5 WWE Superstars Vince McMahon pushed but Triple H did not

Braun Strowman and Triple H; Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss
Braun Strowman and Triple H; Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss

Although NXT is now promoted as WWE’s third brand alongside RAW and SmackDown, it is safe to assume that the majority of Superstars on the black and gold brand want to perform on Vince McMahon’s top two shows one day.

In the first few years of the NXT system, Superstars would work towards a call-up to RAW and/or SmackDown (aka the main roster), which essentially meant that Vince McMahon was responsible for their career progression after NXT.

We recently looked back at six Superstars who received a push from Triple H in NXT before falling out of favor under Vince McMahon, but there are some men and women in WWE who have thrived on the main roster after relatively underwhelming stints in NXT.

In this article, let’s take a look at five WWE Superstars who received a push on television from Vince McMahon but not Triple H.


#5 Vince McMahon pushed Elias but Triple H did not

Triple H rarely used Elias in storylines during his time in NXT, but that does not necessarily mean that he was not a fan of WWE’s resident guitarist.

In fact, speaking to CBS Sports in December 2017, Triple H clarified that he predicted several years earlier that Elias would succeed on Vince McMahon’s main roster, even though he was reluctant to push him in NXT.

“The entire time [Elias] was there [NXT], I was trying to get him ready for RAW and SmackDown because I knew as a performer his value was there. I said to Dusty [Rhodes], 'He is made for the roster and not for NXT.'”

Triple H explained that Elias would be a better fit for Vince McMahon’s RAW and SmackDown shows because his gimmick revolves around insulting the city in which he is performing. That, of course, would not have made sense for a character who mostly appeared at NXT’s Full Sail headquarters.

“The gimmick, the way he is and his demeanor, he is suited for that [Vince McMahon’s main roster]. He is not a fit for NXT. It doesn't mean he won't be successful there and it doesn't mean he won't have a run there but that run was to get ready for the roster.”

Elias quickly became one of WWE’s top bad guys after joining RAW in 2017, so Triple H’s long-term plan clearly worked.

#4 Vince McMahon pushed Alexa Bliss but Triple H did not

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It only took Vince McMahon a few weeks to push Alexa Bliss after she left NXT to join the SmackDown roster in July 2016.

Prior to her main-roster move, Bliss had competed in 28 televised matches in NXT over the course of two-and-a-half years. However, as she managed Blake & Murphy for much of that time, the five-time WWE Women's Champion never participated in a TakeOver match and she frequently went several months without having any matches.

As Bliss recalled to ESPN in 2017, that all changed when Vince McMahon began having the final say on her matches and storylines on SmackDown.

“I didn't feel that I was ready to leave NXT. When I was called up to SmackDown I was very nervous. I hadn't done many of the things at NXT that I thought I was supposed to. I didn't have a TakeOver match. I never held the title. I only had a few matches on NXT TV and to be called up and told, 'Well, here you go!'”

Within five months of her call-up to Vince McMahon’s main roster, Bliss won the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Becky Lynch at the TLC pay-per-view, and she went on to establish herself as one of the most popular female Superstars of her generation.

#3 Vince McMahon pushed Braun Strowman but Triple H did not

Most of WWE’s up-and-coming Superstars perform in NXT for multiple years before making the move to Vince McMahon’s main roster. Braun Strowman, however, proved to be an exception.

In August 2015, Strowman debuted on RAW one night after SummerSlam to attack Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, aligning himself with The Wyatt Family in the process.

Strowman’s main-roster move came at a time when it had become common for fans to speculate about who Vince McMahon could call up next from NXT, with the likes of Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze talked about during the weekend that The Monster Among Men debuted.

Since Vince McMahon split up The Wyatt Family in the 2016 WWE Draft, Strowman has been consistently involved in storylines on RAW and SmackDown.

In contrast, during his time in NXT, the six-foot-eight Superstar participated in just seven untelevised matches and he never even competed in a match on NXT programming.

Strowman, who considers Vince McMahon to be his friend in real life, first competed in a match in December 2014 when he defeated Chad Gable at an NXT live event in Jacksonville, Florida.

#2 Vince McMahon pushed Lacey Evans but Triple H did not

Although Lacey Evans competed in 22 televised matches before working on Vince McMahon’s RAW and SmackDown shows, it would be an exaggeration to say she ever received a push in NXT.

The former marine picked up her first victory on WWE television over Taynara Conti in the 2017 Mae Young Classic, but she only won one of her first 11 matches in NXT between January 2017 and May 2018.

Evans went on to defeat Superstars including Kairi Sane and Dakota Kai in short matches before losing an NXT Women’s Championship Fatal 4-Way No.1 contender’s match in November 2018.

Vince McMahon, Triple H, Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon promised new faces on RAW and SmackDown during an infamous promo segment on RAW in December 2018, and Evans turned out to be one of those new faces on Vince McMahon’s main roster.

After several months of promos and vignettes, Vince McMahon showed how much faith he had in Evans by booking her to challenge Becky Lynch for the RAW Women’s Championship at three consecutive pay-per-views.

The third and final match – an Extreme Rules tag match, also involving Seth Rollins and Baron Corbin – even main-evented the Extreme Rules PPV, which is something that would not have seemed possible during Evans’ NXT days.

#1 Vince McMahon pushed Mojo Rawley but Triple H did not

Granted, Mojo Rawley has not exactly been pushed to the moon by Vince McMahon on RAW and SmackDown, but his main-roster pushes have certainly been more successful than his run in NXT.

Between his NXT debut in May 2013 and his departure from the brand in July 2016, Rawley only competed in one TakeOver match – he was squashed in 70 seconds by Bull Dempsey – and his biggest victory came in a three-minute match against CJ Parker (better known as Juice Robinson) at NXT Arrival.

Rawley did not compete for the NXT Tag Team titles on television, despite spending over one year on the brand as Zack Ryder’s Hype Bros tag team partner, and he never came close to challenging for the NXT Championship.

After joining Vince McMahon’s main roster in 2016, Rawley initially teamed with Ryder before becoming a singles Superstar due to his tag partner being ruled out for six months with a knee injury.

Ryder’s setback led to Rawley receiving his biggest WWE push to date, as he won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33 – thanks to some assistance from Rob Gronkowski – before competing in a WWE Championship No.1 contender’s match two weeks later on SmackDown.

Rawley has also challenged for the Intercontinental Championship and United States Championship since moving to Vince McMahon’s shows, while he co-hosted WrestleMania 36 alongside Gronkowski.

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