For years now, NXT has functioned as a feeder league, a farm system of sorts, for the WWE. Much of the world’s top wrestling talent got its start in the NXT ring.
Creating a farm system where they could develop raw talent into future stars was one of the best ideas the WWE brass ever had. However, over the last couple of years, a plethora of talent has spent too much time in the developmental system.
Why does the WWE keep great talent down? Part of the reason is that the Florida-based promotion is being run by Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who will eventually take over the reins of the WWE when Vince McMahon is buried alive in a casket match.
The NXT criticism of hanging onto talent for too long has some merit but when you look at it from a dollar and cents standpoint, it’s a bit more complicated. Having the feeder system thrive on its own is, as Triple H puts it, “best for business.”
The WWE also wants to show its shareholders that Levesque can build and maintain an entertaining brand of professional wrestling. They want those shareholders to have faith in the future and so it’s understandable why NXT will sometimes keep its big stars in the development system longer than necessary. It’s a means for NXT to sell more tickets and merchandise, and keep a steady stream of viewership.
However, this strategy can backfire as we saw with NXT star Finn Balor last summer. Back in August at WWE’s SummerSlam event, Balor, who is in his mid-30s, finally got the call after spending two years in NXT. Balor had already been a big international star for well over a decade, but Triple H kept him on the developmental roster to help build that promotion. Unfortunately, as soon as Balor was called up, he got injured.
With the main rosters on Monday Night RAW and Smackdown needing more depth, the WWE is in a tough situation. There are some guys and gals on NXT that deserve to be on the big show, but in turn, the developmental brand would take a hit.
Currently, the WWE is scouring the earth and signing all kinds of indie wrestling talent to bring to the NXT roster, so it’s just a matter of time before some of the big developmental stars get their shot.
Who will be called up to the WWE’s squared circle next? Below is a list of wrasslers who could find themselves on the main roster sooner-than-later.
Odds on NXT wrestlers being called up to the WWE in 2016/17
The most likely NXT star to be called up is Samoa Joe, who has been a wrestling star for years. To be honest, he probably didn’t even need to be put on the developmental roster and should have had a more direct route to the WWE.
It looked like Joe was pretty close to being called late last summer. Unfortunately, he was injured in a great match with Shinsuke Nakamura which delayed those WWE plans. However, there is a rumor that the 37-year-old will make his debut on Smackdown sometime in November, most likely after his final NXT match at NXT TakeOver: Toronto.
Samoa Joe: 1/3
Shinsuke Nakamura: 1/2
Bobby Roode: 1/1
Austin Aries: 3/2
The Revival: 10/1
The Authors of Pain: 15/1
Ember Moon: 20/1
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas: 30/1
No Way Jose: 50/1
Odds on indie wrestlers joining NXT or WWE in 2016/17
NXT could use a top-up on indie talent and there really isn’t anyone better than Winnipeg’s Kenny Omega. However, according to the Canadian leader of The Bullet Club, the WWE has made him three different offers this year and he has declined them all. That’s why he sits lower on this list; he’s clearly waiting for a bigger offer. The same goes for Ricochet, another indie superstar, who recently said that he would rather spend a year or two in New Japan Wrestling.
If it’s not the biggest and best names, then which indie talents will find themselves with a WWE/NXT developmental deal in 2016/17? It’s pretty difficult to predict, but here’s the way I see it.
Adam Cole (ROH): 3/2
Donovan Dijak (ROH): 2/1
Young Bucks (New Japan, ROH): 3/1
Michael Elgin (ROH): 3/1
Jay Lethal (ROH): 4/1
Cody Hall (New Japan): 5/1
Dalton Castle (ROH): 6/1
Eli Drake (TNA): 10/1
Zack Sabre Jr. (WXW, PWG, PROGRESS): 10/1
Lio Rush (ROH): 15/1
Kenny Omega (New Japan): 20/1
Ricochet/Prince Puma (Dragon Gate, New Japan): 25/1
Rosemary (TNA): 30/1
Moose (TNA): 35/1
Veda Scott (ROH): 40/1
The Briscoe Brothers (ROH): 50/1
Odds on legends coming back to the WWE in 2016/17
The WWE always welcomes back previous legends with open arms. It doesn’t matter if you pissed all over the organization; no bridge is fully burnt if there are profits on the other side. The build up to Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania is the WWE’s prime time for nostalgia.
There has been some talk about Bill Goldberg returning. Many of the rumors came after Goldberg was featured on the new WWE 2k17 video game cover. He could make some sort of appearance between now and Wrestlemania 33 and could end up in a storyline with Brock Lesnar.
Another retired superstar rumored to be making a triumphant return to the promotion is former champ and Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle. (“Oh it’s true!) However, those rumors sound positive one week and considered not happening the following week. But it’s a rumor that doesn’t seem to be going away.
Which former WWE Superstars will make a return in 2016/2017? Here are the odds, brother!
Kurt Angle: 2/1
Hulk Hogan: 2/1
Rey Mysterio: 3/1
The Hardy Boyz (Matt or Jeff): 3/1
Trish Stratus: 4/1
Kevin Nash: 10/1
Feature Image: Courtney Rose [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.