It’s been a strange week for Florida Championship Wrestling, the WWE’s developmental territory. On Monday night rumours ran rampant that WWE was intending to close down FCW or at least end their association with the company. The speculation got so big that Triple H himself had to issue a statement that they had no intention of closing FCW, stating that “It’s the lifeblood of our company. It’s what feeds our future and in no way are we going to close it down”.
In the same statement, Hunter also declared that “there are plans in the works, but nothing definitive I can discuss right now. Shortly after WrestleMania, there will be a major announcement about our developmental system.” Meanwhile, in Jim Ross’ blog, the former announcer stated that he felt that several stars could be making the jump to the main roster after WrestleMania. He said, “I’m optimistic that WWE fans will embrace several new, FCW trained talents in the coming months.”
Whatever the future holds for Florida Championship Wrestling, it is safe to say that its current crop of wrestlers is one of the most diverse and talented in recent memory. There are many in my eyes that could make the leap into a full time WWE schedule and keep their heads above water – so here are my six of the best.
Number Six: Xavier Woods
AKA: Former TNA star Consequences Creed
Pros: Woods is the only man on the list with prior experience with one of the big two organisations. In the time he spent with TNA he fought in several high profile X Division title matches against the likes of Petey Williams and Doug Williams. As one half of the Lethal Consequences tag team with partner Jay Lethal, he captured the TNA tag team titles. The twenty five year old has also wrestled several dark matches at various WWE events, besting both Curt Hawkins and Hunico along the way. So far in FCW, Woods has held the tag team titles and most recently was very impressive in defeat against the debuting Kassius Ohno.
Cons: Woods’ greatest strengths could be his biggest weaknesses. The WWE simply don’t seem to have much faith in high flyers at the moment, with only Kofi Kingston anywhere near a main event position. The lack of interest from the company in Cruiserweight style wrestlers is a huge knock to Woods. Also, his aforementioned affiliation with TNA could also be seen as a hindrance, with WWE currently preferring to build their own superstars rather than trade in on any name value a competitor might have elsewhere.
How WWE should use him: Alongside Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd who are currently having great matches on Superstars and NXT respectively, Woods should be at the forefront of a new Cruiserweight division .
How WWE will use him: Kofi Kingston’s next tag team partner, when his old one gets caught on another wellness policy violation.
Number Five: Kassius Ohno
AKA: Seasoned Independent grappler Chris Hero
Pros: Ohno has travelled the world perfecting his craft, training in Japan, America, Mexico and indeed Old Blighty. Much like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan before him, Ohno is a long time independent scene favourite who has had runs in RoH, CZW, PWG and CHIKARA to name but a few. At 32 he is in the prime of his life and could make an immediate impact on either brand. He also has friends in very high places, with both current World Champs surely on his Christmas card list.
Cons: Ohno has only just found his way to Florida, debuting against Xavier Woods last week. Whilst his wrestling craft is exceptional, WWE will be keen to drill a lot more of their style into him before he is called up to the big leagues.
How WWE should use him: Reference the history he shares with both Punk and Bryan to highlight just how dangerous he can be.
How WWE Will Utilise Him: Cleaning William Regal‘s toilet on NXT with Tyler Reks.
Number Four: Richie Steamboat
AKA: The son of the legendary Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat
Pros: He’s a second generation superstar which WWE loves (the more generations the better) and his father Ricky is currently a road agent with the company. He has packed more training into his four years in the business than most do in their entire career, wrestling with Harley Race’s WLW promotion, spending time in the Pro Wrestling NOAH Dojo as well as travelling with All Star Wrestling across Europe. He has the look and the proud tradition to go far.
Cons: Despite his experience he is still very young at 24, and perhaps another year or so working on character development and ring craft would be beneficial in the long run. As the son of ‘The Dragon’ he has some huge boots to fill, so making sure he’s ready to take the torch and not get lost in the shuffle ala David Hart Smith or Michael McGillicutty would be sensible.
How WWE should use him: Vignettes before his debut showing his father bringing him to the ring as a child and his intense training leading up to him being ready to carry on the family legacy.
How WWE will use him: Figure Fouring daddy Steamboat on RAW and forming The Legacy 2.0 (or 3.0, how many versions of The Legacy were there again?)
Number Three: Seth Rollins
AKA: Former RoH Champion Tyler Black
Pros: He’s held the top title in the promotion that is highly regarded as the best pure wrestling promotion in America. You know who else has held that title? Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Jerry Lynn…so he’s in pretty good company. Rollins is another young man at 25 with plenty of experience. He is widely regarded as a huge talent, reaching number 17 in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated top 500 singles wrestlers back in 2009. A human highlight machine.
Cons: Like Xavier Woods, the fact that he held a major title elsewhere could hold him back a while longer from the main roster. Perhaps needs to eliminate some of the excessive indie tendencies that WWE seems to hate so much.
How WWE should use him: Just let him wrestle. Give him a ten minute match on SmackDown every week against the likes of Cody Rhodes, Justin Gabriel and Yoshi Tatsu, and win or lose he is pretty much guaranteed to get over.
How WWE will use him: Michael Cole will call him a nerd and a virgin for no apparent reason.
Number Two: Antonio Cesaro
AKA: ’The Stalwart Swiss Powerhouse’ Claudio Castagnoli
Pros: At six foot five and 232 pounds (or 108 kilos as he prefers) Cesaro is a huge specimen. Unlike several other powerhouses who have come through developmental though this guy can really, really wrestle. Antonio has held numerous tag team titles in CHIKARA and RoH amongst others, and is also a former PWG champion. He has been involved in many of independent wrestling’s biggest angles, including being a member of The BDK, a stable that ran wild throughout CHIKARA. He has a certain European charisma that is lacking from the WWE, but would be a great fit. He has also worked several dark matches in recent weeks.
Cons: None that I can think of. At a stretch, I’d say that a man with his size and talents would need to come onto the roster as an immediate threat so the WWE would have to have a lot of faith in him to bring him up.
How WWE should use him: As an instant threat to either World Champion.
How WWE will use him: As Santino Marella‘s new tag team partner.
Number One: Dean Ambrose
AKA: Two time CZW Champion Jon Moxley
Pros: Whilst his wrestling career has not been as illustrious as some of the men on this list, Ambrose is by far the most improved wrestler in FCW. His ring style works within the boundaries of the WWE style, yet he takes creative liberties with his demeanour that really make him stand out. Everything that Ambrose does is must-watch, whether inside or outside the ring. His promo work is reminiscent of Mick Foley at his deranged best. His match last year with William Regal is one of my favourite matches of 2011, and Regal seems to have really gone out of his way to help make this guy a star. Daniel Bryan recently claimed that Ambrose is his one to watch in FCW. His mannerisms, vastly improved ring work, microphone skills and unique look make him my number one choice to make it in the big leagues.
Cons: Like Cesaro, not much. As I mentioned, his look is different from the atypical body builder physique but I see this as a positive rather than negative. I, however, am not Vince McMahon.
How WWE should use him: Don’t over script him. Give him a couple of weeks’ build via videos then let him throw some pipebombs with CM Punk.
How WWE will use him: Put him in a mask and make him Kane’s long lost brother Mason The Mutilator.
So there you have it. Six of the best prospects in Florida Championship Wrestling who I believe could all make an impact in the WWE. Agree? Disagree? Think somebody else should have been on the list? Let me know in the comment section and I’ll make sure to respond to everybody.
This article was written by Chris Pilkingon.