No, I’m not trying to promote that Bill Goldberg is returning to wrestling in an NXT ring. The “who’s next” that I am referring to is to who is next to step into an NXT ring from the independent circuit. Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, for example, made their impact in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. With the next crop of NXT stars making impact because of the latest crop signing their full-time WWE deals, who will replace THIS upcoming NXT class? Many opinions will be given but here’s my take:
AJ Styles- Well, this is obvious. A former IWGP Heavyweight and TNA World Heavyweight Champion, AJ is that last “big Indy” name who hasn’t signed on that WWE dotted line. At age 38, he’s still at the top of his game. Currently working for New Japan and ROH, it would be great to see him on WWE television in the near future. With Sting having signed and now wrestled technically three matches with WWE, Styles is the last great holdout in wrestling to not enter a WWE ring. With names like Samoa Joe & Finn Balor doing their thing, isn’t it time the name AJ Styles joins the ranks?
Adam Cole- A former ROH World Champion. At 26 years old, Adam Cole would be a perfect fit in NXT. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see Adam Cole wrestling current NXT Champion Finn Balor in a WWE ring? Or even Cole vs Samoa Joe in a WWE ring? What about a potential match between Adam Cole Bay Bay and Tyler Breeze? The WWE would benefit for having a guy this hot (momentum wise, weirdoes) and this young. He has the potential to climb the ranks in the way that Seth Rollins did.
Now I know what you’re about to say; “If you’re mentioning Styles and Cole, how about guys like Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, and Kenny Omega?” Although I think it would be an interesting fit, considering they have Hideo Itami and Asuka, I’m still not confident in WWE’s ability to really market those talents on the main roster. PAC (Neville) was a similar wrestler to Kenny Omega on the wrestling scene and they’re making him out to be a comic book character. Nothing wrong with it, however the “smarks” see him as being World Champion because of his wrestling abilities. I’m not questioning the before mentioned talents’ abilities to wrestle; it’s just a matter of character development that WWE gravitates towards. I’d rather them be on ROH TV or watch them on an event for NJPW and such because then they can WRESTLE.
I could also mention names like AR Fox, Michael Elgin, and Roderick Strong. Same thing: would they translate well to WWE television? Here’s a name that could translate well and who is an excellent wrestler: Jay Lethal. During his run in TNA, he not only put on excellent matches consistently, but came out of his “shell” and put on a hell of a performance as the Black Machismo. On top of that, his promo imitating Ric Flair against said Ric Flair is still one of the best things I’ve seen. Jay Lethal is the current reigning and defending ROH Television and World Champion, well deserved for a guy who has worked so hard. At 30 years of age, he’s just about to hit the prime of his career. This is a guy who could really change the game in WWE with the total package that he can bring to the table, as long as he’s given the proper opportunity.
I could go on forever about those who I personally feel deserve a chance. I don’t have the space to type all of the names and their accolades that I feel would qualify them to receive an opportunity to get a chance at the big dance. Also, because I know so many with many more I haven’t met I don’t want to insult those if I don’t mention their names. A good way to know about great talent out there on the independent scene is to follow Indy Power Rankings, among other publications. I will say this: there are many out there that are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams. I applaud all of them for their efforts and the sacrifices they are making to do so. If you’re a wrestler reading this, I hope you get your chance! Keep at it!
You might be “Who’s NXT”!