WrestleMania fever is reaching its boiling point; with only one week to go, predictions are pouring in, speculation is running wild and fans are gathering their snacks ready for the greatest weekend on the wrestling calendar.
One of the most exciting new additions to the WrestleMania season experience has been the promotion of NXT talent to the main roster. Recent promotions such as Shinsuke Nakamura and Paige have created moments that will live among WrestleMania weekend folklore forevermore, so who will be contributing this year?
The general rule of thumb with NXT promotions is that each brand receives two or three new acts to help shake up the roster without dealing too much damage to the NXT roster. With that in mind, let’s take a look at six names that should find themselves among new surroundings come the conclusion of WrestleMania week.
After a bicep injury cost McIntyre both his NXT Championship and five months of his career, the Great Scot seems to be preparing himself for a return to action if reports are to be believed. McIntyre’s time in NXT was all too brief and ultimately feels a little unfilled, but in truth, it didn’t need to be any more than it is; the WWE Universe is already well accustomed to McIntyre’s work, after all.
Since we last saw him on WWE TV, McIntyre has developed a whole new aggressive edge and a dominating physique that makes him a perfect addition to the main roster. Feuds with Finn Balor and The Miz are both feasible programs for the Scot, and his new physique can even see him pose a plausible challenge to the Braun Strowman’s and Roman Reigns’ of the world. It would be a shame to see his NXT run end on such a whimper, but he was always destined for a prominent run on the main roster.
Andrade “Cien” Almas
Andrade “Cien” Almas is a huge success story for NXT. Wasted with a bizarre little Chippendale ring attire and no real character or direction, it seemed one of the best pure athletes and in-ring workers on the roster was set to pass through NXT and return to independent scene without ever really making his mark. But the addition of Zelina Vega as his mouthpiece has taken Andrade to a new level and reminded us all of the impact a manager can have.
The WWE are still searching for their next big Mexican star, having tried and failed with Alberto Del Rio, Sin Cara and Kalisto over the course of the last few years. In Andrade, they have a talent they can build a dynasty around – he has the look, the style and the ability to establish himself, and with Zelina in toe, he has the character and personality to push him to the next level. Adding him to the SmackDown roster opens the door for feuds with Shinsuke Nakamura, Dolph Ziggler, AJ Styles and hopefully Rey Mysterio when the lucha legend is available from his injury. If handled well, there’s no reason to believe Andrade couldn’t be one of the biggest stars on SmackDown.
The Iconic Duo
The Iconic Duo have been treading water in NXT for a number of months now. The Duo carry that LayCool swag that doesn’t really get the time to shine on an hour-long NXT show which is trying to spread the love to a tonne of superstars all at once. Their natural ability to annoy will be far more brazenly on RAW and its three-hour platform, and they become the perfect foil for a number of stars on the roster.
Bayley is the obvious victim of the vain, glamorous bullies, but Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax are also excellent opponents for the Duo to tackle once their characters are established on the main roster. Let’s not forget that both are more than capable in the ring, either – Peyton is arguably the stronger of the two between the ropes, but the LayCool/Twin Magic double act will be an easy heat magnet on the red brand.
With Asuka set to challenge (and let’s face it, beat) Charlotte for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania, “The Empress of Tomorrow” is going to require a believable rival in the race to end her undefeated streak. There are only really three options for that role; Charlotte, Ronda Rousey and Ember Moon. To that end, SmackDown really needs to start getting itself prepared for a SummerSlam blow-off between Asuka and Ember.
The two had arguably the greatest set of women’s matches in WWE history during the course of their feud, and while Ember never managed to grab the all-important victory over Asuka, she was always presented by, and welcomed as, the only true challenger to Asuka’s dominance. Bringing Ember up the main roster while Charlotte and Asuka are enjoying what is sure to be an excellent three-match program for the title will give Ember the opportunity to challenge the Becky Lynch’s and Naomi’s of the world to help establish herself as another dominant member of the women’s roster, and set us up for a summer campaign that will have us all questioning with Ember holds the key to ending Asuka’s dominance, just as we did in NXT.
The RAW and SmackDown tag team divisions are both in need of a shake-up post-WrestleMania. Enter here, then, Sanity; Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain and Nikki Cross have become a popular act during their time in NXT and bagged themselves a stint with the titles a few months back. What’s great about Sanity, though, is that although they are a united front, they have been splintered and broken into their own little stories to keep them fresh. Nikki Cross has challenged for the Women’s title, Killian has contested the contendership to the NXT title, and Young and Alexander have been chasing the Dusty Road Classic.
On RAW, Sanity can help prop up a tag division in desperate need of new blood, add the mystical, chaotic bent that was lost with the abolition of the Wyatt Family, and can still be sectioned to help prop up other areas of the roster. Nikki Cross can be fed to Ronda Rousey if required and bring a new challenge to her door, and Killian Dain is more than imposing enough to challenge Braun Strowman should be required – and I daresay he will, given Braun’s Tag Team title match at WrestleMania.
The Authors of Pain
Remember when Authors of Pain debuted and we all rolled our eyes at the new, big muscly blokes that were going to crush all our favourite technicians? Remember how they made fans out of us all?
The Authors of Pain are another great success story from NXT and their promotion to the main roster is long overdue. While the imposing figures of Akam and Rezar are probably the sort of stars that Vince would rather see on his most prominent brand, the pay-per-view brand merger allows stars from SmackDown exposure alongside the RAW talent (hence Asuka’s move to the blue brand this past month). The Authors are the perfect foil for the Bludgeon Brothers and their imposing brand of ultra-violence, and are also capable of pulling brilliant matches out of the bag alongside talents the calibre of the New Day and the Usos. Add in the possible addition of the Revival to the SmackDown roster as part of the draft, and you’ve got yourself a tag team division capable of stealing any show.