Which Recent NXT Call-Up Will Have The Biggest Impact In WWE?

By Joe Burgett
May 2, 2024
Carmelo Hayes

During the 2024 WWE Draft, the company decided to call up several wrestlers out of the WWE NXT system. While NXT has been around for a while now, acting as a third brand for WWE, it is still technically a “developmental” brand. Basically, it is where a lot of the newer names in WWE get their start. A lot of the people called up have been on NXT for a while now, making them ready to be on either WWE RAW or WWE SmackDown. However, which NXT Call-Up will have the biggest impact?

In this article, we will discuss each wrestler and give them what we’ll call an “Impact Grade.” This grade will determine the impact that they will have on the main rosters in the first year. This Impact Grade could indeed grow throughout their first year, as well as their second and beyond. However, their initial score will tell you where they are right now and what we can expect from them immediately.

We will not be discussing those who jumped up to the main roster to work regularly before the Draft like Tiffany Stratton. Yet we will still discuss those that might have made a few appearances beforehand. With all of this out of the way, let’s get started!

Odyssey Jones

Odyssey Jones
  • Brand Drafted To: RAW
  • Championships: None
  • Impact Grade: 35

Odyssey Jones might be the most interesting NXT Call-Up right now. The man has potential for sure, but WWE rarely used him on the NXT roster. He is a pure WWE product though. He did not wrestle before signing with WWE. The company was clearly impressed with his athletic ability, and one could not blame them. In fact, during the WWE Performance Center Combine, he actually set the PC’s trap bar deadlift record. The man lifted 800 pounds!! This beat Otis’ record of 775 pounds.

He’d debut with WWE shortly after signing in May 2019. However, he has not been used much on television. Part of this is due to an injury he sustained, as he ruptured his patellar tendon in 2022 and returned to the ring in 2023. Yet he’s barely been used since that return.

They believe in him as an athlete, it seems. Otherwise, he would have been released long ago. Most feel that sending him to the main roster is sort of an attempt to see what he has. WWE has done similar with other wrestlers that they are not sure about, especially if they have been in NXT for a while. Sometimes it works out, other times, it results in their release from the company.

Due to the fact that WWE fans really have not figured out who Odyssey Jones is yet, it’ll be interesting to see how he stands out on RAW. This brand will be tough to work for anyway, as the roster is overloaded with great talent, including several other NXT Call-Ups. He has potential, but right now, he’s the most likely to flame out.

Kiana James

Kiana James
  • Brand Drafted To: RAW
  • Championships: NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion
  • Impact Grade: 50

Unlike her fellow RAW roster member from NXT, Odyssey Jones, Kiana James was drafted to RAW on the normal television broadcast. It was a surprising pick, as many thought Kiana would remain on NXT for a little while longer. However, most could see that she has been ready for the next level. Unlike with some NXT stars, Kiana James did wrestle a bit before being signed by the WWE.

In fact, she was actually trained by Shawn Spears & Tyler Breeze at Flatbacks Wrestling in Florida. This is a school the pair own together, and they have produced a few people you have seen in WWE and AEW. Technically, Kiana made her television debut with AEW on the AEW Dark show against The Bunny. Her run in AEW was small, but it opened the door for her to be signed by WWE in 2022.

Once she arrived, she took to everything fairly well. She also figured out her character, as she became a take-no-prisoners businesswoman. It has worked out very well for her, and at just 26 years old, she has a possibly bright future in WWE. The only issue is the brand she is on. It is loaded with female talent that could get in her way. Due to WWE liking her so much, they’ll give her opportunities to shine.

We should not expect her to be in title matches on Day #1. Yet it would not shock us to see her as a Money in the Bank contestant. We could even see her winning it, but her first-year impact is unknown. She’ll be a great NXT Call-Up, but Year One might be a slow burn.

Blair Davenport

Blair Davenport
  • Brand Drafted To: SmackDown
  • Championships: SWA World Champion, WOS Women’s Champion, 2023 NXT Women’s Iron Survivor Winner
  • Impact Grade: 60

SmackDown General Manager Nick Aldis shocked a lot of us when he took Blair Davenport with one of his last televised draft picks. However, it is pretty clear that Blair is ready for this opportunity. She had a good independent wrestling career under the name Bea Priestley. She has been wrestling in some form since she was just 16 years old. The British-born wrestler has accomplished a lot in her career.

