The various shows and brands in WWE provide different places for wrestlers to prove their talent. Raw and SmackDown are the main roster brands that all wrestlers want to end up in. The spots on Raw and SmackDown typically come with better pay due to the opportunities offered. More people watch Raw and SmackDown on television with the live event touring schedule for those shows booking wrestlers to work three to four times per week most weeks. NXT tries to create a touring schedule as well, but most wrestlers only work a handful of times per month. The NXT and NXT UK tapings frequently only happen once per month with four shows taped each time.
Despite the gradual step moving from NXT to the main roster, there are also some talents that could benefit from going back down to NXT for a little bit. The potential to add more credibility and momentum to one’s name could open the eyes of fans to care more about a struggling wrestler. We will look at some instances of wrestlers that should switch brands to a specific new. Most top NXT stars must move to Raw and SmackDown, so we’ll figure out which show they belong on. The wrestlers that should go back down to NXT will also be examined. These are seven NXT stars that belong on Raw, seven that belong on SmackDown and seven main roster stars that should be sent down to NXT.
21 Raw: Tommaso Ciampa
The incredible heel work of Tommaso Ciampa has earned him the NXT Championship. Ciampa has become one of the biggest names in NXT with potential to make noise on the main roster. There were rumors that WWE almost called Ciampa up after WrestleMania 34, but the wait worked out for him as he’s now a bigger star.
Raw is the better fit for Ciampa with the lack of thriving heels on the show. Kevin Owens is likely coming back as a face, Dean Ambrose has underwhelmed and Lashley is still inconsistent. Ciampa would have a great chance to become one of the top villains on Raw with great face opponents like Seth Rollins and Finn Balor to feud with.
20 SmackDown: Johnny Gargano
If WWE wants singles success for Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano on the main roster, the best bet would be to split them on separate shows. The temptation of placing them together in a tag team could ruin their singles pushes.
Gargano also just is a better fit for the SmackDown brand. Daniel Bryan has revealed he tried to convince management to call Gargano up back when he was the General Manager of the show. Gargano is known more for the wrestling side of it and is smaller than most. Given the success of guys like Bryan and AJ Styles on SmackDown, Gargano will fit in better there.
19 Sent to NXT: Shelton Benjamin
NXT is known for having the hot up and coming talent, but they could benefit from having a veteran that can still go. Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode were all veterans when joining NXT and they did well. One main roster vet doing little of note is Shelton Benjamin.
The matches of Benjamin have always impressed fans from his best years to now. Benjamin can still deliver good matches as seen when facing AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan on SmackDown. A good run in NXT could lead to him returning to the main roster with more of a push or just give us fun dream matches.
18 Raw: Bianca Belair
Bianca Belair's persona makes her one of the premier women’s wrestling stars in NXT. Belair has become a top star for NXT with the impressive athleticism in her matches to pair with the personality. Raw seems like the better fit for someone like Bianca that can bring the charisma.
There would also be a fun ready-made dream match between Belair and Sasha Banks. Both ladies have similar characters that could clash for an incredible contest. Other fun feuds with the likes of Ronda Rousey, Alexa Bliss, and Bayley would make Bianca’s call-up to Raw more ideal than SmackDown.
17 SmackDown: Matt Riddle
The potential of Matt Riddle could see him become a main event superstar on the main roster before our very eyes. Riddle has impressed in a short time during his transition to wrestling. It only took him about a year to break out on the indie circuit and a few years before signing with WWE.
Riddle already comes off like a major star in NXT and may be called up sooner than most due to his background. The fans that recognize him from UFC could tune into the program. Fox is hoping to bring some of their MMA audience to SmackDown when it moves in the fall. Riddle could face off with Daniel Bryan in a dream match on the blue brand in 2019.
16 Sent to NXT: Aiden English
Aiden English has struggled to get much television time since the end of his tag team with Rusev. The combination of Rusev and English showed just how entertaining both could be. English used his singing skills to add to his promos before the matches and he would have solid matches when given the chance.
Despite his new role as 205 Live commentator, a move back down to NXT could benefit English in a huge way. The prior stint in NXT mostly featured him as a tag team wrestler with Simon Gotch in the Vaudevillains. English getting his own run as a singles star could be what is needed before WWE officials view him as someone worth pushing on Raw or SmackDown.
