Editorial Columns

Is the NXT Championship a curse?

Edd Young looks at the lineage of the NXT Title and hypothesizes whether holding that title could be a negative.


It has purpose, a great bunch of superstars, capturing storylines and the shows and Pay-per-view’s hit RAW and SmackDown Live out of the park more often than not.

My main concern and worry is what becomes of the NXT champions? The recurring theme is, a superstar will win the NXT Championship and dominate for an amount of time before eventually dropping it to the next superstar and making their debut on the main brands, RAW and SmackDown Live. It’s a good system and I really like how it all works, my gripe is; Why do they rarely go on to success in the main shows?

Let’s look the majority of the former NXT Champions who have come up to the main roster.


Seth Rollins: (133 days)

The inaugural NXT Champion. In my opinion, the biggest success. He was brilliant with The Shield and had a great singles run with the Authority/Triple H backing him as “The Future” before an injury ended his reign at 221 days. He has held the World Heavyweight Championship and the United States title, at the same time at one point. He is currently in his third reign as a Tag Team Champion with Jason Jordan.

Success or Failure?: SUCCESS


Big E (168 days)

Former NXT/Intercontinental/Tag team Champion. I haven’t got many bad things to say about Big E because I think his transformation into his New Day persona was probably the best thing that happened to him. He came up to the main roster attacking John Cena and aligning himself with AJ Lee and eventually becoming an enforcer for Dolph Ziggler. Embarking on a singles run he won the Intercontinental Title, then eventually finding himself tag teaming with Kofi Kingston, soon to be joined by Xavier Woods which formed The New Day. As a part of The New Day, he holds the record for the longest tag team championship reign in WWE history.

Success or Failure? SUCCESS


Bo Dallas (280 days)

This is a prime example, whilst I wouldn’t say Bo Dallas is the most talented man on the roster. NXT showed us that Dallas can work. It may be a surprise to some people but Bo Dallas has been on the main roster of RAW since May 23rd 2014. He has had little to any impact and is just somebody waiting to be squashed. He was a part of the Social Outcasts which consisted of Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, Adam Rose and himself. As of June 19th he has has a bit of a resurgence as part of “The Miztourage” along with Curtis Axel and The Miz as their leader.

Success or Failure? FAILURE


Adrian Neville (287 days)

Known as Neville since joining the main roster. Neville is fantastic, an absolute joy to watch. One of the most underrated and overlooked performers WWE have had since Dolph Ziggler was white hot in 2012. Neville didn’t really get a look in or find much success until the launch of 205 Live which focused on the Cruiserweight division. To many fans delight, Neville dropped his superhero gimmick and became a badass heel who took 205 by storm (not that there is much competition). Dubbing himself the king of the cruiserweights, Neville won the Cruiserweight Championship at the Royal Rumble (2017) and went on to hold the title for a record 197 days. Neville is currently on hiatus as it was reported he is “unhappy”. He is not advertised for future events but is in positive discussions for a return.

Success or Failure? SUCCESS


Sami Zayn (62 days)

I don’t know where to get started with Sami. Sami Zayn had been over with the fans for a long time. We caught a glimpse of him on the main roster when Bret Hart introduced him as John Cena’s opponent for the United States open challenge in May 2015 and he was great. Zayn debuted on the main roster at the Royal Rumble (2016). I like Sami, I think he’s a good worker and he has always had a good reception with the fans. He is another who has had no real direction and has been creatively stifled and is yet to hold a single belt in the company. It appears he’s starting to finally realize his potential when he turned heel at Hell In A Cell (2017) and aligned with long time rival Kevin Owens.

Success or Failure: FAILURE


Kevin Owens (143 days)

Rivals Seth Rollins in terms of success. If you’re a wrestling fan, you love Kevin Owens. I’ll never forget when he answered John Cena’s United States Open Challenge on May 18, 2015, whilst still being the NXT Champion. Although he didn’t wrestle Cena that night, it set up a non-title match at the Elimination Chamber which Owens won, cleanly. Beating Cena clean on your main roster Pay-per-view debut is really something special. Cena ultimately got his revenge at Battleground but it was a fantastic unannounced debut for KO. Owens has shined in the WWE, having held the Intercontinental Championship, the United States Championship and the Universal Championship, having the second longest reign with the latter. (188 days)

Success or Failure? SUCCESS


Finn Bálor (292 days)

The saddest one for me. Finn Bálor is a superstar. The man has bags of talent, personality and arguably one of the coolest gimmicks in the last 10 years. Whether you saw him leading his Bullet Club back in 2013-2014 or for the first time during his wrecking ball of a run in NXT. The Demon is brilliant. Bálor was drafted to RAW in the 2016 draft and won the right to compete for the new Universal Championship. The Demon King went on to beat Seth Rollins at SummerSlam and became the inaugural Universal Champion. Fans hearts were broken as Finn was forced to vacate the title on RAW the very next night after an injury he sustained at SummerSlam. Finn has never really found his feet since returning and I hate to use the word “mid-card” but Bálor has fallen off so much, through no fault of his own.

Success or Failure? FAILURE (But through no fault of his own)


Samoa Joe (121 days/14 days)

One of my favourites. So good, he held the NXT Championship twice. Joe debuted on RAW on January 30th 2017 attacking Seth Rollins and aligning himself with Triple H. Everybody knows who Samoa Joe is and what he’s capable of. A lot of talent, a lot of strength and one hell of a bad guy. Joe has had some great matches on the main roster, notably against Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire and the fatal four way at SummerSlam with Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar. Yet to win a title, I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t pick up the Intercontinental Championship from Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble (2018)

Success or Failure? SUCCESS


Shinsuke Nakamura (91 days/56 days)

Some back and forth with Samoa Joe and we have The Artist known as Shinsuke Nakamura. The King of Strong Style. People were waiting for this for a very long time and for me, this is the most disappointing. I don’t want people to instantly come up to the main roster, dethrone people and take titles. That’s not what I’m saying. I just think they need to protect superstars a bit better. Especially ones that have been very successful elsewhere and are revered in NXT. I don’t think they have booked anybody worse than Shinsuke. Nakamura is top 3 in the business right now, it’s not even an argument. Nakamura debuted on April 4th (2017), the first week after Wrestlemania 33. A few matches with Ziggler and a terrible Storyline with Jinder Mahal, Nakamura hasn’t done anything groundbreaking, yet. I’m holding out for him to win the Royal Rumble (2018) to set up the dream match, AJ Styles/Shinsuke Nakamura.

Success or Failure? FAILURE


Bobby Roode (203 days)

Whilst Roode has only been on the main roster since August 22nd (2017). I feel he’s in a good place right now. I was surprised he didn’t win the United States Championship at Clash of Champions because I felt that made more sense than Dolph Ziggler. Roode has the IT factor and if you watched him in TNA, you know he’s capable of putting on some fantastic matches. Roode will have a glorious future in WWE.

Success or Failure? SUCCESS (for now)

The long and short of it is, superstars like Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode and various others need to be protected better. They shouldn’t be getting eliminated first at Survivor Series or losing in lacklustre pointless matches. Nobody is going to get over like this.

Are we too impatient? Are we asking for too much, too early from WWE for pushing upcoming superstars? Or is the booking is the problem? Only time will tell.


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