With WrestleMania in the rearview mirror, a tournament to crown the new Heavyweight Champion underway and the 2023 draft complete, fans of WWE may have noticed a few unfamiliar names coming to the main roster. In fact a couple of the NXT talent were featured on Monday Night’s edition of Raw in Jacksonville.
But for those members of the WWE Universe that don’t watch NXT each week, the majority of Superstars moving up will be completely new. So who should you be excited to see? Who will make a splash on Raw or SmackDown? What should you know about this exciting crop of talent making the jump up?
Andy Spoors looks to answer those questions, as he picks a few of the latest call-ups and why it’s time to get excited…
One of the aforementioned call-ups to have made their main roster debut already, Stark wasted little time in introducing herself on Raw.
Cutting a promo backstage, she instantly took exception to the weirdness of Nikki Cross, challenging and winning her debut match with relative ease.
This isn’t the first time Stark has been seen on the big stage, that came earlier this year when she entered the Royal Rumble as the unlucky for some 13th entrant.
Although she scored no eliminations, Stark did hang around for a very respectable 26 minutes and 34 seconds.
On NXT, Zoey has managed to capture gold in the shape of the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships with IYO SKY (fka Io Shirai).
In late 2021, Stark suffered a torn MCL/Meniscus, ruling her out of action for around eight months, never really capturing the momentum she gathered before her major injury.
Out of all those making the jump, Stark has never really been given an over the top gimmick or any gimmick at all really.
A technical, no-nonsense wrestler, being around bonafide Superstars will hopefully elevate her on-screen personality to the next level.
A mainstay of NXT over the past couple of years, Indi Hartwell seemed destined to forever be the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
Joining the black and gold brand back in late 2019, it wasn’t until linking up with Candice LeRae, Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory to form The Way, that her trajectory changed.
This unison would result in an NXT Tag Team Championship win with LeRae, marking her first of two championship runs on the brand.
Settling into a comedic role, Hartwell developed a bizarre on-screen relationship with Dexter Lumis.
Where others saw a deranged mute, Hartwell instead saw a potential husband. The pair were married on an episode of NXT in 2021.
It would be short lived as the other members of The Way were called up, released or left the company to have a baby. Hartwell would use this time to focus on her in-ring abilities that had polarised fans on social media.
Indi Wrestling’s biggest moment would come in April 2023, capturing the NXT Women’s Championship to a huge ovation.
As is forever the case in wrestling, timing is everything and the biggest moment of her career so far was unfortunately short-lived.
During her first title defence and in a triple-threat no less, Hartwell suffered a nasty looking ankle sprain with heavy bruising.
She would be helped to the back for a quick medical evaluation mid-match, before returning to the ring to successfully defend her championship. A show of determination and will that has defined her run in NXT.
Shockingly, Hartwell would one week later vacate the championship after being drafted to Raw and reunion with The Way. Explaining NXT needed a champion, Hartwell’s devotion to the brand was evident until the very end.
Since bursting onto the WWE Universe’s radar back in 2017 as one of the competitors in the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, The Irish Ace hasn’t looked back.
Formerly known as Jordan Devlin, McDonagh received plaudits during his time on the now defunct NXT UK as well NXT.
A match against Tyler Bate at NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool II saw both men receive a standing ovation from the audience that night, including Triple H, William Regal and Johnny Saint.
A technically gifted brawler, McDonagh captured his first championship in 2020 at Worlds Collide in a fatal four way for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Timing once again proved a cruel mistress as The Irish Ace found himself isolated from defending his title due to pandemic travel restrictions.
By the time he returned to action, Santos Escobar had become the interim champion and a unification match resulted in a loss for McDonagh.
It was the last embers of NXT UK that would provide JD with his ultimate nemesis and dance partner in the form of then NXT UK Champion Ilja Dragunov.
A series of ferocious matches ensued, taking both men to the limit and ultimately ending in McDonagh being forced to leave NXT UK as a result of a loser leaves the brand stipulation.
Landing Stateside, the pair’s rivalry would come to the fore, treating audiences Stateside to their own brand of hard hitting action and utter disregard for their own health and safety.
Trained by Finn Balor and heralding from the same Irish town, social media has speculated a reunion is on the cards in the near future.
A remarkably talented Superstar, McDonagh has been waiting for his chance on the big stage and will look to make an impact at the earliest opportunity whether alone or part of the Judgement Day.
Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn
Any tag team consisting of one of the longest title reigns in WWE’s modern history should be taken seriously.
Alba Fyre (fka Kay Lee Ray) held the NXT UK Women’s Championship for an astonishing 649 days.
If that wasn’t enough the Scot also captured the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic crown with IYO SKY in 2022.
