One major change HHH wanted to institute as he took charge over the WWE developmental system was to make sure that anyone they are promoting from there has a storyline waiting for them. This has meant being a lot more patient with the developmental guys and bringing them up later, even when they are ready for it. In that time, WWE has also rebooted the developmental system using the NXT name. That was in August of last year. Since that time, there have been a number of graduates from the system that have made a name for themselves in WWE.
So lets take a look and see where some of the stars of NXT are a year later:
Big E Langston - One of the most over guys in NXT and a former NXT Champion, he hasn't quite gotten over on the main roster yet. He has looked good in most of his matches and has the look the WWE prefers, but he is currently hamstrung by being a heel. Once he makes the turn to a face and is able to bring his NXT character and Twitter personality to the main shows, I have little doubt that he will be a hugely over face. He is a homegrown guy for the WWE and is everything they are looking for in a wrestler, so big things are still expected for Big E.
2/3 of The Shield (Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) - Dean Ambrose didn't spend any time in televised NXT, but I believe he did wrestle some matches for the live audiences prior to his WWE Debut. Recent de-push aside, these guys have had a near perfect run since their WWE debut. The Shield has been booked stronger than just about every stable in recent history while putting on great and entertaining wrestling matches. There are some valid complaints about them not having much of a direction right now, but as we saw this past week, they're also always one promo away from winning us all over again.
The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, and Luke Harper) - They're here! A much more recent debut for this stable and we're still in wait and see mode as they will take part in their first match this Sunday at Summerslam, or at least Bray Wyatt will. Those that watched them in NXT have no doubt that the Wyatts are destined for greatness. The skeptics have started coming around as Bray has been given the mic. One thing is for sure, the Wyatts are already insanely over with nothing more than a few run-ins and a Kane feud on their Major League resume. That is pretty damn impressive.
Fandango - He didn't spend as much time in NXT in its current form, but the NXT Season 4 winner did flesh out a lot of the Fandango character while in the current NXT. The WWE did do a great job with his debut and his first feud against Chris Jericho. With Jericho in the mix and Fandango's dedication, people paid attention to what could have been a huge trainwreck of a gimmick. Unfortunately, his push hit a nasty roadbump when a concussion benched him for a while. Since then, he's been booked to walk out on most of his matches, and even once before his match started. People are still doing the Fandango and the talent and dedication is still there, but Fandango desperately needs a purpose and some strong booking again.
Summer Rae - She has made her WWE debut as Fandango's dance partner and has done a good job of heeling it up as a valet. She still has yet to make her wrestling debut as part of the main roster, which is probably the right move for her. She has gotten a lot better in the ring and has a unique leg-based offensive skill set, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Part of that just has to come from experience, so its good to keep her around the talented women in NXT while she is establishing her character as a valet.
Bo Dallas - He made his wrestling debut in the Royal Rumble, but he has yet to make a Bo-liever out of the WWE brass and is still in NXT. His character at the time of his debut is one that would be an absolute heat vacuum if they kept him up so no complaints about abandoning that feud with Wade Barrett. He's in NXT right now doing some amazing, somewhat-subtle heel work that is getting him Cena at One Night Stand levels of heat with the NXT Universe. It will be interesting to see if the WWE Universe will collectively hate him as much as the NXT crowds (I'm not sure its possible for anyone to be hated that much) because if they do, then you have a solution to making any babyface get over.
(Hopefully) Soon To Be Graduates:
Sami Zayn - The former El Generico is hugely over with the NXT crowd and its not tough to see why. He is great in every way and I can't wait to see this highly hyped match with Cesaro coming up next week. He has seemingly had no problem taking off the mask and adapting to the WWE style. Its not going to be long before he makes his debut and we hear Olé chants filling up arenas.
Kassius Ohno - It seems the physique and workout ethic are the only thing holding him back. He's as polished in the ring and on the mic as anyone in NXT currently, but is in the doghouse with the people that make the decisions. It seems like an easy issue to fix though, so I would still expect him to be one of the next graduates of NXT.
Paige - The Anti-Diva will be celebrating her 21st birthday tomorrow (or today, depending on where you are and when you're reading this). That's reportedly been the major factor in keeping her in NXT. She's the current NXT Women's Champion and I would expect her to get the vignette treatment, so she's probably still at least a month or so away from making her main roster debut. There's little left for her to do though in NXT and my guess is that there's been at least some talks about a potential debut and angle for her.
Emma - The other mega-over female wrestler in NXT, the Emmalution can't be far away from a main roster spot. The Storm Wrestling Academy graduate has been in the WWE's developmental systems since 2011 and has been training and wrestling for a good few years before then. What she has been able to do with her gimmick is reminiscent of what Wiindham Rotunda was able to do with the Bray Wyatt gimmick. When she first debuted in NXT, I don't think there was anyone who thought she would be able to get so over with it and that she is almost entirely to credit for it. Besides the gimmick, she is also great in the ring. The main things holding her back right now is the lack of room for women on the WWE roster (though this appears to be changing for the better) and that Paige likely gets the promotion ahead of her.