It used to be that WWE would bring in Superstars from smaller independent promotions, either from the United States or abroad. And their arrival would largely come as a shock. But as media began covering wrestling more frequently, starting with the wrestling hotlines and dirt sheets of times gone by, fans knew more and more. Now, with the internet and social media, fans are as plugged in as ever. Fans often know who's coming next with the addition of the WWE Network, including NXT, their flagship show.
NXT has produced some exceptional main roster talents. But it has also given us some duds. Here's a list of the five best and five worst Superstars, currently on the main roster, who have come to us from NXT. If they were recently released, or are on hiatus (like Tye Dillinger or Sasha Banks), they don't count. Also, throwing out an honorable mention to Baron Corbin, who just narrowly missed the cut.
14 Worst: The Ascension
We haven't seen much of The Ascension lately. Given the imbalance of tag teams between the two brands, their absence pretty telling. Anyone who followed NXT years back knew this team well. They came up to the main roster with plenty of NXT hype, but it turned out to be all sizzle and no steak.
Fans were told they would come up and really impress. And most importantly they would boost the tag team division. But once they arrived, they've done nothing but disappoint and underwhelm. Certainly, some of that could be credited to poor booking or things of that nature, but the reality is cut and dry: Fans just didn't get behind this team. If you can't get cheered or booed by fans, you won't do much. That these guys have lasted as long as they have is actually impressive.
13 Best: Alexa Bliss
This one could have gone a few ways. Perhaps Bayley here instead? However, if you caught the Alexa Bliss 365 special, it could easily change a fan's mind. On this list, there are several Superstars who probably got called up too soon. Some impressed, others showed they shouldn't have come up when they did. Alexa Bliss is perhaps the best example of someone who seemingly had no business coming up when she did, but who has done amazing things with the opportunity she earned. She served as basically a valet in NXT, but has been an exceptional Superstar since hitting the main roster, winning multiple championships in the process.
12 Worst: Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews is a great athlete. No one denies that. He impressed during his time in NXT, but the timing of his call up was not exactly perfectly logical. Perhaps a bit more time developing in Florida would have done him well, but WWE banked on his physical tools being enough to carry him.
Obviously, having a Superstar carry an NXT Championship is not a requirement before they can be called up. But in Apollo's case, he's one who would have greatly benefitted from such a run. No one disputes his physical abilities, but beyond that he's not winning over fans. WWE did attempt to pair him with Titus O'Neill, but that effort didn't last too long, and didn't end up doing much for him. At this point, he's a mid-carder at best. It wouldn't necessarily be a shock to see WWE find a new tag team partner for Apollo, and try him in the tag division for a while. It certainly can't get any worse than things have been so far, right?
11 Best: Roman Reigns
Yes, this one has a chance to be exceptionally polarizing, because that is just what Roman Reigns has been. Whether you like him or not, you cannot deny his place in WWE since he and his Shield brothers debuted. He has held numerous WWE titles and has been a part of a number of big main events, including WrestleManias. Yes, sometimes he was pushed when fans wanted others, but he still reminds us that he is a huge star, capable of being a top performer. He may not be the best Superstar out of NXT on the main roster, but he's a very good one who, health permitting, WWE will rely on for years to come.
10 Worst: No Way Jose
As with Apollo Crews, No Way Jose is someone who may have been brought up to the main roster too soon. Now, that's not saying he should have necessarily had a run as NXT Champion, but it seemed like WWE moved him up just as he was getting hot in NXT. And once he landed on the main roster, any buzz, any momentum, he had built up in Florida quickly died off.
Any time No Way Jose had a chance to get some fashion of a program moving, it just hasn't gone well. Now, we see him chasing after the 24/7 Championship, but he's largely an also-ran. He was still green in NXT, and now on the main roster, he is really green (that hair is just hideous). He's also more of a walking, talking, dancing punchline. And it's sadly not all that entertaining anymore. He might have talent, but it's not being utilized.
9 Best: Seth Rollins
You might choose to make the case that current Universal Champion Seth Rollins is the best product to come out of NXT. He's been a main event performer for as long as Roman Reigns. His first world championship reign only ended thanks to a buckled knee. He's doing for WWE what Vince McMahon had hoped Roman Reigns could have done (though, Reigns is finally catching up, we think). He's a headline act and, barring injury, should be for a long time to come. As far as successful NXT graduates go, Seth Rollins sets the bar. And it's a high one at that.
8 Worst: Sanity
In fairness, this group no longer exists. Eric Young is still on the main roster, chasing the 24/7 Championship. Nikki Cross is too, now playing Alexa Bliss' new best friend. The downside was we really never enjoyed the full four member Sanity that we had in NXT.
Sanity on the main roster, even without Nikki Cross, never came close to whatever lightning in a bottle they caught while in NXT. While this group likely would have never have been Wo big, or even Nexxus big, they could have been a disruptive group that played a heel foil to a reunited Shield (back when they debuted and all three members still worked for WWE). The group showed a lot of promise in NXT, and have basically busted since.
7 Best: Elias
This Superstar is proof that sometimes, what seems like a premature call up will work out. Remember the first time we saw the fresh call up Elias strolling around backstage on RAW? It might have seemed that it happened way too soon. He had some good feuds in NXT, but he had not been pushed to his full potential in the developmental brand.
Looking back now, it is clear he was more ready than his work in NXT demonstrated. If there is any complaint about Elias on the main roster, it's that he's been made a heel, then a babyface, then a heel again. Just as he seemed to be turned face (and getting over), WWE changed their minds and had him work as a heel again. He works well as either, to be honest, so I can't complain with him in either role. He's getting to the point now where he deserves a bigger program-like, a title reign.
6 Worst: Tyler Breeze
There needs to be a caveat here. When he's given a chance, Tyler Breeze is not bad. The issue is how WWE used him on the main roster. It wasn't ideal, and it marginalized him. Sure, the Fashion Police was a good bit, and during their best run they routinely were the comic relief for that show. That wasn't a bad thing, but here's something to keep in mind: Most of these guys aren't working their tails off for years and years to make it as comic relief.
As much as Breeze can be a funny guy, his recent work during his NXT return serves as a strong reminder to fans everywhere: Tyler Breeze can wrestle, and when given the opportunity, he can work a very entertaining match. Sure, people might be quick to give a lot of credit to his opponent (Velveteen Dream), and he does deserve some. That said, Prince Pretty is capable of turning in excellent performances-when given the opportunity to do so.
1 Best: Charlotte Flair
A list of the best from NXT must include Charlotte. Now, while Sasha Banks did not make the list, had she been active as of this writing, she might have. Charlotte, however, is active, and has been one of the main reasons we no longer call female Superstars "Divas." She was not alone, of course. Bayley, Becky Lynch, Paige, and others all played a part. But of the group behind the Women's Evolution, Charlotte is perhaps the most well known, with a famous last name and a bevy of titles to her credit. Male or female, she's one of the best Superstars to come from NXT to the main roster.