She won the World of Sport Women’s Championship and had a huge run in Stardom. In the Japanese promotion, she was a World of Stardom Champion, Goddess of Stardom Champion, Artist of Stardom Champion, & SWA World Champion. That is not even touching all of the tag team accomplishments she had.

Davenport worked with Progress Wrestling, Defiant Wrestling, and even AEW before finally signing with WWE in 2021. She was not used as much as she could have been, as she was mostly part of the NXT UK system. Yet this was a time when WWE did not force the UK workers to sign exclusive deals. Therefore, she did not need to be used as much on NXT UK. When this closed down, WWE NXT brought her over to America.

Davenport has been used in a good way ever since. However, it’s quite obvious she has been ready for a main roster run. With SmackDown having the lighter roster, one could see her have a pretty nice impact on the blue brand this year. While she might not win any titles in year one, you can make an impact in other ways.


  • Brand Drafted To: RAW
  • Championships: CW Heavyweight Champion, CW New England Champion, 2015 ROH Top Prospect Tournament Winner
  • Impact Grade: 66

We’re so happy to still see Dijak employed by WWE. When he first signed with WWE, he hit the ground running. The dude was having amazing matches left and right, especially against guys like Keith Lee. Most felt the big man who could move as well as a cruiserweight was capable of being a World Champion in WWE. Then the Retribution faction came. They’d hit the main roster in 2020, all wearing masks to cover their faces. Dijak became “T-Bar,” because “reasons” we guess.

It was a horrible time, but Dijak bounced back from this and was able to return to NXT to show off more. Now with a character that could stand out better, and back to his old ways, many see this man yet again as a possible star for WWE. While he does have the issue of being on the overly stacked RAW brand, he has an edge that others might not have. Dijak is a large man, but he can work with literally anyone on the roster.

As a result, he’s sort of like Kane in that respect. You could put him with anyone and his size makes him a believable threat. Yet even with guys at a larger size, he’s capable of using both speed and power as an advantage. Dijak was an instant star when he came to NXt due to this type of style. If the RAW brand allows him to be himself, he’ll have a big first year. Whether he wins a title or not is up in the air, but we can likely expect some nice rivalries.

Lyra Valkyria

Lyra Valkyria
  • Brand Drafted To: RAW
  • Championships: OTT Women’s Champion, NXT Women’s Champion
  • Impact Grade: 70

We’re sad that Lyra Valkyria heading to the RAW roster likely means an end to her storyline with Tatum Paxley. However, the product of Fight Factory Pro Wrestling has a ton of potential. She has been wrestling since around age 18 after graduating from the Fight Factory. The Irish-born wrestler then would compete in several United Kingdom promotions from Over the Top Wrestling to Pro Wrestling: EVE, among others.

She made a big name for herself in Europe, which led to a run with NXT UK in 2020. Of course, this was a tough year for WWE and most other places. This led to a lack of work for WWE and many other promotions. She’d get a bit more TV time with WWE while working in various independent promotions. By late 2022, WWE made her exclusive by signing her to a full NXT deal and bringing her to the United States.

Valkyria made a splash in her jump to NXT in America. By 2023, she was able to call herself NXT Women’s Champion after beating one of her idols in “The Man” Becky Lynch for the title. Becky is another Irish-born star in WWE, so this must have been huge for Lyra. She remained a big focus on NXT ever since. Now being drafted to RAW, the WWE will give her a shot to stand out very quickly.

Triple H seems to really like Lyra, which tells us he plans to use her well as long as she can handle everything thrown her way. RAW might be loaded, but as a woman here, she has a little less to navigate around compared to the guys. That said, we expect her to have a good year.