Prior to joining WWE, Fyre was a mainstay on the UK independent scene, frequently seen on ICW, World of Sport and WCPW.
High flying and happy to trade blows in the ring, Fyre steered into a darker gimmick during her time on NXT. This was further evident when joining forces with compatriot Isla Dawn in 2023.
Dawn, another graduate of NXT UK has always displayed leanings towards the occult and dark arts during her time in WWE.
Displaying a talent for mysterious ramblings and creepy vignettes, Dawn and Fyre traded victories before teaming up to capture the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships at Stand & Deliver in Los Angeles this April.
One criticism has been the lack of genuine tag teams in the women’s division to challenge for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships.
It was for this very reason the company saw Sasha Banks and Naomi leave for pastures new.
With both Fyre & Dawn and Carter & Chance called up, the division suddenly starts to look in good health.
If the Scotswomen ever decide to go their separate ways, the WWE Universe can rest assured the women’s division will be gaining two Superstars equally as talented on an individual basis as they are in a team.
Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince & Kit Wilson)
Yes boy! Sashaying their way onto WWE screens on NXT UK programming, Pretty Deadly have quickly become cult icons wherever they have laid their stylish hats.
An over the top, almost male-models with a British sensibility gimmick, the lads have gone down a storm on NXT.
Few could have confidently predicted how over the pair would get with an American audience, but let’s rewind a little.
Pretty Deadly started life on NXT UK as nothing more than a flamboyantly dressed tag team seemingly destined to job to the more serious teams on the promotion.
That all changed in February 2021 when the pair captured the NXT UK Tag Team Championships from Gallus. It would be a title run spanning the vast majority of the year, keeping their well manicured fingers firmly locked on the gold.
Their run would eventually end in November 2021 at the hands of Moustache Mountain before hopping across the Atlantic and making a dramatic debut on NXT in April of the following year.
In their first match on the black and gold, Prince and Wilson won the NXT Tag Team Championships in a gauntlet match, becoming only the second team to have held both the NXT UK and the NXT tag titles.
The boys would unify those championships at Worlds Collide in September before losing them to The New Day.
The last time we saw Pretty Deadly on NXT programming the pair ultimately lost a rivalry with Tony D’Angelo and Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo in a ‘trunk match’.
After being surreptitiously thrown into the trunk of a car and dumped into a river, the pair were called up to SmackDown a few days later.
If you haven’t seen Pretty Deadly in action, expect a throwback gimmick of campiness, but a very able tag team that has gelled well in just a few short years.
Were they to win gold on SmackDown and Raw they would be the first tag team in WWE history to be grand-slam winners. A feat that will no doubt be littered with the trademark side plate check…
Loud-mouthed and obnoxious, but every part as talented in the ring, Grayson Waller may prove to be the best acquisition of those called up to the main roster in 2023 so far.
An astonishingly athletic Aussie, Waller has made few friends in his time at NXT. Instead his inflated ego and trash-talking have led to a number of high profile feuds.
Previous to his wrestling career, Waller would appear on the Australian version of reality show, Survivor.
It was perhaps here that Sydney native would acquire the talent of cutting promos on his fellow colleagues.
Upon arriving in NXT, Waller found himself positioned as one for the future, joining Tony D’Angelo, Carmello Hayes, and Bron Breakker as Team 2.0 to face off against the veterans of NXT in a WarGames match.
A victory for the upstarts did little to quell Waller’s mentality, taking the opportunity to ruin Johnny Gargano’s farewell speech the next night, much to the ire of the NXT Universe.
It would be roughly a year and a half before Gargano would have the chance to gain retribution.
Waller had previously called out NXT leader and WWE Hall Of Famer, Shawn Michaels, prompting the legend to bring Gargano back for one more match at this year’s Stand & Deliver.
Things quickly became personal and a non-sanctioned match saw Johnny Wrestling come away with a hard-fought victory.
The only surprising aspect of Waller’s time is the lack of championship victories. He has had opportunities at all the available titles in NXT but has failed each time.
Waller did, however, win the first ever Iron Survivor Challenge to cement his name in the history books.
There is confidence that the brash Aussie will make it on the main roster with relative ease. His promo skills and use of social media are up there with some of the best in the business.
Give the man a live microphone and let him do the rest. Eagle-eyed members of the WWE Universe may remember seeing Waller on Raw when he called out AJ Styles in a short lived rivalry.
After being omitted from the tournament to crown the first ever World Heavyweight Champion, expect him to have something to say, possibly as early as Friday night. Definitely one to watch.
Learn a little more about the 2023 call-ups by watching Wrestling Royalty this Friday on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=854q7FVyxpE)