Brian Damage, Craig Wilson, Russ Morgan
This blog, like many others, is full of praise for NXT. But for every superstar that’s made the jump from there and become a big player, there are just as many that have floundered and some have been sent back down. In this latest Top Five we take a look at current NXT, and recently debuted WWE, superstars that may struggle on the main roster.
5. Apollo Crews: Unless Apollo gets some sort of makeover, I just don’t see WWE fans going crazy over him. He is a great wrestler and that in itself should be enough…but as we have seen in the past…Vince McMahon can get bored rather easily. Apollo has ring skills, but may need to work on charisma and a gimmick before heading to the main roster.
4. The Vaudevillains: I personally love the Vaudevillian gimmick in NXT. Can or will it translate to the WWE? I don’t think so. The reason being, I think this is a case of Simon Gotch and Aiden English’s gimmick of old time grapplers may be too gimmicky for the WWE of today.
3. Blake and Murphy: Talk about vanilla wrestlers…both Blake and Murphy are as plain and simple as anyone can get. The addition of Alexa Bliss helps, but only a little bit. If they reach the WWE, I fear they will end up instant jobbers.
2. Nia Jax: Yes, she is the cousin of the Rock…so that may save her. She has the look of Awesome Kong, but as a wrestler…Kong she is not.
1. Hideo Itami: I realize that Itami is currently sidelined with a serious shoulder injury. When he does eventually get back in the ring, he will have an uphill climb on his hands. Itami has three things working against him…his small size, he is Japanese and with the addition of Shinsuke Nakamura to the roster….I fear Itami will be an afterthought.
5. Emma: Again… When Emma first was promoted it was with that happy clappy gimmick that fans cheered at NXT but when she debuted on Raw it really seemed like no one had any idea she was. Sure, she’s added a bit of depth to the character but when you scrape the surface all they’ve done is turn her heel, die her hair and have her aligned with a bad-ass in Dana Brooke. Frankly, Brooke has much more chance of succeeding than Emma.
4. American Alpha: This pains me as I love these guys and in NXT but I just can’t look past American Alpha really struggling on the main roster. I can’t really put my finger on it but what they do to connect with the NXT crowd, I just can’t see working on the main roster. It will be a shame, undoubtedly, though.
3. Apollo Crews: Am with Brian here. Problem for Crews is he didn’t really seem to be getting over all that well with the NXT faithful. He’s undoubtedly got the look but there is nothing else at this stage. You can point to his unique offence if you like but Cesaro has an offence that stands out from the crowd and has a connection with the crowd and look where he is. He’s on the main roster now but needs something else, what that is? I am not sure.
2. The Vaudevillains: Again am with Brian, I love their shtick on NXT but it is just too cooky to work on the main roster, right? It is too gimmick heavy and if they do debut with this gimmick, I think it’ll get lost in the shuffle. It’s a shame as both Simon Gotch and Aidan English are exception, old-school style workers that really deserve a chance. But I don’t hold out much hope with the gimmick.
1. Bayley: Part of me thinks that Bayley could be the female John Cena in terms of merchandise but part of me also wonders if the fans will shit all over her, metaphorically, in the same way as they do him at live events. Sure it’s nice she hugs little kids in the front row and dishes out high-fives but is that really going to work on Raw? I just don’t see it.
5. The Vaudevillians: I really like this gimmick, but far too weird for the the main roster. They would be stuck in the middle of the tag-team division and eventually be split with both guys either being repacked or released.
4. Apollo Crews: Haven’t we been here before? He reminds of the guys like Monty Brown and Ahmed Johnson. A personality can make up for what might be lacking in the ring. I don’t think Apollo connects with the crowd in a way to be box-office. He might get pushed, but I don’t think he will be at the top table.
3. Hideo Itami: Yet to fully integrate into NXT. Injured. Not looking good. The additions of Aries and Nakamura have bulked the lighter-weight side of the roster. No doubt he could have great matches with them, but once back he needs to make a statement quickly and put on some good high quality in ring material.
2. American Alpha: If they do go the main roster, expect them not to tag for very long. There are some big guys there and I’m not sure Jason Jordan would be able to hold his own. Chad Gable could make for a decent career, but not in the WWE alas. This could be a big disaster.
1. Samoa Joe: Unfortunately his age is against him. He will make it to the main roster eventually, but it just depends how much WWE is invested in pushing him. An Intercontinental or US title run is definitely in the offing, but I think that’s as far as it goes…
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.