Last night, many WWE fans tuned in on peacock in the US and WWE Network everywhere else to watch the induction ceremony for both the 2020 and 2021 classes of the WWE Hall of Fame. The WWE Hall of Fame has been inducting classes since 1993, and since that first class featuring only Andre the Giant, WWE has honored some of the greatest in-ring performers in history as well as some interesting celebrity wing inductees. One thing that has yet to happen is for a hall of fame inductee to be a "graduate" of NXT. Of course, it makes sense that NXT doesn't have a presence in the hall considering that NXT has only been around for a little over 10 years, but it doesn't hurt to look forward and speculate about who might be the first inductee to have had a run in the black and gold.
I think it is also important to set some ground rules before we start the list. I am excluding participants in the original reality-style NXT show (otherwise this list would just be filled with NEXUS members) as well as performers who have made short appearances (Jushin "Thunder" Liger was inducted in the 2020 class and he would fit this category). The point here is to look at the most recent incarnation of NXT and the talent it produced.
5. Luke Harper
Luke Harper also known as Brodie Lee, unfortunately, passed away in late 2020 in the wake of his death it was apparent just how much he meant to wrestling fans as well as the performers that he worked with throughout his career.
Harper along with the rest of the Wyatt Family debuted in NXT in 2012 and made their way to the main roster in the summer of 2013. He is a two-time SmackDown Tag Team Champion, a one-time Intercontinental Champion, and a one-time NXT Tag Team Champion. While in a perfect world, Brodie Lee wouldn't be in the hall of fame conversation due to his active status, his untimely death does seem to make an argument for him going into the hall sooner rather than later.
4. Kairi Sane
Kairi Sane left WWE last summer and has assumed the role of a Japanese ambassador for the company. Sane was loved by fans during her run on NXT as well as her time on the main roster.
Sane is a former NXT Women's Champion, a former WWE Women's Tag Team Champion, and won the inaugural Mae Young Classic. Sane likely has a long career in front of her, but her time with the WWE is seemingly winding down which could signal a hall of fame induction in the near future.
3. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins likely won't be inducted into the hall of fame anytime soon, but there is a strong case for why the first-ever NXT Champion would also be the first-ever NXT inductee.
Rollins is no doubt a future hall of famer, but he is only number 3 on the list due to the fact that his in-ring career is likely to continue for many years. Seth Rollins is a two-time WWE Champion, two-time Universal Champion, two-time Intercontinental Champion, six-time Raw Tag Team Champion, and former United States Champion on top of his run as the inaugural NXT Champion.
Seth Rollins is a generational talent and his turn in the hall will come it just depends on when he decides to hang up his boots.
2. Samoa Joe
Former United States Champion and current Raw commentary team member, Samoa Joe might be the perfect candidate for first-ever NXT graduate to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Joe is a fantastic in-ring performer as well as a solid commentator and ambassador for WWE.
Joe is one of (as of writing) three men to have held the NXT Championship more than once and is also a two-time United States Champion. Unfortunately, an injury has kept him out of the ring recently and he has shown that he is just as valuable to WWE on commentary.
Joe might not ever return to in-ring action, but his contributions to the company throughout the years could signal a hall of fame induction which would be well deserved.
Paige, like Samoa Joe, seems unlikely to return to in-ring action anytime soon, but the inaugural NXT Women's Champion seems like the obvious choice for the first NXT graduate to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Paige is a two-time Divas Champion, and the only person to have held the Divas and NXT Women's Championships simultaneously. On top of her resume in-ring, Paige has been very willing to work with WWE when it comes to appearances in other media. Paige has been a part of a number of WWE Studios projects including the film based on her life, Fighting With My Family. With her in-ring career seemingly finished I would not be surprised if we see Paige's name presented with a number of other deserving superstars in the next few years.
So there you have it, my list of the five most likely picks for the first NXT graduate to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Did I miss anyone? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer
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