Next semester, history will be made at the CFE Arena.
For the first time, WWE will present NXT Live TV at the UCF campus arena on Jan. 22. NXT is a professional wrestling developmental branch that is based in Winter Park, Orlando.
Paul Levesque, 45, has been the guiding force behind the WWE's developmental brand NXT, finding wrestlers from all over the world to come to Orlando, train at the WWE Performance Center and entertain audiences live and on WWE NXT, which airs Wednesdays on the WWE Network subscription streaming service. (Previous episodes are archived for new fans wanting to catch up.)
Yet what many consider a minor league offers some pretty major players. Most of the up-and-coming NXT performers "have plied their craft in other places at a smaller level, and now they've finally made it to the big time. We're giving them the opportunity to learn more and now do it in front of the largest fan base in the world," Levesque, the WWE's executive vice president for talent, live events and creative, told USA Today.
Many of the NXT alumni are part of the main roster on WWE's main TV shows, USA'sMonday Night Raw and Syfy's Smackdown. The WWE champion and top villain Seth Rollins got his start in NXT, as did powerhouse Roman Reigns, fan favorite Dean Ambrose, British female grappler Paige and other top contenders.
The current NXT champion, the cocky and talented Kevin Owens, has been a regular on WWE programming lately in a feud with all-around good guy John Cena. NXT also recently signed popular indie wrestler Samoa Joe, and a women's division — including champ Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte, the daughter of legendary wrestler Ric Flair — often puts together matches that are just as good if not better than their male counterparts.
The CFE Arena lineup is slated to include:
NXT Champion Finn Baylor
NXT Women’s Champion Bayley
NXT Tag Team Champions Dash and Dawson
Enzo Amore and Colin Casady w. Carmella
Blake and Murphy w. Alexa Bliss
Jason Jordan and Chad Gable
and many more.
Marina Guerges is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @marinaguerges or email her at MarinaG@CentralFloridaFuture.com. Brian Truitt of USA Today contributed to this report.