WWE: Who are the top 10 NXT exports on Raw or SmackDown?

Photo: Becky Lynch, WWE 2019
Photo: Becky Lynch, WWE 2019 /
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For many years, WWE NXT has been the richest feeding ground for fresh new talent in the WWE and in professional wrestling in general.

The main event scenes from both Raw and SmackDown have been largely built on the back of WWE NXT graduates and prior arrivals from Florida Championship Wrestling, NXT’s predecessor. Add in a handful of legends like Randy Orton, Matt Hardy and the seemingly eternal R-Truth and you have a roster fitting for the top dog in pro wrestling. Also, AJ Styles; the one person who broke the mold without going to NXT, but he’s the exception rather than the rule.

We know that NXT has shaped the main roster. What we also know is that pro wrestling, particularly in the WWE, is a very sink or swim environment. Not everybody has been successful. Not everyone has the highest of ceilings. Very few people get the best storylines. There’s a reason why the success rate for Adam Rose’s rosebuds was considerably higher than the success rate for Adam Rose.

Today, we’re looking at the best of the best. Through nearly 10 years of call-ups and championship runs, a reshaping of an industry has taken place. NXT has changed the way that the WWE recruits and promotes new talent, but some have had a greater impact on sports entertainment than others. With the move to USA Network on the horizon, who knows what and who will be next.

Let’s start with some honorable mentions who didn’t quite make the list, shall we?

Honorable Mentions

3. Shinsuke Nakamura

Shinsuke Nakamura had one of the best NXT runs of all time. He wrestled some of the highest rated matches in the promotion’s history, won the NXT Championship twice and had an incredible feud with Samoa Joe.

Unfortunately, his time on the main roster has been very weak. He has unfortunately had limited success, despite some high profile matches.

As our current Intercontinental champion, he does have the opportunity to rebuild and come back stronger.

2. Samoa Joe

Like the aforementioned Nakamura, Joe was a two time NXT Champion and took part in some major storylines and feuds, including a long running one with Finn Balor. The only real advantage that Joe has on the main roster, though, is his consistency.

While Nakamura has been known to vanish, sometimes for a prolonged period of time, Samoa Joe has been a near constant presence on our screens. Admittedly, he’s been on the losing end of a lot of these feuds, but Joe also has a major advantage when it comes to recovering momentum.

He’s Samoa Joe. He opens his mouth and I’m invested.

1. Kevin Owens

This should tell you how strong a list we’re looking at here. Kevin Owens came on to the main roster holding the NXT Championship and immediately walked into a feud with John Cena. It was a huge moment and a great start to his main roster career.

Since then, Owens has been involved in some incredible storylines, including the long term build towards his match against Chris Jericho for the United States Championship at WrestleMania. He has held the US, IC and Universal Championships since his debut.

The only reason he doesn’t make the main list is due to several slower periods that take place in between or during championship runs. Owens’ feud with Shane McMahon lasted more than eight months in total. Meanwhile, Owens’ run with the Universal Championship lasted 6 months and it’s very hard to think of more than a handful of good matches.