There's no denying that NXT is the hottest thing in wrestling right now, with stars such as Asuka, Samoa Joe and James Storm coming from other brands to join the ‘developmental’ NXT system - which in many people’s opinion (including myself) is producing better content than the main roster right now. The superb in ring performances along with gripping storylines and relatable characters are making NXT an unmissable Wednesday night watch.
The hugely successful NXT TakeOver London, in which the biggest stars of NXT battled it out in front of the ELECTRIC (I know I was there...) crowd of 10,000 screaming Brits at the SSE Arena in London, rocketed the NXT brand to even bigger heights. Another TakeOver event has been announced by Triple H (after he aggressively shouted ‘WE ARE NXT!!!’) for WrestleMania weekend in Dallas, which is sure to be a huge hit with the fans.
But ultimately, the goal for these Superstars and Divas is to become the next John Cena, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin etc. but they can’t do this in NXT, so a jump to the main roster is the next big step for them. Some may be successful (Charlotte, although the NXT Women’s title seems more prestigious than the Divas title right now, but that’s beside the point. Oh and Kevin Owens) and others.... well not so much (The Ascension).
Due to their success in NXT, the main roster is surely going to be desperate for many of these great workers, captivating characters and huge personalities to jump ship, as the main roster which is dying for a boost in 2016. With the wide variety of talent in NXT, narrowing the 13 hottest stars/teams that are most likely to hop across to the main roster is going to be a tricky task – but here goes...
13 Alexa Bliss
The sexy, sassy sidekick for Blake and Murphy (no I don’t think they’re going to get a main roster call up anytime soon) is slowly but surely rounding into an adequate performer in the ring. She’s has a great heel attitude, which is a definite requirement in the Divas division, especially if it’s going to develop in the future.
We're sure they’ll give her the majority of the year to develop her in ring ability in NXT before she moves over to the big show, perhaps as a heel manager to a new tag team. But she’s hot, so we're sure she’ll make it.
12 Dash and Dawson
You may be surprised to see these two brawlers on our list, but let us explain. The tag team division in WWE is lacking some truly hated characters. You could say that New Day are supposed to be hated but everyone loves their witty and outrageous antics, so some proper heels are necessary.
It’s important to remember that these guys are great workers who can put on great matches, as shown at TakeOver London. So if they can work on their character development (the London crowd’s failure to tell the difference between the two highlights this) and mic skills, this pair have the potential to be a great heel team on the main roster.
Let’s hope they don’t follow The Ascension’s footsteps.
11 Corey Graves
We never said they were all going to be wrestlers...
It may just be because we're comparing him to Byron Saxton, but Corey Graves has done a great job at the commentary desk for NXT since his in ring retirement in December 2014. His witty heel antics, heavily consisting of him telling Byron Saxton to shut up, help make NXT more entertaining and this would be greatly appreciated on RAW or SmackDown in 2016.
10 The Vaudevillians
It’s been a great year for Simon Gotch and Aiden English, who won the NXT tag titles at NXT TakeOver Brooklyn from Blake and Murphy (with a little help from Blue Pants) in the highlight of their year. After a good run with the titles, they eventually lost them to Dash and Dawson. Towards the end of 2015, they teased a heel turn after refusing to shake hands with Gable and Jordan, but still got a great pop at the TakeOver London pre-show.
So who knows what will happen with The Vaudevillians in 2016, but with their fantastic in- ring chemistry and interesting PG gimmick, a main roster call up could be possible for these two.
9 Jason Jordan + Chad Gable
Well, what can we say about Jordan and Gable? They are arguably the hottest thing in NXT right now, with the live audience completely buying into Gable’s pure and, dare we say, Kurt Angle-like technical wrestling along with Jordan’s powerhouse, intense style in the ring. It provides a great contrast which the fans are loving right now.
These guys are at number nine because perhaps 2017 might be their year for a main roster call up rather than 2016 because if their momentum keeps up, they are sure to get a lengthy run with the NXT tag titles in 2016. However, with the state of the main roster's tag team division, which is why so many tag teams are on this list, it's entirely possible they get pushed up this year if they can impress with the belts.
