A fairly new addition to WWE's main roster, Elias Samson first came to NXT in 2014 as an enhancement talent. By the summer of 2015, Samson became The Drifter, a heel gimmick that had middling success before dropping a Loser Leaves NXT match to Kassius Ohno. Samson surfaced on Raw in mid-April.
Two years ago, Canadian Bulldog's World had a ranking of the Top 50 FCW/NXT Graduates, looking at those that gone from developmental to elsewhere in the industry. It's one of the most popular Top 50 lists in the history of our site, in fact.
So what's changed since that list was published in April 2015?
For one thing, there are enough wrestlers that have come through the NXT system (be that through the reality show that debuted in 2010 or the developmental show that began two years later) to drop the FCW portion.
As well WWE has allowed for a much greater number of NXT stars to come to the main roster in the last two years. It's pretty much become a certainty that WWE will draft several folks from NXT during each draft, "shake-up" or Raw after WrestleMania. And in fact, a healthy portion of those headlining WWE shows today were still plying their trade in Orlando two years ago.
In counting down the Top 50 NXT Graduates, Canadian Bulldog's World looked at the following criteria:
They had to be part of NXT at some point (reality show or developmental territory) before moving on to WWE - or really, anywhere else in the business.
If they were on the main roster as a featured performer and THEN went to NXT (e.g. Jinder Mahal, Zack Ryder, Brian Kendrick), it doesn't count for this list.
What have they accomplished since leaving NXT?
How memorable has their character been?
Have they become a bigger performer since graduating from developmental?
Questions? Feedback? Comments? As always, we want YOU to be a part of the conversation! Leave a comment below, or let us know on Twitter (@CanadianBulldog) using the hashtag #Top50. And to access more than 100 unique and debate-worthy Top 50 lists, see the link on this page.
Ready? Here we go!
The Ascension began as a stable in Florida Championship Wrestling and quickly evolved to a top team in NXT. The current combination of Viktor and Konnor were NXT Tag Team Champions for just under one year, the longest reign yet. The team debuted on WWE's main roster in late 2014, experiencing little success.
After a few years on the independent circuit, Bayley debuted in NXT in 2013 as a masked competitor. She soon debuted the Bayley character that would be tremendously popular with NXT fans, capturing the NXT Women's Championship. After joining Raw in 2016, she captured the Raw Women's title.
After spending time in AAA and elsewhere, Kalisto signed with NXT in the summer of 2013. He eventually teamed with WWE expat Sin Cara as The Lucha Dragons, capturing the NXT Tag Team Titles. By March 2015, Kalisto debuted on WWE's main roster, capturing the United States Championship twice.