World Wrestling Entertainment moved their developmental system from Tampa to the Winter Park, Florida school Full Sail University last May. Since the move they have done monthly tapings for their TV show WWE NXT. I have gone to the majority of the TV tapings and only have missed a few due to prior engagements. WWE always sends low to mid card WWE Superstars to come in and work with the WWE NXT roster and they always bring down a main eventer to attract the casual fan. Former WWE Champion’s CM Punk, Big Show, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Kane, and John Cena have been special attractions to the event. WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels and Daniel Bryan has also been a part of a show. Triple H is always behind the scenes at the show and sometimes comes out to meet with the fans in attendance. The shows are a lot of fun and it has been cool to watch the future of the WWE roster, wrestle locally. It is always a good feeling to see The Shield (Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose) and Big E Langston become featured on WWE weekly Television.
I decided for this taping that I wanted to take pictures and blog about my experience watching the WWE NXT wrestlers perform for fans. It was my first time doing sports photography and a small problem that I would face is that I could not use one of the best Canon lenses, the Canon 70-200mm f2.8. You need a long Telephoto Zoom lens when you are going to do sports photography. I had my Tamron 17-50mm lens and would be sitting at the top of the NXT Arena bleachers. One of the WWE security team members tried to tell me that I could not bring it in because it was a professional camera. The funny thing about this is people were walking right on by with longer lenses on their camera that I had. One of the Full Sail higher ups told their security to let me in.
The February tapings of WWE NXT would feature 4 weeks of TV tapings and 9 time WWE Champion Randy Orton as the main attraction. Randy Orton definitely drew the biggest crowd to the WWE NXT Arena since John Cena attended. It was a packed house and none of the seating was closed off. WWE NXT Commissioner Dusty Rhodes kicked off the show and announced a triple threat match to be the number one contender for the WWE NXT Championship. Bo Dallas, Conor O’Brian, and Corey Graves were the participants. It was an OK match. I am not a big fan of either of the three from the WWE NXT roster. Conor O’Brian won and even though he is getting a push as a solo performer, it’s mainly due to the momentum he lost when his former tag team partner Kenneth Cameron of The Ascension was released last November after he was charged with battery of a law enforcement officer and disorderly intoxication.
One half of the NXT Tag Team Champions Adrian Neville is one wrestler I have to mention and should be on the main roster soon. He is an English professional wrestler and before signing with the WWE he went with the name Pac. This man is extremely exciting in the ring and is already over (crowd favorite) with the crowd for his unique highflying move set. He was in a handicapped match but still came out victorious defeating Judas Devlin and Scott Dawson with his Corkscrew shooting star press finisher from the top rope. He also had a match in the third tapings against Luke Harper of The Wyatt Family.
Another crowd favorite was the WWE NXT Divas match (which in the WWE land is known as the bathroom break). The Funkadactyls Cameron and Naomi (Brodus Clay’s dancers) and Sasha Banks defeated Aksana, Alicia Fox, and Audrey Marie. Naomi once she and if she breaks away from The Funkadactyls should be huge as a singles divas wrestler because of her natural charisma and unique ring work. She is one of the better women wrestlers on the WWE roster.
Bray Wyatt (formerly Huskey Harris’ with the Nexus) is another future star to watch. His new character he has transformed into, he has owned this role. He is the leader of The Wyatt Family which includes Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and they are booked strong. However! Bray lost in a singles match to Bo Dallas. The family attacked Bo, so it did not really affect his credibility much.
To start of the third set of tapings, William Regal who is an WWE NXT announcer seems to be entering a feud with Kassius Ohno. He apologized for what he did and offered Kassius an apology for interfering in Ohno’s match with Derrick Bateman earlier in the night. Regal is well respected by fans in the WWE NXT arena.
WWE NXT Anti Diva Paige who will probably be the biggest WWE Diva whenever she is called up defeated the newcomer WWE NXT Diva Bayley (formerly Davina Rose) with her Paige Turner finisher. Paige is by far the most over NXT Diva. She is currently feuding with Summer Rae (Who used to be the NXT ring announcer).
The last taping of the night, Byron Saxton announced that it was going to be a special Road to WrestleMania episode of WWE NXT. He introduced WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel who then introduced Hall of Famer Jim Ross to join the announcement team.
The two matches were WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn defeating Natalya and Brodus Clay defeating El Local. Cameron announced that it was Brodus Clay’s birthday and the crowd sang happy birthday. To end the show, Kassius Ohno attacked William Regal at the announce booth.
Now it was time for the main event dark match Damien Sandow (He is a crowd favorite always) came out and cut a quick promo on his opponent The Viper Randy Orton. The two put on a very good match. I decided to get closer to the ring action since everyone in the crowd disregarded the Full Sail staff. Following the match Randy Orton signed autographs, talked to some of the fans, while others took a few candid photos of him. Chris Jericho was also announced to be at the March 21, 2013 WWE NXT Full Sail tapings.
Overall, it was a great show and the crowd was more into it then they usually are. A good crowd showed up to see Randy Orton and the WWE NXT roster. Good crowds make for a better show always! Due to me taking photographs of the WWE NXT event, I did not pay as much close attention to what was going on in the ring because I was focused on the photography aspect, but I did enjoy. Maybe you will see more from me as a professional sports photographer in Orlando soon! Hope you enjoyed looking at the wrestling photography!