The smoking hot Aussie took a quick tour of the main roster in a rather unsuccessful and borderline cringe worthy team-up with Santino Marella in 2014, but she could be on her way back in 2016.
Upon her return to NXT in early 2015, she altered her gimmick from a bubbly larger than life character to the dark, sassy and damn hot Diva we see today, aligning herself with Dana Brooke. She’s been very successful in her return to NXT, having a great opening match with Asuka at TakeOver London. If she keeps her great heel momentum going, she has a great chance to move into a prime heel role on the main roster.
7 Baron Corbin
The Lone Wolf had a great year in NXT as the most hated character (in a good way) and 2016 may be the year where he'll ride his motorbike into the main roster. He’s vastly improved in 2015 and he’s been attracting a bigger reaction recently at Full Sail. Perhaps he’ll be given a run with the NXT title in the summer of 2016 before he makes his first appearance on the main roster.
The fantastic Breaking Ground documentary on the WWE network has given Corbin a much needed boost, allowing fans to get an insight into his life and interests. This culmination of things may lead to us seeing him on the main roster in 2016.
The extravagant Japanese sensation has taken the NXT women’s division by storm with her unique offense (gosh that sounded like Michael Cole) and larger than life character. She is very likely to be a hit on the main roster if she gets the nod.
When Bayley graduates to main roster, which could happen shortly, a long stint with the NXT women’s championship seems likely for Asuka, making a main roster switch possible at the end of the year.
5 Samoa Joe
This former TNA star and experienced brute is sure to be given a shot on the main roster sooner rather than later. His superb in ring ability, along with great mic skills, make him an obvious choice for a potential upper mid-card slot on the main roster, which a future Intercontinental or US Championship reign seeming likely.
With The King of the Coquina Clutch getting older, we're sure the WWE won't wait too long to have him jump to the main roster for a great end to his career.
4 Enzo and Big Cass
MY NAME IS ENZO AMORE AND I'M A CERTIFIED G AND.... okay, we'll stop there. This tag team is completely over with the NXT fans and they've recently been rumored to be making the transition to the big stage. With that being said, we can nearly guarantee that we’ll see this great team battling it out with New Day in 2016.
The big question is whether we'll be seeing The Princess of Rhode Island, Carmella, strutting to the main roster with Enzo and Big Cass? It seems very likely due to her relationship with Cass, but who knows.
3 Sami Zayn
It’s pretty clear (at least to us) that the return of Sami Zayn on NXT's tour of the UK proved that he’s ready for the big time. We saw this first hand during his US title match against John Cena last April on RAW, as even with a badly injured shoulder, he put on a great match in his hometown.
He’s a huge hit with the fans and, if he stays injury free, he'll likely be involved in high profile feuds on the main roster for the next few years.
Although we're sure she was disappointed to be left behind by WWE as they placed Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch at the forefront of the ‘Divas Revolution’ angle, she seems to have excelled since that point. Her match of the year candidate with Sasha Banks at TakeOver Brooklyn showed the world that she’s one hell of a wrestler and her relatable character makes her a near guaranteed success on the main roster.
The lack of talent on the women’s NXT roster right now may hold her back, as stars such as Alexa Bliss and Eva Marie need time to improve their in ring ability before they can take the title from her.
She’s one of the most popular female wrestlers right now and when you can get grown men to wear bright purple T-shirts saying ‘I’m a hugger’ on them, you know you’re doing something right. It only makes sense that the WWE will try to capitalize on that in the coming year.
1 Finn Bálor
Who else was it going to be?
Yes, the former NJPW star who previously wrestled as Prince Devitt has quickly risen to the top of the NXT ladder. He’s the current NXT champion and face of the brand, so although they’ll be keen for him to stick around, the main roster will be desperate to bring this fresh face in sooner rather than later. His iconic demon gimmick and entrance along with his overall popularity with the fans will make him an instant hit if/when he double stomps his way into the main card.
Perhaps dropping the title at NXT TakeOver Dallas to Baron Corbin or Sami Zayn could be a possible route out of NXT, with a debut on RAW the night after WrestleMania seeming logical.