WWE NXT was, at one time, was just a developmental territory where students learning the WWE-style of professional wrestling had a chance to compete and learn on the job. However, over time the brand has become so much more. With some of the biggest names outside the WWE showing up there, from Samoa Joe and Finn Balor to Shinsuke Nakamura and Roderick Strong, it has become one of the hottest brands in WWE.
With Triple H wanting to help elevate NXT into a true third brand and even the new WWE women's tag team champions promising to defend their titles there, the sky is the limit. However, to grow, they need to keep their main stars and also need to remain a proving ground for younger talent. Here is a look at 10 NXT stars who need to stay in the developmental brand, both to help it grow and to grow more themselves.
10 BIANCA BELAIR
Bianca Belair was thrown into the deep end when she faced Shayna Baszler at a TakeOver event. The wrestler is known for whipping people with her long braided hair that she uses as a weapon. However, what is most impressive is that she might be the greatest athlete in NXT — man or woman.
With that said, Belair is still young in the wrestling business. She made her debut in 2017, and while she remained undefeated until her TakeOver event, she still has a lot to learn. There is also the case of women getting called up and then passed over, with Ember Moon as a perfect example. Belair can learn more and become better by staying in NXT.
9 JAXSON RYKER
Jaxson Ryker doesn't need developmental. The man who was known as Gunner in Impact Wrestling knows his way around the ring. However, he is a great fit for NXT and is one of the last people who need to be called up to the main roster. Bobby Roode and Eric Young are better in every way, and neither really lit things on fire even though Roode has won a couple of titles.
Furthermore, Ryker has it good with his faction of the Forgotten Sons. Seeing how WWE has treated Sanity since their call up, Ryker and his teammates are best served by staying far away from Raw or SmackDown if they want a chance to wrestle.
8 JESSAMYN DUKE AND MARINA SHAFIR
WWE fans have been talking about a Four Horsewoman of UFC vs. Four Horsewoman of NXT feud for a long time. With Ronda Rousey's future not a sure thing in WWE, the company may want to rush that feud as well. That would be a mistake. While Rousey and Shayna Baszler are more than ready, the other two Horsewomen of UFC are not.
However, that might be for the best. To really set up the feud, they could all hold titles. Give Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir more time in development and then they could win the tag titles while still in NXT after Baszler moves up and wins a title on the main roster.
7 KASSIUS OHNO
Kassius Ohno was a huge name when he first signed with WWE NXT, however, the man formerly known as Chris Hero had an attitude problem and WWE let him go. He returned to the indies and proved to be one of the best big men wrestlers in the world and returned to NXT.
Since his return, Ohno has lost to anyone and everyone. He is nothing more, at this time than an enhancement talent — albeit a veteran that can help the younger wrestlers. Honestly, Ohno is pretty much finished when it comes to being a legitimate competitor in WWE and might be ready to just turn into a trainer at NXT.
6 THE UNDISPUTED ERA
The Undisputed Era is possibly the most controversial choice. Adam Cole could be a huge star on the main roster. Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly could be tag team champions on the main roster. However, with Ricochet, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano moving up, along with Aleister Black, NXT needs these four guys to remain the stars carrying the brand if Triple H wants it to remain equal to Raw and SmackDown.
Furthermore, Fish and O'Reilly are just as likely to get lost in the mix. Look at The Revival. They were putting on five-star matches in NXT and can't catch a break on the main roster, even if they were gifted the Raw tag titles. Adam Cole is the one man who could be a star but NXT is best if they are kept together.
5 THE STREET PROFITS
The Street Profits are nowhere near ready for the big time of Raw or SmackDown Live. Honestly, they are barely ready for NXT. To understand what WWE thinks of the Street Profits, understand this. They sent them to the indie promotion Evolve to work full-time, while only showing up on occasion on NXT television.
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If WWE feels that the Street Profits need more work in the indies before they even get an extended push on NXT, they are nowhere near ready for Raw or SmackDown. These guys need the developmental part of NXT more than anything.
4 LORCAN AND BURCH
Head back to the WWE in the '80s and '90s, and there was a lot of enhancement talent on television. These guys were known as jobbers and their job was to go out and lose to the main stars. Names like Barry O, Barry Horowitz, and The Brooklyn Brawler are names that fans remember — even though they almost never won a match.
Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan look like they would fit in perfectly as jobbers on old WWE television shows. However, the truth is that these guys are really talented and have a way of winning over the crowds in NXT. They would fail miserably on the main roster, but in NXT they have a chance to at least look good.
3 MATT RIDDLE
Matt Riddle would be a huge star on Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live. However, he could be The Star on NXT and he is headed in that direction. He has a ton of fans and has a strong reputation as a shoot fighter — one of the best in the UFC before multiple failed drug tests ended his career in MMA.
In a recent interview, Riddle said that he would love to move up but he also thinks he might rather stay in NXT and make the brand bigger than Raw or SmackDown. Riddle's attitude could make him the face to carry the brand if it does get a chance to stand on its own.
2 KAIRI SANE
Kairi Sane is a massive star in NXT. She is excitable, enthusiastic and the fans have fallen in love with her. She comes out with her pirate gimmick but leaves it behind and turns in some of the best matches in NXT — man or woman. She is a former NXT women's champion and won both Female Competitor of the Year and Overall Competitor of the Year for NXT in 2018.
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With all that said, she would get buried on the main roster. With Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, Asuka, Sasha Banks, and more, she would struggle to get anything going. Look at Bayley who was the ultimate underdog and was never used right on the main roster. Sane is a star in NXT and she should be the face of that brand and not an afterthought on the main roster.
1 ERIC BUGENHAGEN
Honestly, this one is a no-brainer. Eric Bugenhagen just made his debut in WWE NXT and has lost his matches. However, while losing, the fans fell in love with him from the time he made his first appearance. There is no way that he moves up to the main roster anytime soon.
With that said, WWE loves to bring up gimmick wrestlers and push their gimmick over the wrestler, with Fandango, Adam Rose and No Way Jose as perfect examples. WWE might love to bring up Bugenhagen and have him as a caricature of his metal persona — something that never works on the main roster and would stunt his development as a wrestler.