While the main NXT roster was in Green Bay last night, the rest of the roster was still holding down the fort in Florida. Hosted by Alex Reyes and Tom Phillips, the show was headlined by The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley) faced off with a heel Vaudevillains. So while we didn’t get to see stars like Bayley, Finn Balor or Samoa Joe, we got a glimpse of the future and it seems to be bright, if a little rough.
- Hugo Knox kicked off the night against the former Angelo Dawkins. Both of these can go in the ring. Dawkins has been on the roster for a while & while he always delivers on these shows, there’s just something missing from his character. Knox has all the tools to be a big star but still seems uncomfortable in front of a live crowd. He was great one on one with fans before the show started but then was trying much too hard to get a reaction during the match.
- Alexander Wolfe versus Steve Cutler was up next & slowed down the night a bit. Wolfe now has a full top hat and coat to go along with his German flag. It’s one of those situations Diamond Dallas Page talks about where there’s just too much gimmick. Whereas I believe Cutler needs to add something. He’s too generic to be rememberable.
- Tom Phillips came ringside next and brought out 2015 Tough Enough winner Sara Lee who came out with a tight outfit, too much makeup and hair that looked like it was trying too hard. Now don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a beautiful girl but this look just wasn’t working on her. Tom Phillips talked about how last night the male winner of Tough Enough debuted as Bronson Matthews in front of the Winter Haven, FL crowd. Sara immediately jumped on the crowd saying that a few months ago she won Tough Enough on the WWE Network and now she’s stuck in Cocoa, Florida. She tried to put down the crowd a little bit longer but she just looks so sweet and smiley that the crowd laughed more than booed. Then she fell down the ring steps… It was a rough night for Sara Lee, I just don’t think a heel character is the right way to go right now.
- Tino Sabatelli & Riddick Moss were out next against a Rick Swann who came down to the ring on Tucker Knight’s shoulders. Tino and Riddick are ready to go. There’s obviously not top guys but they are absolutely ready for television. Riddick has a great look but he didn’t so much during the match. Tucker, on the other hand, has the showmanship, connection with the audience and decent in-ring ability to be an asset on television… except for his look. The 70s porn star look with the long hair, fu manchu mustache and silver glittery gear just doesn’t work in today’s business.
- In a nice surprise, the former Mexican star La Sombra, Manny Andrade took on a masked wrestler whose name slipped by me. Andrade wrestled a safe, American-style match against a guy who could have very well been another known NXT wrestler in the mask. I liked Andrade’s work and hope to see more from him soon, hopefully against someone who compliments him better.
- The biggest stars of the night were in the first women’s match of the night when Emma came to the ring with Dana Brooke against Asuka. It still amazes me that Emma isn’t a bigger star right now. Her character & ring skills are far beyond working in Cocoa, Florida but I can’t complain getting to see her work again. It’s amazing to me how quickly Asuka has adapted to WWE/American life. Her work is crisp and she’s connected with the fans fairly quickly. I’d actually like to hear her cut a promo or two on shows like these to practice. Dana Brooke at ringside was hysterical with her “We’re winning!”, “Stop doing that!” and the classic “She has until 5!”. I haven’t been able to see Brooke in the ring yet but her sideline antics have been great the last few shows.
- Levis Valenzuela Jr. versus Chris Girard (former Biff Buswick) was the first match after intermission & I was not a fan. Both guys had much better matches last week in Citrus Springs but still had some high moments here. I’ve become a big fan of Girard as he’s great throwback heel. Everything means something and everything looks (and sounds) like it hurts. Valenzuela is a great personality and he’s awesome with the younger fans but he needs open up more in the ring and he DESPERATELY needs a new finisher. The “fastball punch” is terrible and falls flat every time.
- Cameron against Adrienne Reese was the second women’s match of the night and while there was no way they were going to top Asuka/Emma, Reese and Cameron had a decent 8-10 minute match. Reese is women’s division’s version of Rich Swann: extremely athletic, innovative and a great babyface. I absolutely see Reese shooting up the roster quickly and being on WWE TV before the end of the year. Cameron has her character down to a science. Everything she does reflects her attitude and really works against some like Reese. I don’t believe her in-ring work will ever be spectacular but it is solid and I could see her making more and more TV appearances soon.
- And as I said before, the main event was a tag team match between the Vaudevillians and the Hype Bros. Adien English came to the ring cutting a promo about how even though NXT tag champs Dash and Wilder won the titles from the Vaudevillians by cheating, the crowd still chanted “You deserve it!”. So now the Vaudevillians are pissed at the fans and wear peacoats to the ring that make them look like they just stepped off of the set of Sherlock. All of that being said, I like the new look and the new demeanor. Gotch was still a little over the top with his body language but if these guys start to play this gimmick more seriously, I could absolutely see them challenging for the championships again. Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley are ready. They could be on TV next week challenging for the championships and no one would think twice about it… and I mean either the NXT titles or the WWE titles. Their gimmick is as crisp as it’s going to get, the fans adore them & their chemistry in the ring is on point.
That’s it from Cocoa, Florida. How did you like this new feature and do you want to see more “Scouting Reports”? Comment below or find me on social media @MattHarrak on Twitter, TheMattyIrish on Instagram or email me at MHPulse@insidepulse.com.