Predictions for NXT Superstars Who Will Get Called Up to WWE Main Roster in 2022
As NXT is a developmental system, the ultimate goal for every WWE Superstar should be a call-up to the main roster and a prominent spot on Monday Night Raw or Friday Night SmackDown.
Not everyone gets that opportunity. In 2021, tons of Superstars were let go from NXT without getting a chance to prove themselves at all, while some who had made the jump were released nevertheless.
Thankfully, despite all the examples of great talent like Keith Lee and Tegan Nox who didn't achieve the success they deserve, there were still some like Damian Priest who were able to make the best of their call-ups.
With a new year comes new opportunities. There are still many great wrestlers primed to make the jump over to Raw or SmackDown in the next 12 months.
Before that happens, let's toss out some predictions for NXT Superstars who will get called up to the main roster in 2022.
Already? Surely that's ludicrous, right?
Just wait until it happens and you can repeat that same line, as there's a strong possibility Bron Breakker doesn't enter 2023 still part of NXT.
It feels like a guarantee he'll capture the NXT Championship from Tommaso Ciampa at New Year's Evil. If that doesn't happen, it will be beyond shocking.
But title reigns don't last forever, and history has shown that if someone is a priority in NXT, even if they're champion, they'll just vacate the title and move up to Raw or SmackDown whenever WWE wants them to.
It happened to Keith Lee, Karrion Kross and even Asuka before them. Breakker is as sure a bet as any as the next in line to get fast-tracked, just like he quickly became No. 1 contender on essentially his debut night.
Cameron Grimes always wants to go to the moon, but while he's no astronaut, he may be rising up the ranks to a spot on Raw or SmackDown soon.
He's been wrestling elsewhere long enough that he knew what he was doing before even getting to WWE. Now, after several years in NXT, he's learned WWE's style and has progressed to becoming a true Superstar in all aspects.
As both a heel and a face, he's gotten over. Right now, with his more lovable goofball character, he's in a better position than ever to move on to bigger things, particularly as it's unlikely he'll win the NXT Championship with the focus being on the wrestlers who have only more recently signed.
He could easily fill the comedic voids left by some like Bo Dallas and Drake Maverick, but let's hope if he makes the jump, he's booked on an even higher level than that.
Imperium (Fabian Aichner, Marcel Barthel and WALTER) and Jinny
After an amazingly long reign, WALTER no longer has the NXT UK Championship on his shoulders, but he does still have NXT tag team champions, Imperium, by his side.
Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel have spent more time in NXT, rather than NXT UK, where it can be assumed they will stay.
For the longest time, WALTER seemingly wasn't interested in moving to the United States. It appears that may have changed and that he may possibly bring Jinny with him, as they're supposedly dating.
They're all in the position many NXT stars find themselves, where they'll be spinning their wheels if they stay where they are.
What does a third tag title reign mean for Aichner and Bartel? After such a long run with his title, WALTER continuing to fight for that spot feels like a step backward compared to wrestling on Raw or SmackDown. Jinny never won the NXT UK Women's Championship, but she's been passed over so many times that if she were to win it now, it would feel too late and less impactful than a fresh start with opponents she's yet to face.
Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell
With Johnny Gargano gone from NXT, Austin Theory on the main roster and Candice LeRae on pregnancy leave, InDex has no more connections to The Way keeping them in NXT.
2021 was a massive year for Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell. Their storyline romance kept them busy and catapulted them both to the next level.
Arguably, Hartwell received the biggest overall improvement and has shown that she's more than capable of filling in one of the gaps on the women's rosters on Raw and SmackDown.
Lumis came more into his own character, too, going from someone who didn't quite work to finding the proper balance between creepy and funny.
As they've been in NXT long enough to not look like the NXT 2.0 crew, it might be time to move them up.
Lumis, at the least, should make the jump. It's doubtful he'd win the NXT Championship, and the main roster could use more gimmicky people like him.
Hartwell may have to stick around NXT a little while longer to help Persia Pirotta fully gain her footing on the brand, but once that's out of the way, WWE should consider skipping that stage if she's not in contention to win the NXT Women's Championship.
