NXT and the WWE Performance Center has been a non-stop breeding ground for the WWE roster since its inception in 2014 – in total there have been five former NXT wrestlers who have become WWE Champion, two which have held the Universal Championship, seven women who have held Women’s Championships, and numerous others who have held other Championships in WWE and who are poised for greatness and long careers with the company. NXT has also allowed new performers to professional wrestling the opportunity to gain the skills of working at a WWE event in front of a smaller crowd before transitioning to much larger arenas. This system has been working wonders and has produced some world class wrestlers.
On the other hand, there are also unfortunately many other wrestlers who have spent time in NXT and transitioned to the main roster only to find out that their career is not what it had hoped – they have been relegated to one of the worst positions to be in as a professional wrestlers. For a wrestler with promise to leave NXT for either RAW or SmackDown only to be relegated to lose the majority of their matches much be heartbreaking as a performer, but you have to do what you are told in order to keep earning the WWE paycheck.
Here are 8 NXT Stars Who Ended Up Being Jobbers On The Main Roster And 7 About To Suffer The Same Fate
15 Jobber - Adam Rose
Just because something looks like a big deal in NXT does not necessarily mean that it will translate if that talent is transitioned to the main roster. NXT fans feel very connected to the wrestlers that perform for them because they see them during each television taping at Full Sail University, but unless a wrestler is very special it's likely their gimmick will not translate to main roster fans. Take Adam Rose for instance, who showed great promise during his time in NXT as the deadly Leo Krueger or the fun-loving, Russell Brand-esque Exotic Express, but failed miserably during his main roster run and spent most of his time feuding with an oversized bunny rabbit.
Upon arriving on the main roster, Rose’s gimmick of an edgy partier was changed to be incredibly cheesy and his cast of “Rosebuds” had become too cartoonish for fans to get behind – in an era where fans were attached to wrestlers like Daniel Bryan and The Shield, he did not stand a chance of getting over.
Rose quickly began to turn into a jobber (he even lost to The Bunny, too!) and eventually end up in a jobber group called The Social Outcasts, which shows just how much WWE thought of him at the time.
Following some bouts of legal troubles, Rose was released from his WWE contract and likely will not be invited back to WWE, which considering his status there may be a good thing for him.
14 Future Jobber - Wesley Blake
Being involved with Alexa Bliss may have its own personal perks, but it has not helped Wesley Blake make his way into WWE’s main roster since he debuted in NXT in 2013, and when you look at his potential prospects if he were to make it there, it doesn't look very good for him. Once a member of one of the more popular tag teams in NXT, Blake has been on a singles run for the past couple of years but it has not amounted to much on the roster, and we know from WWE’s past that if a successful tag team splits up that not each member is going to achieve success. For every Shawn Michaels, there is a Marty Jannetty, and while his former partner Buddy Murphy is not necessarily on the level of Shawn Michaels, neither is Wesley Blake.
In a time where NXT was losing talent left and right to the main roster, Blake has not managed to make himself a successful singles star, so why would we think he would be any different if WWE called him up to the main roster? Not only is WWE’s main event level star-studded with former NXT wrestlers like Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, but the mid-card is also stacked with Bobby Roode, Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe, none of which Blake could compete with in terms of wrestling ability, so the only place for him would be as a lower card wrestler. For someone like Blake, perhaps it would be better to remain a big fish in a little pond and continue his career at NXT because the prospects do not look very good for him on the main roster.
13 Jobber - Simon Gotch
Speaking of WWE turning former tag-team wrestlers into jobbers, we can’t forget about The Vaudevillians! While Aiden English is making a good name for himself alongside Rusev (Day!), the team did not fair very well when they were initially brought up to the main roster in 2016. Despite being former NXT Tag Team Champions and having a very well-thought out gimmick, it did not translate to Smackdown audiences and they were quickly falling down the ranks of the division. They went from being on top of the tag team division defeating teams such as Blake and Murphy, Enzo and Cass and The Lucha Dragons while developing a great following due to the commitment to their characters, to jobbing to thrown-together teams like Heath Slater and Rhyno and Breezango.
Things would not get much better for Gotch or the Vaudevillians team, as he reportedly would cause an altercation backstage during an episode of SmackDown which involved Sin Cara, ultimately ending in the luchador throwing a soda can at his face, causing a visible black eye for Gotch during his next television appearance. Shortly after his backstage outburst, WWE released him and he has not appeared since. While it's upsetting that a wrestler’s dream of working for WWE has ended, his career was quickly declining due to the jobber status of the tag team. If there is one person happy about the release, it was likely Aiden English as he has found great success lately.
