Top Ten Stars Created in NXT


The history of NXT is a messy one. It’s supposed to be a developmental territory, but acts as a full fledged rival to the main roster. NXT is coupled with the WWE Performance Center where some of the talent go and train on a regular basis to improve or get more accustomed to the WWE way of wrestling. The WWE also signs untrained new comers, and uses the Performance Center as a training school for many. However, many people give credit to NXT for helping elevate or create major stars out of some of the biggest names in the history of indy wrestling. They sign someone of major name value and throw them on the developmental brand in order to gain fan interest in the brand.

Because of this booking practice, to often wrestlers like KENTA, Tyler Black and Bobby Roode are seen as “WWE guys”; wrestlers who were developed in the WWE. That’s just not the case though. Many of the top talent in the history of NXT were well trained and ready for the main roster prior to ever signing with the WWE. They’re time in NXT served no purpose other than to establish them as “WWE guys”.

So is that to say the WWE has never developed top level wrestlers before? No, actually. The WWE’s developmental territory has created some fine wrestlers (and some not so fine). Today we look at the ten best. Now in order to be eligible, a wrestler must not have had a major North American fan base prior to signing with the WWE. They also must not have had any relevant credibility as a top level wrestler. If they made their name elsewhere, they’re simply not eligible. However, being a wrestler from an indy fed does not preclude them from being on this list. If someone had several years of training, but was relatively unknown prior to the WWE, they’ll be counted on this list. So without further ado, let’s get into the Top Ten Stars Created in NXT.

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mention:

Asuka – She’s in a bizarre situation on this list. Asuka was not that well known on the indy scene outside of the most hardcore of wrestling fans in North America. However, her skill set was not improved upon when she joined the promotion, just her name value. So it’s hard to say she needed the WWE.

Corey Graves – As a wrestler, Sterling James Keenan will never be surpassed by the in ring career of Corey Graves. SJK was a big indy name, but no one ever saw him as a commentator. That’s why he gets an honorable mention here, because of the WWE’s ability to transition him into a top five commentator.

Mojo Rawley – Mojor, in my opinion, is still one of the top prospects in wrestling. Arguably the best NFL-turned-pro wrestler on the roster, and easily the most charismatic; all Mojo needs is some time and steady booking.

Tye Dilinger – Unlike so many other vets who have joined NXT, no one upped their profile more than Dillinger. Like others, he didn’t necessarily get better on the brand, but found his niche and developed a loyal fan base.

 

 

 

 

 

10) Bayley

– She started working in California as Davina Rose, and wrestled for outlets like Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and Shine Wrestling. Despite all this, she wasn’t at the same level that some women wrestlers were at the time, like Sara Del Rey, Cheerleader Melissa and Portia Perez. She joined NXT in 2012, and changed her ring name to Bayley. By 2014, her name started to become mentioned more, and her matches started to gain traction. It’s undeniable that her signing with the WWE was the main reason she took off. If it wasn’t for them she’d be a mid carder on the indy scene still, maybe FINALLY gaining traction. She’s a former one time RAW and NXT Women’s champion. Yet don’t expect her too much higher, because first impressions matter and her main roster debut was bungled by the WWE.

 

 

 

 

 

9) Baron Corbin

– This is pretty obvious here. Corbin wasn’t a pro wrestler before joining NXT. He went to the WWE Performance Center, and debuted 10 months later in 2013. He’s not the best worker, or the most charismatic but you can’t deny he’s one of the more successful original talents the WWE has developed since NXT launched as a true developmental brand. He’s won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal in 2016, the 2017 Money in the Bank, and is the current United States Champion. He’s lambasted by many fans, but he’s been successful.

 

 

 

 

 

8) Enzo Amore

– Ok, so yeah, people hate Amore right now. However he is a top draw for 205Live and is a two time Cruiserweight Champion. Enzo was never an indy star, and only became a pro wrestler through the WWE developmental process. While he’s not exactly “talented” in the ring, he’s a personality that the WWE helped cultivate and highlight. His pairing with Big Cass got him over, and their involvement in NXT was a big staple during that specific time period. Enzo is one of the WWE’s most well known and over homegrown stars, despite his in ring deficiencies. So classify him as you will, but among the elite of the NXT crop, he’s near the top unfortunately.

 

 

 

 

 

7) Alexa Bliss

– Alexa Bliss is really everything done right by the company. A former fitness competitor, she joined the WWE’s developmental brand in 2013 and immediately started making waves with her charisma and athleticism. She didn’t win any titles in NXT and many thought she was called up too fast from NXT, however since joining the main roster she’s won four women’s championships, two on each brand, and was the first woman ever to hold the RAW and SmackDown Women’s titles. She’s become the top heel in all of the WWE’s women’s division and has done it while quietly becoming one of the WWE’s best characters in the ring and out.

