Grading The First 10 NXT Champions
NXT is the developmental brand for WWE. Just for that reason, you would expect the champion of the brand to be one of the next big stars. Many NXT Champions have gone on to achieve incredible things on the main roster and their reign with the big belt on NXT primed them for this. We will be looking at the first 10 NXT Champions, and grade their reigns from A to F.
This assessment is being made on only two factors, how good the reign was and what was the impact of the superstar on the main roster. So, we will be giving them three grades as a result. Two for the aforementioned factor and a combined grade.
NOTE: It is just the first 10 because they have had at least a year on WWE's main roster and can be given a more holistic grade, as compared to former NXT Champions, but recent debutantes, Andrade 'Cien' Almas and Drew McIntyre
#1 Seth Rollins
Rollins was the inaugural NXT Champion, winning a Gold Rush tournament to be crowned champion. He beat Jinder Mahal in the finals for this honor. Rollins was a great competitor on NXT and had a more than decent run. Due to him being the first champion, his full potential with the strap could not be unlocked. The man formerly known as Tyler Black defended the belt against Michael McGillicutty (Curtis Axel), Jinder Mahal and Corey Graves. In the interest of a feud with Corey Graves, Rollins dropped the championship to Big E Langston in a no-disqualification match on the 9th of January 2013.
Rollins has been a massive star in WWE thereafter and is a grand-slam champion today. He debuted while still NXT Champion, but he never showed the belt on WWE TV. He debuted as part of The Shield, and their story needs no retelling. After a 2 year romp over WWE, Rollins betrayed his shield brothers Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns to turn heel and align himself with Triple H. He won the Money in the Bank 2014, which he cashed in at WrestleMania 31 to become WWE Champion. He has been a main event player ever since and is the current Intercontinental Champion.
For all his success on the main roster, Rollins didn't really excel as an NXT Champion. This is due in large part because the brand was still finding its footing and couldn't use Rollins to his full capabilities. However, his main roster run truly showcased his potential and he has been an indispensable member of the roster since his debut in 2012.
Grades: C as NXT Champion, A+ on the main roster, B+ overall.