On tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon was joined by children Stephanie and Shane McMahon, alongside son-in-law Triple H to announce that they were aware that WWE was letting the fans down lately and that it was time for a change. It was said by Triple H that new stars were coming and it didn’t take long for WWE to formally announce the incoming arrival of six new WWE Superstars from NXT. The respective brands for each were not officially announced yet.
👀 👀 👀 👀 👀 👀
— WWE (@WWE) December 18, 2018
Of the six names, Lars Sullivan is the one we all knew was coming before tonight. For weeks now, vignettes for the NXT Superstar have been running on both brands signalling his impending main roster debut. Lars Sullivan has been a homegrown prospect for the WWE, joining the WWE Performance Center in 2015. Standing at around 6’1″, but nearly 300 lbs., Lars and his brute strength became a cult favorite in NXT as the next monster with freakishly large hands. He had his proper NXT TV debut last summer, starting in a gimmick where he was part of the enhancement tag teams that lost to established NXT teams, only to beat up his partner after they lost. This lead to a big run for Lars in NXT, who had a shot at the NXT Championship at this year’s NXT TakeOver: Chicago in June, as well as big wins over the likes of Keith Lee, EC3 and Kassius Ohno.
It was always a matter of time with the former 2x IMPACT World Heavyweight Champion. A former NXT Superstar in WWE Developmental as Derrick Bateman, he left the WWE Universe in 2013 to become Ethan Carter III in TNA/IMPACT Wrestling, where his charisma and athleticism carried him to the main event of IMPACT Wrestling. He returned to NXT this past spring, as simply EC3, and has had sporadic matchups and feuds (although he missed some time in the summer and early fall due to injury), but it always felt like he was just re-acclimatizing to the WWE production than settling into an NXT groove. If anyone was ready for the WWE main roster it was the 1%er, EC3.
A standout on the international indies as Nikki Storm, SaNitY’s Nikki Cross has been one of the biggest stars in the NXT women’s division for the past year or so. She’s been with NXT since 2016, after arriving as a former 3x Pro Wrestling EVE Champion, who had competed for the likes of Scotland’s Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), England’s IPW:UK, Japan’s Stardom and US indies like SHIMMER and Shine. Since her SaNitY cohorts Eric Young, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe were called up to SmackDown Live earlier this year, the faction has been sterile. Meanwhile, Nikki has continued to be an exciting part of NXT. Hopefully, Cross is called up to SmackDown Live, where she can help inject some fire back into her running mates.
HEAVY MACHINERY (Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight)
Heavy Machinery began as a random pairing in NXT in the summer of 2016, two random Performance Center graduates paired together, seemingly to act as an enhancement for NXT’s then-booming tag team division. Tucker Knight had been with NXT since 2015, and had seen his time in enhancement tag teams before – he was previously paired with Sawyer Fulton and then Hugo Knox before his final pairing with 2016 Performance Center recruit Otis Dozovic. But they two big men proved to have instant chemistry, and Heavy Machinery soon won over the fans with their playful demeanour amidst their brute strength. They’ve held their own in the NXT Tag Team division, having competitive matches with the likes of War Raiders (formerly War Machine in ROH) and The Mighty, and will add some fun to whichever tag team division they become a part of.
A former US Marine, Lacey Evans started out in the Georgia indies, working with American Premier Wrestling in 2014 under the training of Tom Caiazzo, as Macey Estrella. She was signed to the WWE in 2016, where she became Lacey Evans. She worked the NXT Live Events at first, before making her proper TV debut in the spring of 2017. That year, she was a participant in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, where she defeated Taynara Conti in the first round before falling to Toni Storm in the second round. Since then, she’s become “The First Lady” of NXT, in matches against the likes of Bianca BelAir, Nikki Cross and Kari Sane, as well as big wins over Candice LeRae and Dakota Kai. Much like Raw Superstar Elias, Lacey Evans’ character has always felt more directed towards the main roster than NXT, so she will most likely find greater success on the main roster than she did in NXT.