12 Future Jobber - Lio Rush
The saying goes that first impressions can either make or break you professionally, and if that is the case than Lio Rush’s WWE career did not get off to a great start. Despite the Man of the Hour being one of the most exhilarating performers to come off the independent scene and into NXT, he quickly left a bad taste in people’s mouths after he made a poor comment about Emma following her release from WWE – with Emma’s final televised match being against Asuka, Rush tweeted out "I guess these are the things that happen when you're not TRULY ready for @WWEAsuka.", which received instant criticism from both NXT and main roster wrestlers for the insensitivity of his comment. Rush posted an apology on Twitter later that day, but he was removed from NXT events due to his behavior.
With only less than four years in the wrestling business under his belt, you could chalk the behavior up to Rush’s rookie status, but the fact is that his attitude landed him in the dog house very quickly during his NXT career, and a lack of respect and professionalism are not easily forgotten in WWE.
If Rush were to transition to the main roster with his current status, it's very likely that he would be quickly made into a jobber without much change of success.
In fact, due to the severity and insensitivity of his tweet, I don't think it will be easy for him to gain traction on the main roster for a long time. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.
11 Jobber - Emma
Speaking of Lio Rush’s inappropriate tweets, he was correct about one thing – Emma’s main roster career was certainly not one for her to gloat about. Emma was positioned in NXT as one of the better pure wrestlers on the roster, even competing against Paige in the final match of the tournament to crown the first ever NXT Women’s Champion, which has since become one of the most revered championships in WWE. Emma’s match with Paige is considered among inside WWE fans to be one of the matches which truly sparked the “Women’s Revolution” for WWE, which should have positioned her for a great career on the main roster. Unfortunately for Emma, WWE Management had different plans for her, and when I say “different” I mean they actually had no plans for her at all.
Emma’s time on the main roster initially had her appear alongside Santino Marella in which her on-screen time consisted of doing a silly dance routine, and being featured losing to the likes of top tier women like AJ Lee and Paige, only getting sporadic victories over Cameron and Summer Rae before being sent back to NXT. Upon her eventual return, she showed some promise after she was repackaged as a heel, but fell back into old habits and didn't achieve anything of note. Perhaps her most embarrassing time on the roster was her promotion as Emmalina, which was eventually aborted as a result of management’s feeling about her portrayal of the character they had in mind which eventually led to her release in 2017. Thankfully for Emma she is beginning to achieve the success that she is capable on the independent circuit – most notably Ring of Honor – which is a much better representation of her abilities.
10 Future Jobbers - The Street Profits
There was a period of time where the NXT Tag Team division was considered to be much more entertaining than the main roster – with teams like The Authors of Pain, #DIY and The Revival at the helm putting on spectacular matches (look no further than their matches at NXT TakeOver: Toronto and Orlando for evidence of how magical tag team wrestling can be) there was a budding renaissance for tag team wrestling due to NXT’s focus on the psychology of the division. With two of these teams promoted to the main roster and the others burning up the main event scene as singles wrestlers, there is an opening for new teams to emerge.
One of these teams showing tremendous promise are The Street Profits – both Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford are wrestlers that were developed exclusively at the Performance Center which certainly has its perks of growing up inside the WWE system. Imagine if WWE can groom them to be at the top of their division? That would be a great news story for the Performance Center, but unfortunately history is not on the side of The Profits. WWE currently does not have a good history of booking former NXT tag teams on the main roster – both teams of Enzo and Cass and The Revival have either broken up or floundered on the roster, and The Authors of Pain have already received “Boring” chants during their few matches on RAW. While I wish nothing but the best for this rookie tag team, history is not on their side at this point.
9 Jobber - Bo Dallas
All you have to do is Bo-lieve? Well, I’m not sure that helped Bo Dallas when he made it on to the main roster, as all of the steam that he developed in NXT disappeared faster than a Kit Kat at a Weight Watchers meeting.
For those who may not have watched the early days of NXT, it's difficult to believe Bo Dallas was once the most hated heel in the company, with his character being masterfully played to the NXT audience.
Similar to the reactions that Roman Reigns has been experiencing for the past several months, Dallas was initially pushed as a babyface but was rejected by the audience for appearing disingenuous and pandering to them. When their dislike reached its peak, the crowd would literally turn their back on him to show how much they hated him – realizing how hated he was by the crowd, Dallas slowly transitioned into a heel character without actually changing how he was acting, and he was eventually made NXT Champion as a result, becoming one of the most successful heel champions for the brand. Dallas is currently the third longest reigning NXT Champion in history at 261 days. Dallas was transitioned to the main roster after this, and any esteem he had as a former NXT Champion evaporated as he was quickly made into a jobber and has achieved very little over the past three years. To think that if one of the most successful heels in the promotion cannot make it on the main roster, what does the future hold for some of these other wrestlers?
