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Ranking the Best NXT Call-ups in WWE Draft History

A photo of Drew McIntyre, one of the best WWE Draftees in NXT History.

With the 2024 WWE Draft coming up at the end of the month, and it has been made official that NXT will be part of the proceedings, it’s about that time to take a look at some of the best call-ups from the promotion’s developmental system.

Finn Bálor

In 2016, WWE announced the return of the WWE Draft. The split between Monday Night Raw and SmackDown was symbolised by the literal “brand split” during the Draft.

However, the two main shows weren’t the only brands that were involved in the new-and-improved Draft. WWE NXT was white-hot at the time, and the stars involved were telling some of the most impressive stories within the WWE Universe.

Finn Bálor was selected as Raw’s third pick – fifth overall – in a move that set the main roster ablaze. The former NXT Champion was called up and immediately hit the ground running, pinning Roman Reigns clean on his Monday Night Raw debut. 

Following that hot start, Bálor found himself winning the inaugural WWE Universal Championship at WWE SummerSlam 2016, as he defeated Seth Rollins in another huge shock. Unfortunately, Bálor’s reign was cut painfully short, having to vacate the title after just one day as he suffered an injury during the bout.

Since then, ‘The Prince’ has captured his fair share of gold. With two Intercontinental Championships, one United States Championship, multiple Undisputed Tag Team Championships and even another NXT Championship reign, he’s remained a staple of WWE’s main roster.

In the eight years since his call-up in the WWE Draft, it’s safe to say that Finn Bálor has more than proved his worth on the main roster and whether as a singles star or in a group, he has a legacy as one of the most successful NXT stars to be selected in the WWE Draft.

Drew McIntyre

Admittedly, Drew McIntyre had previous experience on the WWE’s main roster before his NXT debut in early 2017, but his second stint in WWE has been unquestionably better than his first.

After spending merely a year in the black and gold brand, McIntyre was selected in the 2018 WWE Draft (referred to as the Superstar Shake-Up) and joined the Monday Night Raw roster.

His first success came that very same year, as he claimed the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships with Dolph Ziggler. However, it was two years later that his biggest success came, as he won the 2020 WWE Royal Rumble and secured his first WrestleMania main event.

McIntyre went on to win the WWE Championship that year but, sadly was unable to pick up the victory in front of a live crowd due to the Covid-19 pandemic. His second WWE Championship win was similarly underwhelming, as it was in an empty arena once again.

Most recently, the former NXT Champion claimed the World Heavyweight Championship at WWE WrestleMania 40. Although his reign lasted five short minutes, his record as a multiple-time World Champion and Royal Rumble winner cements him as one of the best NXT call-ups in the WWE Draft.

Alexa Bliss

Another member of the NXT call-ups from the WWE Draft in 2016, Alexa Bliss arrived on SmackDown and put the women’s division on alert from her first day.

Within the year, she claimed her first WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship, which demonstrated her ability to compete with the very best in WWE. Also, her excellent matches on the blue brand helped her stand out in that early stage of her career.

Bliss has become very familiar with championships since her first appearance on SmackDown, picking up the Women’s Championship a total of five times and even claiming the Women’s Tag Team Championships on three separate occasions. 

She also captured the Money in the Bank briefcase, cashing it in on the same night in 2018 to claim her third WWE Raw Women’s Championship.

Her list of achievements is impressive and she will always be regarded as one of the most successful NXT superstars to be called up in the WWE Draft.


The ‘Staten Island Princess’ arrived on the main roster as another member of the NXT roster that got called up during the WWE Draft in 2016. 

Carmella showed up on SmackDown, as the final pick on the WWE Draft Center Live. Although a shockingly late pick, WWE fans soon learned that ‘Mella is Money as she became the winner of the inaugural Women’s Money in the Bank briefcase.

In a record-setting move, she took her time to cash in, waiting 287 days before seizing her opportunity and picking up her sole Women’s Championship. Her reign as the SmackDown Women’s Champion solidified her as a top competitor on the blue brand.

Sadly, she’s been unable to capture any more titles since this reign, but with a return to WWE events over WWE WrestleMania 40 weekend, it’s possible that Carmella could find her way back to the ring later in 2024. 

If she comes back, she should set her sights on getting more gold around her waist.

Austin Theory

The most recent call-up on this list, Austin Theory made his way to the main roster during the 2021 edition of the WWE Draft. He was separated from the rest of The Way (Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell) upon his arrival, but found a new role immediately.

Under the watchful eye of the former executive chairman of WWE, Theory was fast-tracked and entered into positions that he may not have otherwise found himself in. 

Within six months of his Monday Night Raw debut, Theory captured the WWE United States Championship, becoming the second-youngest champion in the belt’s history. 

His reign with the belt didn’t last very long, as he lost it a few months later but in defeat, Theory found a bigger victory. He won the Money in the Bank briefcase at the event of the same name in 2022, making him the youngest-ever winner of the Money in the Bank.

One failed cash-in later, Theory found himself competing for the United States title once again, as he won it for the second time in his career. This run saw him defend the strap against John Cena at WWE WrestleMania 39, before losing the belt to Rey Mysterio later in the year.

Since then, Theory has joined forces with Grayson Waller as A-Town Down Under, which has seen them capture the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Another notch in the belt for Austin Theory highlights the fact that his time on the main roster has been a success thus far.

Perhaps we will see the next batch of NXT stars selected in the upcoming WWE Draft, with the likes of Carmelo Hayes and Ilja Dragunov already having proven that they can perform on Raw and SmackDown over the past few months.

Keep an eye on SmackDown and Monday Night Raw on April 26th and 29th respectively, to see if there are any NXT surprises in the WWE Draft 2024.

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