Apollo Crews and 10 WWE Superstars Who Were Called Up from NXT Too Soon

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2018

Apollo Crews and 10 WWE Superstars Who Were Called Up from NXT Too Soon

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    Apollo Crews posing on a turnbuckle.
    Apollo Crews posing on a turnbuckle.Credit: WWE.com

    The WWE Performance Center and NXT have been great for the company because they have produced multiple success stories on the main roster. But for every person who goes on to become a champion, there is someone the system failed.

    Some people have been called up too early, some have been called up without a plan in place for a push and others simply failed to capitalize on the opportunity they were given.

    It's hard to know when to send certain wrestlers to the main roster because the reaction they get in NXT may not be the same one they receive on Raw or SmackDown Live.

    Producing so many talented Superstars has also put WWE in a tough spot because the roster is starting to feel too crowded. Even with six hours of weekly programming, the promotion doesn't have enough time to give everyone the attention they deserve.

    This article will look at Superstars who were called up from NXT too soon, either because they weren't ready or because management wasn't prepared to give their pushes the time and energy they deserved. 

Apollo Crews

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    There is no greater example of WWE wasting the talent of a gifted in-ring performer than Apollo Crews.

    This is a guy who looks like a bodybuilder, moves like a cruiserweight and has the physical ability to do anything he wants in the ring.

    Crews spent less than a year in NXT before being called up to the main roster, and his time in the developmental system barely saw him scratch the surface of his potential.

    The fans weren't given enough of a chance to connect with Crews, so when he showed up on Raw in April 2016, a lot of people didn't know who he was or why they should care.

    Crews would have benefitted greatly from more time in developmental and a run with the NXT Championship. But WWE wanted to beef up the roster for the brand split, and Crews suffered as a result.

Tye Dillinger

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    Tye Dillinger's career trajectory has been confusing, to say the least. He has all the talent in the world, but for some reason, management refuses to see it.

    Perfect 10 languished in the developmental system for several years before he was finally given a proper push, and once the company got behind him, so did the fans.

    Dillinger got over in NXT because he worked hard to make sure everyone knew why he was valuable. It took a few years, but he became one of the most popular Superstars on the brand.

    He first appearance on the main roster happened during the 2017 Royal Rumble match. He entered the match at No. 10 and received one of the biggest pops of the night.

    The crowd loves him, but WWE has put almost no effort into using him the way he deserves. Like Crews, a run with the NXT title would have helped Dillinger tremendously.

The Entire Riott Squad

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    Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan have developed great chemistry since they were brought up as a group from NXT in November, but they had a rocky start.

    Throwing together three random Superstars to form a stable is not how WWE should be booking anyone, but it feels like someone threw darts at a wall and put the first three names it landed on together. 

    Their gimmicks don't match up, Logan and Morgan needed more time to develop their wrestling ability and Riott was working as a babyface before making a sudden 180 during her SmackDown debut. There were several problems from the get-go.

    Depleting the NXT women's division not only hurt the developmental brand but also put these three Superstars in an impossible position. WWE didn't even make them into a dominant stable, so the WWE Universe had no reason to care about them.

    WWE should have given them some time to form their group and get experience in NXT before bringing them up. The Riott Squad's debut would have had a greater impact had its members been given a chance to develop some chemistry. 

    Hopefully WWE realizes at least one member of the group is destined for greatness and starts booking The Riott Squad to be a real threat.


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    Everything said about The Riott Squad in the previous slide applies to Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose too.

    Absolution had a greater chance to succeed with Paige at the helm, but her retirement and transition to being an authority figure took that credibility away.

    Now, Deville and Rose are just two random heels who happen to be friends. If their characters were even remotely similar, it might make sense, but you couldn't find two more different personalities.

    One is a tough-as-nails MMA fighter, and the other is a blonde bombshell with entrance music lifted straight from a late-night Cinemax flick. Even their real-life friendship doesn't make them seem compatible.

    Rose could have used a few more months in the developmental system to improve her wrestling ability, and Deville should have stayed around to feud with Shayna Baszler. Their shared gimmick would have made for an outstanding rivalry over the NXT women's title.

Drew McIntyre

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    Seeing Drew McIntyre's name on this list might come as a surprise, but he isn't being included because he is inexperienced. He made the list because WWE needed him in NXT more than it needs him on the main roster.

    The Scottish Superstar could have been the man who led the brand as NXT champion for an entire year, but WWE had too many other wrestlers it wanted to push, so he was put into a tag team with Dolph Ziggler to clear up some room in the NXT title scene.

    McIntyre was more than ready to return to the main roster, but he would have been much more valuable as a rival for someone like Aleister Black or Johnny Gargano.

    He could have helped a lot of rookies with his experience as a world-traveled wrestler who has worked for WWE and on the indy scene for the past 17 years. It might be hard to believe, but McIntyre got his start in Europe back in 2001 at the age of 15. 

    He is only 32 and has already been in the business for more than half his life. The fact WWE clearly still has no idea how to use him properly is upsetting. 

    The reaction he got when he came face-to-face with Braun Strowman should have told management he is destined for success as a singles competitor.

No Way Jose

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    There was once a Superstar who barely made an impact in NXT, so WWE brought him up to the main roster, gave him a huge posse of colorful characters and had him dance his way to the ring.

    Is that sentence describing Adam Rose or No Way Jose?

    The fact it applies to both men tells us someone in WWE thought the gimmick was funny and decided to try it with a second Superstar after it didn't work the first time around. 

    It's not like Jose is a bad wrestler. He has a lot of great qualities, but WWE saddled him with a gimmick he couldn't possibly make work.

    Pro wrestling is designed to appeal to people of all ages, so we should expect some characters to be made strictly for the younger audience. But that doesn't mean WWE has to put anyone in a position to fail.

    Hopefully, Jose finds a way to make this character work for him. If he doesn't, he is going to end up jobbing for the rest of his career.

Dana Brooke

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    One of the great things about wrestling is how many different kinds of Superstars we get to watch. Some people like to fly through the air, some like to make their opponents tap out and others like to show everyone how powerful they are by dominating their opponents.

    We don't need everyone to be a technical wizard on the mat, especially if they have the kind of physique anyone would find intimidating. Just look at Braun Strowman.

    Dana Brooke is a great example of someone who should be booked as an unstoppable powerhouse, but management has never taken advantage of what she has to offer.

    Not only is Brooke one of the strongest women on the roster, but she is also an experienced gymnast and bodybuilder who won the Female Image Award at the 2017 Mr. Olympia competition.

    She was called up way too soon, and she has been suffering ever since. Instead of being built up into a monster in NXT, WWE stuck her with Titus Worldwide as a statistician. The women with the biggest muscles is writing on a clipboard instead of lifting opponents above her head and slamming them to the mat. 

    However, there is still time to fix the problem. Brooke is only 29, so WWE can always send her back to NXT to work on her shortcomings and rebuild her into the dominant Superstar she should be.


    Who do you think was called up from NXT too soon?


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