8 Future Jobber - No Way Jose
You may be saying to yourself; but isn’t No Way Jose currently successful since debuting on the main roster because he has been defeating Baron Corbin in his debut feud? Or that calling him a future jobber is not valid because he has only been on the main roster for a few weeks? Well, if we look at the history of gimmicks which has come from NXT, we know that history is not on the side of Jose when it comes to comparable gimmicks.
When Adam Rose debuted on the main roster, he received an initial push which included a five month winning streak before his eventual defeat which led to his career going downhill. Jose is currently on a very similar trajectory – even if he wins his initial feud against Corbin, there is already a glass ceiling above him with the nature of his gimmick. In addition to this, his current dancing man character may be entertaining at first glance, but there are previous examples in WWE which show that it will not stay entertaining forever. Remember when every wrestling fan across the world was singing Fandango’s theme song for months on end? Well, even though that was an extreme example of something small about a character captivating the masses, it still didn't do much for his career as a whole as he has ended up on the lower tier card of the company. If that happened to someone of Fandango’s caliber, what do you think is in store for No Way Jose?
7 Jobber - Apollo Crews
This is the saddest portion of this article to write as Apollo Crews has so much potential as a wrestler it's not even funny, but he has not been able to get over with fans since debuting on the main roster. Whether you have seen him wrestle as Uhaa Nation on the independent scene, or during his brief stint in NXT you know that Crews can do some amazing things in the ring. When was the last time you saw a 240-pound wrestler execute both a standing shooting star press and a gorilla press-slam in the same match? It's the combination of both athleticism and strength which make Crews a very dangerous wrestler, but he has achieved very little since transitioning to the main roster in 2016.
Not to say that Crews’ NXT career was star-studded, as he only received one shot at the NXT Championship during his time and participated in upper-mid card feuds, but knowing his skill levels he should be achieving much more on the main roster than he currently is. Since joining the main roster, he has fluttered around the mid-card level and has since landed in the Titus Worldwide stable which is as close to a “kiss of death” that a wrestler can receive as the stable is used almost exclusively for jobbing to upcoming stars and likely will not achieve much of note.
6 Future Jobber - Kairi Sane
When the WWE announced an all-women’s wrestling tournament titled The Mae Young Classic in 2017 it was a great step towards further showcasing women’s wrestling for the promotion, and for giving non-WWE wrestlers an opportunity on television. The tournament itself featured wrestlers and has already produced an NXT Women’s Champion in Shayna Baszler, as well as some great potential new NXT wrestlers in Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai and Bianca Belair. Presumably the winner of the tournament would be poised for the greatest push of all, but unfortunately that has not been the case.
Kairi Sane has been featured on both NXT and the main roster since winning the tournament, but unfortunately her future in the company does not appear to be spectacular.
During her career in Japan, she was touted as one of the best wrestlers in the world by Dave Meltzer due to her abilities in the ring, which other than her very spectacular top-rope elbow drop maneuver have not had the opportunity to shine on WWE programming. Other than her tournament performance, Sane’s matches have resulted mainly in losses to Ember Moon and Nikki Cross, before having an abysmal showing in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match where she was eliminated by Dana Brooke in under just five minutes. You would think that after putting so much stock into a wrestler following the Mae Young Classic there would be more focus on her during her appearances, but she has not shown as much promise as initially hoped.
5 Jobber - Tye Dillinger
10! 10! 10? Unfortunately not exactly since being drafted to SmackDown Live; with the exception of a very loud ovation following his appearance at the 2017 Royal Rumble, Dillinger has been considered one of the most disappointing wrestlers to debut from NXT as a result of WWE's booking. While not necessarily a main-eventer during his time in NXT, he was certainly one of the most popular wrestlers over four years with the promotion, as fans across Full Sail University chanted “10” loudly throughout his matches. While these chants initially followed him to SmackDown Live, they have slowly started to dim down since fans realized that there are not very big plans for him.
I see some immense upside in Dillinger as a performer due to having seen him throughout his independent career in Canada as Shawn Spears, but it appears that WWE officials don't share the same sentiments. Like many other former NXT wrestlers, Dillinger received a small initial push during his debut on the main roster, with wins over Aiden English and showing up well in United States Championship matches with both Baron Corbin and AJ Styles, but has accomplished very little during his time, now being relegated to appearances only in battle royals and an early exit in tournament matches. Hopefully there is more success in Dillinger’s future in WWE, but there is unfortunately little to hang our hats on at this point to call him less than a jobber.