15 Raw: War Raiders
The Raw Tag Team Division has been a huge disappointment over the past year. SmackDown has great matches with teams like New Day, The Usos, and The Bar doing great things. Raw has a group of struggling teams unable to break out.
One of the best duos currently on NXT television would be Hanson and Rowe. The world-traveled wrestlers are known as War Raiders in NXT. They had a great showing in the recent War Games match teaming with Pete Dunne and Ricochet to defeat Undisputed Era. War Raiders could be the team that finally gets over on Raw after the flops of Authors of Pain and The Revival.
14 SmackDown: Mia Yim
The Women’s Division on SmackDown is rock solid, but there can always be improvement. Mia Yim improves any roster she is a part of when joining. NXT is seeing her have compelling matches with the top ladies down there. SmackDown would be the better fit for Yim whenever she does get called up.
Charlotte Flair has put over Yim a few times on social media after the two worked together many years in NXT when Mia had a one-time appearance to put her over. The two would have a better match today. Yim could also have classics with Becky Lynch and Asuka to add to the SmackDown Women’s Division.
13 Sent to NXT: Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews is one of the most underrated wrestlers on Raw right now. The in-ring work of Crews is impressive whenever he gets to show it. His biggest problem is that he rarely gets the chance to prove it on Raw. WWE has given Crews a few chances, but the momentum usually ends after a few weeks when he is put on the backburner.
One thing to hurt Crews in WWE is that he was called up to the main roster too early ahead of the brand split. There was not enough time in NXT for Crews to have strong momentum before the call-up. Crews would easily be an upper-level performer in NXT right now and it would help him get a better main roster run in the future.
12 Raw: Shayna Baszler and friends
The rest of the MMA Four Horsewomen should join Ronda Rousey on whichever brand she is on. There is a chance Rousey moves to SmackDown to sell the show as the most important one for the move to Fox. However, she is currently on Raw and it’s hard to assume that changes.
Shayna Baszler has become a top woman in NXT as the current reigning NXT Women’s Champion. The other Horsewomen of Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir appear as her entourage trying to help her retain. All three ladies should join Rousey on Raw to create the faction to set up the MMA Four Horsewomen vs WWE Four Horsewomen match down the road.
11 SmackDown: Ricochet
Ricochet’s future in WWE will be interesting to watch play out. The high-flying moves of Ricochet set him apart from everyone else on the roster when it comes to that part of the job. Ricochet is thriving in NXT as the N.A. Champion after years of strong work on the independent circuit.
The work of Ricochet will land him a call-up relatively soon. Some pundits expect Ricochet to join 205 Live due to the Cruiserweight Division needing some juice and Ricochet working as a junior heavyweight in New Japan. SmackDown would be a better fit for him to move up. The weakness of his promos could be masked better on the blue brand with Raw being more focused on the promos.
10 Sent to NXT: Lana
Lana is still on the SmackDown brand trying to convince management to give her more matches. The road for Lana has seen many bumps as she did not get the momentum expected after a few pushes. Lana had her first ever match at WrestleMania 32, to show you just how much WWE believed in her.
The more recent instances of Lana returning to the ring took place on SmackDown following the brand split. Lana did not show enough improvements in the ring to do well in the Women’s Division, with in-ring work becoming more important. A true stint in NXT could lead to Lana finally improving and getting the respect from fans before a push on Raw or SmackDown.
9 Raw: Velveteen Dream
Velveteen Dream has become a huge star for the NXT brand in a short time. At just 23-years-old, the rise of Dream has seen him match veterans that have been performing at a high level for many years. Character work is the strength of Dream and that will always help a wrestler out most on Raw.
The rise of Dream will continue to progress if he is booked with the same character. Dream is unlike anyone else in WWE, which bodes well for him. NXT is lucky to have him, but the call-up is coming sooner than later and Raw will be the right place for him.
8 SmackDown: Kairi Sane and Io Shirai
The women’s Tag Team Division will be one of the biggest projects for WWE in 2019. Both Raw and SmackDown will have tag teams in the Elimination Chamber match to crown the first champions. This implies both brands will have the titles with ladies competing for it.
