The world of the WWE is ready to change with the brand split coming up. Raw and SmackDown will both need full rosters to create a unique brand for each show. Every Superstar in NXT is likely giddy with excitement following the news about the brand split. The current main roster will need more talent to make up the depth to have both shows develop as credible entities going forward. NXT’s success has been documented over the past year with extraordinary growth. The smaller brand has been bringing in fans at every venue and creating new stars that people want to see.
NXT’s original intent was to get promising talent ready for the main roster and the call-up should be most important. They will need talent to continue to thrive as a touring brand, so there has to be a middle ground. The main roster should also see some talents floundering or failing to make an impact get sent down to NXT to revamp their reputations. Tyson Kidd and Emma were two of the success stories of how this game plan could benefit the performer. Both talented performers were failing to get television time and a trip to NXT helped give them confidence again.
There are enough performers to have rotating rosters for Raw, SmackDown and NXT. The two national television brands will have to dip into the NXT talent pool to form rosters deep enough for the brand split. That’s a very safe bet at this point but some of the stars on the main roster should also be sent down to NXT for the betterment on the product. WWE benefits most at the end of the day if everyone is utilized effectively in the overall landscape. We’ll look at eight specific wrestlers that should be called up to the main roster and another eight should be sent down to NXT in a way where it helps everyone involved especially the Superstar involved.
16 Send Down: Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio's return to the WWE in late 2015 has been a huge failure. Del Rio was irrelevant just weeks after resurfacing and is one of the least exciting stars on the main roster today. The sad part is Del Rio was red hot on the independent scene between stellar performances in Lucha Underground and Ring of Honor. A smaller pond like NXT may be the ideal place for Alberto in the WWE landscape to regain his credibility with the audience. A couple of outstanding matches against some of the top stars in NXT are necessary to revamp Del Rio’s reputation before he gets another push on the main roster again.
15 Call Up: Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe has been one of the best overall performers in pro wrestling for more than a decade, but just recently made his WWE debut last year. Joe is as good as ever, as seen with his stellar matches against Finn Balor at the last two NXT TakeOver specials. Joe’s legacy adds to his presence and fans feel like they are watching someone special every time he has a big match. The time for the main roster call up is now as he’s not getting any younger. Joe has been selling a great deal of merchandise following his WWE contract signing and that’s an indication that he has a fan base large enough to support him on Raw or SmackDown.
14 Send Down: Fandango
Believe it or not, Fandango once had great potential and some people believed he could be a star player in the WWE. He won the old NXT competition as Johnny Curtis but the company didn’t have anything for him until the invention of the Fandango character. The zany gimmick actually got over due to his infectious theme song, but WWE squandered his momentum. Fandango has not been showcased much since then, relegated to jobbing or working on shows like Main Event and Superstars. The talent is still there and a stint in NXT could help prove that. Fandango’s confidence would return and his work would be spotlighted far more with an opportunity in NXT. That would also be a great opportunity to repackage him and create a new gimmick for the Superstar.
13 Call Up: Asuka
The roster split will likely need more women getting called up from NXT to have enough female talent on both Raw and SmackDown. WWE’s desire to showcase women’s wrestling in a more credible light will need more great talents on the main roster. Asuka is arguably the best NXT women’s talent due to her years of experience in Japan and her unique skill set. Her signing has already been a huge success and she’s a player for the future on the main roster. Why delay the inevitable with a performer clearly ready for the next step? We need Asuka facing the likes of Sasha Banks and Charlotte as soon as possible.
12 Send down: Summer Rae
Summer Rae’s career is rather depressing to think about. Her NXT run showed amazing promise with a heel personality unlike any other active in-ring performer on the roster. Summer clearly works hard and has a marketable look. Unfortunately, her peak on NXT came at a time when very few people watched the show. The move to send her down would help show everyone just how well she can perform in the right spot and make her a better main roster performer. Emma being sent down to NXT last year helped get her ready for a return to the big stage and this would be a similar story for Summer Rae.
11 Call Up: Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa
WWE’s tag team division is being booked with more importance these days. The New Day are an elite act towards the top of WWE. Enzo and Big Cass are the next big tag team with fans falling in love with them more and more each week. The Vaudevillains and Usos are fine but there needs to be more depth if both Raw and SmackDown will have separate rosters. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa would fit in perfectly to help boost any tag division they become a part of. Both independent wrestling stars have excelled in NXT and it’s time to sign them to a full-time WWE contract. Gargano and Ciampa are among the most talented wrestlers in the world and their body of work shows they are ready for the main roster.
10 Send Down: Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze is one of the best NXT stars of all time, but his stint on the main roster has been a huge disappointment. Following a feud with Dolph Ziggler, Breeze has floundered with little to no momentum in any positive direction. Breeze is currently in a dead end tag team storyline with Fandango against Goldust and R-Truth. With many of the names that were above him in the pecking order getting called up to the main roster, it may be best to send him back down as the top star of the promotion. Breeze would take steps backwards in some ways to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, but it would benefit every party involved.
