Big crowd for WWE NXT at Miami-Dade Fair

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

Logan, a young WWE fan from South Florida, proudly stood ringside posing for a photo with his autographed Bo Dallas cutout cardboard (the life-size version) that he won at the WWE NXT Live Tour show on Saturday, March 30 at the Miami-Dade County Fair.

Even if he didn’t win the raffle drawing of the WWE SmackDown superstar and NXT alum, he would have been happy as NXT once again entertained the masses during the Easter Weekend at The Fair. It was standing room only to see future WWE superstars and divas along with some who already grace the big stage.

Prior to the matches, WWE superstars Brodus Clay and the Prime Time Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young) and diva Naomi participated in a meet-n-greet with fans. Clay, Naomi, O’Neil and Young are NXT alums. Photo opts and autographs and crowd control also involved NXT superstars, divas and standout referees Jason Ayres and Darrick Moore.

Miami’s own Norman Smiley, a former national and international star who is currently a trainer and producer for WWE NXT, had a welcome Homecoming with South Florida family, friends and fans. WWE NXT talent Briley Pierce worked the mic, a humorous emcee, and beautiful divas Sasha Banks and Kendall Skye took turns as ring announcers.

The surprise of the show featured WWE superstar Evan Bourne returning from injury. He dazzled the crowd, especially hitting Air Bourne on Rick Victor, who did a good job with the ring-rust proof talent.

The WWE NXT Live Tour, under the direction of Florida wrestling legend Steve Keirn, displays a fun, family friendly environment. The group, a developmental wing of WWE, makes stops throughout Florida and Georgia. Each show involves a meet-n-greet with current and/or future WWE superstars and divas along with music, giveaways, raffles, contests and wrestling matches, of course.

It’s a very good learning ground for the sports entertainment path.

The amped-up ring entrance by NXT superstar Mojo Rawley set the tone for crowd-pleasing entertainment at The Fair.

A solid divas tag match featuring top prospects Audrey Marie and Paige against Emma and Summer Rae exemplified the improved work by the ladies, since working with NXT trainer Sara Del Ray. An impressive wrestler on the East Coast, Japan and Mexico, Del Ray is the first female trainer in NXT. In a male-dominated profession, it’s a tremendous idea to hire an established female wrestler to work with the women.

The men (and women, too) are learning from a Who’s Who of wrestling talent including Keirn, Smiley, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Bill DeMott, Billy Gunn, Terry Taylor and Joey Mercury.

The proof is in the matches. Kassius Ohno and Adrian Neville were involved in an exciting three-way dance. Jake Carter and Garrett Dylan with arrogant mouthpiece Sylvester Lefort battled the fan-favorite Prime Time Players. The massively scary Luke Harper and Erick Rowan struck fear through young hearts.

Accompanied by dancer/wrestler Naomi, the Funkasaurus Brodus Clay teamed with the funky Xavier Woods in the main event against the deranged South African Leo Kruger and the tattoo-clad Corey Graves.

After the match, Clay, Naomi and Woods brought some kids in the ring to dance, ending a festive night with plenty of smiles.

• As the official developmental system of WWE, nearly 50 superstars and divas currently on the WWE roster have traveled through the doors of NXT, formerly FCW, to hone their craft.

They include Aksana, Wade Barrett, Evan Bourne, Daniel Bryan, Camacho, Cameron, Antonio Cesaro, Brodus Clay, Johnny Curtis (Fandango), Bo Dallas, Ted DiBiase, Alberto Del Rio, Epico, Alicia Fox, Justin Gabriel, Hunico, Kaitlyn, Tyson Kidd, Big E. Langston, AJ Lee, Brad Maddox, Jinder Mahal, Michael McGillicutty, Drew McIntyre, Rosa Mendes, Naomi, Natalya, Titus O’Neil, David Otunga, Primo, Ricardo Rodriguez, Alex Riley, Damien Sandow, Sheamus, Skip Sheffield (Ryback), Heath Slater, Tamina Snuka, Jack Swagger, Yoshi Tatsu, Jey and Jimmy Uso and Darren Young.

NXT is based in Tampa with shows taped periodically at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando.

Visit http://www.fcwwrestling.info/.

• A big shoutout to Nancy Chevres with The Fair, Alfred with WWE NXT and Eloise with Bristol Public Relations for a stellar job.

• The Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, known for generations as The Youth Fair, is a private, not-for- profit organization that has donated more than $10 million in scholarships, awards and cash premiums to Miami-Dade students and is dedicated to supporting education and South Florida agriculture. Visit www.fairexpo.com.

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