From Adam Cole to Rhea Ripley, Five NXT Superstars Who Must Come To The Main Roster in 2021

Published 01/12/2021, 7:45 AM EST

From a glorified reality game show in the 2010s, NXT has developed into a full-fledged brand. Now, it not only serves as a launchpad for the newcomers but also as an incubation for various established main roster stars.


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Under the expert guidance of Triple H, NXT has become a globally competitive wrestling powerhouse. With its own set of Championships, the black and gold brand is giving the main roster a run for its money. Top NXT stars often become the top stars in the main roster (like WWE Champion Drew McIntyre).

Here are some stars who should debut in the main roster in 2021 –


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#5 Damien Priest

The ‘Archer of Infamy’ broke out as a breakout star in the past year. He even won the North American Title at TakeOver: XXX. After feuding with Gargano for a while, Priest lost his title to the former after some outside interference.

The noted Ring of Honor wrestler has been with WWE since 2018. In the last episode of NXT, he was defeated by a returning Karrion Kross. However, his feuds have established him as one of the stars to look out for.

#4 Finn Balor

The inaugural Universal Champion, Finn Balor, lost his charm along the way. From an amazing rise to the main roster, Balor went into oblivion.

However, since then, he has redeemed himself to be one of the top stars in NXT since 2019. He is the current-NXT Champion but has struggled with injuries in the recent past. Although he returned in December, a lot of contenders have eyes on his title.

Before the Royal Rumble 2021, Balor could drop the title and move to the main roster as his incubation seems complete.

#3 Io Shirai

Io Shirai was a household name in the independent circuit before she debuted in WWE in 2017. She worked hard to establish herself in NXT and was finally rewarded for her hard work when she won the NXT Women’s Championship in April.



She held on to her title for the entirety of 2020 during which she wrestled in classics like her gruesome TLC battle with Candice LeRae. Her inclusion in the main roster will enrich and diversify the women’s division.

#2 Rhea Ripley

In an uncanny feat, Rhea Ripley is the only NXT Superstar who had her WrestleMania moment last year. In her rivalry with Charlotte Flair, she looked set to transition to the main roster before the world came to a halt because of the pandemic.

Despite her paused dream to the main roster, Ripley diligently worked in the black and gold brand. She is considered one of the most physical athletes in WWE and would certainly catch Vince McMahon’s attention.

Now that Flair is also back on the main roster, could we see Ripley make the move and challenge her?

#1 Adam Cole

Before he came to the WWE, Cole was a huge name in the independent circuit including Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling.


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After his debut in NXT, he went on to become the first-ever NXT North American Champion and the longest-reigning NXT Champion at 403 days.

He and his stable Undisputed Era have dominated NXT for the most part. They even defeated the heel team of Pat McAfee at NXT TakeOver: War Games. With Adam Cole achieving almost everything in NXT, it is time for him to dominate the main roster as well.


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With Royal Rumble 2021 incoming, it is an excellent time for these NXT stars to make their transition into the main roster. Who do you think will finally move to Raw and SmackDown? Let us know in the comments below.


Angana Roy

1195 articles

Angana Roy is a WWE and AEW author for EssentiallySports, having published more than 800 professional wrestling articles. She is currently pursuing higher studies in English language and literature from the University of Calcutta and has over three years of experience in journalism. As a life-long fan of the sports entertainment brand of pro-wrestling, her work consists of live coverage of weekly shows, PPVs, speculating the future course of storylines and everything in between.



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