August and September is the typical “back to school” time for most of the country. As someone with teaching experience, that’s always on my mind—now more so than ever during this pandemic, for all the wrong reasons, sadly.
But rather than have a debate about whether or not it’s insane teachers are expected to add another monumental task to their jobs by combating COVID along with everything else, let’s try to spin this topic into something WWE related.
Lately, school hasn’t been in session quite the same as the WWE Performance Center was used to film everything for Raw, SmackDown, Main Event, 205 Live and the pay-per-views, rather than running normal operations. I’m sure WWE had Zoom meetings for promo class and told students to study tape and such, but it isn’t quite the same.
Now that WWE has the ThunderDome at Amway Center and has moved out, some of the usual business will probably resume, even if it isn’t all back to the way it used to be.
But with this theme of “back to school” in mind, I started thinking: which main roster superstars should take a trip back down to NXT and/or hit up the Performance Center to learn how to be better performers, and which stars from the black and gold brand are worthy of graduating up to the main roster in this upcoming draft?
Ready to Graduate: Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae
What is there left for Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa to do in NXT? That is going to be a running theme with some of these graduates in that they’ve accomplished all their possible goals and are now just spinning their wheels on a smaller platform.
I know both of these guys have stated that they would rather stay in NXT, but I think that will be something they regret in hindsight. NXT doesn’t need them. The entire point of NXT is to build stars up so they can move on to the bigger stage. Having Ciampa and Gargano stick around prevents two more people from getting those opportunities.
It also robs everyone of some amazing feuds. I do want to see Ciampa vs. Randy Orton but I’m not going to get it if he’s forever in NXT. The most we’ll get is one match and some brawls if they happen to line up with the right championship at Survivor Series. That’s not good enough.
Both these guys against Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, etc. Ciampa against Bray Wyatt in some dark feud. Gargano against Dolph Ziggler. I want these matches!
Gargano can be the next Daniel Bryan, but his underdog story needs something to strive for. Winning the NXT Championship again means nothing in comparison to winning the WWE or Universal Championship.
And while you’re moving Gargano up to the main roster, you might as well do the same with Candice LeRae. If she’s not the next NXT women’s champion, she’ll have been on that brand long enough that she should’ve won the belt already and missed the mark. She’s good enough that WWE wouldn’t have to worry about her being called up too fast and not ready for the in-ring work, that’s for sure. If Alexa Bliss and Carmella could come up when they did, so can Candice.
Trade to NXT: Chad Gable / Shorty G
I really hate crapping on Chad Gable, because I’ve been a staunch supporter of his from his “ready, willing and Gable” rally towel days. As part of American Alpha, he was fantastic, and if he were just a little taller or could cut better promos, WWE would have at least made him a midcard champion by now.
But that hasn’t happened. Instead, he’s been Shorty G and his career’s going nowhere with that awful gimmick. He looks ridiculous, he’s a loser whether he’s heel or face and it’s just not working out.
If Gable were to cut this nonsense act and go back to his roots as just Chad Gable and part of the NXT roster, he’d be a big fish in a small pond (short joke unintentional, but appreciated) in a way that he’s virtually never going to be on Raw or SmackDown.
At least in NXT, he could win the North American Championship. I don’t have any faith he will win the United States or Intercontinental any time soon while dressed like a someone’s 1990’s inspired create-a-character in a basketball game.
Ready to Graduate: The Undisputed ERA
Echoing similar thoughts to Gargano and Ciampa, what else is there for The Undisputed ERA to do? I highly doubt Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish are all going to win the NXT Championship, nor would it be worth keeping Adam Cole down there just to watch all that happen.
And yes, I know full well WWE could mess them up just like everyone else once they get to the Raw and SmackDown creative. But if we keep everyone down in NXT just to avoid that problem, no one will ever be successful like the plenty of others who did turn out okay, like Andrade, Owens, Braun Strowman and so on.
Cole is a guy who could have great programs with tons of people. Fish and O’Reilly need to have matches with The Usos, The New Day, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura and others. Strong could be just as viable a midcard champion as anyone else on the red and blue brands.
Pull the trigger. If not, we’re just continuing the cycle of Cole fighting for the NXT title with his three pals backing him up on repeat and they’ll never go further than what we’ve already seen.
Trade to NXT: Bo Dallas
I’ve mentioned this in the past here or there and I’m sticking to it. Bo Dallas should return as part of The Robert Stone Brand, get a repackaging, start to be more serious and become a main event star on NXT.
His only time he could be taken remotely serious was when he was in NXT. Even when he was a comedic character of sorts, he could still win matches. Once he got to Raw and SmackDown, that went out the window and he turned into a complete buffoon.
That was fine for some funny stuff here and there with The B-Team, but that’s no longer a thing. He can’t rely on the Curtis Axel tag team crutch anymore. Both that and Social Outcasts are kaput. Unless he does something drastic like this, WWE will surely just tag him up with someone else and have him continue to job into oblivion.