It's no secret that the leading brands of the WWE, both RAW and Smackdown Live, have been unkind to the NXT superstars that receive the call-up. While stars like Becky Lynch and Charlotte have become mainstays, far more fall victim to poor booking (if booked at all). What once would have been seen as a significant opportunity is now viewed as a poisoned chalice by the fans.
With rumors that Tyler Breeze and Killian Dane are going back to NXT, it shows that maybe not every star needs to go to The Big Two.
10 Shouldn't: Kyle O'Reilly
Being part of one of the most dominant factions in recent history has done a lot to get the crowd on Kyle O'Reilly's side. Whether it be his goofy air guitar or his failed attempted to "hulk up" during a devastating blow, Kyle is near and dear to the hearts of the NXT audience.
The worry here is that if called up alone (or even as a tag team), it's hard to see what he would have to gain from coming up to the main roster. It's sad to say, but unless the Undisputed Era gets called up as a team, he is likely to get lost in the shuffle.
9 Needs To Get Called Up: Adam Cole
With his quick wit and cocky fratboy persona, Adam Cole is another star who runs with the torch at every opportunity given. As the head of The Undisputed Era, Adam Cole has consistently had the spotlight on him. His crowning achievement was becoming the inaugural NXT North American Champion.
Simply put, Adam Cole has all the makings of a WWE Superstar. His character work is second to none, and he has proved himself capable in a variety of match types. Be it the War Games or even a street fight style match, he is capable of bringing those nuances that make him stand out, regardless of match-up or opponent.
8 Shouldn't: Eric Bugenhagen
Having only made his debut in early February of this year, Eric Bugenhagen is already getting over on the NXT brand. With what would be considered a dead-on-arrival gimmick by today's standards, too. His passion and likeability are what gives this (arguably) outdated gimmick a chance of lasting, perhaps in a run similar to Elias.
Having only been introduced so recently, Eric needs to build himself up as a credible wrestler–possibly in a Takeover match–before he gets the call-up.
7 Needs To Get Called Up: Velveteen Dream
Velveteen Dream is ready for the big time! More than comfortable on the mic and boasting an extraordinary ring presence, The Dream's matches have been a constant highlight on NXT Takeover shows. The crowd is always excited to see what he'll do next.
To top it off, Velveteen Dream is only 23 years old! The popular opinion is that a wrestler's "prime" years are their mid to late 30s, having finally harmonized their skillset and promo style. Are there matches we'd miss if he were to move up now? Absolutely, but that leads to a bigger payoff when these dream matches happen on the main shows.
6 Shouldn't: Io Shirai
Regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of the current generation, Io Shirai has little to prove to us. She was supposed to join the roster a year earlier but a heart issue was discovered during a medical evaluation, which resulted in her initial rejection. Since overcoming those issues, it is only a matter of time until we see her hit the big time.
Even though she has been part of NXT for almost a year, it feels like her story is only just beginning. With Kairi Sane being called up, Io needs more time to showcase herself, while hopefully establishing a new foundation for the women's division to build from.
5 Needs To Get Called Up: Shayna Baszler
One of the most dominant champions in NXT history, Shayna Baszler has done pretty much everything that can be done on the NXT roster. The only opportunity left is to act as a gatekeeper, before others get the call up to the roster itself. To keep her this way would be a mistake on the WWE's part, as Shayna's intimidating aura and moveset could do a lot to freshen up the women's division.
The main roster's current problem is that the heels are all the same: blonde. No female superstar seemingly enjoys hurting their opponent in the way Shayna does, and with the fans clamoring for Becky Lynch to have a new feud, she could be the perfect foil.
4 Shouldn't: Keith Lee
Joining the NXT roster over a year ago, its surprising how little we have seen of Keith Lee so far. With his ability to pull off feats that seem almost impossible for a man of his size, it's strange to think how sparingly he has been used. With a number of their top-billed stars having been called up, now is the time for Keith Lee.
The main brands are currently stacked with heavyweights and giants. It is in NXT where Keith Lee will no doubt shine brightest.
3 Needs To Get Called Up: Matt Riddle
The King of the Bros has been a long time coming and has lived up to expectations since making his debut. Having won over the audience in every promotion he's performed for (and with Vince Mc Mahon plucking from the NXT roster with a frequency we haven't seen before), it would be no surprise to find Matt Riddle on the main roster before the year is out.
With Brock Lesnar having announced his retirement from MMA and Matt making no secret of his desire to wrestle him, fans are hungrier than ever for the King of Bros to meet the Beast. It could easily be a PPV main event for the ages!
2 Shouldn't: Johnny Gargano
The hero supreme of NXT, Johnny Gargano's stock has never been higher. After what feels like a lifetime of crushing defeats, Johnny Gargano is finally our NXT Champion. Having gained every accolade one can currently gain on the NXT brand, why is it we want him to stay?
Quite simply, because we're afraid. The draft has been unkind to many, and having a smaller frame doesn't do anyone any favors on the main roster. Unless called up as part of a reformed DIY, he is likely to fall victim to the dreaded "smiling babyface" curse. As the one constant of the NXT main event, his skills in the ring could be used to exemplify anyone he clashes with as the next big thing. At this moment in time, somehow, it feels like Gargano has more to do on the NXT brand, than anywhere else.
1 Needs To Get Called Up: Tommaso Ciampa
A man who was so reviled that his "theme" was simply the chorus of boos the fans greeted him with, Tommaso Ciampa may be the greatest heel the NXT has. Sadly, the possible finale to the feud between himself and Johnny Gargano has halted abruptly, when a neck injury forced Tommaso to drop the NXT title just before the culmination of almost two years of storytelling.
Now, the Gargano/Ciampa feud appears to be resolved, with the two reconciling after Gargano became the NXT Champion. The reason he needs a call up after returning from injury is simple: to repeat any steps in his story is more likely to dilute one of the greatest runs in NXT itself.