Friday, July 7, 2017

NXT Lakeland 7-6-17

Written by Wayne Mason

Last night NXT started its weekend loop before a packed house at The National Guard Armory in Lakeland, FL. Fans were treated to a meet and greet of Liv Morgan, Buddy Murphy, and Ho Ho Lun before a night of hard hitting wrestling action.

The night kicked off with Roderick Strong taking on Adrian Jaoude. The match started with some back and forth grappling, with both men looking impressive. The more experienced Strong took control for much of the match with intermittent offense from Jaoude, who briefly worked the leg of Strong, before a fiery Roddy came back for the finish.  This was a solid opening contest, as Roderick Strong is always a wise choice to get the crowd fired up. Adrian Jaoude continues to impress me, with top notch grappling and realistic strikes he looked right at home with his veteran competitor. 

Next up, Lacey Evans took on the newcomer Taynara Conti. There were some rough spots early on, but those were forgotten as the match went on with Evans working most of the contest underneath. Ultimately though, the lady of NXT Lacey Evans would make a comeback and tap out Conti with an armbar. Taynara worked better once the pace slowed, mixing some limb work with a few nice looking judo throws. With a very expressive face, Conti sold both her offense and defense well, while displaying a believable mean streak. Lacey Evans has gotten really good in a short amount of time, and fans on the Florida loop have taken notice, as she has become a big fan favorite. Looking forward to seeing both of these women shine in the Mae Young Classic. 

In tag team action The Ealys took on Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford aka The Street Profits. The match begins with shenanigans and laughs, as one can expect with Ford and Dawkins. The two controlled the pace in the early goings until The Ealys took advantage with a cheap shot. The Ealys controlled the rest of the match punishing Montez until he managed to make the hot tag. Dawkins cleared the ring and layed out one of the Ealy Brothers, allowing Ford to finish with a frog splash for the win. The Ealy Twins are two big and capable athletes who definitely have a place in WWE, once they find that something to give them a connection to the crowd they will do fine. On the other hand, The Street Profits are very over, very fun, and are about as tv ready as you can get, I'd go as far as saying the NXT tag division needs them right now. 

The evening kept rolling with the monstrous Lars Sullivan taking on Marcel Barthel (formerly Axel Dieter Jr). The match began with Barthel making several unsuccessful attempts at taking down Sullivan. The much larger Sullivan would simply swat Marcel away or run him down like a freight train. Eventually, Barthel sees an opening, attacking the knee of Lars Sullivan. Ultimately, the big man would comeback though, planting  Barthel in the ring with a huge side slam for the win. Lars Sullivan continues to get over with the crowds here. I'm glad to have Marcel Barthel here in NXT, I'm looking forward to seeing him in a more evenly contested match. 

Next up was Kona Reeves taking on Aleister Black. The match was mostly all Aleister, who started off very strong. Reeves took over briefly after a cheap shot, but it was short lived as Black came back with his trademark flurry of sick strikes. Finally, he picks the limp body of Reeves off the mat to finish with his devastating Black Mass. Besides an impressive arsenal of strikes, Black has such a presence and charisma, he could put on a good match with anyone. The NXT fans have taken notice, and he could easily be top guy right now. Kona Reeves has been in the system for a while now, and is still looking for that gimmick that will give him a connection to the crowds. Once he does I believe he will do well, he has all the tools and a WWE look that will serve him well.

credit: @gravenbabies

After a short intermission, we continued with tag action as Heavy Machinery took on the new formed team of Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake. With a standard tag formula on display here, Heavy Machinery stayed on step ahead of the bad guys for much of the early goings until a distraction allowed them to turn the tide. Employing frequent tags, Blake and Cutler worked over Otis for most of the match until he made the hot tag to Tucker Knight, allowing for a quick turn around and a double team finish. I dig Blake and Cutler as a team, the two have gelled together rather well in a short time.

In our second women's match of the night, Mae Young Classic competitor Bianca BelAir took on Liv Morgan. This was a fun back and forth match that saw a lot of offense from both women. Liv Morgan is looking better with every outing these days, but after a hard fought match she would find her self on the recieving end of a mean spear giving BelAir the victory. Bianca is another PC standout who has picked up the business fairly quick, and regardless of how far she makes it in the upcoming women's tournament, one gets the impression she is being groomed for big things.

In one of those head scratcher of a main events, The Velveteen Dream and Dan Matha took on No Way Jose and Drew McIntyre. Despite the weirdness, this was a really good match, and easily the most fun of the night. After the opening moments of the match, the latter half had Dream and Matha working over Jose until he finally made the hot tag to McIntyre. Ultimately Drew would level The Velveteen Dream with his Claymore kick for the win. Love him or hate him, Patrick Clark absolutely owns it as The Velveteen Dream, and it's difficult to not be entertained in some capacity by him... it's been awhile since we've seen someone this androgynous in the WWE. However, it was McIntyre who was the star of the match, obviously, and it feels huge having the Scot here in NXT. How long before he is wearing the big belt?


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