Not everyone has to win the title before moving up, as Alexa Bliss, Carmella and others were just fine, so Hartwell could be the next in that line.
Joe Gacy and Harland
WWE loved playing around with the Bray Wyatt character, and while Alexa Bliss is the current caretaker of the supernatural gimmick, Joe Gacy has taken on the responsibilities of the resident talker looking to bring followers to his cause.
Much like The Wyatt Family before him, Gacy has already brought a big monster under his control in Harland, who went from looking like a clone of Brock Lesnar to resembling something more akin to Erick Rowan without the beard.
Considering the amount of time that's been given to this duo in such a short stint on NXT, someone in WWE is clearly a big fan of the gimmick. That means they'll be itching to bring it to a show like Raw, where a big guy like Harland can be groomed as a star with Gacy as his manager.
Raquel Gonzalez and Io Shirai
Once you win the two women's titles in NXT and you've stuck around long enough to have a few other lingering feuds, wrestled in WarGames and ran out of interesting people to fight, it's time to leave.
That applies to both Io Shirai and Raquel Gonzalez, who should go to the main roster—and separate brands—in 2022.
Undoubtedly, both will be in the Royal Rumble match. WWE doesn't have 30 women on the main roster to fill those spots, so established names and former champions like these two will be big players there.
In fact, Gonzalez should be one to watch to actually win. There's a strong chance her title run in NXT impressed enough people that she's on the verge of going on to win the SmackDown Women's Championship from Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 38, if it's not just going to be The Queen vs. Sasha Banks.
Shirai is a veteran but still just 31 years old. She's a fresh face for many opponents, can handle herself in the ring and can be trusted to consistently put on great matches.
If these two don't both go up to the main roster in 2022, it has to be because WWE felt NXT needed to keep some established names to help out the newer recruits, but here's hoping they get to spread their wings and fly on the bigger stages.
Dakota Kai's time in NXT won't go on too much further. She's been there long enough that if she doesn't win the title soon, she'll just become a veteran who is used as a stepping stone for other talent.
She has also wrestled enough prior to being signed and has learned enough of what WWE wants in their Superstars to be more than ready for a main roster run. If Aliyah—who is less polished than Kai—was deemed ready, what else does The Captain of Team Kick have to do?
Whether she stays heel or transitions back to a babyface role, she has tons of fresh opponents waiting for her on Raw and SmackDown.
Alexa Bliss, Liv Morgan, Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Nikki A.S.H., Carmella and Naomi are just some women she's yet to have a program with who could be interesting opponents.
While less likely, there are still some others who could be in contention for a graduation to the main roster in 2022.
Grayson Waller was brought into NXT in a class that is almost entirely extinct. Something must have separated him from the pack of Ari Sterling, Asher Hale, Curt Stallion and so on. That is especially true since he was given a prime spot on Team NXT 2.0 for WarGames and was chosen to be the guy to take out Johnny Gargano.
Whenever WWE shows someone is clearly liked, it's worth thinking they may be called up to the main roster sooner than others. Waller may get fast-tracked before winning a single championship.
Toxic Attraction could follow suit. Mandy Rose already has plenty of main roster experience, and there won't be anything for her to do once she loses the NXT Women's Championship. Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne quickly won the tag titles and would be in a similar position.
Putting the belts on all three means WWE trusts them. Why wouldn't they trust they'd be worth the investment on Raw or SmackDown, too?
Legado del Fantasma is a great faction, and the main roster could use more of those, particularly after Hit Row was brought up and nearly immediately fired. Santos Escobar is as ready as can be, and Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza would provide a much-needed solid tag team to that division.
Despite how they still need seasoning, Von Wagner, Xyon Quinn and Odyssey Jones are all potentials to move up. They're among the largest Superstars in NXT—something prioritized in WWE—and they've all had some taste of the main roster.
Wagner appeared beside Adam Pearce momentarily on SmackDown and wrestled some matches on both shows during the early pandemic. Quinn did the same, wrestling under the name Daniel Vidot. Jones had had several dark matches recently, meaning WWE may have been looking at him for a quick shot up to the bigger brands.
All these names can remain in NXT without feeling like they've overstayed their welcome, but it wouldn't be too shocking if they moved on at some point in 2022.
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.