Let's start off here with a bit of honesty, NXT released several wrestlers this past weekend and that absolutely sucks. These releases came out of nowhere and they made us all question exactly what is going on inside the WWE offices. At this point, it feels empty to keep saying that releases like this are just business, but at the end of the day that is exactly what it is. 

The releases had a lot of fans proclaiming that NXT was dead and buried, but let's not forget that NXT has been on an upward trend recently. NXT is always evolving, and there are still some heavy hitters that will continue to put out the best product that they can. 

So let's try to be positive and take a look at 5 Superstars that NXT can bank on during a hard time like this. 

5. Johnny Gargano 

Johnny Gargano

Johnny Wrestling is still a hot commodity in NXT and his story with The Way has been going strong in some form for the last year and a half. Gargano has been able to work in a variety of spots on the card for a number of years now, and is still one of NXT's hardest workers and potentially the strongest part of its foundation. 

This spot on the list might as well be occupied by the other members of The Way, Candice LeRae, Indi Hartwell, and Austin Theory. But Indi and Theory both have potential on the main roster and could be called up at any point in the near future. Candice and Johnny both seem to be set as NXT lifers and that will do just fine for them.

NXT will be able to use the Gargano's in whatever spot they are needed for, and that is one of the biggest reasons why NXT still has hope. 

4. Franky Monet

Franky_Monet_bio--963f3b17e77838f8038e2a538a207807

Maybe I am cursing it by saying it here, but Franky Monet has the potential to really evolve the NXT Women's Division. 

Monet is fantastic both on the mic and in the ring, and she is showing that she can be successful in a heel role that hasn't traditionally worked on NXT. Clearly, the former Taya Valkyrie is still new in town and that doesn't always bode well for NXT talent, but I have a ton of faith in this run. 

Franky is the kind of star you can build a division around and with a lot of the talent on women's division likely set for callups soon, you need someone that can be that tent pole for you.

3. Santos Escobar

Santos Escobar

It can take a long time in WWE for a cruiserweight to show that they are ready to move into the "heavyweight" division. Santos Escobar after a little less than a year as the interim cruiserweight champion has shown that he is ready for the big time. 

NXT clearly still has big plans for Legado Del Fantasma, but if we are being honest, Escobar has the most upside of anyone in the stable. He is able to hold his own on the mic as well as between the ropes, and very few people on the roster seem to really get their character the way that he does. 

If I was running NXT, I would be locking down Escobar for as long as I possibly can and turn him into the centerpiece of the North American Championship scene for the next few months. This guy is fantastic and his brand of cocky badass fits really well on the black and gold brand. 

2. Tommaso Ciampa (and Timothy Thatcher) 

ciampa and thatcher

Less than a year ago I was wondering what was there really left for Ciampa to do on NXT. I felt that his ceiling had been reached and that another run as NXT champion just didn't feel right for him. Then along comes Timothy Thatcher. I still personally feel that Thatcher is incredibly underrated and that his style in-ring creates some awesome matchups that you don't get to see every day. 

As a tag team, these two have both found new dimensions for their characters and created something that in my opinion is must watch. Ciampa and Thatcher have dug out their own little niche and it has gotten so over with the fans. I love it, and I hope to see the tag team division flourish with these guys as one of the focal points. 

1. Hit Row

hit row

If you want an example of NXT doing something completely right in a time when they are doing a lot wrong, this is your prime example. Hit Row is one of the best things not just in NXT but in all of professional wrestling right now. This team just clicks in a way that you can't explain in words, you just have to see it. 

I could've split the team up and had Swerve, Ashante "Thee" Adonis, Top Dolla, and B-FAB occupy the top four spots on this list, but that really wouldn't be fair to everyone else. 

This right here is the future of NXT. And if you didn't know, now you know. 

What do you think? Is NXT dead in the water? Is there still hope for WWE's third brand? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer

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