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The best of NXT's 2019 Florida live events

Images; JJ Williams

2019 proved to be a monumental year in NXT history, one that saw TV tapings come to an end in favor of going two hours live weekly on USA. The exposure didn't stop as major talents both appeared, and were featured, on main roster programming, and even won the brand supremacy battle at Survivor Series.

With all this important content and the consistently great TakeOver events, you would think the NXT Florida loop would have suffered. However, that definitely wasn't the case. In fact, it opened more doors for fresh talent to find themselves and connect with the focus group level audiences of these small towns across the state. I was fortunate enough to attend a personal-record 61 live events this year and these are a few unique match ups that stood out.

The Women

Io Shirai vs. Deonna Purrazzo | Lakeland, FL | April 18

In what feels like another world ago, Shirai was still wearing her Stardom-inspired red gear with entrance mask for this one. The ring general Purrazzo was able to hold her own with Io and this one showcased two of the best at what they do.

Kay Lee Ray vs. Tegan Nox | Sebring, FL | August 16

Nox had just returned from her injury and was immediately tested by a longtime foe. They had an all-out battle that I could only imagine was to help Nox gain confidence. She still has it and this match-up is one they will definitely come back to someday on a larger stage.

Mia Yim vs. Io Shirai | Daytona Beach, FL | September 19

As we saw later in the year with this match making TV, these two have no fear and will probably be rivals for as long as they are in WWE.

Rhea Ripley/Mia Yim/Candice LeRae vs. Dakota Kai/Jessamyn Duke/Marina Shafir | Jacksonville, FL | December 5

This was the key match of the historic all women's live event this December. As I wrote at the time it happened, this felt like something special. Every talent in this match has a path that I am sure will take them to heights we haven't seen yet. This also showed the potential for Ripley vs. Kai long term in NXT.

The Men

Matthew Riddle vs. Punishment Martinez | Ft. Pierce, FL | January 11

This match was as great as you could imagine and will someday find its way to TV. On this night, what ended up all over the Internet was the outrage over the first ever NXT Live destroyer.

The Velveteen Dream vs. Matthew Riddle | Sanford, FL | March 21

This was possibly the hottest crowd we ever had for an NXT Live main event as it was the preview for their TakeOver match and some would even say it was better. The pacing was faster and the crowd was completely into this match at a level you would expect from TV. We can only hope these two can meet again someday to top their previous matches.

The Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong | Orlando, FL | June 15

This was arguably the best of their NXT Live series this year as these two main evented all over the state. I enjoyed this one the most of all that I was fortunate enough to see. Roddy was a force on the loop this year with countless main events and great matches with up-and-ccoming talents.

Adam Cole vs. Bronson Reed | Tampa, FL | August 24

The undisputed champion blessed Tampa with a main event match worthy of TV and truly showcased what Reed could do.

KUSHIDA vs. Roderick Strong | Gainesville, FL | September 7

This was as good as it gets in the ring, the main event of a Saturday show after the crew worked their entire loop schedule. Rather than just have a match, these two had a TakeOver-worthy match in front of a few hundred people in Gainesville. This match kept elevating as neither would quit. By the end, the crowd was on fire. These two are pro's pros and there's no greater compliment from a talent to the fanbase than effort. It doesn't matter if it's 200, 2000, or 20,000. The people who show up are your audience.

Mens Tag Team

Adam Cole and Bobby Fish vs. Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford | Sanford, FL | February 9

The least experienced combination of The Undisputed Era was in action against The Street Profits and it ended up being magic. The Sanford crowd enhanced the action and the men kept topping each other, one of the best matches of the year.

WALTER, Fabian Aichner, and Marcel Barthel vs. Jaxson Ryker, Wesley Blake, and Steve Cutler | Daytona Beach, FL | September 19

In the greatest surprise of the year, we had the incomparable WALTER show up in Daytona Beach, Florida, along with Imperium to go to absolute war with The Forgotten Sons. The crowd was in to everything and lost their minds when WALTER decided he was going to manhandle the huge Jaxson Ryker. This was a spectacle.

The Comedy

Rik Bugez vs. Brendan Vink | Daytona Beach, FL | August 17

In an honorable mention here, the entire crew was involved in this masterpiece. First of all, the audio guy played Bugez's music in full which forced Bugez to air guitar for over three minutes straight. The referee was laughing in the corner as Bugez would try to look at him for help. Then, there's Vink, an incredible character in his own right. The two exchanged sunset flip reversals until Bugez finally scored the pin, This was a team effort of greatness.

The Halloween Show

Just click the link above.

That's a wrap on 2019 and I can't wait to see what's next in 2019. So long from The Sunshine State!