In a prior article for Still Real To Us, I discussed how WWE could benefit from counteracting main roster call-ups with NXT “call-downs.” WWE talent has appeared on NXT on a few notable occasions, and some talent has gone down to NXT for repackaging and/or recuperation. Making these talent exchanges a more regular concept could benefit the WWE and its contracted talent, and here are a few examples of such:
Bo Dallas – Bo Dallas was a long-reigning NXT champion that debuted on the WWE main roster as part of a Royal Rumble appearance. His initial call-up was underwhelming and he was quickly sent back to NXT for repackaging. Bo’s two and a half years since returning to the main roster have been a mixed bag. While he has been high on the entertainment side of things, he has generally been far away from title chases and meaningful storylines. No one is doubting Bo’s talent, especially when considering his family linage, but he could thrive as being a big fish in a little pond, as seen in his FCW and NXT runs.
Curtis Axel – When I think of Bo Dallas, I generally think of Curtis Axel. Curtis Axel has been a tag team champion — albeit under a different name — and an Intercontinental Champion, yet he has generally worked as an enhancement talent. The reaction to Curtis’ recent Raw promo in Minneapolis shows that he has a fanbase and can connect with the WWE Universe as a beer-drinking everyman. With some focus and/or repackaging, he could do great things in NXT, even if it is helping younger talent shine.
Baron Corbin – Very different from what was said above about Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, Baron Corbin ought to be called back down to NXT because he was not ready for the main roster when he was called up. Baron is huge and has great credentials in his non-WWE athletic career. But his move-set is limited, which can also be said about his mic skills. He does not get the heel reactions that he should be getting, and also he is very far from a meaningful title chase or storyline. In NXT, his feud with Bull Dempsey at least had some people rooting against him as a heel.
Dana Brooke – Comparable to Baron Corbin, Dana Brooke has an interesting look and a strong competitive background as an athlete. Her gymnastic skills, as often shown when her intro music hits, are also very impressive. But at this point, Dana Brooke is not getting the reactions needed as Charlotte’s lackey. She was introduced as a replacement valet for Ric Flair, which was absolutely the wrong way to get a new talent over. The trash-talking bully persona works very well, but the booking surrounding Dana Brooke does not. Some more time in NXT would be great for her in-ring consistency and also for positioning her as more than a lackey.
The Vaudevillains – The Vaudevillains came in strong when called up to WWE’s main roster. The group seemed to be in the midst of a push until Simon Gotch accidentally injured Enzo Amore during a live event. Since then, the duo have been positioned as enhancement talent. They lost to Breezango on Smackdown this past Tuesday, which says a lot. Then again, that is more recent of a victory than The Ascension have experienced on a television broadcast, and they were supposedly the most dominant tag team in NXT history.
Apollo Crews – For loyal watchers of Breaking Ground, Apollo Crews can be remembered as getting the fastest raise in NXT, or at least the quickest raise in pay grade. His call-up to the main roster was also very speedy. Apollo Crews came in strong, winning enhancement-ish matches against The Social Outcasts and a battle within his first month and change on the main roster. Since then, Apollo has been floundering around, and his feud with Curt Hawkins included him not having an on-camera introduction during one appearance. This is a waste of talent, to put it nicely.
Darren Young – Months was spent focusing on “making Darren Young great again.” The split-screen vignettes were awful, even if you get a kick out of Bob Backlund. Darren Young finally returned to the ring in July, winning a battle royal that led to an Intercontinental Title shot against The Miz. After losing that, he had a feud with former tag team partner Titus O’Neil that disappeared without explanation. He was last seen on Raw dressed up as Bob Backlund as part of a Halloween battle royal. Darren Young was a tag team champion alongside Titus, and had been part of the high-profile Nexus just a few years before that, so this is a guy that can add some depth to the NXT roster.