Ivelisse Joins A Large Group Of NXT Hopefuls At WWE’s Latest Tryout

El Rey Network

It was a month ago today that news broke that several wrestlers from Lucha Underground had reached a legal settlement with El Rey and Baba G Productions to get out of their restrictive contracts with the show, which had been keeping them from other wrestling work even though Lucha Underground is on indefinite hiatus. At the time, Ivelisse Vélez was the performer whose future seemed the most uncertain. As of today, we still don’t know exactly what her future will be, but we know what she’s trying to make it.

Ivelisse is currently at the WWE Performance Center with a large group of other wrestlers and possible future wrestlers, taking part in WWE’s first domestic tryout of 2019. She’s joined by a bunch of former football players, several other indie wrestlers, and at least one Cirque du Soleil performer. Emily Andzulis, who had a memorable showing on the Rock’s Titan Games competition show, and was crowned the first female Titan, is another of the most interesting participants. Also taking part is Lance Anoa’i, son of Samu and the latest arrival from the Samoan wrestling dynasty that includes the Rock, the Usos, and Roman Reigns.

Here’s the complete list of tryout participants, courtesy of WWE.com:

  • Former NFL running back James Wilder currently plays in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder spent three years in the NFL.
  • Emily Andzulis, a martial artist and amateur MMA fighter from Tennessee. Nicknamed “The Pitbull,” Andzulis was crowned the first female Titan on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s athletic competition TV series, “The Titan Games.”
  • Taiwan Markis Jones, a 25-year-old footballer from Michigan who played linebacker for Michigan State University and the New York Jets. He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 235 pounds.
  • Pro football player Chris Martin, age 29. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder played for the UCF Knights before turning pro in 2014. He’s had stints in the NFL, the Canadian Football League and, most recently, the Alliance of American Football.
  • Third-generation wrestler Lance Anoa’i. The son of former WWE Tag Team Champion Samu and grandson of WWE Hall of Famer Afa the Wild Samoan, Anoa’i won last weekend’s 23rd annual ECWA Super 8 Tournament, the same event in which Superstars like Daniel Bryan, The Hardy Boyz and Tommaso Ciampa have competed. He attended a WWEPC tryout in February 2017.
  • Jana Angel, a 6-foot-3 volleyball player. After graduating college, Angel played professionally in France in the middle blocker position. She also received an invitation to try out for the U.S. Olympic team.
  • Maritza Ayala, a pink-haired 25-year old who wrestles under the alias Danika Della Rouge. Ayala learned the ropes under the late Buddy Wayne, a veteran of the Pacific Northwest wrestling scene, and has also trained in lucha libre.
  • 22-year-old Nick Rodriguez, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter and former NCAA wrestler from New Jersey. Rodriguez took bronze at Abu Dhabi Combat Club’s North American East Coast Trials last October, after training in BJJ for only six months.
  • Former WWE Tough Enough competitor and NXT Superstar Ivelisse Velez. A 15-year ring veteran, Velez was known as Sofia Cortez during her tenure in Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT in 2011-2012. She brings international experience to the camp, having wrestled in China, the U.K., Australia and Ecuador.
  • 25-year-old fitness model and former world bodybuilding champion Stephanie Ayala, from Texas.
  • Andrea Benoit, aka NOVA on the independent wrestling scene. The Canadian played volleyball in college and has competed in obstacle course races. Trained by WWE Cruiserweight Classic alumnus Tyson Dux, Benoit made her in-ring debut earlier this year.
  • Former Division I basketball player Jade Cargill of Atlanta. Standing 5-foot-10, Cargill played guard/forward at Jacksonville University. She led the team in rebounds (227) and steals (48) in her final season.
  • 6-foot-7, 265-pound Kristopher Craig. A former college basketball player, the 29-year-old Craig began ring training under WWE Hall of Famer Billy Gunn at the Team 3D Academy in Florida within the past year.
  • Michael Delbrey, a 26-year-old from Florida who competed in CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting events before making his wrestling debut in 2017.
  • Donovan and Leandro Dongo, a pair of hulking brothers from Paramaribo, Suriname. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Donovan is a former super-heavyweight powerlifting champion and national amateur wrestling champion, while Leandro is a 6-foot-6, 250-pound freestyle wrestler who currently works as a firefighter.

