WWE Superstar Shake-Up: Main Roster Stars Who Must Go to NXT After WrestleManiaMarch 27, 2019
WWE Superstar Shake-Up: Main Roster Stars Who Must Go to NXT After WrestleMania
WrestleMania 35 is right around the corner and soon after that will come the Superstar Shake-up, which is set for April 15 and 16.
Not only is that when Raw and SmackDown trade wrestlers between shows, but it's also the time of year we see talent from NXT called up to the main roster.
Plenty of attention is given to those NXT graduates, but it doesn't always work out for the best for everyone who makes the jump. Some get lost in the shuffle, some can't adapt to the traveling schedule, and others simply feel more important when they're on a lesser brand.
Triple H has suggested in the past that he would like to see the Superstar Shake-up change to a point where there is less of a "main roster vs. developmental" philosophy and more of an idea that NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live are equals to Raw and SmackDown.
This would open up the opportunity for the reverse of what fans are used to, with Superstars from the main roster going to NXT.
If that is to happen this year, there are several names who could benefit from being switched to NXT, so let's take a look at some of those figures and why they would be smart moves for WWE to make.
At the start of the new brand split, Shelton Benjamin seemed like he would be an anchor for SmackDown, but that never came to fruition.
He had a false start when he suffered a torn rotator cuff that halted his return for a full year before he was partnered with Chad Gable as a poor attempt to remake American Alpha.
Once they split, Benjamin just disappeared and wrestled mostly on house shows with few television appearances.
The best thing he has done since coming back to WWE was his random appearance on Raw recently where he came up short in a match against Seth Rollins that came out of nowhere, meant absolutely nothing and hasn't been followed up on ever since.
There's no doubting Benjamin still has something to offer in the ring, but WWE isn't giving him any opportunities to do something with his talents, while bigger stars are eating up the time on Raw and SmackDown.
NXT, though, would be a perfect platform for The Gold Standard to flex his muscles. The brand has a better reputation for in-ring action, he would feel like a big deal as he's an established star, and he could work with younger talent and help teach them along the way.
Benjamin vs. Johnny Gargano alone is reason enough to want to see him go to NXT, and there are still tons of options for great matches he can have, since the roster is filled with great wrestlers.
This shift in a lighter work schedule could also help the 43-year-old extend his career even longer, as there's no point in him busting his hump on the live circuit just to be a jobber all year round.
Finally, familiarizing himself more with the Performance Center could transition him to a future where he can take on a job as a trainer, which is something he seems born to do.
The 205 Live Roster
The idea of a talent exchange between rosters such as 205 Live and NXT has been around for a while though not in any sort of official capacity.
Oney Lorcan, Tyler Bate, Roderick Strong and others have performed on 205 Live, and Drew Gulak recently appeared on an episode of NXT against Eric Bugenhagen and Matt Riddle.
Even the Worlds Collide tournament during Royal Rumble Axxess was built on sharing those two rosters with NXT UK, which allowed for some interesting pairings and fun matches.
Since 205 Live is considered the main roster, there should be more of an effort to play around with this talent exchange by allowing more wrestlers from the cruiserweight division to wrestle on episodes of NXT and NXT UK.
For instance, Gentleman Jack Gallagher should be a regular of NXT UK, if not a permanent fixture as Noam Dar has become, rather than someone who has only made one or two guest spots.
Humberto Carrillo has been swapped back and forth at times, as has Tony Nese, so that should continue with others like Akira Tozawa and The Brian Kendrick.
But if there are two names who particularly stand out as wrestlers who should go to NXT, they are Cedric Alexander and Mike Kanellis.
Alexander is at a point where he's already been to the mountain top as cruiserweight champion and is struggling to find another reason to be there. There isn't much room for him to be in the main event of 205 Live right now, so he's just untapped potential that could be used elsewhere.
Seeing him fight for the North American or the NXT Championship would be a refreshing change of pace and would help the NXT roster once they lose Ricochet to a main roster call-up.
Regarding Kanellis, he's tried SmackDown, Raw and now 205 Live and failed to make the needle budge on any of those shows. The third time wasn't the charm, but maybe the fourth could be if he goes to NXT as he should have from the start.
Even if he still fails to amount to anything, at least he would have some different opponents to put over, rather than doing nothing at all or wrestling on Main Event like he had been doing.
