WWE’s 2023 draft is officially completed, with superstars placed on Raw, SmackDown, or Free Agency. This year none of the Raw or SmackDown talents were sent down to NXT, which is a shame because there are some main roster names that could use a run down there.
Whether to reset a character or improve NXT programming, previous moves down to NXT have typically been well-received, making the wrestlers and NXT TV more enjoyable. The brand split is incredibly loose this year, so there is still time to add some folks to NXT.
Mustafa Ali just moved to NXT and is going to put on some phenomenal matches against the show’s workers champion, Wes Lee. Baron Corbin also appeared on Tuesday to enter the NXT Championship picture.
There are some more candidates who have nothing better creatively and a ton to offer the developmental brand. The trip to NXT could lead to fresh matchups or a chance to create an identity where one doesn’t exist. Three acts, in particular, meet that criterion.
Maximum Male Models (Mansoor & Mace)
Maxxine Dupri seems to be leaving her original models and heading into a partnership with Otis and Chad Gable. Unfortunately, this leaves chronically ignored Mace and Mansoor without a mouthpiece and gives them minimal viability for television, apart from a potential feud with the endlessly entertaining Alpha Academy.
That is a real shame because the Maximum Male Models was actually a fun gimmick. If they stay on the main roster, they will almost certainly need to switch gimmicks to remain fresh. However, NXT needs a new flashy, over-the-top heel team.
With Pretty Deadly looking to make big moves on SmackDown, the only team that exudes “sports entertainment” has left NXT. Adding a bit of fun makes you stand out with so many serious factions in the NXT tag team division.
Mansoor and Mace have done a great job with their modeling gimmick and could easily replace Pretty Deadly. Additionally, the level of competition on Raw and SmackDown makes comedy less appealing for championship opportunities. However, NXT will have no such concerns and can use the team.
Karrion Kross was once seen as a wrestler with a lot of promise. Kross was so well-liked backstage that he was one of the early superstars brought back in the Triple H era. Even with the hype for his return, though, it has amounted to little.
Kross has been an enhancement talent that’s presented as a threat in name only. While WWE does need to work on the world title scene on Raw, Karrion Kross probably won’t be included. Instead of wasting his time backstage, NXT has the perfect opponent for him.
Carmelo Hayes has perfected fighting as a quick underdog. His feud with Bron Breakker and his upcoming feud with Baron Corbin proves that WWE is also aware of this. Kross fits the profile of a top challenger for Hayes and would be an excellent NXT Title feud.
Scarlett could neutralize Trick Williams, for one. Secondly, the size and style differential is precisely what Hayes has worked with to great success since turning face. Finally, Kross’ NXT credentials add another layer to the story that Corbin can’t, as a former NXT Champion.
It was surprising when WWE called Xia Li up from NXT for the first time. Li had finally been put in a story on NXT at the time, and the character she portrayed on SmackDown was a complete deviation. Unsurprisingly, the character didn’t get any attention, and Li has become just another woman on the roster.
New call-ups from 2023 and returning stars have both eclipsed what was once considered a major international prospect for WWE. Her lack of credibility stems from a lack of solid exposure in this case, not a bad gimmick or no talent. However, without credibility, exposure is harder to get. Instead of continuing the vicious cycle, WWE can use Li to reset an unstable division.
NXT has had three women’s champions in as many months. Roxanne Perez dropped the title in March, Indi Hartwell won in April, and Tiffany Stratton took it in May. Worse still is the fact that in between each of those title changes, it was vacated.
NXT has some very talented young performers in the women’s division. However, losing two top champions so quickly and the entire tag team title scene means some reorganization is needed. To help anchor those changes, a talented worker needing more time and exposure, like Li, could help. Li’s time on the main roster can be played up to make her an instant top threat.
It also means that whoever feuds with her will likely get a win over someone who WWE could present as a main roster player. It would be a boon for NXT and give Li more time to develop for an eventual return to Raw or SmackDown.
Why These Main Roster Names Could Use a Run in NXT
Ultimately, a run in NXT isn’t the demotion once perceived by most fans. In fact, it is usually a benefit for everyone. From the wrestler’s perspective, they are still on the USA Network and get to appear in premium live events. For the company, their talent isn’t being wasted under contract. And the fans have more opportunities to see their favorite current superstars.
Just as some talents outgrow the black and yellow brand, more WWE talent should utilize the developmental brand for development. It is designed to help WWE superstars develop their skills and personas for use on Raw and SmackDown.
While that mission is most beneficial to young or up-and-coming talents, experienced veterans often need their own development. Instead of sending wrestlers into an ill-defined “free agency,” WWE should officially move them to NXT and let them revitalize themselves and Tuesday night programming for the company’s betterment.