and Sawyer Fulton, and their leader Eric Young. The group comes off as a bunch of insane people who take pleasure in beating the pulp out of their opponents. Making Eric Young the leader was a smart move by the WWE, as it gives the fans a well-known wrestler to get behind.
The stable has only been around for barely a month, so it is hard to see just exactly how they will be booked. The inclusion of a women wrestler in Nikki Cross is a great thing as it separates them from other past groups. If the faction is booked as a dominant force in the NXT, they might just have shot on the main roster sometime down the road.
9 RAW: Liv Morgan
Liv Morgan isn't like most other women in NXT, as she is a bit of tomboy. Growing up in New Jersey she fell in love with wrestling, even competing in backyard matches with her brothers. Her wrestling idol growing up was Lita. If Morgan can just be half as good as Lita, she would have a solid career.
Morgan signed a developmental deal with the WWE in 2014 and had her first televised match in October of 2015. After starting her NXT career as mostly a jobber, Morgan stepped out of the shadows and challenged NXT Women's Champion Asuka to a match. Morgan would end up submitting to Asuka in under a minute. While it's clear that Liv Morgan has a long way to go, she has looks and determination to make it far in this business. The fact that she is currently dating RAW Superstar Enzo Amore might just fast-track her to main roster earlier than expected.
8 SmackDown: Peyton Royce
It seems like recently there is a lot of wrestling talent coming out of Australia, and you can add the name of Peyton Royce to the list. She first began wrestling in her native country, winning multiple titles. Royce wasn't satisfied with her wrestling skills, so she went across the world to train with Lance Storm in Calgary. All that training eventually paid off as she was rewarded with a WWE developmental contract in April of 2015.
After doing nothing of note in her first year with NXT, Royce started to team up with her former High School classmate Billie Kay. Although the pairing is still new, the two women seem to have great chemistry with each other. They both play snobby characters, and they do it well. If Royce can continue to grow her character, she already has the athletic ability to be a mainstay on the main roster.
7 RAW: No Way Jose
The character of No Way Jose seemed like it was destined to be a flop. It's not an easy task for a wrestler to get a dancing gimmick over with the fans, but the Jose character is a fan favorite in NXT. His energy is just so infectious that it's hard not to fall in love with him. After going on a bit of winning streak to start his NXT career, Jose ran into a bit of a brick wall in the name of Austin Aries. Jose would be defeated by Aries at his first TakeOver special appearance in Brooklyn.
Although No Way Jose has had no problem getting over in NXT, getting over on the main roster is a whole other story. Tyler Breeze is a recent example of a character that was successful in NXT, but he was a complete failure when he was called up. If No Way Jose does somehow find his niche on the main roster, it won't be much more than a comedic role.
6 SmackDown: Elias Samson
After wrestling on the independent scene for five years, Elias Sampson signed a developmental contract with the WWE back in early 2014. At first, he wasn't given much of a character and wrestled mostly as enhancement talent. In the Summer of 2015, Samson was finally given the gimmick of a drifter musician. He was initially given a bit of a push going on a small winning streak, but it wasn't too long before he was getting squashed by wrestlers like Shinsuke Nakamura.
After staying off NXT television for nearly half a year, Samson made his return in November of 2016. Despite his lengthy time off television, the fans seem like they have absolutely no interest in his drifter character. If he doesn't get a character change soon, not only will Elias Samson never make it to the main roster, but he will most likely be outright released by the company.
5 RAW: Oney Lorcan
Prior to signing with the WWE in 2015, Oney Lorcan was a veteran on the independent scene. He wrestled for many different promotions, most notably Combat Zone Wrestling and Evolve. His crowning achievement was defeating future WWE Superstar Drew Gulak to win the CZW World Heavyweight Championship. Lorcan is known for his aggressive hard-hitting style.
Lorcan started off his NXT career in style when he picked up a shocking upset victory over "The Perfect 10" Tye Dillinger. Lorcan hasn't been on NXT television since but he did make his main roster debut, which was a loss at the hands of Kalisto. The fact that the WWE trusted him enough to put him on live television, should bode well for his future in the company. Although it's clear that he has all the skills needed to be a great wrestler, Lorcan needs to build on his character if he wants to have a long career in the WWE.
4 22: SmackDown: Aliyah
Aliyah became known to the WWE audience when she was featured on the WWE Network reality show Breaking Ground. The show chronicled her journey from the WWE Performance Center all the way to making her NXT debut. It was during the show that we got a chance to see all the hard work she was willing to do in order to become a WWE Superstar.
With her great work ethic, it seems like it's a guarantee that she will one day make the main roster, but that time is probably at least a couple years away. Aliyah's work in the ring and on the mic are still pretty raw. Aliyah is of Arab descent, and if she can use that as part of her character it would make her stand out among all the other women in NXT. At just the age of 22, Aliyah has all the potential for a long fruitful career.
3 23: RAW: Angelo Dawkins
Angelo Dawkins was a three-sport athlete during his college days, having success in football, wrestling, and track. So far Dawkins has not been able to translate that success into the world of the WWE. Dawkins signed a developmental contract with the WWE back in 2012. He made his NXT television debut on June 19, 2013 losing a match to Sami Zayn. Unfortunately for Dawkins, losing was something that he would need to get used to. He has only had a handful of NXT television in the last little while, and every time he would find himself on the losing end.
The fact that Dawkins has become nothing more than a jobber in NXT does not bode well for his WWE future. Every year the WWE are adding more and more wrestlers to their developmental system, and if something doesn't change, it won't be too long before Angelo Dawkins is showed the door.
2 24: SmackDown: Mandy Rose
Mandy Rose got her big break as a competitor on the 2015 edition of WWE Tough Enough. Although she did not win the competition, finishing runner-up to Sara Lee, she was still awarded with a WWE contract. The WWE must see a great deal of potential in her considering that the Tough Enough winner Sara Lee was released, but not her. While Rose has only made a few appearances on NXT television, she has been given a prominent role on the very popular reality show Total Divas.
While Mandy Rose hasn't been given a whole lot of time to shine in the ring so far, she still has tremendous potential. She has the looks and the athletic ability to make it far in the WWE. By getting exposure on Total Divas, a lot of fans will already know who she is even before she makes her main roster debut. However, Mandy still has a long way to go wrestling wise, and it's probably going to be a while until we see her get inside a ring that isn't in NXT.
1 25: RAW: Blake and Murphy
While technically Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy are not a team anymore, they are not really worthy of their own separate entries on this list. The two men first teamed up in August of 2014, losing a match to the Lucha Dragons. It wasn't until six months later that they finally earned their first televised victory. Just one week later they were given a tag team title match against the Lucha Dragons in which they miraculously won. Blake and Murphy along with their valet Alexa Bliss, would hold onto to the titles for nearly six months, before losing them in a match against The Vaudevillians.
After the losing the belts, the team would go on a long losing streak, a streak that would ultimately break the team up. Since breaking up, both men have had their roles reduced to that of jobbers. It's crazy how far they have fallen in the NXT ranks after losing their titles. Their prospects of making the main roster seem pretty slim now. If they do get called up, they won't be much more than jobbers.