10 NXT Black & Gold Stars Triple H Built (... And Vince McMahon DESTROYED!)
The curse of the main roster call-up is very real.
Dave Meltzer said a few months back that, if the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards weren't determined by fan votes, he'd have picked Triple H as the best booker of 2022. After years of stagnation under the command of Vincent Kennedy McMahon, Paul Levesque finally getting a chance with WWE's flagship television products was a refreshing change of pace.
And whilst it wasn't perfect, this obvious improvement was really to be expected; for the longest time, Triple H's own pet-project of NXT was heralded as the best put-together show on WWE TV.
During its Black and Gold era, the developmental program was a force to be reckoned with. Its TakeOver events routinely overshadowed Raw and SmackDown's pay-per-views and its collection of performance centre stand-outs and indie superstars became big enough fish that the small pond simply wouldn't do anymore.
However, a lot of NXT's greats were brought to the main roster and basically left to dry out in the sun.
This list takes a look at some of the characters Triple H put the work into building, only to have it squandered by his Father-in-law. It's no wonder that the words "NXT call-up" became something to fear.
10. The Ascension
The Ascension, as a gimmick, has a weird history: starting as a four person group, being carried solo by Kenneth Cameron and then eventually morphing into NXT's most dominant tag team without him. All this to say it's remarkable that Konnor and Viktor got to do what they did.
And what they did was run roughshod over the show's early years. Whilst the "scary lads physically dismantle local teams" schtick is pretty overdone, The Ascension were at least fun to watch.
For fans that weren't too bothered by their in-ring work, the duo were at least established as a great foe for a babyface team to eventually triumphantly topple. The Ascension held the NXT Tag Team Championships for a still-unbeaten 364-day reign.
But Vince's understanding of the Ascension was "just like the Road Warriors", so they came to the main roster sporting leather and face-paint. And then, for whatever reason, he decided that this idea should be laughed at. For the first few weeks of the team's high-profile run, the commentary team was instructed to point and make fun of how they were inferior to the team that Konnor and Viktor had been instructed to copy.
The phrase "set up to fail" comes to mind immediately, but as some of the earliest call-ups from NXT, it set a horrible precedent.