WWE has searched the globe the past few years and plucked names from such companies as Ring Of Honor (ROH), Impact Wrestling, EVOLVE, wXw, PROGRESS Wrestling, ICW, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), and Stardom, among others, to expand the NXT roster and WWE as a whole, from WWE Champion AJ Styles to newly crowned NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa. The NXT roster has grown to include former Heavyweight champions from other countries such as Germany, Japan, Scotland, and more. With this in mind and the success of such NXT stars on the main roster as Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Asuka: let’s take a look at eight stars from the current 218 NXT roster that could make serious waves in the WWE main event picture. WWE has to look to the future with top draws/champions, Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles, not getting any younger. But these 8 NXT sensations, along with former NXT Champions Drew McIntyre and Andrade “Cien” Almas, can lead the front of the pack on main roster WWE for years to come.
The six-foot-eight, two-hundred and seventy pound powerhouse blends high flying with displays of power, the former Donovan/ Chris Dijak is one of the most agile pro wrestlers today even at that size and the WWE Universe has only begun to see his potential after his debut match with Ricochet recently on NXT TV. Dijakovic was getting the most exposure of his career in 2017 when WWE signed him to a developmental deal. Beyond Wrestling was the home of Dijak where he wrestled his farewell match against WALTER per request. Keith Lee showed up in the audience at NXT Takeover: Chicago II so perhaps the Dijak vs. Lee feud will continue in NXT, where they previously tore the house down in EVOLVE Wrestling, AAW Pro and in the PWG Battle Of Los Angeles tournament. WWE is hoping to give Dijak some more experience around the world but a monster push as a heel or face would make the entire WWE Universe take notice of this rising star that can perform an Asai Moonsault just as easily as a Chokeslam. “Feast Your Eyes” is Dijak’s moniker and he is currently the tag team The Towers Of Power with Brennan Williams on NXT Live Events, but Dijak is a singles main event star waiting to happen and he will pave his own path with his brand of intensity just like he did when he had to leave The American Destroyers tag team with Mikey Webb.
Dream Opponents: Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Apollo Crews, Kevin Owens, John Cena
“The Future Of Flight” has been the premier high flyer in the world for several years now and he hasn’t found many that can keep up with his Lightning fast speed outside of the Best Of The Super Juniors tournament that he previously won in 2015. Ricochet makes sure all eyes are on him in the ring but he is never too arrogant to turn to the rulebreaker side. Full Sail University has certainly taken in Ricochet as one of their own already after just debuting at NXT Takeover: New Orleans in April. There are many that believe Ricochet is destined for 205 Live because of his wildly exciting in-ring style but that doesn’t have to be the case in the long run. AJ Styles is going to be over forty years old soon and WWE has extremely popular and well-rounded wrestlers like Ricochet that can fill the void with a similar background. PWG finally put all the chips on Ricochet when they made him champion in December of last year and Ricochet left for a bigger future because Ricochet bets on himself. New Japan Pro Wrestling had the chance to make something big out of Ricochet and move him out of the Junior Heavyweight division for dream matches with Tetsuya Naito and others but they refused to do that. Hopefully WWE doesn’t make that same mistake and Ricochet is a future WWE champion that will put on highlight reel matches fans will never forget. First Ricochet may become the WWE NXT North American champion with a title match against Adam Cole coming at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn.
Dream Opponents: Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Neville
The former NXT champion has learned from the best from around the world – everywhere from Germany to the United Kingdom has felt the wrath of “The Dutch Destroyer.” Black’s training in mixed martial arts has brought his in-ring game to limits most wrestlers only dream of with strikes that can drop the biggest opponents. Now that Black is NXT Champion, it’s only a matter of when not if Aleister Black goes to Raw or Smackdown Live. Black received a win on WWE Main Event against Curt Hawkins one year ago, so WWE obviously has faith that Black will be an enigma the company could utilize well into the future. A feud with Bray Wyatt would only be a natural for Black down the road but the less we know about Black’s personal life the better if that feud takes a dark path. Fans respect Black because he is a no nonsense kick-ass athlete that goes to the beat of his own drum. Black previously was in a tag team with Kassius Ohno (Heroes Eventually Die) that really helped Black perfect his striking and overall presence in the ring.