9 Call Up: Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss' potential is huge and upper management in NXT knows it. Bliss has been one of the more heavily pushed female performers outside of The Four Horsewomen to get featured prominently on NXT television for a few years now. At just 24 years old, Alexa gets better with each match and found her ideal character as a heel in the past year. Her improvement has been more apparent than the likes of Dana Brooke. Alexa is more ready for the main roster than Brooke and some of the other recent NXT call-ups. Between her look, athleticism and charisma, Alexa Bliss is a future star and her ascension should begin now.
8 Send Down: The Shining Stars
WWE does not want to give up on Primo and Epico, but the writing may be on the wall. The Shining Stars are the latest gimmick the cousins have tried to no response from the crowd and it’s hard to imagine anything changing that. The only thing that can possibly save the Colons’ careers with the company would be going down to NXT for a while. Both men have decent skills that could dazzle fans in the ring despite their lack of personality. Gaining respect in NXT through superb matches would be their last chance to get over in WWE because the arrogant ethnic heel character gimmick is not going to cut it.
7 Call Up: American Alpha
American Alpha is definitely the best tag team in NXT and may be the best tag team in the world at the moment. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan found their role in pro wrestling when they began teaming together. The duo have tremendous chemistry and are the personification of a great tag team. They have different strengths that can hide their individual flaws and just connect with the audience in a very organic way. Gable and Jordan could be argued as the most exciting act in NXT right now and they absolutely need to be on the main roster with the upcoming brand split. American Alpha would instantly be a hit as one of the top teams on any show they are on. The two stars will also have huge solo careers following their sting as a tag team.
6 Send Down: Braun Strowman
Vince McMahon’s love of Braun Strowman is well documented, due to his old school look as the once ideal monster heel. Strowman is a massive human being with an intense personality and has been rumored to face the likes of Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker at various points. The fact that he was even considered for those matches shows what he can become, but he’s just not there yet. Strowman is very inexperienced and limited in the ring. The big man was called up before spending any time in NXT and that was a huge mistake. Strowman needs experience in a climate like NXT before having any big singles match on live national television.
5 Call Up: Finn Balor
It feels like we have been waiting on the arrival of Finn Balor on the main roster for years now. Balor was signed at the same time as Kevin Owens. One of them has become a fixture in the upper midcard/lower main event scene on the main roster and the other has yet to appear on national television despite having about the same skill set. Balor has been forced to stay in NXT as the face of the promotion that is hoping to grow with a talent as respected as him on top. That’s fine on the surface, but Balor isn’t getting any younger at the age of 34. The time is now for a call up to the main roster for a star with the potential to become a future WWE World Champion.
4 Send Down: Bo Dallas
New fans of the current NXT product would be stunned to realize Bo Dallas was one of the bigger stars in the history of the promotion and a former NXT Champion. The intentionally ridiculous “Bolieve” gimmick actually worked in NXT, helping him become the most hated heel on the roster. Between his feuds with Sami Zayn and Neville, Dallas was a top name before his call up to the main roster. Despite being booked with the same gimmick, Bo has been a glorified jobber on television. The act should be sent back down to NXT. Dallas is still young at 26 years old and will have plenty more opportunities on the main roster, but the current climate makes him a better fit for NXT. Repackaging him to join forces with his brother Bray as a Wyatt family member can be an interesting possibility.
3 Call Up: Bayley
The Four Horsewomen of NXT are the main reason fans developed an interest for women’s wrestling and demanded change on the main roster. Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch tore it up at WrestleMania 32 showing the future was here, but Bayley was the one women out of that equation. NXT’s touring schedule requires star power to sell the tickets and Bayley has yet to get the call up due to that. The brand split needing as much talent as possible for Raw and SmackDown to both thrive as separate shows means they can no longer wait to call up Bayley. Bayley could be the female version of John Cena if WWE is intelligent with their presentation.
2 Send Down: Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler’s career has provided the ups and downs of a disappointing roller coaster ride. Everyone believed in Ziggler being one of the next big stars in WWE between 2011-2013. Ziggler’s matches were the best on the show and the fans were begging for him to become a World Champion. Following many abandoned pushes, the WWE Universe finally just threw in the towel. The poor booking was also mixed with the main roster seeing new stars joining and leaving Ziggler in the past. Dolph has to remind us just how good he is and having more freedom in NXT to “steal the show” would be the best possible thing for his career, if he ever wants to excel in WWE as anything more than a forgettable midcarder. His interest in recreating himself at this point remains the biggest question mark.
1 Call Up: Shinsuke Nakamura
There are very few talents in pro wrestling that can captivate a crowd by just walking to the ring and Shinsuke Nakamura is one of them. Everything about the Japanese import screams star power from the pageantry of his entrance to his matches in the ring. Nakamura’s limitations with English don’t matter as much as it did with other foreign wrestlers due to how inherently charismatic he is. WWE can’t waste too much time with a potential game-changing talent and he has to be on the main roster with the brand split coming. Nakamura has the possibility to be in the main event right away thanks to his ability to connect with any crowd he wrestles in front of.
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