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6 WWE Superstars Triple H pushed but Vince McMahon did not

Triple H and Tyler Breeze (left); Emma and Paige (right)
Triple H and Tyler Breeze (left); Emma and Paige (right)
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Danny Hart

As the mastermind and founder of the WWE NXT brand, Triple H has the responsibility of overseeing the creative direction of the company’s next crop of Superstars.

Although NXT has become a viable alternative to RAW and SmackDown, especially since it began airing as a live two-hour show every week, it is fair to say that the majority of NXT Superstars aim to one day perform on the RAW and SmackDown brands.

In the early years of the NXT-to-main roster process, WWE viewers witnessed the career progression of Superstars including Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, and it looked at one stage as though almost every NXT call-up was destined to work.

However, as we have seen on numerous occasions over the last few years, some people who thrived on Triple H’s NXT brand have not been able to maintain that momentum under the stewardship of Vince McMahon.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at six WWE Superstars who received a push from Triple H in NXT before finding themselves out of the picture on Vince McMahon’s main roster.


#5 Triple H pushed Konnor & Viktor but Vince McMahon did not

In the space of eight months, Triple H’s WWE NXT brand had three different Tag Team Championship holders after the titles were introduced in 2013 (Neville & Oliver Grey, Erick Rowan & Luke Harper and Neville & Corey Graves).

The Ascension’s Konnor & Viktor then defeated Neville & Graves on an October 2013 episode of NXT to begin their record-setting 343-day reign as NXT Tag Team Champions.

At the time, the main roster only had one set of Tag Team titles, with The Usos and Cody Rhodes & Goldust among those battling it out in the tag division, while Triple H focused on tag teams that could go on to have success in WWE in the years to come.

Unfortunately, in The Ascension’s case, their December 2014 call-up from Triple H’s NXT did not go as expected.

Granted, they picked up a statement-making victory over The New Age Outlaws at the 2015 Royal Rumble, but the most memorable moment from their early days on the main roster came when the nWo, APA and New Age Outlaws attacked them in a segment on RAW.

The Ascension’s WWE characters never recovered from that moment, hence why they did not hold the Tag Team titles during their five years on the main roster.

#4 Triple H pushed Emma but Vince McMahon did not

In the summer of 2015, WWE began featuring female Superstars more prominently on the main roster after Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks received call-ups from Triple H’s NXT.

Whenever fans have debates about who started the Divas Revolution/Women’s Evolution, the names of WWE’s Four Horsewomen – the aforementioned trio, plus Bayley – are always brought up, and so are Paige and Emma.

Prior to Triple H introducing TakeOver events in NXT, the black and gold brand held a special NXT Arrival show in February 2014. Unlike WWE’s main-roster Divas matches, which usually lasted 2-6 minutes, Paige defeated Emma in a 12-minute encounter that was widely praised by fans.

While Emma never won the NXT Women’s Championship, she still had an important role to play when Triple H made it clear that the brand’s women’s division was going to be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, despite her NXT reputation, Emma was never treated as a legitimate threat after she moved to Vince McMahon’s main roster.

The Aussie Superstar only received two title opportunities in her three-and-a-half-year stint on RAW and SmackDown, and both of those matches involved at least four other competitors.

#3 Triple H pushed Tyler Breeze but Vince McMahon did not

Nowadays, Triple H likes to refer to NXT as WWE’s third brand and he refrains from using the term “call-up” when somebody leaves to join RAW and/or SmackDown.

Before NXT became a two-hour weekly show on the USA Network, the brand was primarily viewed as a platform to showcase WWE’s future Superstars before they moved on to Vince McMahon’s top two shows.

In the WWE Network series Breaking Ground, Triple H even announced Tyler Breeze’s call-up to the main roster after his hugely successful character progression in NXT.

“Lastly, before we leave, Tyler, can you come down front? Tyler’s been here for a long a** time. He has been a consummate pro. He has been the example of not only taking feedback and creating something new, as his star rose, he was able to reach down and pull guys up with him. I’m thrilled to tell everybody in this room that Tyler Breeze is getting called up to the main roster.”

Breeze received applause from the rest of the NXT Superstars in the room, but it soon became apparent that things were not going to work out for him under Vince McMahon in the same way that they did under Triple H’s guidance.

After a disappointing four years on the main roster, Breeze returned to NXT in 2019 and he has since been used prominently again on television by Triple H.

#2 Triple H pushed Tye Dillinger but Vince McMahon did not

After two years in the NXT system, Tye Dillinger debuted his “Perfect 10” gimmick in August 2015 and he quickly cemented his status as one of the most popular Superstars on Triple H’s show.

Dillinger’s popularity in NXT led to him appearing from the No.10 position in the 2017 Royal Rumble, while he officially left Triple H’s brand to join Vince McMahon’s main roster in April 2017.

Sadly, although he achieved relative success in NXT, Dillinger was not featured in a prominent position after moving to SmackDown in the post-WrestleMania 33 Superstar Shake-Up and he ended up leaving WWE in early 2019.

Speaking on E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness, Dillinger revealed that he had a conversation with the man who initially pushed him in NXT – Triple H – shortly before he decided to leave WWE.

“I had a talk with Hunter [Triple H], probably about seven weeks before I made my announcement to leave, and I asked him some personal questions. Some questions that I needed answers to. And to his credit, he answered them. And whether or not they were answers I wanted to hear or not, I heard them.” [H/T Wrestle Zone]

Dillinger joined AEW after leaving WWE and reverted back to using his Shawn Spears name.

#1 Triple H pushed Killian Dain but Vince McMahon did not

The brainchild of Triple H, the SAnitY faction was originally supposed to consist of Sawyer Fulton, Solomon Crowe and Marcus Louis, but Fulton was left as the only member of the proposed group after the other two Superstars left WWE.

In October 2016, Fulton joined forces with Alexander Wolfe, Eric Young and Nikki Cross to appear on television as SAnitY for the first time. However, Killian Dain was later introduced as a member of the group, replacing the injured Fulton.

Along with his fellow faction members, Dain thrived in SAnitY and it looked for a long time as though Triple H’s dominant NXT group would go on to achieve similar success under Vince McMahon on the main roster.

But, as is often the case when NXT Superstars join RAW and/or SmackDown, Dain & Co. were unable to get involved in a meaningful storyline in their first few weeks on the blue brand.

Throughout Dain’s year as part of the SmackDown roster, he only won two matches – both multi-man tag team matches at PPVs – and he failed to record any victories on weekly television.

The Northern Irishman now performs for Triple H again on NXT and NXT UK.

Edited by Amar Anand
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