Keith Lee & The Return Of The NXT Call-Up

Is the main roster the ultimate end goal once again?

Source: WWE

Former NXT champion Keith Lee broke headlines last weekend by confirming his move to Monday nights after losing his title to Karrion Kross at TakeOver: 30. The world was buzzing about Lee’s official main roster debut after seeing him through what has been the biggest year of his entire wrestling career. Keith Lee started turning main roster heads during the brand invasion angle leading to last year’s Survivor Series event, where he stole the show in the conclusion of the traditional Survivor Series elimination match with Roman Reigns.

With Keith Lee’s emergence on the main roster now in full swing, with his first pay-per-view encounter against ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton on the cards for this weekend’s Payback event, does this mean that the NXT call-up is once again the ultimate end goal for all NXT superstars?

The NXT roster has been somewhat more inclusive since splitting off to become the ‘third brand’ of WWE. With many former NXT champions such as Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and Adam Cole choosing to remain tied to the black and gold brand instead of moving up to either RAW or SmackDown Live being rather telling in the shift in mindsets towards using the NXT roster as future fodder for the main roster’s mid-card.

Occasionally, one or two NXT superstars might show up for a main roster cameo, but they’ve never really been considered official call-ups akin to those seen over the past 5-6 years. In the past, NXT superstars making the jump onto the main roster were seen as some of the most exciting moments of the year. Finn Balor, for example, who finally joined the main roster as part of the first four draft picks in the 2016 brand extension, was a massive moment for the former NXT Champ. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens also received huge ovations when they both turned up on RAW to answer John Cena’s open challenge respectively.

Whereas some NXT call-ups have been seen as huge success stories, the majority have been looked at as horrific failures. Need we mention the long list of NXT alumni that have sunk in the depths of the main roster? There’s no surprise that a certain few of those call-ups have since returned to Full Sail University to enjoy the more flexible and mature environment. Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze, who have both undergone a career revival since returning to NXT, have led the charge in showing that NXT is the place to be over the main roster.

Yet, here’s Keith Lee, who has suddenly departed from the ‘greener pastures’ after becoming the flag-bearer for the NXT brand. This has been the first time that any NXT call-up has been given the mainstream attention that those previous names received, which should go to show the faith that the main roster booking team has in Keith Lee as a headlining star. Perhaps this is more of a business decision to help boost ratings for RAW and SmackDown Live, either way, it’s working.

With Keith Lee now receiving the typical main roster treatment of a new image, entrance theme and having his unique charisma stripped in favour of a pre-packaged ‘WWE style’ of talking, who knows what’s going to happen over the next few months. Fingers crossed the WWE Universe won’t lose interest or faith in the ‘Limitless One’ and he’ll go from strength to strength as he climbs through the ranks of the main roster, proving that the call-up is once again considered a big deal and an achievable end goal for the NXT roster.

So long as we don’t see Keith Lee taking losses from the likes of King Corbin anytime soon, then I feel like this might be the first successful call-up in quite some time. Lee has a lot of momentum coming out of his work in NXT, let’s hope WWE don’t squander that and allow him to become one of the greatest of our time.

Who else would you like to see called up this year? Is there anyone on the NXT roster that you think is reaching the end of their tether? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.