4 Future Jobber - Killian Dain
Every group has someone who won’t rise like the others – when D-Generation X broke up, Road Dogg didn't accomplish much as an in-ring performer, Michael Tarver never stood a chance as a performer once the original Nexus broke up, and even Barry Windham was considered to be the least successful member of the Four Horsemen. Now if we flash forward and look at SAintY now that they have debuted on the main roster, we have to look closely at who may be; we know that Eric Young is a former World Champion from his time in TNA, and will likely achieve the most success out of the group, and Alexander Wolfe has had a lot of experience from his time in Germany and has a unique look from anyone else on the WWE roster. This unfortunately leaves Killian Dain as the one who will likely be pegged as the least successful out of the group.
Let’s look at him closely – his appearance may make him unique on NXT programming, but putting him directly next to Bray Wyatt makes him much less distinctive. Workrate? For a big man he has shown some great promise (as indicated by his performance during both the WarGames and North American Championship ladder matches), but he cannot perform anything that makes him stand out any differently from other members of the main roster with similar physiques like Samoa Joe. Unfortunately, it seems as though Dain is destined to fade into the background should his group split up while on the main roster.
3 Jobber - Tyler Breeze
If there was one wrestler who seemed poised for greatness following a departure from NXT, it was Tyler Breeze. Breeze was consistently included in main event programs in NXT, consistently feuding over the NXT Championship against the likes of Neville and Sami Zayn, and was even given the opportunity to work with Japanese legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger during a rare appearance at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.
Breeze’s update on the “pretty boy” character made him hated in NXT, and his excellent commitment to the role combined with his workrate made fans salivate at the thought his him working with WWE main roster talent.
Unfortunately, these dreams were quickly squashed along with Breeze’s reputation as a good worker, as his main roster debut was a loss against Dean Ambrose and ended up on a losing streak for the next several months, and lost all the steam he built up while in NXT. He continued to putter around the main roster accomplishing absolutely nothing before landing in something he likely never thought he would – a comedy gimmick alongside Fandango, which has gotten over with the fans against all odds. While seemingly initially destined to achieve success as a potential upper-mid card wrestler, he has been relegated to comedy matches as one half of Breezango. If he is happy in his role than that is one thing, but there must be a part of him that is still pining for success in the ring.
2 Future Jobber - Mandy Rose
If Mandy Rose had debuted in WWE in the early 2000s, there would be no doubt she would have been a multi-time Women’s Champion by this point or that she would be marketed as one of the faces of WWE programming due to her incredible looks. Unfortunately for Rose, she is employed by WWE in a time where the company is focused on wresting ability and not her marketability as a supermodel, and her inexperience in the wrestling ring sticks out like a sore thumb. Having Rose teamed alongside Sonya Deville and Paige as Absolution was a good idea for the rookie as it helped hide her inexperience behind the more experienced women, but now that Paige has transitioned into her new role as SmackDown GM, she has been exposed (and not in the good way) on WWE programming.
When comparing Rose to some of the new women to be featured on the main roster, such as The Iconics - who can wrestle much better than she can – it's evident that there is little future in the wrestling business for Mandy Rose. While WWE still seems intent on experimenting with Rose given her placement in this year’s Women’s Money in the Bank match, her wrestling abilities thus far leave a lot to the imagination. Do yourself a favor and watch Rose punch during her next segment on SmackDown Live – the amount of light between her punches is wide enough for a 747 Jet to fly through.
1 Jobber - The Ascension
If there was a picture beside the words “Main Roster Disappointment” in the dictionary, there would surely be a picture of The Ascension beside it, as their transition from NXT to the main roster is surely legendary but for all the wrong regions. Still the current record holders for the longest reigning NXT Tag Team Champions of all time, Konnor and Viktor have never caught up to their NXT success on the main roster and quickly floundered upon their debut. Positioned by WWE management as cheap rip-offs of the Legion of Doom, The Ascension were not given much to work with on the roster, and fans quickly lost interest in them. All of the things that made them special on NXT – their power moves, the dominating nature of their matches and the darkness of their characters – were lost on the main roster, and they became just another tag team.
With what appears to be a renewed focus on the team on WWE programming due to their recent vignettes, this will hopefully bring them back to their original status from NXT, as that made them a very enjoyable tag team to watch. We saw Harper and Rowan recently find new life as The Bludgeon Brothers, so perhaps a repackaging is exactly what The Ascension needs too.