“The Mad Dragon” Ilja Dragunov

Ilja Dragunov - NXT Title Win
  • Brand Drafted To: RAW
  • Championships: NXT Champion, NXT UK Champion, wXw United World Wrestling Champion, wXw Shotgun Champion, 2017 16 Carat Gold Tournament
  • Impact Grade: 77

The man WWE calls the “Mad Dragon” is a Russian-born stud, who has the potential to be a massive star. It has been reported by several outlets that WWE sees as much in Ilja Dragunov as they see in Gunther. Seeing as the latter recently set the WWE Intercontinental Championship record for the longest reign with the title at 666 days, one could only wonder what Triple H has planned for Dragunov.

Before arriving in WWE, he was a standout in the German promotion Westside Xtreme Wrestling or wXw. He made his debut in 2012 and has been all over Europe ever since then. By 2019, he signed with WWE. Like others, he signed a deal to work with NXT UK while still working on independent shows.

Dragunov quickly became a big deal. This led to WWE having him beat Gunther for the NXT UK Championship, a title that Gunther also held for a reign record. He’d drop the title in a unification match later on when NXT UK went down. He was exclusive with WWE by 2022 and was a star on the roster. Ilja became NXT Champion and only lost it recently after a nice run with the title.

It’s thought that Triple H will likely use him in some big storylines right away. We feel he’ll do a slow burn with him, but along the way, he will still have a big first year on the RAW roster. This is why we gave him a 77 Impact Grade. We feel he’ll get used a lot, but he won’t be given a title immediately.

Carmelo Hayes

Carmelo Hayes
  • Brand Drafted To: SmackDown
  • Championships: NXT Champion, 2x NXT North American Champion, NXT Cruiserweight Champion, 2021 NXT Breakout Tournament Winner
  • Impact Grade: 90

Carmelo Hayes has been a major standout in NXT pretty much since he signed with WWE. The company gave him everything they could to keep him in the top areas of the card as often as possible. SmackDown landed an NXT Call-Up with one of the highest potential ratings ever. Being an NXT Call-Up often comes with an expectation. Many feel you won’t be able to stand out very quickly and that you will be buried among the “veteran” talent.

This might have been the Vince McMahon model, but that is not how Triple H does things.

Unlike others, Hayes has the gift of going to SmackDown where he’s the only male NXT star headed to the blue brand. This gives him more freedom to be used in a lot of singles opportunities. Carmelo has proven to be an incredible character on NXT. While he might be smaller, he has wrestled with men larger than him without much of an issue. The man is an incredible athlete, giving us memories of young Shelton Benjamin-like athleticism.

However, Hayes has also proven he can cut a terrific promo. This man was a complete package before coming to WWE. Yet in WWE, he’s been able to learn a lot from legends like Shawn Michaels among others. This has only made him even better than he was before he signed. We feel WWE has so many areas he could be used that his first year is going to be a busy one. Heck, they already had him wrestle the new WWE Champion Cody Rhodes, where even in a loss, he showed incredible promise.

Bron Breakker

Bron Breakker - NXT World Champion
  • Brand Drafted To: RAW
  • Championships: 2x NXT Champion, NXT Tag Team Champion, 2024 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Winner
  • Impact Grade: 95

When we think about an NXT Call-Up with the most potential to have an impact in their first year, Bron Breaker is always at the top of the list. The son of Rick Steiner is one of the best overall athletes WWE has signed in years. When timed, he ran the ropes at a speed that exceeds the NFL’s Tyreek Hill at his top speed. This means Bron is running the ropes at around 23 mph. That is Olympic runner speed, people!

This is not shocking to those who know Breakker’s history. He played football as a running back for years and even landed a 4.4 speed at the NFL Combine’s 40-yard dash. Like his father, he also took part in amateur wrestling. Bron even won a state wrestling title at 220lbs in 2016.

While football did not work out, wrestling was in the family so it made sense to try out for the WWE. He has mostly been a WWE Performance Center product. At only 26 years old, this guy is a stud who could be one of WWE’s top stars. Honestly, the only negative about him is the name WWE gave him.

Bron won the NXT Championship twice, with one of the reigns going for over a year. We expect similar dominance on RAW.

He’ll deal with a stacked roster on day one. Yet the impressive in-ring skill as well as his great promo ability will allow Bron to stand out immediately. We feel he’ll have such a big first year that we’re giving him a 95 Impact Grade, our highest out of all NXT Call-Ups this year.

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