It's been apparent for some time that WWE programming has needed some sort of a shake-up ahead of WrestleMania 35 to ensure the event is as exciting as possible, and the company thought they found the answer in the form of more NXT call-ups.
Bringing up fresh faces from the developmental brand has been WWE's go-to move for years whenever things have looked grim on Raw and SmackDown Live. The company typically waits until after WrestleMania to call up talent from NXT, though it has become much more common in recent months with the product being so stagnant.
To WWE, plugging in an NXT star here and there to switch things up may look appealing on paper, but it has led to even more wrestlers getting lost in the shuffle and Raw remaining a chore to sit through every Monday night.
Ideally, WWE should only bring up those from NXT who they believe are main roster-ready and have accomplished all they could on that brand. There should also be a plan in place for them upon their arrival, which hasn't been the case with the last batch of Superstars to get the elusive call-up.
Andrade, Sanity, The IIconics, AOP, No Way Jose and Ember Moon were all promoted from NXT to Raw and SmackDown in the spring of 2018. None of them have lit the world on fire in their time on the main roster, but that didn't stop WWE from calling up several more names at the end of the year.
As part of WWE's "new era," it was announced in December that EC3, Heavy Machinery, Lars Sullivan, Nikki Cross and Lacey Evans were all bound for the main roster, but none of them have panned out so far.
It was shortsighted of WWE to call those aforementioned athletes up without having the slightest clue of what to do with them or what brand they'd ultimately be assigned to. They're still competing on both shows with zero direction.
WWE likely hoped that bringing some of NXT's top prospects to the bigger stage would solve Raw's recent woes. After all, they were a treat to watch on Wednesday nights, so surely they could inject new life into Raw and SmackDown as well, right?
In reality, their presence on WWE programming has had the opposite effect. Instead of elevating the quality of Raw and SmackDown, they have become as irrelevant as everyone else on the active roster as a result of the company's questionable booking.
Granted, EC3's NXT stint was far from spectacular, but at least he had some semblance of a character and appeared on a pair of TakeOver events. On the main roster, however, he has been kept silent and has shown no signs of picking up steam any time soon.
The timing could not have been worse, either. With WrestleMania 35 right around the corner, unless WWE intends on incorporating any of these up-and-comers into marquee matches at the event, they are bound to be relegated to the Kickoff show.
As if the main roster runs of Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross and EC3 being butchered wasn't bad enough, WWE now must avoid making the same mistakes with Aleister Black, Ricochet, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa.
WWE took an interesting approach by introducing so many top talents from NXT in one night this past week on Raw. They had strong showings in their respective matches and came out on the winning end, but their random debuts created concern among fans.
WWE is obviously in desperation mode at the moment and clearly willing to do anything and everything necessary to get the WWE Universe buzzing en route to WrestleMania. That said, there are other ways to generate excitement that don't involve gutting NXT and ruining potential players by rushing them up to the main roster.
Stars such as Black and Ricochet would be best saved as post-WrestleMania surprises, not as one-night-only attractions in front of a dead crowd on Raw. On one hand, more fans are now familiar with them, but there was little effort put into telling the audience what they're all about (not to mention how Michael Cole's clichés on commentary hardly helped matters).
NXT has always been its own entity, and it should stay that way. There is no reason for its stars and storylines to overlap with what's happening on Raw and SmackDown for the sake of boosting ratings and getting people talking temporarily. The short-term gain isn't worth it.
These NXT call-ups deserve all the attention they can get from WWE Creative, but the more of them there are, the less of a chance there is they'll be successful. Besides, now is the not the time for WWE to be focusing on the future, as there is already a slew of Superstars the company could be doing more with.
Going forward, WWE must leave NXT well enough alone and make the most of their current crop of guys and girls before hitting the panic button by calling up cornerstones of the brand prematurely.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.