There has been a ton of buzz and speculation surrounding both the WWE roster and those still in NXT due to the brand extension that’s set for next month. We know that the WWE superstars will be split up into two exclusive rosters making up Monday Night RAW and SmackDown, the latter of which will move to Tuesday nights, airing live. There have been reports that Vince McMahon plans to raid the NXT roster to help fill things out. So what lies ahead for the likes of Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Bayley, American Alpha, Shinsuke Nakamura, and others?
The Inquisitr reported Thursday that Balor’s promotion is being delayed by the returns of the Wyatt Family, Randy Orton, and Neville. The WWE doesn’t want to overload one show with numerous returns/debuts, making sure to give each star his just due. But Bayley and American Alpha’s call-ups are imminent in conjunction with the brand split.
Samoa Joe still has an NXT Championship to defend before he can make the jump for good, though Kevin Owens pulled double-duty while he held that same title. If WWE were planning a raid of their developmental system, it would stand to reason they’d go after the brand’s best. But Triple H wants to make sure the cupboard isn’t left completely dry as a result. And that’s potentially where Shinsuke Nakamura and others come into play.
According to Cageside Seats, Nakamura is expected to receive a run as NXT Champion before he’s called up to the main roster. So while this doesn’t completely rule out Nakamura’s addition to RAW or SmackDown when the draft rolls around in July, it all but guarantees that he’ll remain as part of NXT until that reign is over.
There are a lot of moving parts involved in the brand extension’s big picture. Much of what both WWE and NXT are building for at present will all come to a head on the third weekend in August. Not only does SummerSlam come your way on August 21, but NXT TakeOver: Back to Brooklyn happens the night before. Everything that’s planned for the WWE Draft will have a significant impact on those two shows, from the SummerSlam main event to whomever Nakamura might face, which at the moment, is rumored to be Finn Balor.
If championships and roster reloading were not an issue, then calling up Balor, Bayley, Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Jordan & Gable, and Austin Aries would be no-brainers. Finn’s call-up has been long overdue, but in Triple H’s mind, in order for NXT to establish themselves as the legitimate third brand, they need their own stars with staying power in order to sell tickets. They’ve been able to sustain losses of the likes of Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Apollo Crews, Neville, etc., but it could be different this time with the rumors of a massive raid on the horizon.
Nakamura presents them with another sure-fire star who could easily soften the blow of the loss to Balor. But he’s also a clear draw who shouldn’t have to wait long to get the call from Vince McMahon. His marquee matches with Zayn and Aries are proof alone, and his charisma shines brighter than half of the main roster stars already. At the conclusion of NXT Takeover: The End, Triple H conducted a Facebook Live session where he alluded to Nakamura getting a shot at Samoa Joe’s title sooner rather than later. However, the latest NXT tapings might indicate Nakamura and Finn may be squaring off next.
In any event, the Balor and Samoa Joe rivalry is over, that much is for certain. If Nakamura and Finn face off at the Brooklyn special, that delays Shinsuke’s call-up even more if he’s to run with the belt after that. As has been the case on a couple occasions in the past, it begs the question whether the NXT Championship helps or hinders a star waiting for their promotion to WWE.
[Image via WWE]