11 NXT Call-Ups Who Are No Longer With WWE

Perhaps certain stars are better off staying in NXT.

Enzo Cass NXT

NXT has built a solid foundation for the future of WWE since its re-launch in 2012 and has created a slew of stars, from Seth Rollins to Kevin Owens to Charlotte Flair. In fact, over half of the current WWE roster spent time in NXT at one point or another, making it the place to be for all up-and-coming athletes.

Of course, just because someone gets the elusive call-up from NXT to the grand stages of SmackDown Live or Raw doesn't necessarily mean they'll be successful. Far too often, WWE brings people up without a plan in place for them, and as a result, they crash and burn relatively quickly.

That's evident upon looking at most of the competitors who occupy the undercard on Raw and SmackDown today. There are even those who graduated from NXT to the main roster and were eventually released. Whether they requested it or were flat-out fired, they didn't pan out the way longtime fans of the black-and-gold brand may have hoped.

At a time when many main roster performers are reportedly aiming looking to leave for the independent scene, who knows how many disgruntled talent would rather be back in NXT where they were actually utilized to their full potential?

11. Rich Swann

Enzo Cass NXT

Rich Swann was never a fixture on NXT TV the same way some of the other names on this list were, but considering he was a cornerstone of WWE's Cruiserweight division when it first relaunched in late 2016, he technically identifies as an NXT call-up, nonetheless.

It was evident whenever we saw Swann in action on NXT that he was incredibly talented and that he had a high ceiling for success, assuming WWE looked past his size and saw him for the star that he was. He shined in various matches with the likes of Finn Bálor, Baron Corbin and Patrick Clark (a.k.a. Velveteen Dream), so it appeared he would be a fine fit for 205 Live upon his main roster debut.

Sure enough, he was, becoming the new Cruiserweight champion by beating The Brian Kendrick on the first-ever episode of 205 Live. His title run didn't last long, however, but he had a handful of excellent matches in the year that followed with Neville and TJP, and managed to be one of the few Cruiserweights to actually get over with the WWE audience.

In December 2017, Swann was suspended indefinitely by WWE for his domestic abuse arrest. He and the company came to terms on his release two months later.

Swann is now the reigning Impact X-Division champion as of this writing, so I guess things worked out well for him in the end.


Since 2008, Graham has been a diehard pro wrestling fan and, in 2010, he combined his passions for WWE and writing when he joined Bleacher Report. Equipped with a master's in journalism, Graham has contributed to WhatCulture, FanSided's Daily DDT, Sports Betting Dime, and GateHouse Media. Along the way, he has conducted interviews with wrestling superstars like Chris Jericho, Edge, Goldberg, Christian, Diamond Dallas Page, Jim Ross, Adam Cole, Tessa Blanchard, Ryback, and Nick Aldis among others.