NXT finished its weekend loop by returning to its home away from home, the UACDC Gymnasium in Tampa. Outside of Orlando, this gym probably pulls in the largest amount of ardent NXT fans. This Saturday night would be no different as fans piled in the last Florida NXT show of 2016. By nature, these house shows at Christmas are delightfully weird, with odd booking and seemingly thrown together matches. With much of the roster touring or heading home for Christmas, it is often an all hands on deck skeleton crew.
Steve Cutler vs Adrian Jaoude
The night opened up with former marine Steve Cutler taking on with the Brazilian Adrian Jaoude. This opener started with Cutler dictating the pace by avoiding the Jaoude, eliciting a chicken chant from the crowd. The action begins with lots of arm drags and arm bars in the favor of the Brazilian Jaoude. Eventually, Cutler takes control after a cheap shot. He punishes Jaoude with a slow-paced offense culminating in a mean lariat and a painful looking double stomp. Adrian Jaoude would soon make a comeback showing off his aikido background with an impressive flurry of strikes before tossing Cutler with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Adrian Jaoude then defeated Steve Cutler with a fisherman’s suplex. This was a good opener. I like Cutler as a heel, I say give him a house show push and see what happens. Adrian Jaoude’s amateur background is obvious, and impressive… all the man needs is a connection with the crowd.
Nikki Cross vs Macey
Macey started with a surprisingly strong offense. Cross rethought her strategy and attacked only for Macey to thwart her again. Some of Macey’s offense is still worrisome to me, but she did do a nice 619 spot around the ring post. Much to my chagrin, it was an unusually one-side match. Finally, thanks to a distraction from Eric Young, Nikki took control and defeated Macey with a beautiful and brutal looking fisherman’s neckbreaker. Like I reiterate every blog post and to everyone that will listen, Nikki Cross is a gem of the women’s division, her body of work speaks for its self. Macey has a lot of potential but is getting pushed way too fast.
Kona Reeves vs Gran Metallik
This match had much of the high flying and impressive ringwork you have come to expect from Metallik. However, there were several blown spots too due to Kona having a hard time keeping pace with the speedy luchador. When the pace slowed, Reeves did fine grounding Metallik. After a back and forth battle Gran Metallik countered a fireman’s carry into a DDT for the win. I really enjoy Gran Metallik, he is easily going to be a major player in the cruiserweight division. Kona Reeves has the tools to go far, just a matter of honing them and finding a gimmick that works with the crowd.
Next, Kayla came out to interview Dan Matha. He’s in a bad mood and says all everyone is talking about is Roderick Strong. He makes fun of Strong’s size and the fact it took him so many years to make it to NXT. He claims that when he walked in they took one look at him and exclaimed “Your hired!” It didn’t take long for Roderick Strong to come out where they exchanged words before calling out a ref to make it official.
Roderick Strong vs Dan Matha
This match was your standard David and Goliath battle, with Strong much of the match unsuccessfully trying to control the much bigger Matha. Early on Strong did find an opening with a flurry of offense, but Matha caught him on an outside dive and drove him into the ringpost setting the pace for the rest of the match. Matha kept Roderick grounded for the most part, shutting down Strong’s comebacks with some hard punches or a big boot. Finally, Roddy makes a last attempt at a comeback, rocking Matha with a high knee in the corner, and ultimately finishing him with a single leg dropkick for the win. Roderick Strong is such an asset to NXT, in a few short weeks he has put on some of the most memorable house show matches of the year. This wasn’t one of them, but then again not every match can be a dream match. One of the reasons NXT works is because of established starts working with rookie talents. At 6’7” and 290lbs Dan Matha is eye catching and moves well for a big man. He’s also strong and confident on the mic. With all that said, I believe he is still very much a work in progress though.
The Authors Of Pain vs Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford
Dawkins and Ford are really melding well as a team, and it showed tonight. They came out and immediately took the fight to the Authors with a flurry of offense that included a beautiful running shooting star press from Ford. This match wasn’t as one sided as one would guess, and had a lot of back and forth. However, in the finishing melee Ford was tossed high over the top rope to the outside leaving Dawkins alone to suffer the Authors double team finish. I’m just going to say it, I’m not a fan of the Authors Of Pain… like it says in the bio, I am no critic… that’s just my personal opinion. Dawkins and Ford on the other hand are great together. Angelo Dawkins has been in developmental for a while, but Ford is bringing out something in him. It reminds me of when Jason Jordan was in the system forever, missing that something, until he was matched up with Chad Gable. Dawkins and Ford are going to get over, guaranteed.
Mandy Rose vs Daria Berenato
I’ve seen these two compete… a lot. However, the two have a lot of chemistry and it shows. Daria started off strong with some nice MMA striking, but Mandy would come back and dominate with some nice limb work. Rose worked the leg consistently through the match with several moves and holds including a nice looking dragonscrew leg whip. Daria also sold the legwork like a champ. However, Daria would make a comeback and finish Rose with a huge spinebuster for the win. I’m becoming more of a Daria Berenato fan with every match.
Sanity (Wolfe & Damo) vs Heavy Machinery
I like both of these teams a great deal, but again, I feel like this is something I have seen quite a few times. Nonetheless, this was a fun battle between four really big dudes. Unfortunately, Nikki Cross got ejected from ringside early on (watching her shenanigans at ringside great), but this still left Eric Young at ringside. Young was excellent at ringside throughout the match, verbally tearing apart the crowd while interjecting himself in the match. The highlight of the match may have been the stalemate between two hosses, Big Damo and Otis. The two ran the ropes and collided several times before Otis miraculously toppled Damo. This was a fun back and forth match with several false finishes until Sanity finally got a double team finish on Tucker Knight for the win. I’m a fan of all parties involved here. As the Sanity act continues, they continue to meld together greatly. Alexander Wolfe has went from showing glimmers of potential to being absolutely fantastic just on demeanor alone. Big Damo impresses the hell out of me… big, fast, intimidating man… an absolute beast.
Well, that’s a wrap on the NXT Florida Loop 2016. Whether I’m rooting for you or booing you, thanks to all the talent that make all of my weekends so memorable. I can’t wait to see where the new year takes all these guys.
Happy Holidays to all my readers, and be sure to check back on the 29th for a recap of Pro Wrestling 2.0 which has already confirmed Shane Strickland, Martin Stone, "Deathproof" Aaron Epic, and The Tokyo Monster Kahagas.