5 SmackDown Live Superstars who could move to NXT

Will Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon lose these Superstars soon?
Will Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon lose these Superstars soon?

Remember when the likes of Cesaro and Zack Ryder combined their roles on WWE’s main roster with brief stints in NXT?

“The Swiss Cyborg” had one of the brand’s greatest-ever rivalries when he feuded with Sami Zayn in 2013-14, while “The Long Island Iced Z” remained a singles competitor on Raw and SmackDown while he tagged with Mojo Rawley in developmental.

Well, Triple H recently revealed in an interview with NBC Sports that more and more Superstars could start to switch between WWE and NXT. He said a move to the development brand should not be seen as a demotion, just that they’d be “competing in a different environment”.

With that in mind, this article looks at five current superstars from the SmackDown Live roster who would benefit from a move – and, in most cases, a return – to NXT.

#5 The Colons

Primo and Epico haven't had much success of late
Primo and Epico haven't had much success of late

In modern-day WWE, the top characters are almost always extensions of their real-life personalities. Braun Strowman, for example, is “The Monster Among Men” for the obvious reason that he resembles a monster, while AJ Styles is known as “The Phenomenal One” because he’s an incredible in-ring performer.

Primo and Epico, however, have spent the last four years of their careers portraying characters that nobody has been able to connect with. Remember when they were bullfighters? Or, better still, when they were handing out brochures encouraging people to visit Puerto Rico?

The gimmicks they’ve had since 2013 have left a lot to be desired, so it was nice to see them break away from those over-the-top characters earlier in 2017 when they simply became The Colons – a hard-hitting duo who would use any sneaky tactics they could in order to win matches.

The SmackDown Live roster members have hardly received any television time recently and a move to NXT would be the perfect opportunity for them to reinvent themselves.

#4 Mike Kanellis

Mike Kanellis has barely featured on our screens since July

It’s unusual in WWE nowadays that a performer immediately joins the company as a member of the main roster, with even the most established of names like Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura having to go through the NXT process before moving up to Raw and SmackDown Live.

That’s why it was so surprising when Mike Kanellis, along with his wife Maria Kanellis, appeared at the Money In The Bank pay-per-view in June and were brought in as members of the SmackDown Live roster.

The only recent Superstars to debut without going through NXT first were AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, and the assumption was that WWE must have had big plans for Mike & Maria on the main roster.

As it turned out, the “Power of Love” gimmicks didn’t quite catch on and, while Maria has been absent on maternity leave, Mike has only had two matches on SmackDown Live since July. Don’t be surprised if WWE tries to revive his career in NXT in 2018.

#3 The Singh Brothers

The Singh Brothers aligned with Jinder Mahal in April 2017

From NXT obscurity to featuring in pay-per-view main events in a matter of months, The Singh Brothers have done a great job on SmackDown Live in 2017 and Jinder Mahal probably wouldn’t have become WWE champion in the first place without his trusty sidekicks.

However, there is going to come a time when Samir and Sunil, who were originally brought in to WWE as members of the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic tournament, will stop playing understudy to Jinder and will forge an in-ring career of their own as a tag team.

In all likelihood, they’re not going to succeed right away on the main roster as a duo. They’ve been thrown around by the likes of Randy Orton and AJ Styles in recent months and no fans are going to see them as a viable threat to the Raw or SmackDown Live tag divisions.

NXT is always in need of new tag teams to feature on television, and it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for Samir and Sunil if they split their time between competing on the development brand while they helped Jinder out on the main roster.

#2 Lana

Lana faced Naomi in a title match at Money In The Bank

The amount of criticism that Lana has received as an in-ring performer in 2017 is a little undeserving. Her matches with Naomi for the SmackDown Live Women’s Championship weren’t terrible and she hasn’t exactly embarrassed herself in any match she’s had so far on the main roster.

Saying that, does anybody see her as someone who will be anywhere near the top of either the Raw or SmackDown Live women’s divisions anytime soon? Absolutely not, so that’s why she could benefit from a return to NXT.

Granted, she’s featured on plenty of NXT live events in the past, but it’s on television where the wider audience needs to see what she can actually do as a performer, or else she will forever be labelled as a manager who is wrestling rather than a wrestler who was once a manager.

“The Ravishing Russian” would be much better served to have 10-minute televised matches on NXT instead of losing in 2-3 minutes to the likes of Naomi and Charlotte Flair on the main roster.

#1 The Ascension

Konnor and Viktor only featured on three pay-per-views in 2017

Remember when The Ascension debuted on the main roster in December 2014? They were – and still are – the longest reigning Tag Team champions in NXT history and were expected to wreak havoc on Raw and SmackDown for the years to come.

They were compared to legendary tag teams of the past like Demolition and the Road Warriors and made an instant impression by defeating The Miz and Damien Mizdow on an episode of Raw.

Since then, however… well, what have they done? Konnor and Viktor have not held any tag titles since they were called up to the main roster and although they have featured more frequently on television recently in the Fashion Files skits with Breezango, they’ve still never really had a meaningful storyline.

Things haven’t worked in WWE for them but the duo remain loved in NXT, where they are cheered every time they return for one-off appearances, so why not see if they can revive their careers in developmental?

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