Since rebranding to NXT 2.0, WWE’s third brand has undergone a transformation. While not entirely gone, the days of NXT featuring independent wrestling veterans showcasing their skills alongside the world’s best are mostly behind us. In its place is an ideology that we saw in NXT’s early days, the brand is once again devoted to developing young wrestlers and moulding them into future main roster superstars.
With such a sharp change in ideology comes a host of new faces. NXT fans have seen a number of brand-new wrestlers try to make an impression, to varying degrees of success, over the past 12 months. Who amongst those debutants has stood out the most in 2022? In our estimation, there are some clear standouts who could be considered the breakout star of 2022.
1. Roxanne Perez
The Booker T trainee started the year as Ring of Honor Women’s Champion but ended it as one of NXT’s brightest prospects. As Rok-C, she was a standout in the Texas independent scene before being anointed as the centrepiece of ROH’s new women’s division. Unfortunately, when the company released all of its talents, Perez was quickly snapped up by WWE.
Ever since making her NXT debut, Perez has been a standout of the women’s division on the brand. Not only did she capture the Women’s Tag Team Championship on two occasions, but she also won the Women’s Breakout Tournament. With her rivalry against Cora Jade seemingly behind her, Perez has to be one of the favourites to dethrone Mandy Rose.
2. Wes Lee
As one-half of MSK, Lee was already well acquainted with the NXT fanbase heading into 2022. However, Nash Carter’s abrupt departure from WWE pushed things in a different direction for Lee. Now on his own, he has been given an opportunity to fully explore his capabilities as a singles performer, something he has shown flashes of in the past.
Fans of IMPACT! Wrestling and Lucha Underground have seen glimpses of what Lee can do, but in NXT he’s truly getting to spread his wings. He ends the year as NXT North American Champion after fending off former champion Carmelo Hayes in a highly touted match-up.
With the spotlight on him, and a title around his waist, Lee seems primed to have an excellent 2023. Before long, he could establish himself as a cornerstone of NXT.
3. Wendy Choo
After a stint as Mei Ying, the former Karen Q re-debuted as the always sleepy Wendy Choo. On the surface, someone who is always ready to fall asleep is an odd character, but it’s proven to be a hit with the NXT audience.
Choo spent the Spring and Summer as one of the main opponents of Toxic Attraction, capped off by a defeat to Mandy Rose at In Your House 2022. She transitioned from that feud into a winning effort against Tiffany Stratton, ending the year as one of the top babyfaces in the women’s division.
4. The Creed Brothers
It has been quite the year for the duo who debuted in August of 2021. While the Diamond Mine slowly fizzled out around them, Julius and Brutus Creed put their heads down and got to work.
The NXT tag division’s 2022 was spearheaded largely by their chase for the tag team titles. This began in January when they won the Dusty Rhodes Classic 2022 but failed to win their subsequent championship match. After a brief detour from the belts to test themselves against the Viking Raiders, the brothers found themselves back in the title hunt.
At In Your House 2022, the duo captured the titles in one of NXT’s most memorable moments of the year. Sadly, their reign was short-lived due to a betrayal from Damon Kemp. In essence, this puts them back into the role they thrive in, chasing the heel champions. Should they win the titles again, it will be just as euphoric as their first.
Whether they were the champions or not, The Creed Brothers were the focal point of NXT’s tag team division. Their ability to tell stories in the ring is almost unmatched on the brand currently. Comparisons could be made to American Alpha who also thrived on in-ring storytelling, not to mention the similarities in their presentation.
5. Cora Jade
An attempt was made late in 2021 to make Jade one of NXT’s top names. That led to her being one of Rose’s main challengers early in 2022, although she failed to dethrone the champion. She didn’t let that setback slow her down, however, as she feuded with veteran Natalya in May and proved her worth.
Following the feud with Nataly, Jade made strides in the tag division alongside Roxanne Perez. The two seemed like a natural pairing as young hopefuls, trying to do their best in a crowded division. That was true until Jade ruthlessly turned her back on Perez.
Perez vs Jade became one of the defining feuds of NXT in the latter half of the year. After months of feuding the rivalry came to a head at Halloween Havoc 2022 in a Weapons Wild match. While Perez came out on the winning end, Jade put in a memorable performance to remain one of the division’s top heels.
Mandy Rose can’t reign over the NXT Women’s Division forever. When she is eventually beaten, Jade could easily stake her claim to be the top heel in NXT. 2022 was the year she arrived, but 2023 may be the year she takes over.
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.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.