Dream Opponents: Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins
EC3 has the look and charisma that WWE is looking for in a top heel. You will never see EC3 be humble and he rarely praises his opposition, EC3 is in the wrestling business to make money like Ted Dibiase. The former two-time Impact Wrestling World Champion is undefeated in singles competition so far in NXT, by way of the one-percenter TKO, even against veteran Kassius Ohno. EC3 has already scored victories over Sting, Jeff Hardy, James Storm, Drew McIntyre among other top names in wrestling and EC3 is only 35 years old. EC3 challenged John Cena on social media, so EC3 will go to any length to promote himself to eventually become WWE champion.
Dream opponents: Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, Bobby Roode, The Miz, John Cena
Johnny Gargano is the heart and soul of NXT, but it wasn’t always that way with the crowd supporting Gargano as one of today’s top faces. EVOLVE Wrestling once had a relationship with Dragon Gate USA that involved Gargano as the DGUSA champion for a record 873 days. Gargano cheated to win most matches to prove he is “The Whole Shebang” against the likes of Apollo Crews, Kassius Ohno and many more that are now signed to WWE years later. This “Rebel Heart” has grown from that experience and flipped the switch to become a sympathetic man that loves his wife as much as the sport of professional wrestling. Johnny Gargano has what it takes to succeed in the main event with Seth Rollins or anybody else just like Daniel Bryan despite their small statures. You are always guaranteed a great main event with “Johnny Wrestling.”
Dream opponents: Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Sami Zayn
You can’t mention Johnny Gargano without bringing up Tomasso Ciampa, “The Psycho Killer” is every bit as explosive in the ring as his former DIY tag team partner and more than capable of main events on Raw or Smackdown Live. Nobody quite plays the heel game as well as Ciampa in all of WWE, going so far as to emotionally attack his former best friend Gargano on social media and every chance he can at Full Sail University. The way Ciampa wrestles in the ring is without total abandon of his own well being, using knee strikes where he has a knee brace from a previous torn ACL. Ciampa’s approach as he turned heel in NXT has clicked with the WWE audience in an era where everyone thought kayfabe was dead. Tomasso Ciampa is poised for big matches in the future against top talent. Ciampa vs Gargano can also continue on the main roster in a variety of ways after the NXT rivalry. This past week, Ciampa achieved a lifelong goal of becoming a champion in WWE by defeating Aliester Black on NXT TV for the NXT championship, it’s been a long road to redemption for “The Psycho Killer” from ROH TV champion to the very top of NXT and he’s only just getting started.
Dream Opponents: Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, Drew McIntyre
“The Panama City Playboy” became the first ever WWE North American champion at NXT Takeover: New Orleans after being in the company for only seven months. Cole has a great faction by his side in The Undisputed Era – it’s what Cole dreamed of when he came to WWE and that’s to start a takeover with his friends Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong. All of these men were once rivals as well in Ring Of Honor Wrestling and PWG but they mesh so well as a unit that they hold almost all of the gold in NXT. It’s a great indicator his early in Cole’s career that he has already had his idol Shawn Michaels referee an NXT Championship match of Cole’s against Drew McIntyre. Once Cole has refined more in the ring he will be a suit wearing rule breaker champion for years to come with many on the main roster of WWE that he has yet to face. Cole though would be dying to test himself again against former Bullet Club leader AJ Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura.
Dream Opponents: Bobby Roode, The Miz, Shelton Benjamin, Chad Gable, Kevin Owens
“THE BRUISERWEIGHT” PETE DUNNE
“The Bruiserweight” knows how to attack opponents limb from limb just like he knows how to hook the audience, when Pete Dunne is signed full time he will be a major force in WWE. Many on this list will have to work their way up from Intercontinental championship matches and Dunne would relish in pinning WWE stars until he works his way up the ladder to the WWE Championship. Dunne is the WWE UK champion and the most talked about athlete from the United Kingdom for a reason and that’s his aggression. The future holds many main events in WWE if he stays healthy, Dunne can wrestle any style judging from his Hardcore matches with Jimmy Havoc in the past to Cruiserweight matches with Will Ospreay to technical wars with Doug Williams. Dunne has been called a modern day Daniel Bryan in the ring by NXT commentator Nigel McGuinness and Dunne has the chance to beat Bryan in the future and maybe even surpass his career highs in WWE.
Dream Opponents: Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, Triple H, Neville, AJ Styles