By Jared "JJF" Jackson-Ferrans
Over a relatively short amount of time, NXT has managed to transform from solely a developmental organization for the next generation of WWE Stars to a brand in its own right with a unique style and roster. With that said, the original purpose of the brand has not been abandoned. Breaking Ground has shown that the main goal is to reach the main roster, and several superstars each year manage to make it to the WWE Roster, with mixed results.
So with that in mind, I came up with 10 talents or groups in NXT currently to address their odds of making it to the main roster by the time of Wrestlemania 33 next April. While most of the brand's top stars have been covered, I made the decision of omitting Sami Zayn based on his multiple appearances on the main roster, considering him ineligible. With that said, on with the list.
While they do look poised for an NXT Tag Team Title run in 2016, I wouldn't put it past the WWE to call up two of the best talents the Performance Center has produced, especially with the 2016 Olympics on the horizon. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan have fallen into the same area as the New Day, Edge and Christian, and others: proficient in the ring while competent in both serious promos and comedic segments.
If we have any luck, the two former amateur technicians will be on the roster by Summerslam, but something gives me the feeling Triple H isn't quite ready to promote his best talents quite yet.
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Perhaps, outside of Zayn, the most overdue callup, the team of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady have long been the most entertainment oriented act in NXT, and the addition of Carmella added another dimension to the group. With both the tag and Divas divisions needing a new influx of talent desperately, the stable's callup should be set in stone.
They've been rumoured to debut at Fastlane, Raw after WM, and other events, but without a doubt, we'll see them this year.
Outlook: Guaranteed Call-up
Finn Bàlor may be the most ready to be called up to the main roster, possessing the look, background and character development that the WWE brass wants. With that said, the question is whether or not he'd accept it. Bàlor has been proud of being the face of NXT, and thus far, has resisted any attempts to move to the main roster.
As well, with some other talents on this list looking to move on at some point, keeping Balor on the NXT Roster may be the best option. Not quite a longshot, but definitely not the guarantee it should be for one of NXT's best and brightest
With the retirement of Brie Bella, long term injury to Nikki Bella, and likely "spring cleaning" coming after WrestleMania, calling up the NXT Women's Champion looks like a slam dunk decision, but the question is if the division can survive without her. Alexa Bliss, Eva Marie and Dana Brooke are still struggling to improve in the ring, particularly Eva, and while Carmella has improved quite a bit, she is also destined for a call up as previously mentioned.
That said, the division does include Asuka, Emma, the powerful Nia Jax, and the incoming indy darling Athena, who are more than capable of carrying the mantle and helping the others approve and adapt, so perhaps we are ready for Bayley to make it to the main roster. With a heel heavy roster that required turning Sasha Banks and Brie Bella face, Bayley will fit in perfectly.
Though he was believed to be solely on an NXT contract, rumors have been swirling of a call up for the "Samoan Submission Machine." It's really not surprising, considering the reluctance of Finn Balor and the lack of other top stars on the brand, Joe may actually be the best option, giving him feuds with people he has connections with such as AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and his former trainee John Cena (yes, really), as well as those he hasn't such as Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton.
If his contract allows it, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see Joe on the WWE Roster in 2016.
Outlook: Probable (depending on contract)
Considering the former ROH and TNA World Champion literally just arrived on NXT recently, the odds of him being called up are highly unlikely, though not impossible. As well, he's believed to be on an NXT only contract similar to Joe, but as the previous entry showed, that doesn't neccesarily mean they cannnot reconfigure and bring him up.
Seeing Aries on a WWE Raw telecast would be a huge moment for a man who nearly retired after being turned down for WWE Tough Enough, but I suspect it'll take until at least 2017 until "The Greatest Man To Ever Live" makes his Raw debut.
Most people tend to see Corbin as NXT's most improved talent, and he's grown into a versatile heel on the brand, showing that it isn't just premade stars doing well on the brand. While he is more than ready to be called up without a doubt, there are more important and talented guys ahead of him, and he may be better served to get a reign with the title before moving up.
His "anti-indies" gimmick would put him at odds with the likes of Ambrose, Owens and even former UPW star John Cena on the main roster when given the chance, but there are still some fundamentals needed to fix before this happens.
Apollo Crews is everything WWE had been pushing Titus O'Neil as prior to his recent suspension. He's a true athletic wonder, a powerhouse, a star in the making. All those reasons are exactly why it'd be dumb to rush him and put him on the main roster. With the impending callups, Crews would have a chance to either steal the role of NXT's top face, or turn heel and develop his character more.
Either way, this is one guy they cannot afford to screw up, and they need to take their time with.
A badly timed shoulder injury has kept the former KENTA from adapting to NXT well, and with the niche he filled being suddenly crowded by the incoming Shinsuke Nakamura, it'll be tough for him to stand out. With a quick promotion promised for Nakamura, I don't forsee one for Itami in 2016 or early 2017, and he'll have to work hard upon his NXT return to not be forgotten by fans and creative alike.
For one of the best in the business, it will truly be an uphill climb.
I feel comfortable saying barring something utterly shocking, the WWE will be introduced to "The King of Strong Style" within the next year. Much like Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio, WWE has promised him a short run to acclimate him to their style before a callup, due to being a huge international star, and with his upcoming match with Sami Zayn at NXT Dallas, it's clear WWE thinks very highly of Nakamura.
I cannot wait to see what is in store for him, but I can bet we won't have to wait long.
Outlook: Guaranteed Call-Up
With the 10 deveolpmental stars mentioned and many others, the future of the WWE seems to be in pretty solid shape. Now it's just a matter of the writing and booking to ensure they become stars.
Until next time, I'm JJF and that's my take.
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