On August 22nd, 2015, Triple H stood in the middle of an NXT ring, in front of a sold out Barclay's Center. He looked at the camera and said, "It started as a whisper, until you screamed it at the top of your lungs. We gained momentum, you made us unstoppable."
That's what NXT has become: it was initially perceived to be a developmental brand for up and coming WWE hopefuls to hone their skills in preparation for RAW and Smackdown. But slowly, the support grew. The buzz kept getting louder. Soon, popular indie names were showing up on NXT TV, and after the first Takeover event, it became clear that NXT was more than just developmental, it was the alternative brand.
Through stellar matches and exciting storylines, several names helped NXT evolve into what it is today. Before The Shield and The Authority, there was Seth Rollins - first ever NXT champion. Before The New Day, Big E was pinning guys with a five count, and Xavier Woods was a '90s era enthusiast. Paige and Emma were turning heads with their matches and showing what women's wrestling could be, and paved the way for Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley to reinvigorate women's wrestling. Sami Zayn is labelled as "the heart and soul" of NXT for his passionate, wild rivalries against the likes of Cesaro, Neville and Kevin Owens. Before Enzo Amore and Big Cass had RAW and Smackdown crowds in the palms of their hands, the crowds at Full Sail University were the ones chanting "SAWFT". Even Bo Dallas played a pivotal part in popularizing NXT- before becoming a comedic jobber, he played the NXT champion that people loved to loathe.
However, at its core, its still developmental. All these household names share the dream of "getting the call up." People leave, and there are voids needed to be filled to ensure that there's enough star power to sustain NXT's growth and popularity. This list shows thirteen names that can take the reigns and become the new faces of NXT.
13 Manny Andrade
12 Elias Samson
11 Alexa Bliss
10 Tye Dillinger
9 Dana Brooke
7 Hideo Itami
6 The Revival
5 Nia Jax
3 Austin Aries
2 American Alpha
1 Shinsuke Nakamura
If someone as legendary as Nakamura isn’t on RAW, then WWE better not waste his time and regard him as a top player of NXT - anything below is a step down for such a talent. He is everything needed to belong in the biggest wrestling organization in the world: he has the charismatic, unique character, the look and the unrivalled wrestling ability to create matches that can sell out houses. Even if you’ve never heard of Nakamura before, just watch his NXT Takeover debut against Sami Zayn to understand how much star power this guy can bring. There are a number of money making rivalries that are just waiting to begin: Nakamura versus Itami in hard hitting matches, Nakamura versus Aries in a clash of over-the-top personalities, or Nakamura versus Samoa Joe…
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