  • Joshua Dudley, aka Edgrin Stone, a three-year wrestling veteran from Louisiana. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Dudley played tight end at Nicholls State University before training for the ring at Wildkat Sports and Entertainment.
  • 22-year-old Sierra Erny, who wrestles in Florida under the name Skyler Moore. The former cheerleader and competitive dancer trains at Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley’s Team 3D Academy in Kissimmee, Fla.
  • Independent wrestler “The Storm” Tony Eveland. In 2018, Eveland received the Cauliflower Alley Club’s Active Men’s Wrestler award. He has eight years of ring experience.
  • 25-year-old Australian high-flyer Joshua “JXT” Fikret. Although he has spent most of his career in Australia, Fikret has also wrestled in the United States. He counts Rip Rogers and Orlando Jordan among his past coaches.
  • Former NFL defensive tackle AJ Francis. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 330 pounds., Francis played five years in the pro ranks, including stints with the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins, before transitioning to sports-entertainment. Currently training at the Team 3D Academy, Francis wrestles under the name Suga Bear.
  • 24-year-old Aaron Gillis, a 7-foot, 400-pounder from Ohio. Making his debut a little over a year ago, Gillis wrestles on the U.S. indies as Paxton Calloway. He also played Division II football at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
  • Alexandria Gracia, 26, of Texas. Gracia was originally trained at the Texas Wrestling Academy and currently wrestles for Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling. She has competed in women’s wrestling organizations SHIMMER, Shine Wrestling and Rise Wrestling and toured with Stardom, the Japanese promotion where Kairi Sane and Io Shirai came to prominence.
  • Greco-Roman wrestler Mahmoud Fawzy Sebie, who represented Egypt in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Wrestling since age 7, the 26-year-old has coached U.S. marines in combat training and self-defense and has also studied taekwondo and Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Independent wrestler Randy Kaufman, aka Randall Floyd. Kaufman has trained under Rip Rogers and Al Snow, and he wrestled in the 197-pound weight class at the University of Indianapolis.
  • 325-pound Makini Manu, a former football and rugby player at the University of Utah and Utah Valley University.
  • 22-year-old wrestler Patrick McAlpine, a trainee of Steve Corino who has made appearances in NXT under the professional alias of Patrick Scott. He stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 195 pounds.
  • Professional bodybuilder EJ Nduka. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder played pro football for four years and currently trains in mixed martial arts. He attended a tryout in December 2018.
  • Albanian-born former NFL lineman Kristjan Sokoli. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder registered a 38-inch vertical leap and a 4.8-second 40-yard dash before the Seattle Seahawks drafted him in 2015.
  • Cirque du Soleil acrobat Sidney Bateman, 27. Bateman recently took his first steps in the squared circle as part of a joint workshop between the Performance Center and Cirque du Soleil.
  • Australian-born wrestler Cadman Edward Turner, a former semi-pro cricket player who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 265 pounds. Currently residing in Canada, where he trains at the Battle Arts Academy, Turner has attended two previous WWE tryouts.
  • 28-year-old multisport athlete Jeanette Horning. In high school, Horning was the only girl on her varsity wrestling team, and she played kicker for her school’s football squad.
  • Team 3D Academy trainee Ana Kundzicz, 27, from Florida. Kundzicz has experience in dance, acting and singing.
  • 24-year-old Florence Lortie, an independent wrestler from Quebec better known as Flo Riley. Trained by ring veteran Dru Onyx at the Torture Chamber Pro Wrestling Dojo, Lortie has competed in Spain, Ireland and France.
  • Bikini competitor and bodybuilder Lauren Regno, of Modesto, Calif. Regno also competed on NBC’s “Titan Games” competition series.
  • 5-foot-9 Courtney Lynn Roselle, an obstacle course racer who played college basketball for the University of Scranton.
  • Indie wrestler Theresa Lee Schuessler. The 5-foot-7 Floridian has wrestled throughout the U.S., including in NXT, under the professional names of Tenilla and Tesha Price.
  • 22-year-old Bryce Wollman, a 6-foot-7, 335-pound powerlifter and former college football player. He played Division II ball at Augustana University in South Dakota.
  • Orlando-based wrestler Rafik Youakeem, who competes as Alexander Zane. Youakeem has a background in parkour and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  • 6-foot-4, 250-pound Jonathan Young from Alabama. A former swimmer at the University of Alabama, Young broke the world record last February for the most pullups in a minute with a 100-pound pack on his back. He’s also a protégé of Lex Luger.

If Ivelisse makes it through the tryouts, this won’t be her first stint in WWE. She took part in the 2011 season of Tough Enough, and despite being eliminated after a leg injury, she received a developmental contract with WWE, but was released from the newly established NXT in 2012.