SmackDown could benefit from having a face tag team to feud with heel duos like The Iiconics and Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. The best face female tag team in NXT is clearly Kairi Sane and Io Shirai. NXT has already started presenting them as a duo. These two best friends would be a great fit on SmackDown for the Tag Division.
7 Sent to NXT: Chad Gable
Chad Gable already had a great stint in NXT, but this came in tag team action with Jason Jordan. The tag team was tremendous and got called up to SmackDown. Gable would get left behind when WWE decided to split them up and push Jordan in a storyline as Kurt Angle’s son.
It has been a tough road for Gable with him now in a makeshift tag team with Bobby Roode. They are currently the Raw Tag Team Champions, but the expectation is that they will break up with Roode getting a bigger singles push out of it. Gable will be back to square one and could use the time in NXT to show his incredible in-ring work before coming back up.
6 Raw: Toni Storm
Toni Storm is one of the best talents currently in WWE, regardless of brand or gender. NXT UK is Storm’s home as the Women’s Champion. More fans noticed her when she defeated Io Shirai to win the Mae Young Classic tournament finals at Evolution.
Storm is the complete package with great in-ring skills and charisma. There is a great chance of her being the first call-up to the main roster from NXT UK. Storm joining Raw would be ideal as the Women’s Division needs a breakout star or two more than SmackDown. A great wrestler like Storm deserves to perform at the highest level and for her, that means a call-up to Raw.
5 SmackDown: Aleister Black
Aleister Black is arguably the NXT wrestler most ready to get called up to the big stage. The run of Black in NXT developed his character as a unique performer. Black would also get the credibility of a top star after winning the NXT Championship and having many main event matches.
There have been rumors of Black getting called up for a few years now, but WWE was waiting for the right time. It will likely come in the call-ups after WrestleMania 35. Black would be a better fit on SmackDown since he’s not the norm of what Vince McMahon wants. SmackDown wrestlers get more creative freedom and Black would become a huge new star for the brand.
4 Sent to NXT: Karl Anderson
The WWE run of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows has been a huge disappointment. This tag team had huge appeal when hitting the free agent market in 2016. WWE do not see anything special in them as the duo rarely gets television time on the SmackDown brand.
Anderson is the significantly better wrestler of the two and had some great singles moments in New Japan. WWE should send Anderson to NXT to prove just how great he can be without that many restrictions. Anderson could become a singles star with momentum and get called back up with more opportunities on Raw or SmackDown.
3 Raw: Undisputed Era
Raw has lacked the unpredictability in recent months that fans often want from a product. There are a few changes need to shake things up for the brand heading into WrestleMania season and beyond for the rest of the year. Undisputed Era is the faction with the best chance to make a huge impact when called up.
Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong, and Bobby Fish all work perfectly together as a heel group. The potential of them getting called up and trying to take over Raw would create the chaos needed on the show. Great matches could also come from it with faces like Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, and possibly Kevin Owens there to oppose them.
2 SmackDown: Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne has been on both NXT and NXT UK as a huge asset. The NXT UK Championship reign of Dunne helped create the new brand as Triple H tries to find more success on the United Kingdom circuit. Dunne is the face of the brand, but he is too good to not get called up to Raw or SmackDown soon.
Dunne's smaller size could hold him back, but SmackDown offers more opportunities for wrestlers of that ilk. Dunne could deliver great matches with just about anyone and offers intensity that makes up for his size. SmackDown would be a great fit for Dunne’s future in WWE.
1 Sent to NXT: Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler is arguably the most disappointing wrestler on the main roster right now. The in-ring work of Ziggler inspired fans to root for him many years prior when he was a rising star. WWE never went all the way with Ziggler, but they still have kept him in the mid-card loop throughout the years.
Ziggler is someone that rarely gets any reactions and struggles to find any momentum these days. The only way for him to find any success in WWE is to go to NXT to rebuild his career. Ziggler could have great matches and prove he can be a top guy in the NXT brand. WWE would value him more and possibly give him a real main event push if he hit a home run in NXT.