“They should have stayed in NXT”.. “They’ll be wasted on the main roster”… “WWE don’t know how to use NXT talent”…
We’ve all heard and read these claims many, many times over the years. WWE fans are often quick to point out how certain wrestlers aren’t exactly booked as impressively on the main roster as they were in NXT.
However, when you start to look a little deeper there are actually quite a few superstars who have fared better on RAW and SmackDown than they did in NXT. We might not always want to give the big bad WWE and Vince McMahon credit for great booking, but there is a case to be made that WWE have done a terrific job of pushing NXT stars on the main roster.
Join me as I run down my own personal list of Top 10 NXT Superstars who have been booked better on the main roster.
Carmella was the final draft pick when it returned in 2016, and a lot of people were very surprised to see her get called up. That’s because in NXT, ‘Mella wasn’t really a featured star. Yet during her main roster run, she really absolutely thrived and grown as a performer.
Getting to prove herself away from Big Cass and Enzo has been a blessing for her, and Carmella has more than proven her charisma and in-ring abilities. She won Money In The Bank (twice technically), been a great heel Women’s Champion, won the Miss WrestleMania battle royal, and held the 24/7 Title twice, proving just how talented and versatile she really is.
When Mandy Rose first appeared in NXT, fans quite rightly felt that she was just going to be the next Eva Marie. Someone who was brought in purely for her beauty and to eventually be a part of Total Divas, but when she was quickly brought to the main roster it was clear that wasn’t the case.
In a very short space of time, Mandy has improved drastically in the ring and really started to shine as a character as well. Her feud with Sonya Deville helped to get the fans behind her in a big way, and her pairing with Otis was a masterstroke. She is quickly becoming a top star in the women’s disvion and that is something that could never have been expected when she was first moved up.
When Elias was a part of NXT he was hated by fans, but it wasn’t the kind of heat that will help further a career. Fans just didn’t want to watch any of his segments and we were all extremely puzzled when he was first brought up to the main roster. He hadn’t spent much time in NXT, mostly floating around backstage with occasional matches dotted about, without having any memorable moments.
However, his character is one that suits being on the main roster where entertainment is more of a focus. He has thrived on both RAW and SmackDown whether playing a heel or babyface, gaining huge reactions from audiences every time he appears. Though his only championship gold came in the form of a brief 24/7 Championship reign, Elias’ booking has undoubtedly been better since his call-up. Major storylines and angles, a WrestleMania match and even a WWE Network special all go to show that you don’t always need to be decorated to be a star.
Speaking of Mandy Rose, her current on-screen boyfriend Otis, is another name who has thrived more on the main roster. While Heavy Machinery were a strong and well liked team in NXT, they weren’t pushed anywhere near as hard as they have been on the main roster.
Unfortunately for his vastly underrated partner Tucker, Otis has really struck a chord amongst fans through his over the top personality and it has worked massively in his favor. He is now breaking out on his own away from Tucker, and with the Money In The Bank briefcase, he is set to become an even bigger star in the future. Could singles gold be on the horizon?
Baron Corbin was booked fairly consistently in NXT, but he was always just missing out on the main event picture. It can be argued that he was moved too soon and wasn’t ready in terms of character or ability, proven during his early main roster days. However, over the last few years Corbin, has been arguably the top heel in the entire company, if not the industry as a whole.
He is almost always involved in major storylines alongside top tier opponents, is a former Money In The Bank winner, United States Champion, the current King Of The Ring and most notably retired Kurt Angle at WrestleMania. Corbin has thrived on the main roster, and no doubt has an even bigger future ahead of him.
Even though Murphy did have a run as NXT Tag Team Champion alongside Wesley Blake, overall his run on the main roster has been far more impressive. Before he was castrated of his first name, Murphy also had a fantastic spell on 205 Live where he helped to elevate the entire division as one of their best ever champions.
However it is on the main roster where he has really come in to his own. Whether it’s epic matches with Roman Reigns or his incredible series with Aleister Black, Murphy always delivers in the ring. His current role working alongside Seth Rollins as part of the Monday Night Messiah’s cult-like group suits him down to the ground, and he is being rewarded with constant TV time for his stellar work. He should definitely be competing for the US or Intercontinental Championship in the near future.
In NXT, Nikki Cross was treated like a star as a member of sAnitY and she really did add a lot to the faction. However, she was always on the outside while the trio thrived in the ring, and even though she got a few title opportunities, Cross was never one of the top names of the womens division. It always felt like she was there to simply make up the numbers and to bring out the best in other talent.
However, on the main roster that hasn’t been the case at all. While it took her a little while to find her footing, since she started working with Alexa Bliss she hasn’t looked back. Though she may now be a wildly different character compared to her time spent with sAnitY, Nikki is a top star in the womens division and alongside Little Miss Bliss. The duo captured the womens tag team titles on multiple occasions and have brought a great deal of entertainment and character to the table.
While he may have been recently released from WWE and joined rival company AEW, Rusev certainly had an impressive career with the company on the main roster. He was dominant in NXT for the period he was in the brand, but he was never considered to be a top star and left the so called developmental brand without holding any championship gold.
The polar opposite can be said for his main roster run. Rusev’s call-up was immediately followed by a year long undefeated run, eventually leading on to three separate United States Championship reigns. There was a time, as recently as late 2018, where Rusev was the most over act in all of professional wrestling. The rise of Rusev Day was the most beautiful and natural rise in popularity that we may have ever seen for a WWE superstar.
Rusev was always a fantastic, entertaining star who was constantly in major storylines (whether you liked them or not) and even when he wasn’t, the support from the fans would always force him back into major angles. His booking in recent years was embarrassing at times and he is much better off out of WWE.
Most fans actually don’t remember that Xavier Woods was ever a part of NXT and that’s because his time on the brand was largely forgettable, but his run on the main roster has been nothing short of amazing. Fans forget about Woods prior to being in The New Day, simply because the faction has been so good and so important to WWE for a number of years.
New Day will go down as one of, if not the greatest faction in wrestling history. Woods has been booked as a top star on the main roster and is now an established name, which was not the case in NXT, where he was an afterthought.
Out of every NXT Superstar who has had a better main roster run than their time in the black and yellow brand, Alexa Bliss is far and beyond the superstar to have improved the most. She went from being a basic valet who never had a title shot to being, on paper, one of the greats of womens wrestling. Don’t believe me? Bliss is one of the most decorated womens wrestlers in company history, holding the RAW/SmackDown Women’s Championship and Womens Tag Team Championships on multiple occasions.
On top of these achievements Bliss has been given her own talk show, was the host of WrestleMania 35 and has been both a successful heel and babyface. She has been one of the biggest names in the women’s division throughout her entire run and that is something that nobody expected based on her NXT career. Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch may be the most talked about women on the roster, but Alexa deserves to be in that conversation.
Check out our official store at PRO WRESTLING TEES, show us your support and buy a shirt. You can visit our store by clicking here.
Also check us out on Facebook and give us a like and share by clicking HERE.