Since the first NXT Takeover in 2014, NXT has been one of the best wrestling shows out there. That first group of superstars including Sami Zayn Adrian Neville and Tyler Breeze looked destined for greatness. But in the years following, one thing has become clear. However, some NXT Superstars have been ruined by WWE once they get to the main roster.
Now of course, there are exceptions. Not all of the NXT superstars have been wasted. In fact, most of the main roster now is made up of NXT alumni.
The current Universal champion spent a short time in the rebranded developmental, as did Mr Money in the Bank. The women’s division is made up almost entirely of women who came through NXT.
Some superstars, however, were stars in developmental, and have been pushed to the side by Vince McMahon once they reach Raw or Smackdown.
For every Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, there’s a Adam Rose and Aleister Black. NXT has produced some of the best superstars in the world today, and some have thrived on the main roster. But in this article, we will look at the ones that failed.
NXT Superstars ruined in WWE
Eric Young & Sanity
“Who’s Sanity?” I hear you ask. Maybe you don’t remember their great feud with Tye Dillenger, or their great performance in the first NXT war games against Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era.
They were were a team comprised of four members
- Eric Young – Former TNA World Champion and leader of the group
- Alexander Wolfe – The strange looking German who was the crazy one in the group
- Killian Dain – Known as Big Damo on the British independent scene, a massive Northern Irish wrestler
- Nikki Cross – Also insane, the token woman of the group
But they were thrust onto the main roster way too early. Vince McMahon had no plan for the team, only pulling them from NXT as a shock debut after Wrestlemania.
They beat the New Day early on, in their first pay-per-view. However, Nikki Cross did not join them on the main roster, and the stable would rarely have any TV time for the rest of the year.
That match was the teams only win on Smackdown. Their lowest point was losing in a 3 on 1 handicap match to the Miz. The Miz is one of the best heels in WWE, and regularly cheats to win his matches. Losing clean to the Miz is an embarrassment.
Almost mercifully, the team would disband the following year. As part of the WWE Draft, Eric Young was sent to Raw, while the rest remained on Smackdown.
Two years on, each member of the stables has been released, sans for one holdout, Nikki Cross. For a team that was one of the most interesting in NXT, they really did literally nothing on the main roster. They were wasted in WWE, and should never have been taken from NXT to the main roster.
After leaving TNA, Ethan Carter III was one of the hottest free agents in wrestling.
His run as undefeated TNA World Champion was one of the hottest runs in TNA for years. His character as the spoilt nephew of TNA owner Dixie Carter was thoroughly entertaining, and he was one of the best wrestlers on the mic.
He didn’t make the biggest splash in NXT. However, he was part of the five star ladder match for the North American Championship at NXT Takeover: New Orleans, one of the best matches in NXT history.
Fans weren’t worried at “The One Percenter” spinning his wheels in NXT. NXT was the work rate heavy show, where a character like EC3 wouldn’t shine. But he was perfect for the main roster. A great talker who was jacked as shit and knew how to work on TV.
He was Vince’s dream.
So, obviously, he wasn’t allowed to talk on TV. He was never given any promo time, to help get the fans to understand his character. He was a face, though. (Check out “What is a heel in wrestling” to learn about wrestling terminology.)
So, to get him over as a face, they decided to make him wrestling Dean Ambrose. Yes, he had to wrestle the now-Jon Moxley. The beloved fan favourite who fans refused to boo, and was set to leave the WWE within months.
Yet Vince McMahon blamed EC3 for not getting cheered. He gave up on the man there and then, and EC3 never got a chance in WWE.
We’ll always have his time as Derrick Bateman in the old NXT, though.
The Ascension were the NXT tag team champions when I first began watching NXT. They were completely dominant, holding the belts for almost a year and vanquishing all challenges.
However, when they were called up to the main roster, they started off incredibly slow. They had the odd squash match, but were not a big part of any WWE show.
They soon started cutting promos, calling out different retired tag teams each week. The Legion of Doom, the New Age Outlaws (not the Voodoo Kin Mafia luckily) and the NWO were just a few teams to be subjected to their terrible ramblings.
Thankfully, Vince McMahon is a clever man. Obviously, this would end in the Ascension facing a legendary tag team, beating them and establishing themselves as the new big bad in the tag division.
What’s that? They got beaten up by a gang of retired wrestlers? Then they lost to the New Age Outlaws, who had a combined age of about a hundred?
That’s pretty much their main roster run summed up. They had some fun with the Fashion Files with the Fashion Police, but otherwise completely pathetic.
I don’t even know if they’ve been released yet or are just sitting at home.
Of all the men on this list, Bobby Roode is certiainly the most successful.
He is a former United States champion, as well as a former Tag Team champion with his partner Dolph Ziggler. However, he was destine for so much more when he was called up from NXT to the main roster.
Roode was an immediate star in NXT. He wasn’t a typical “indie work rate” wrestler which was typical in NXT. He was great in the ring, but his smarmy character made him a top heel on the yellow brand.
It helped him stand out, along with his incredible song, and got him into the position to beat Shinsuke Nakamura for the NXT Championship in San Antonio in 2017. He would go on to have one of the best reigns in NXT history, although fans know that he could be a top star on the main roster.
However, what could have been a multi-time world championship career for Bobby Roode was ruined by WWE on the main roster.
His character was reduced to “The guy with the glorious song” and “he has a robe”. The interesting heel champion in NXT was thrown aside, all because fans wanted to sing along with his theme song.
Bobby Roode should have been world champion on the main roster. He showed in TNA and NXT that he could be the top heel in the company. He reminds me a lot of Triple H, and not just because they cut their hair at the same time.
Bobby Roode is the biggest wasted talent to go from NXT to the main roster. He has main event level mic skills and main event level in-ring skills. With the right build, he could main event Wrestlemania. However, as it stands he may not even be on the next one.
Want to read more? Check out our article about up and coming independent wrestler Clayton Bloodstone.