 

 

 

 

 

6) Big E

– While you could argue his singles career was never that impressive, his tag team work with The New Day has made him a possible future hall of famer. It’s hard to imagine how that’s the case when you remember he was a former body builder, who signed with the WWE prior to the NXT era in 2009. It wouldn’t be until 2011 that he started to make his mark, winning the FCW tag titles with Calvin Raines. It’s kind of hard to include him on the list, considering he barely was in NXT at all, and certainly wasn’t developed there much. He did win the NXT Championship and was a top guy for the brand; and even though he’s more FCW trained than NXT, I’m still counting him towards the brands success. He’s quietly amassed an impressive list of championship reigns; winning four tag team titles (two on each brand), the NXT Championship and the WWE Intercontinental Championship as well.

 

 

 

 

 

5) Sasha Banks

– Much like Bayley, Banks was wrestling prior to her debut in the WWE. The former Chaotic Wrestling trainee started her in ring career in earnest in 2010 at the age of 18. She started making a name for herself, and even wrestled for the NWA for a spell. In 2012 the WWE came calling. Her relationship to Snoop Dog was a big reason the company was interested, but while in NXT she showcased a charisma and in ring talent level that few could deny and became a top talent in her own right. Now out of the shadow of cousin-Snoop, Banks went on to have Match of the Year candidates with the likes of Bayley, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch. Now on the main roster, the former standout is lost in the shuffle like most of the talent. Yet, unlike the others, she has the natural charisma to get people interested in her once again, just as soon as they give her something to do.

 

 

 

 

 

4) Rusev

– Unlike most others on this list, Rusev wanted to become a pro wrestler more than anything. Others like Bliss, Corbin, and the #1, wanted to do other things before falling back onto pro wrestling. This isn’t a debate about their love of wanting to do this, but an admission that Rusev did something none of them did; immigrated to a new country to do it. Rusev moved from Plovdiv, Bulgaria (a very pretty place to live) to California by way of Virginia. He trained with former WWE stars Gangrel and Rikishi before starting win Vendetta Pro Wrestling. He would be signed by the WWE in 2010, and would start off in FCW (like Big E). Before Lana would become his manager (and later wife), he was first managed by Eddie Guerrero’s daughter, Raquel for a time. He ended up getting shifted to NXT after FCW was closed, and was paired up with Sylvester Lefort, before dumping him and getting paired with Lana. That pairing lead the duo to a main roster slot that saw Rusev win the WWE United States Championship on two occasions. He’s currently lost in the shuffle, like so many others, but his upside his huge as he’s immensely charismatic.

 

 

 

 

 

3) Bray Wyatt

– Unlike many on this list, Wyatt is the only one to get called up from Flordia Championship Wrestling, only to be sent back down and then transferred over to NXT. Wyatt debuted on the main roster as Husky Harris and the WWE dropped the ball with him faster than he dropped his wife and kids for JoJo Offerman. After getting sent back down after a dismal run with the Nexus-B Team, he spent his time toiling around in obscurity. However when he came to NXT he was paired with recently signed indy standout Brodie Lee (Luke Harper) and Pro Wrestling NOAH dojo graduate, Thoruf Marius (Erick Rowan). The trio became the Wyatt Family and started to gain traction in the new NXT. They won the tag team titles before getting called up and…well…like so many others, wasted. Wyatt did have a tag team title run with his brother Boin FCW and after getting called up to the WWE for a second time, he would go on to win the WWE Tag Team Titles with Luke Harper and Randy Orton, before winning the WWE Championship. His run so far has been all over the place, as he’s the most inconsistently booked wrestler with fan support I think there’s ever been.

 

 

 

 

 

2) Charlotte Flair

– Charlotte Flair had a real late start to her career, getting into pro wrestling after both her brothers David, and Reid had already been training. At 27, she was a bit older than most rookies but unlike her brothers, she proved to be the Flair child who had what it took to succeed. Unlike so many others on this list, Flair hasn’t stumbled, not once, since debuting in NXT. While she may of used her father’s name to help get over initially, there’s no denying she’s earned the right to bare it either. The only Flair girl in wrestling, she was signed to NXT strictly off the recommendation of her father and a strong tryout. With no prior wrestling experience prior it was up to Charlotte (the town) trainer, and former WCW wrestler Lodi to help get her ready for NXT. Once there she began training under one of the greatest female wrestlers of her generation, Sara Del Rey. Charlotte would win the NXT Women’s championship, and then get called up and win six titles in barely 2.5 years. While she’s yet to have a career defining reign as of this writing, she’s established herself as a reliable star.

 

 

 

 

 

1) Roman Reigns

– I mean, what do you want me to say? He’s the only one on this list to wrestle in the main event of WrestleMania for like, three straight years. He was in the Shield, one of the most popular, yet least profitable acts of any generation. He’s a multi time World Heavyweight Champion and…ugh. It sucks but it’s true, he’s the one that has been given the most by the company. He’s the biggest success story; which really taints the whole list, huh?

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