NXT Superstars Going Nowhere Fast

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Yesterday, five Superstars from NXT were released: Bodhi Hayward, Damaris Griffin, Erica Yan, Ru Feng and Sloane Jacobs.

Though things have slowed down from the mass firings of 2020 and 2021, wherein large groups were culled to thin out nearly half the roster, the NXT system has been more ruthless as of late. For the most part, it seems like there is a 6 month window most people have. If you aren’t improving enough within a 90 day window or less, even, you’re gone.

Every time more than one random person is released for a specific situation (such as a behavioral issue), it gets me thinking about who might be next and, as morbid as it might seem, who just narrowly must have escaped being on the list this time.

Take note that I do not wish people to lose their jobs unless it is for a valid reason. That isn’t what this article will be about. But there are still hierarchy metrics worth noticing. You can tell when someone is firing on all cylinders and featured constantly, versus when someone is barely there and has no truly positive presence.


Let’s talk about some of the talent that seem to be going nowhere fast and might be on the chopping block sooner or later.


Lash Legend

Easily the highest-profile name on this list, Lash Legend is half-baked. Unfortunately, the missing ingredient in this recipe is in-ring skills.

She has so much that, on paper, seem like a great investment to build from. She’s attractive, obviously athletic from her background, has an imposing and tall physique, and can be more charismatic than many others you’ll see on this list. But she just cannot seem to wrap her mind about the actual maneuvers and putting a match together.


Everything she does is sloppy. Everyone she’s been paired with has looked worse beside her. It seems like all the attempts to find her niche fail and she just hits the reset button every few weeks.


Maybe she’s the type who just needs something to click and it’ll all work out, so patience will be a virtue. But there are plenty people who have been in the NXT system for 5+ years and still never improved enough.

All the potential in the world means nothing if you can’t utilize it.

Valentina Feroz and Yulisa Leon

Currently, Yulisa Leon is out of action with an injury, if you’re wondering where she’s been. But whether she’s on the show or not doesn’t matter. It just means NXT is down one more on the enhancement squad.

Standing next to Valentina Feroz doesn’t make for a credible tag team. The only difference is that there are two people who aren’t connecting with the NXT audience in any measurable way. With Leon gone, Feroz is even more looking like a deer in headlights every time she pops up.


I’m sure they’re great girls. And, mind you, very few people can do this job at all, let alone well. But just as everyone cooks dinner for themselves doesn’t mean you can be a chef as your career, and just because you work in a kitchen doesn’t mean you’re a five-star chef. There are levels. Feroz and Leon seem to me like they’re stuck in that “good enough to job out on AEW Dark or be the top girl in an indie promotion” range, but not “WWE Superstar” caliber.

When the biggest character work they’ve had has been backstage segments asking Sanga to give them pep talks, this is some weak stuff being brought to the table. I couldn’t tell you a single one of their signature maneuvers, either, let alone any nicknames they have, their finishers, or anything about them but that they dance on their entrances before they lose and Feroz is from Brazil and has a name that has been pronounced something like 6 different ways so far.


Brooklyn Barlow

The longer someone stays appearing on just Level Up, the more suspicious I get of their future.

Brooklyn Barlow stands out to me as the name to mention here, in particular, since she’s been around some of the longest time with the littlest to show. Even someone like Sol Ruca made a few appearances and popped up on NXT proper. We haven’t seen Barlow outside of four matches on Level Up, dating back to MARCH. One then, one in May, one in June and one in July. That’s not a good sign.

So far, I’m not seeing anything from her that she isn’t outclassed by someone else. She’s supposed to have some strength competition experience, but hasn’t showcased any of that. Plus, if you’re putting her next to Tiffany Stratton, which “strong blonde” has more character and presence?


Sarray

When Sarray was first announced to join the roster, it seemed like NXT was getting another Asuka, Kairi Sane or Iyo Sky. Instead, a year went by without seeing her due to travel issues. Then, when she popped up on the scene, she quickly fizzled out, going from a notable “potential top talent” to “just another one of the women on the roster.”

Her feuds have all been trash and they got even worse with her character change to that Sailor Moon type gimmick. That didn’t have much room for success and has seemingly been dropped, but instead of reverting her back to her normal self or giving her a new gimmick, she seems to have been pushed to the sidelines with it.

At one point, I thought she was being built up as a possible threat to Mandy Rose’s title. These days, like in her last match wherein she lost to Rose, she’s just losing left and right.

She managed to beat Eliza Alexander and Xia Brookside in a tag team match alongside Meiko Satomura on NXT UK in order to build to a potential match with Meiko, but it never happened once that brand folded. To be fair, she wouldn’t have won the NXT UK Women’s Championship then, anyway, if it had gone down.

Her stats since joining WWE are 5 wins and 5 losses this year, 9 wins and 4 losses last year. She’s on the downward slope and losing momentum faster and faster every month that she doesn’t matter.

Amari Miller

Speaking of win-loss records, Amari Miller’s two years of WWE employment so far have amounted to 8 wins and 22 losses. Almost all of those matches have been on 205 Live or Level Up, which is bad enough as it is. Any time she pops up on the regular NXT, its to serve the role of a jobber, putting over everyone, whether they’re heel or face. Cora Jade, Indi Hartwell, Arianna Grace, Lash Legend, Wendy Choo, Alba Fyre and more have put her down. Sol Ruca’s only win on NXT so far? Against Amari Miller.

