NXT 2.0 turned a corner in 2023. The developmental brand received so much flack in 2021 when Vince decided to revamp the show after the black-and-gold brand failed to beat AEW Dynamite in the ratings. Out of the gate, NXT 2.0 didn’t measure up to its previous version’s high-quality in-ring work and storytelling.
But the brand made a change for the positive slowly in 2023. No more zany gimmicks and weird segments dominated the developmental brand. Well, at least not a lot. Instead, the focus went back to wrestling, with fresh gimmicks and solid stories that played an important part in NXT 2.0’s DNA. Several names have benefitted from NXT’s shift in direction and these five are ready to be brought up to the main roster.
Weirdly, Bron Breakker is still in NXT. The guy made an immediate impact upon his debut in 2021 and was one of the bright spots in NXT 2.0’s early revamp. Breakker could be carried to great matches even though he made his wrestling debut in 2022.
It’s one thing if the former NXT Champion was regressing inside of the ring, but he isn’t. In fact, Breakker’s heel turn after losing the NXT Championship highlighted that he was a dynamic performer who could comfortably play either the heel or babyface role. It’s great that Triple H isn’t just putting him on the main roster without any plan, but the NXT star has been spinning his wheels for quite some time. It’s time for him to move up to the main roster.
He could be a fun foil for Logan Paul and the United States Championship. However, if the company does see him as a future star then dethroning Gunther will do wonders for him immediately.
Hayes has more of a story going on in NXT right now, but he’s also ready for the main roster. There’s a cool factor that comes along with Hayes; his confidence on the mic is top level and his in-ring skills are on par with some of the best on RAW and Smackdown.
It sucks that they opted to pull him and Trick Williams away from one another as they were a great duo who could’ve had a nice run on the main roster, but that move helped showcase just how great Carmelo is as an overall performer. It does seem that the company is priming him for the main roster thanks to his recent run in the United States title tournament, and hopefully, he will make the fun transition in 2024.
NXT hasn’t relied much on the rich girl gimmick recently, which is a mistake. We don’t have this female character on television anywhere, so she would stick out like a sore thumb (In a good way). If Shawn (or Triple H) went full into the “rich” gimmick then it would only benefit Stratton in the long run.
The NXT rookie has come a long way since her early days in the company. Stratton always had potential, but her run in 2023 established that she was ready to level up. The former NXT Women’s Champion always had a nice swagger outside of the ring, but her matches in late 2023 showcased that she could hang with the big girls.
The big title programs of RAW and Smackdown are currently busy, so it would be better if Stratton made her debut after WrestleMania, but unless she gets held back by another injury then she’s moved past the NXT level.
Roxanne Perez can be the plucky underdog of the women’s division. The former NXT Women’s Champion feels like a female version of Daniel Bryan: a never-say-die fighter whose wrestling skills made up for her lack of size. I like that Shawn tried to give her character more dimension in 2023 by adding a mean streak. That helped deepen her performances and showcase that she isn’t a one-dimensional talent.
When Tyler Bate became the inaugural NXT UK Champion, it was well deserved. Despite only being 19, Bate was a tremendous performer with tons of charisma and a quirky charm that worked as a babyface. And as a wrestler? He was already better than a good portion of the roster. His matches against Pete Dunne were legendary, but Bate has traveled up and down both NXT rosters with great success.
It was understandable why the company didn’t call him up following his first NXT UK title run because he was so young. But Bate is 26-years-old and there’s not much else for him to do in NXT. He’s perfect in the underdog/babyface role that is sorely lacking on the main roster. Even then, the guy is just a natural whenever he’s inside of the ring. Whether it’s against Sami Zayn, Roman Reigns, or even Brock Lesnar, he’ll be able to create magic against any performer. Hopefully, his name is finally given a chance on RAW and Smackdown because he’s been ready for over three years.