Every time one may think that NXT is becoming thin or watered down, those in charge of building World Wrestling Entertainment rosters do well to scout talent for the developmental system and also sign performers who made names for themselves in organizations such as Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling and other promotions. While NXT can be a roller-coaster product of ups and downs based upon storylines, real-life injuries and other occurrences, that brand has been entertaining and fresh since the spring/summer of 2017. At the NXT Takeover: Philadelphia show, Johnny Gargano and Andrade Cien Almas put on a five-star match in the eyes of Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer, offering proof that the yellow portion of the WWE is the company’s best product going today.
As always, during the spring and summer months, multiple members of NXT will receive call-ups to the main roster following the WrestleMania and SummerSlam cards. In the past, passionate fans have seen WWE writers and producers sadly waste beloved NXT talents such as Bayley, Neville and even Shinsuke Nakamura until the 2018 Royal Rumble. The hope, moving forward, is that somebody with a better mind for the current business (i.e. Triple H) will be able to get the best out of certain NXT acts when they arrive to either Raw or SmackDown. We’d like to see the following eight acts receive call-ups to the main roster, and we believe all could become hits in front of fans if presented with the proper opportunities to get over.
16 Authors of Pain
The duo of Akam and Rezar, known as the Authors of Pain, were one of the most dominant forces to ever grace the NXT tag team division. They were presented as an updated version of the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom, so much so that they had Paul Ellering serve as their mouthpiece.
Whether or not Ellering would join the Authors on the main roster is unknown, since doing so would involve more touring than he was tasked with while managing AOP in NXT. Even without Ellering, the duo could, with the right booking and writing, let their in-ring antics do the talking and not cut those 20-minute promos that bore and even lose so many fans who watch weekly Raw and SmackDown shows.
15 How to Use Them: Feud With The Usos
The SmackDown brand has been the home of some awesome tag team wrestling with the Usos dominating both babyface and heel opponents, and we’d like to see the Authors get a shot at that team not long after they are called up to the main roster.
For starters, working with the Usos on the road could help AOP improve even more than they did during their stint in NXT. Beating the Usos for the gold and having them and not the Bludgeon Brothers (no disrespect meant to Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) sit atop the division could be a great way to propel AOP to main-event status, and it would also allow the Usos to make a much-needed move to the Raw roster in an upcoming roster shake-up.
There is not that much else for the Sanity faction to do down in NXT following the conclusion of the current WrestleMania season. They’ve already held the Tag Team Championships, they took part in the first War Games in the brand’s history, their feud with the Undisputed Era should, theoretically, be finished in the spring, and they have the goods to wrestle on the main roster starting today.
Granted, some may claim that Nikki Cross should remain in NXT for the time being because she has not been able to have a lengthy solo program over the Women’s Championship. We don’t necessarily hate that idea, as Cross could work as a babyface or a heel in such a storyline before joining her Sanity teammates on either Raw or SmackDown later this year.
13 How to Use Them: Feud With Bray Wyatt & Broken Matt
Often, the simplest and easiest idea is the one to go with, and that is the case as it pertains to Sanity. The trio of Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain need to be added to the Raw roster and thrust into the feud involving WOKEN Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt. That storyline needs an injection of life, and Wyatt is going to require additional help to take on the Hardy stable once Jeff Hardy/Brother Nero is cleared for action and able to compete.
What’s great about this is that the WWE could introduce Reby Hardy into the mix and tease that Bray has a “Sister Abigail” waiting for her, only to then have the previously mentioned Cross join the fight. With some good writing, this story could continue well into the fall and even up to the Survivor Series.
12 Ember Moon
There is just something that is missing with the Ember Moon character as it has been presented in NXT. Perhaps the problem is that her promos haven’t improved all that much since she first debuted, or maybe she would be better suited as a heel than a babyface.
We have seen Moon fail to win the gold multiple times during a feud with Asuka before she eventually earned the title after the “Empress of Tomorrow” received her call-up to the main roster, and she now seems destined to drop that gold to mixed martial arts fighter Shayna Baszler. Assuming that occurs at some point in the spring, Moon will need to be called up to the main roster, because she will not have anything else to do in developmental.
11 How to Use Her - Feud With Charlotte
The women’s divisions on both main roster shows need changes, which we assume will occur once WrestleMania season ends and the WWE moves multiple performers from Raw to SmackDown and vice versa. Moon has a plethora of exciting matches in her future once she receives her call-up.
Our initial idea would be to thrust her into a feud with Charlotte, somebody she never had the chance to work with on a regular basis in NXT. It’s a new match fans haven’t seen, Moon could work as either a babyface or heel in such a scenario, and going back and forth on the microphone with the current SmackDown Champion could help Moon improve that aspect of her character. A heel Moon could even carry the flag for the SmackDown women’s roster for a period of time.
10 Kassius Ohno
Fans who watched Kassius Ohno make his name on the independent scene as Chris Hero may understand that he isn’t going to receive much of a push on the main roster because of his look. That’s fine, but that he may never win the Universal Championship isn’t a good reason to allow him to waste down in NXT.
Granted, there is something to be said for having Owens wrestle with developmental hoped-to-be stars in efforts to help them improve, but the time has come to allow him to either flourish or flounder on one of the two top shows. A simple gimmick change could do wonders for Ohno, as it would allow him to compete for a mid-card championship, produce entertaining matches and maybe even get over among casual audiences.
