It's that time of year again, the time where WWE fans wait to see where their favorite superstars end up after being shuffled around in the WWE Draft. This year Raw and SmackDown will try and assemble the best rosters while attempting to outdo and outmaneuver their rival brand, though as opposed to year's past, we aren't quite sure what role NXT will have in this year's draft. In past years the Draft was a place where you would get a few call-ups from NXT, but these days the black and gold brand operates as the true third brand and not just a place to be promoted from. There still could be some people moving on from NXT of course, and if that is the case, there are a few stars that the brand needs to hold onto, and we've compiled those key stars right here.
Now, there are way more than 7 stars who NXT should try and hold onto, but if we have to limit it down to a reasonable number, these 7 (technically 9) stars are the ones that NXT would benefit greatly from keeping on board and the star themselves would also benefit from the spotlight and freedom that NXT allows.
There are benefits of moving to Raw or SmackDown, sure, but it's not a guarantee of success and even those who manage to overcome it face frustration and setbacks. Despite trying to make the best of their situations, NXT stars have faced an uphill battle recently, and all you need to do is look at Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, and Retribution for proof.
Hopefully, these stars won't be leaving anytime soon, and you can check out our full list starting on the next slide. You can see a lot of these names at NXT TakeOver 31, and you can find the official description below.
"See Finn Bálor defend the NXT Championship against Kyle O'Reilly, NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai battle Candice LeRae and more at NXT TakeOver 31 this Sunday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on the award-winning WWE Network!"
Here is the full card:
NXT Champion Finn Balor vs Kyle O'Reilly
NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae
NXT North American Champion Damian Priest vs Johnny Gargano
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar vs Isaiah Swerve Scott
Kushida vs The Velveteen Dream
Who do you feel needs to stay on NXT? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things NXT with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!
Karrion Kross and Scarlett
This one is pretty obvious, as the injury Kross suffered in the match where he won the NXT Championship derailed a massive push and to pardon the pun, a takeover of NXT in general. Kross had to relinquish his NXT Championship, and since then Finn Balor has taken the title for his second run as Champion.
Once Kross is back in action WWE might be tempted to take him and Scarlett and move them to SmackDown or Raw, but that would be a mistake, as they still have plenty to do in NXT before moving on to other brands. Plus, they are a marquee attraction, and as a true heel, Kross can be utilized in a number of ways against a number of babyfaces that currently call the black and gold brand home.prevnext
Regardless of whether or not O'Reilly wins this weekend against Balor, O'Reilly needs to stay in NXT. The buildup to this match has showcased not only Reilly's in-ring ability but also his charisma and personality, and he has future NXT Champion written all over him.
It's only a matter of time, and once Kross comes back he'll have the perfect nemesis to battle it out with in a long-running program. Breaking up the Undisputed ERA would be shortsighted, at least right now, and moving O'Reilly to another brand would rob NXT fans of some amazing matchups.prevnext
One of the biggest rising stars in NXT is Shotzi Blackheart, and moving her now would be a mistake. Blackheart has delivered some amazing matches over the past few months in NXT, and now that she's garnered more attention, it's time to push her to the moon as one of the top stars in the Women's Division.
Eventually, Shirai and Ripley will likely move to another brand, and that's when you're going to need someone to step in and be the top star in the Women's Division. Blackheart has everything one would need to do that, and NXT knows how to maximize the fun parts of her character without overdoing them, something I don't necessarily trust Raw and SmackDown to do. That's why the best thing for Blackheart and NXT is for her to stay put.prevnext
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae
Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae are synonymous with NXT these days, which makes their recent transformations even more impressive. Both Gargano and LeRae have found new life as heels and are bringing an element of fun to their villainous hijinks, and they instantly make any feud they are a part of 10 times more entertaining.
That's why they should stay in NXT and continue to work towards their dream of holding NXT Championships at the same time, becoming NXT's premier power couple in the process. They can fit into just about any sort of story, and there are plenty of threads you can play with, including the eventual finale to the LeRae Tegan Nox feud, which will conclude when Nox returns from injury.
These two are money everytime they show up, and they need to stick around.prevnext
NXT recently started showcasing Bronson Reed more in the leadup to the North American Championship Ladder Match, and ever since he's become a prominent figure in the title picture. Reed impressed once more in the NXT Championship No. 1 Contender Eliminator Gauntlet, and he's one of the most promising stars currently on the black and gold brand's roster.
In the past, this is the time when WWE has brought stars over to the other brands, but in this case, he needs to stay put for a little while longer. There are plenty of milestones Reed can hit while in NXT, and fans are really starting to get behind him, but he could use more time to build up an even bigger fanbase. Showcasing him in more events will make that happen and will give Reed a chance to further hone his character and his skills in the ring.prevnext
Like Kross and Scarlett, this is a bit of a no-brainer, but with WWE's unpredictability at times, it still bears mentioning. Balor has had a resurgence since returning to NXT, recapturing what fans loved about him in his pre-WWE days with the return of The Prince all the while delivering stellar matches in the ring. Now with the NXT Championship on his shoulder, WWE might think it's time to move him soon and capitalize, but that is far from the case.
Balor just captured the NXT Championship for the second time, but as Adam Cole will tell you, he has the longest-running Championship reign. Balor has to have the belt for a while before he can even tie Cole's number, so if that is the intent or if NXT wants him to even get close, he'll need to stay put for a bit.
It also comes down to Balor's own happiness, as Balor has been clear in interviews that he was burnt out a bit with his time on Raw and was looking for something new to light that fire up once more.
Balor is at the center of everything at the moment and gives NXT a compelling anti-hero/heel to build around for the foreseeable future barring any kind of injury. Balor needs to keep his momentum and NXT's as well, and that's why he doesn't need to go anywhere.prevnext
Rhea Ripley seems to be destined for Raw or SmackDown someday, but it doesn't mean that there isn't more for her to do before she leaves. Ripley seemed to be primed for a lengthy NXT Championship run until WWE decided they wanted Charlotte in that spot, and that pretty much derailed any hopes of Championship gold at the time.0comments
Since then she's slowly built up her momentum again and now seems to be in a spot where she could once again challenge for the NXT Women's Championship and get the run she should've had in the first place. A feud with Raquel Gonzalez will need to be put to bed first of course, but I don't see anyone dethroning Io Shirai until Ripley gets her shot at her, and that's why Ripley needs to stay in NXT and get that Championship run she should've had before.
Plus, Ripley is money whenever she's on television, and you need to hold onto those stars who can command not just attention but an audience, and Ripley does both in spades. She'll definitely move to one of the other brands at some point, but now just doesn't seem like the time for that to happen.prev