NXT rebranded as NXT 2.0 in September of 2021, shifting its primary focus from being WWE version of an elite indie to bringing along as much new talent as possible. The matches with great workrate have gone away, for the most part, giving way to talent working out the kinks of being new to the business right there on national television. At times, it’s been a difficult process to watch. But there have been workers who have excelled and look to be on the way to becoming stars. Others have struggled mightily.
Bron Breakker ascended to the top of the pecking order upon his debut. Since then, he has dominated the top babyface spot on the brand and has come through for the most part with explosive offense and an infectious enthusiasm that speaks to the fans. His intense charisma makes him a sure-fire future star barring serious injury. Carmello Hayes started just before the re-branding and is excellent in the ring as well as on the microphone. Their futures seem very bright indeed.
Who else is on the way up, and who else might not make the cut?
This list is by no means exhaustive. WWE has put a lot of new faces on TV over the last year. But here’s a look at some of the key players who have debuted with WWE since the re-brand, and how they are coming along:
Which new faces will become future superstars?
The good news for WWE is several new talents have shown real aptitude for the business. The even better news is that most of them are in the women’s division, people who may one day help shore up WWE’s status of having the top women’s division in North America. Here are a few standouts:
Roxanne Perez made her debut in 2018, which is impressive considering how good she is only four years later at the age of 20. Perez, initially trained by Booker T before coming to the WWE Performance Center, is light years ahead of most women her age. She was the best worker in the NXT Women’s Tag Team title match at the 2022 Great American Bash, and has looked good in each match she’s had. The company seems to know how good she is, putting her over in the NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament. If WWE pushes her correctly, she has the potential to be a main roster main event star.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) July 13, 2022
Lyons may have been slated to win that tournament, but suffered an injury. She’s back in action and has improved in the ring steadily since her debut. She always had the charisma, which was evident from her early vignettes. She’s another with a high ceiling if her improvement continues on its current trajectory.
The younger brother of Jimmy and Jey Uso has excelled in the NXT 2.0 environment. He never seems overwhelmed by the cameras and lights and looked at home in the ring early. A lot of what he does in the ring currently is reminiscent of his brothers’ style. He’s a bit more of a powerhouse, which gives him a slightly different dimension.
There is little doubt Sikoa will get a shot at the main roster. He has too strong of a family pedigree not to. But from what he’s shown thus far, that spot will be earned, no nepotism needed.
— WWE (@WWE) July 13, 2022
The former gymnast is beginning to show real signs of developing into a good worker. Each match she seems to get a little better. Her timing is improving and she’s learning how to incorporate the gymnastics into her repertoire. Her current character, the snotty rich girl, is a classic trope but she’s playing it well. She’s another that seems to have a high ceiling on the women’s side.
The gimmick is ridiculous. She’s a human slumber party. How this even got through the first
No For Now
There are a few who have not progressed as well. Whether it’s a lack of charisma or stagnating in-ring ability, a few are coming up short thus far in appearing on national TV.
Wagner has struggled with his line readings and often comes off wooden. He can also seem stiff and a little lost in the ring at times, which does not help. You can’t teach size, though, and he’s in the right company to be a big man. He’s been paired with Robert Stone, a manager who can talk. Stone has been portrayed as a buffoon during most of his WWE run, but a lot of that has been toned down since part of Wagner’s act. Perhaps having a mouthpiece will help. A feud with Sikoa is also a step forward. If Wagner can look good in this program, it will be his first real sign of life.
Quinn is a good-looking guy, but he’s been average in the ring and has had real charisma issues. He just does not come off as genuine, and attempts to make him a smooth-talker or a ladies man have landed flat. He has been part of NXT 2.0 a long time, but has been passed by several of his contemporaries. His time isn’t up yet, but he has not progressed toward stardom yet and seems like just another guy. Rumors of a call-up seem very premature, but that hasn’t stopped the company from feeding someone to the wolves too quickly in the past.
The Jury is Out
There are several who are part of NXT 2.0 that have shown good signs but haven’t yet risen to the levels of the top prospects. The potential is there, though, and could come to fruition in the next few months:
Julius and Brutus Creed
Athletically, these two have what it takes. They were star collegiate wrestlers – and their pro style shows it. The problem is, while they can throw people around like legit wrestlers, they haven’t learned to do so without being reckless. Their selling is also suspect, and sometimes looks more goofy than as if they are in pain. They need to learn to reign themselves in some and work safely. This can come with time, and they have an intensity that can resonate with a crowd. With some polishing, the Creeds can develop into a drawing tag team.
Jade has a youthful look and a bubbly personality. So far, it hasn’t quite translated into fan appreciation. She also struggles with range. She has long arms and legs, which has translated into awkwardness with range. Her kicks and punches sometimes either miss short or connect awkwardly.She just turned heel on Perez, which will give both the coaches and fans a look at her working on the dark side. It could be just what she needs. Hopefully it will hold up better than the gimmick skateboard they gave her Tuesday.
Jade tries hard, there’s no doubt about that. Her desire shows through. She still has a lot of time to polish her skills and become the young star WWE hopes she can become.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) July 13, 2022
All the charisma and talking ability is there. All the athleticism is there. Legend projects attitude and eloquence in each interview and promo. She played in the WNBA and has size few women in wrestling can match. She’s been very green in the ring, though, and her matches are still filled with awkward moments. Again, this is a woman with time, and if she is able to put together the in-ring ability, there’s all kinds of potential here.