9 How to Use Him: Team With Kevin Owens
The first thing that needs to happen is the WWE giving Ohno a wardrobe change that involves him wearing pants during matches. It’s time, and it’s needed. Second, Ohno needs to turn heel. It’s an easy story to tell. Ohno can cut promos about how he was never given a true shot in the WWE because he doesn’t look like a bodybuilder, but everybody needs to respect he is a gifted and talented wrestler.
Once WrestleMania season ends, Kevin Owens may have little, if anything, interesting to do. Why not pair Ohno and Owens? Both are big dudes with the same initials, the two could have great matches, and they could improve the tag team divisions on both Raw and SmackDown? This would be a fun team even if it would only last for several months before Owens turned on him because that’s just how that particular K.O. operates.
8 Andrade “Cien” Almas
It doesn’t seem as if it was all that long ago when Andrade “Cien” Almas was a massive flop on the NXT roster who wasn’t getting over as a babyface and who was even being rejected by Florida audiences that often accept just about everybody.
Turning him heel and having Zelina Vega serve as his voice and his manager has done him wonders, and he ultimately won the NXT Championship and became one of the better characters on that brand. In fact, Almas has improved so much that he has sort of outgrown NXT as of February 2018. Once he drops the title in the near future, he should be called up to the main roster heading into the summer and the lead-up to the SummerSlam card.
7 How to Use Him: US Title Picture On SmackDown
Add Almas to the SmackDown division the Tuesday after WrestleMania, build him up for a month or two, and then allow him to compete for and win the United States title against some babyface opponent. It could be either Bobby Roode or somebody else. It really doesn’t matter, because he has the goods to get a solid match out of just about any opponent while working as a heel.
From there, Vega could come out on weekly shows and announce that Almas is bringing the United States Championship Open Challenge back. Almas repeatedly defending that title would make him and the championship more important, and it could eventually lead to the inevitable break-up between the duo in the future. It’s classic long-term booking at its finest.
6 No Way Jose
We understand that the character No Way Jose can be a polarizing persona, in part because it feels like such a WWE creation. The chant and the song are choreographed by the company, but yet it works among diehards who watch NXT every week and among those who travel to watch events such as the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania and SummerSlam.
If you’re anything like us, you may have actually forgotten that No Way Jose is still technically part of NXT as of February 2018. Jose is probably not going to receive an opportunity to carry either the NXT Title or the Tag Team Championships while on that roster. He’s been in NXT long enough. He has earned a call-up to Raw, hopefully not too long after WrestleMania.
5 How to Use Him: IC Title Picture On Raw
The WWE should treat Jose as it would Almas in our simulation. Jose should be added to the mid-card of the Raw roster, he should be showcased as a winner who can compete for the Intercontinental Championship, and he should then win that title from a heel such as The Miz. One thing we would do differently with Jose is have him work the opening match of just about every Raw show.
Jose’s song, alone, gets people off their feet and into the show, he attracts positive reactions in arenas all over the country, and he works an entertaining style. If he got over, he could even give fans reasons to not miss the opening half-hour of those three-hour Raw television programs. That, alone, could make him worth the call-up this spring.
4 Iconic Duo
It’s a shame that neither Billie Kay nor Peyton Royce had an opportunity to win the NXT Championship after they made their names as the Iconic Duo. Both Kay and Royce got over, both have the goods on the microphone and in the ring to carry the strap, and the two cutting promos with one of them holding the title would’ve been worth the price of admission, on its own.
The harsh reality here is that their time to carry the women’s division in NXT has come to an end. Ember Moon is already that much more above them in the eyes of fans, and you couldn’t put either Kay or Royce over a dominant force such as Shayna Baszler. It’s time for them to join the main roster as a tandem.
3 How to Use Them: First Ever Women's Tag Champions
We are working under the assumption that former Ultimate Fighting Championship Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey is going to become the Raw Women’s Champion and the person who finally hands Asuka a loss down the road. Knowing what we know about how the WWE sees the Raw brand, we want to add the Iconic Duo to SmackDown.
They could compete with the likes of The Bellas, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Naomi and other babyfaces eventually added to that roster. Additionally, it's possible the two of them heading to SmackDown could even lead to the introduction of badly-needed Women’s Tag Team Titles. The main roster desperately needs these belts with the noteworthy amount of talented females working on Raw and SmackDown. Let the Duo hold those new championships and defend them on both major shows for a period of time.
2 Johnny Gargano
The rise of Johnny Gargano, known as Johnny Wrestling, is arguably the top feel-good story of NXT since the days of Sami Zayn serving as that brand’s top babyface. Those who don’t read NXT spoilers may want to skip the rest of this section, because we do know Gargano’s time on that roster is running out.
The WWE has shot an angle that involves Gargano losing his final championship match on that brand, a result that is forcing him to leave NXT and join the main roster following WrestleMania weekend. Once that happens, we have the perfect landing spot for him, even if there are some fans out there who may not be happy with the idea. It’s a necessary evil for a portion of the main roster the WWE is trying to fix at the moment.
1 How to Use Him: Cruiserweight Champion
Once Enzo Amore was released and the Cruiserweight Championship was left in limbo, the WWE took multiple steps to fix the broken 205 Live show. Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer have stated that Triple H now has more control of 205 Live than Vince McMahon, and the program has improved since that transition. 205 Live needs a fiery beloved figure who is a fresh face, who can produce five-star clinics and who get over among fans en route to ultimately competing for either the WWE Championship or Universal Championship.
Gargano is the perfect person for that role once he is added to the main roster. We’d like to see him built up over several months before he wins the purple belt at the 2018 edition of SummerSlam.