As announced at Clash of Champions 2020, the WWE Draft will take place on the Oct. 9 episode of SmackDown and the following RAW on Oct. 12.
The purpose of the WWE Draft is to freshen up the brands by adding new talents to each roster. These additions to the divisions bring about new matches and feuds.
In previous years, NXT hasn’t been part of the WWE Draft. However, this year that could be a possibility. Since AEW and NXT go head-to-head on Wednesday nights, WWE presents NXT on the same level as RAW and SmackDown.
Although it has changed drastically since the fomentation of AEW, the aim of NXT as a developmental brand was to prepare talent for the main roster.
Those who did makes the jump over to the flagship shows were met with varying degrees of success. For every Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, or Alexa Bliss, there was No Way Jose, Apollo Crews, and Ricochet.
This system and format seem to be a thing of the past as NXT wants to keep big names and even bring some back that draws the most viewers to the product.
However, moves to the main roster remain constant. Take Keith Lee, for example; he was NXT royalty and one its biggest stars. Then he debuted on RAW with new music and an altered look. All of the members of RETRIBUTION are former NXT Superstars who have made the jump to the main roster with jarring alterations to their look and characters.
Hopefully, NXT will be included in the WWE Draft this time around. This could begin to legitimize the brand as a part of WWE proper, rather than a splinter cell of sorts.
In this article, we will look at five NXT Superstars that have in one way or another achieved all they can on the black and gold brand. Not to indicate that they are treading water or anything but a move to another show would be a fresh and exciting boost to their WWE career.
Here a five NXT Superstars that should move to the main roster in the 2020 WWE Draft.
#5 Former NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa
Tommaso Ciampa was once “The Daddy” of NXT. His vicious title reign in 2018 was brilliant. He showed that he was not only a top in-ring worker, but his character work was equally enthralling.
His heel turns and resulting feud against his former tag team partner and best friend, Johnny Gargano, was perfect.
Ciampa isn’t a stranger to the red or blue brand. Back in 2019, he debuted with Gargano on RAW, defeating The Revival. On SmackDown, the team formerly known as DIY defeated The Bar. This run was cut short as he had to undergo surgery on his neck and relinquish the NXT Championship.
Plagued by knee and neck injuries, his career in NXT has stalled. Despite remaining on NXT’s top-level, he has fallen down the pecking order when it comes to the main event spot.
A move over to either RAW or SmackDown would certainly inject some new blood into the main roster and give Ciampa a whole new set of obstacles and matchups.
#4. NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai
The “Genius of Sky” is an exceptional talent. In the ring, she is graceful yet hard-hitting and poised but violent.
Io Shirai would be a great addition to either of the main roster’s women’s divisions. She possesses a magnetic look and personality. Shirai works incredibly well as a face but even better as a heel. She has a calm yet psychopathic air about her. She would smile and say hello to someone before ripping their arms off. Her in-ring abilities are magnificent, and her move set is as inventive as it is brutal.
Not to mention, she is a bonafide daredevil, who would willingly jump from great heights to take down her opponents. With this skill set, Shirai would bring a style of wrestling to the main roster rarely seen before.
Shirai is among the best in the world. Adding her to SmackDown would add a top-level, main event player that its women’s division desperately needs.
#3. Johnny Gargano
Gone is the never say die, heart, and soul of the brand. Now he is a smarmy, opportunistic heel that wants to be back on top.
Gargano is widely regarded as one of the best wrestlers on the planet. His in-ring work is near-perfect. After all, he’s called “Johnny Wrestling” for a reason. He has been one of NXT’s—if not WWE’s—best performers for three years now. His 2018 feud with Ciampa was one of the best rivalries in wrestling, which led to three of the greatest matches in professional wrestling history.
His feud with Adam Cole over the NXT Championship was just as memorable. It resulted in one of the craziest two-out-of-three-falls matches you’ll ever see.
Since losing the NXT Championship, Gargano has become the high-profile star who puts others over. For example, when Finn Balor returned, he defeated Gargano to re-establish himself as a new threat to NXT. More recently Gargano has elevated the North American Championship and the lower level talent fighting for it. This is an esteemed and noble role for Gargano but one that shouldn’t last too long as he's far too talented for that.
As NXT’s first-ever Triple Crown Champion he would be a great pick for either of the main brands. Gargano would bring success, passion, and drive with him wherever he ends up.
#2. Former NXT Women's Champion Rhea Ripley
The “Nightmare” Rhea Ripley had a breakout year in 2019. At one point, there was simply no stopping her.
She led Team Ripley to victory in the very first women’s WarGames match at NXT TakeOver: WarGames. The very next night she the victory as captain of Team NXT in the five-on-five-on-five Survivor Series Triple Threat elimination match. Then, she dethroned Shayna Baszler to the win NXT Women’s Championship to cap off a star-making run.
At the age of 22, the wrestling world was at her feet. Enter Charlotte Flair During her feud with The Queen, Ripley appeared to be in Flair's shadow. Ripley stumbled as a champion. She no longer looked like stomping, ass-kicker that took the black and gold brand by storm. At WrestleMania 36, Flair bafflingly defeated Ripley to become a two-time NXT Women’s Champion, and The Nightmare lost all of her momenta.
Ripley just wasn’t the performer she was three months earlier as she dropped the title and her post-apocalyptic badass edge. Despite positive appearances in recent weeks, she has yet to recover her mystique.
A move to the main roster, particularly, RAW would give Ripley and the women’s division a massive boost.
#1 Adam Cole
The leader of the Undisputed Era and the longest-reigning NXT Champion, Adam Cole, has done just about all one could aspire to do in a company.
Cole is a phenomenal heel. So good, in fact, that he is as over any babyface in WWE.
Last year when the SmackDown roster was stuck in Saudi Arabia, Cole led NXT into battle against RAW and SamckDown. He successfully defended the NXT Championship against Daniel Bryan on the blue brand and Seth Rollins on RAW.
Cole mixed it up with two of WWE’s biggest Superstars in his first main roster appearances, and that was not by accident. Both Shawn Michaels and Triple H are huge fans of Cole and did not hesitate to put him at the forefront of NXT vs. RAW vs. SamckDown during the build to Survivor Series.
Often likened to The Heartbreak Kid, Cole has all of the attributes needed for wrestling success. He has the look, talent, and charisma. A move to the main roster would expose Cole to the broader wrestling world and put him on the road to wrestling greatness.