Fandango and Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze is one of the best examples of someone who was a big deal in NXT with a guaranteed bright future, but who ran into a downward spiral on the main roster that he was never able to get back up from.
Within no time, he went from feuding with Dolph Ziggler as a solid midcarder who could have won the Intercontinental or United States Championship with a bit of a push to someone who was relegated to being a jobber.
For most of his main roster run, he's been a fall guy who only gets a match on television if he's set to be humiliated and lose, which is a shame because he's better than that.
He did see some success when partnered with Fandango, who had equally fallen down the hierarchy, and The Fashion Police were just shy of winning tag team gold at their peak, which was so long ago that their stock value has dropped considerably.
In fact, their shirts on WWE Shop are in the clearance section, meaning this team seems to be expiring entirely.
Since Fandango has been out with an injury, Breeze has stopped by NXT for some guest spots and seemed to be more appreciated there than on the main roster, where he's been wrestling almost strictly for Main Event.
Going to 205 Live would be a better fit for him than to developmental, but NXT is an option if WWE has no plans on utilizing Breeze on Raw or SmackDown in the foreseeable future.
The same applies to Fandango. If he isn't able to reinvent himself and get a push on the main roster once he makes his return, NXT may be the only place he's able to experiment and establish a new singles run.
Both Superstars would be great assets to another company like AEW, and if WWE isn't careful, they could leave for greener pastures, so it's worth trying them out in NXT to see what can be salvaged.
Monday Night Rawley didn't last long, but instead of being canceled, it was put on hiatus.
After an extended period of not doing anything on television, Mojo Rawley has been showing up in 2019 to motivate himself to get back on track by talking to himself in a mirror.
This gimmick doesn't seem to be getting anywhere with the WWE Universe, and rather than stubbornly push through and hope it amounts to something, it might be worth nixing it and sending Rawley back to developmental.
He hasn't worked out on the main roster, and he's had enough attempts as a heel and a babyface that something more drastic needs to happen for his career to amount to anything.
Perhaps Rawley is an example of a talent whose ceiling is NXT and trying to bring him up to a bigger world was never going to work, as his style is better suited to smaller arenas where his energy can be felt better.
On Raw and SmackDown, no matter how hyped he has been, that energy has dissipated into nothingness.
Short of signing Rob Gronkowski and pairing him with Rawley, there isn't much hope for him on the main roster to be able to break out of his status as a lower-midcarder, but in NXT, he could come off as a bigger deal and find a new lease on life.
Dana Brooke fit the mold for a future star the moment she stepped foot in NXT, but she peaked before even coming up to the main roster.
Being paired with Emma and Charlotte Flair did nothing for her. Becoming a statistician for Titus Worldwide was a waste of time. Nothing she has done on the main roster has mattered.
For years now, Brooke has stayed consistent as, arguably, the lowest on the totem pole in the women's division, so much so that WWE doesn't even keep track of whether she's a heel or a babyface. She's giving Big Show a run for his money and hasn't had the same mileage.
It's sad that her spot on the main roster is so devoid of value that WWE often forgets she is there, as evidenced by how her participation in last year's WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal was overlooked until a random announcement on WWE Now two days before the event.
At this point, Brooke has nothing left to lose. Going back down to NXT could allow her to learn the skills she needs to be more successful and build up a comeback story for her future.
If not, then she and WWE should just agree to part ways, as it's astonishingly clear by now that the formula on the main roster is not working and nothing will magically change on its own.
A move to NXT could kick that change into gear, or it could kick her out the door. Either way, it would be better than the limbo she's stuck in now.
Luke Harper is in dire need of a rehaul to his character, and the entire essence of his being in WWE.
The right call was made to put him with Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan to form The Wyatt Family, but once that stable split, Harper was never allowed to grow past what had already been established.
In his singles run, he was just a stray who would wander back into The Wyatt Family soon enough. Then, after breaking off from Wyatt again, he was put with Rowan to form The Bludgeon Brothers, which was nothing new.
After three attempts at being in virtually the same group, Harper needs to stand out on his own and it doesn't seem like WWE is confident in allowing him to do that on the main roster, so NXT may be the only place he'd be able to spread his wings.
Working in NXT could provide Harper with the opportunity to not only change his character, but also his ring style.
He's exactly the type of established figure who could immediately challenge for a title while not feeling like he's stepping on anyone's toes and halting the progress of the future.
NXT is all about opportunities, growth and quality entertainment, which are all things Harper could benefit from and contribute to.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.