She’s not bad or anything. Plenty worse have gone through the system. But she suffers from the age-old problem of “Yeah? But what is she offering?”

What does she do that separates her from the pack? She cuts no promos and when she does, they’re as generic as can be. Her character is non-existent. All the in-ring stuff is cookie-cutter. She doesn’t have a distinguishable look to her. This is why she’s been so easily lost in the shuffle. Much like Feroz, I could imagine Miller being a bigger fish in a smaller pond, but among people who command screen presence, she’s overlooked.

Guru Raaj

See that picture? That’s the highlight of Guru Raaj’s WWE career so far.

It was his first match, in front of no one, during Superstar Spectacle, which was a failed attempt at jumpstarting an NXT India, wherein half the people involved got released and Raaj lost his match against Finn Balor.

Since then, he’s done NOTHING but lose and be made to look like a total chump.

Over 18 matches in nearly 2 full years now, he’s won a grand total of 3. One was over Asher Hale (who’s been fired) on 205 Live in July 2021. Another was over Myles Borne (stuck on Level Up) on Level Up this June. Then, he scored a tag team win with Dante Chen (on this list) over Bryson Montana (stuck on Level Up) and Damaris Griffin (fired yesterday) on Level up in August.

No amount of “this guy’s got so much talent” from the commentary team can make me think he’s going to amount to anything at this point. The longer he’s on the roster, the more he seems like he’s on retention as a jobber until someone else pushes him out of the cycle and that’s it.

Dante Chen

A perfect example of “Who?” is Dante Chen. He came into WWE during the influx of talent with guys like Trey Baxter, Draco Anthony and Ru Feng, but he’s somehow outlasted all them.

I don’t quite understand why, as he’s shown nothing for my tastes that makes me think he has something the others didn’t.

Chen’s got more wins to his name than Guru Raaj, but not by much, and none of them actually matter. Even when he made his NXT debut, he lost his second match to Duke Hudson and was immediately knocked down a few pegs and hasn’t recovered.

Most of his action has taken place on Level Up, predominantly in losses. He has, like many others on this list, no character beyond “I’m a babyface wrestler who wants to prove himself and can show that my passion will take my places. Yeah!!”

Surprisingly, he’s one of the busiest performers, seemingly wrestling every week or so, be it on live events or jobbing out on television. Maybe he’s just higher up on that enhancement talent rolodex?

Boa

Remember Boa? No? The guy from Tian Sha? Oh wait, you don’t remember Tian Sha? That was the group with Mei Ying and Xia Li. Oh wait, you don’t remember Mei Ying and Xia Li? Mei Ying was the mysterious character that only wrestled I think twice, losing after the first attempt and then turning into Wendy Choo. Xia Li was The Protector on SmackDown, and then a heel, and then a babyface again, and then a heel, and has wrestled maybe like 6 times in total since joining the main roster.

Anyway, Boa. Yeah. That’s the guy with the face paint who, at the height of his push, was still kind of getting choked by Mei Ying more than winning anything worthwhile. Even though he has a stretch of time in 2021 where he scored some wins over the likes of Jeet Rama and such, and had a mini feud with Solo Sikoa, he’s been M.I.A. since January.

I’m assuming that’s from some sort of injury, so I’m willing to cut him some slack. But what got me to put him on this list was seeing that he’s been in NXT since July 2017 and this is all he has to show for it.

We’re talking that he was on the roster with No Way Jose, The Ealy Twins, Tino Sabbatelli, Tian Bing, Kona Reeves, The Forgotten Sons and Adrian Jaoude.

Not everyone is an Angelo Dawkins, who hangs around and eventually finds The Street Profits. Some people end up like Sawyer Fulton.

Commander Azeez

He’s been Babatunde, Dabba-Kato and Commander Azeez. Pictured above next to Cora Jade, the last he’s been doing has been not hanging around Apollo Crews as the bodyguard that does nothing at all, but on an NXT live event doing…well, nothing at all.

That pairing must not have worked out well, as he’s yet to appear on NXT television in any capacity, let alone beside Jade.

It’s a shame. Azeez is one of the tallest guys ever employed by WWE. Even if it’s just for a visual, if they were to use him for a handful of weeks to build him up as a challenger for Bron Breakker to topple, it could work.

He’s a textbook example of someone who has been employed by WWE for seemingly forever and nothing at all has worked. Going back to 2016, you’d think in SIX years, he’d have something to show for himself, but all he’s really done is popped up in a few battle royals, stood next to Crews, and lost to Omos on Raw early last year.

Ikemen Jiro

When Ikemen Jiro came onto the scene, he already had a goofy character. That’s fine. It’s worked for others in the past. But once he went too far down that Funaki path and lost all his credibility, he became someone to just toss out of the ring, rather than anyone to build a feud around.

Admittedly, if I were in charge of keeping or releasing talent, I’d try my best to keep Jiro on board as an enhancement guy longer than many others on this list, at least. He’s got more personality in his jackets than most people do when they’re trying their hardest. But if the ceiling’s already been hit at “midcarder who we’ve lost interest in and someone we can’t figure out a tag team partner for now that Kushida’s gone”, that isn’t good for his future.

I couldn’t even tell you the last time he’s popped up on television outside of Level Up, which no one watches. I bet you, though, he was being quickly beaten by someone like Von Wagner or Tony D’Angelo who WWE actually puts some time into.

Do you think these NXT Superstars will still be on the roster at this point in 2023? How would you salvage their careers? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

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