Keep em coming. NXT has become one of the most interesting wrestling promotions of all time. The point of the place doesn’t exactly seem to be to make money, but rather to serve as a pipeline to the main roster. The promotion, as well as the Performance Center, is the place where the new wrestlers go before they’re ready to come up to the big shows. At some point you have to bring in some new talent though, and that might be the case at the moment.
A new set of tryouts took place at the WWE Performance Center this week with a host of names from a variety of backgrounds taking part. There are names from the NCAA, UFC, independent wrestling and elsewhere, with the biggest name arguably being Penelope Ford, who is best known as Joey Janela’s girlfriend and had a well received performance at All In. Here is a list of the participants from WWE.com:
* Former UFC middleweight Eric Spicely (pictured above), 32, from Rhode Island. The 205-pounder holds 10 wins in professional fights and was a cast member on the 23rd season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Having trained under NXT Superstar Oney Lorcan, Spicely has competed in independent wrestling organization Beyond Wrestling.
* 25-year-old Cal Bloom, son of former WWE Superstar Wayne “Beau Beverly” Bloom. The younger Bloom stands 6-foot-5, weighs 255 pounds and played tight end for the University of Central Florida. Although he hasn’t yet wrestled a match, he has trained under his father, former WWE Superstar Ken Kennedy and prolific wrestling coach Brad Rheingans.
* Olympic sprinter Emmanuel Matadi, 27, from Liberia. Matadi represented his home country in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, while at Minnesota State University, Matadi won two NCAA Division II sprint titles.
* 22-year-old Heba Ali, a New Jersey-based physical trainer and fitness social media star who was featured on the fifth season of “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge.”
* 24-year-old Matrick Belton, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder who played wide receiver for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
* Olivia Hasler, better known by her ring alias “The Bad Girl” Penelope Ford, a former gymnast and cheerleader who has been wrestling on the U.S. independent scene since late 2014.
* 23-year-old Jeremiah Buoni, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound bodybuilder and cast member of MTV’s “Floribama Shore.”
* Ontario-based heavyweight wrestler Randy Bynoe. With a background in amateur wrestling, Muay Thai, boxing, judo and more, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Bynoe trained for the ring under Santino Marella and Rip Rogers.
* 6-foot-5, 235-pound Clayton Chambers. A student of Booker T, Chambers is the current TV Champion of Booker T’s Houston-based Reality of Wrestling, competing under the name Van Harrison.
* Cruiserweight Jonathan Cruz, who has wrestled throughout North America. Trained by The Dudley Boyz, Cruz is now an assistant trainer at the Team 3D Academy’s Florida location.
* Georgia’s Alexis Evans, a 23-year-old from Georgia with a background in rugby and bodybuilding.
* Independent wrestler Danielle Hardy, aka Marti Daniels. A standout in volleyball and basketball in high school, Hardy has held the Women’s Championship for Salt Lake City-based UCW-Zero.
* Latasha Harris, known by her ring alias Tasha Steelz, a three-year veteran who has studied wrestling at the IWF Wrestling Training School and Team Adams Academy, both based in New Jersey. She is the current Chaotic Wrestling Women’s Champion.
* Donald Howard, aka “The Man of Tomorrow” Daniel Eads, an independent wrestler from Evansville, Indiana, who’s competed throughout the Midwest and Southeast U.S.
* 22-year-old Lenns Kamba, a 6-foot-3, 224-pound former collegiate grappler.
* Vincent Lawrence, a basketball player-turned-professional bodybuilder who is currently training for the ring in Miami. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder placed fifth among heavyweights in the 2017 World Natural Bodybuilding Federation World Championships.
* 26-year-old weightlifter Tina Rivas. Originally from Mexico and now residing in Seattle, Rivas was recently announced as a cast member of NBC’s “The Titan Games,” The Rock’s new physical competition series.
* California wrestler Kenny Marquez, also known as Jake Atlas. A trainee of the Santino Bros. Wrestling Academy, Marquez was the team captain of his college’s nationally ranked cheerleading squad and was featured as a WWE hopeful in Stephanie McMahon’s episode of “Undercover Boss.”
* 26-year-old grappler Caleb Marsh, a two-time NCAA national qualifier who wrestled at Dolph Ziggler’s alma mater, Kent State University.
* 6-foot-6, 240-pound football player Josh McNeil, from North Carolina. A former Under Armour All-American in high school, McNeil was a member of the Carolina Cobras’ 2018 roster in the National Arena League.
* Three-time Reality of Wrestling Heavyweight Champion Luis “Gino” Medina. The 22-year-old has eight years of experience training under Booker T in Texas.
* Marine Corps veteran and former semi-pro football player Isaac Melton, 27, from Alabama. Trained by WWE Hall of Famer Robert Gibson, Melton has wrestled throughout the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic regions under the name Ike Cross.
* Former professional defensive end Jake Metz, who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 260 pounds. Metz played pro football for four years, including stints in the NFL and the Arena Football League.
* 28-year-old Tehuti Miles, a karate fighter and former Division I football player who served in the U.S. Army, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011. Miles attended a WWE tryout in June 2017.
* 27-year-old powerhouse Alexander Morehouse, a former collegiate cheerleader who has gone on to compete in Olympic weightlifting events, including the 2015 American Open.
* Professional bodybuilder EJ Nduka. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Nduka played pro football for four years and currently trains in mixed martial arts.
* Yaw Jason Osei, a 31-year-old Englishman currently residing in Texas. Osei played football at Baylor University and Texas A&M and has trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing and judo.
* Pro football player and former collegiate powerlifter Tom Parsons. The 28-year-old stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 260 pounds.
* Michigan’s Jumal Pritchett, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound independent wrestler who competes professionally under the name Jumal Kyng. A basketball and football standout in high school, Pritchett switched to the mat game in 2014.
* Nick Pulos, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound super-heavyweight bodybuilder and actor from Florida.
* Forrest Rhines, an 18-year wrestling veteran who has wrestled throughout North America and Asia as Cooley AAYOOO.
* Actor, strength coach and strongman competitor Ian Michael Simon, from Scottsdale, Ariz. Simon also played football as a linebacker and fullback in the collegiate and pro ranks.
* 22-year-old bikini competitor Courtney Lemmings. She has placed in the top 10 at national events and won an overall title in competition.
* 25-year-old track-and-field athlete Emily Loogman. In 2014, as a junior at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Loogman placed first in the heptathlon at the Pacific West Conference Championships.
* Nashville-based fitness instructor and model Haley Jade Poston. The 26-year-old was also a competitive cheerleader in high school.
* Second-generation wrestler and former figure skater Karissa Rivera. The 26-year-old from New Jersey wrestles as “Karissa the Cherokee Warrior” and recently saw action against Lacey Evans on NXT TV. Her father wrestled under the name Steve King.
* “Lady Frost” Brittany Rae Steding, a competitive gymnast-turned-wrestler from Pittsburgh.
Have you ever wanted to see inside the Performance Center? Well now you can right here:
Opinion: I know these names might not seem like a lot at the moment, but at the same time, you never know what some of these people are going to become in a few years. There could be another Dean Ambrose, Sasha Banks or Tommaso Ciampa in there and that’s the fun of seeing these people starts from the beginning. You can see these people rise up from nothing to become a star, and that’s just cool to watch.
Which of these names catches your eye? Which field produces your favorite wrestlers? Let us know in the comments below.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 1997 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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