Top 5 … Rising Stars in FCW
The professional wrestling year finishes the moment that the curtain falls on Wrestlemania and a new year brings new chances for the development talent at FCW. Inevitably some of the hopefuls will not make it. A recent example of this being the release of Tough Enough winner Andy “Silent Rage” Leavine for failing to show improvements since his 2011 win. However, there are plenty of decent prospects working at WWE’s Florida based training facility.
Who are most likely to make the step up in 2012?
5. Kassius Ohno
Making his name in Ring of Honour as one half of the Kings of Wrestling, more commonly known as Chris Hero, Ohno has taken FCW by storm in a very short space of time. Ohno possesses a fantastic look and is pretty good on the mic too.
Preferring to knock his opponent out rather than attempting to go for a pinfall, Ohno is unlikely to be competing in FCW for very long. At 32, Ohno is one of the oldest competitors in FCW. However, with age comes experience and with a few minor improvements to his character, Ohno is undoubtedly ready for a huge push.
I would love to see Ohno and Cesaro team up as they have done to great effect in Ring of Honour. However, Vince McMahon is notorious for doing the opposite of what is expected and therefore we may have to settle for two more than capable singles competitors. Given the state of the tag team division, maybe this is a wise decision.
The only Diva on this list, Paige is new addition to FCW. She made her television debut in February, making an instant impact, forming an alliance with FCW Divas Champion Raquel Diaz (daughter of Eddie and Vickie Guerrero) and Sofia Cortez (Ivelisse from Tough Enough). The 19 year-old from Norwich, England is a breath of fresh air in a failing division.
Paige has a relative wealth of experience and is far more polished than her age would suggest. Despite being a member of the Anti-Diva Army (a gimmick that failed miserably for Beth Phoenix and Natalya), Paige stands out from the rest of the FCW Divas in terms of both in ring ability as well as her unique look. Like Sheamus, Paige has shunned convention, replacing the orthodox fake tanned look with a paler, distinctive, almost vampiric look.
A feud with Kaitlyn (in my opinion the most underused Diva in the company) appears to be forming. Even with limited ring time the pair have produced women’s wrestling to a standard that has not been seen in the WWE for a long time.
If the WWE want to revive the Divas division they could do a lot worse than calling on this raven-haired beauty.
3. Seth Rollins
Another former ROH star known to many as Tyler Black, Rollins is the current Florida Heavyweight Champion. He has been on the FCW roster longer than the other wrestlers on this list and despite appearing in Smackdown pre-show dark matches on several occasions, Rollins has been unable to break onto the main roster.
Rollins has reached cult hero status amongst indy fans with good reason, and has shown ring work comparable to CM Punk in terms of both style and quality. However, he is let down by the quality of his promos at times. That being said, there is a clear improvement in his mic work recently.
I sincerely hope that Rollins receives the push he deserves. Taking into consideration the serious lack of babyfaces on WWE television at the moment this push could come sooner rather than later for the tried and tested babyface.
2. Antonio Cesaro
The other half of the aforementioned Kings of Wrestling, Antonio Cesaro is an already accomplished professional wrestler. Despite the signing of former tag team partner Chris Hero, it appears that Cesaro will be used as a solo competitor and has all the tools to be successful as a singles star.
Of all the FCW developmental talent, Antonia Cesaro is the most ready for a push to the main roster and has already been used on the Smackdown live tour on several occasions. At 6’5”, the Swiss born wrestler shares a similar physique to current main roster talent Jack Swagger. Primarily a mat-based wrestler, Cesaro possesses an abundance of power and has been utilised to great effect.
In the last couple of weeks, we have seen Cesaro introduced to the main roster as one part of John Lauranitis’ newly formed stable of henchmen and I look forward to seeing his character develop on Smackdown for weeks and months to come.
- Dean Ambrose
Of all the talent in FCW, Dean Ambrose is the most likely to be a future main eventer. He possesses an excess of in-ring ability, excellent mic skills and an already fully formed character that could easily fit on Raw or Smackdown.
Having seen him defeat Alex Reilly in the dark match before the UK episode of Raw, it is easy to see why it is only a matter of time before Ambrose joins the main roster. Ambrose has already caught the eye of both William Regal and Mick Foley, with Foley seemingly ready to come out of retirement to have one more match with the self-proclaimed “real hardcore icon”.
Ambrose is currently in the middle of an excellent feud with FCW and NXT commentator William Regal. Following a loss to Regal in November, Ambrose has become obsessed with Regal and his refusal to provide Ambrose with a rematch. He has adopted the Knee Trembler and the Regal Stretch as finishing moves as a result of this feud.
Ambrose is a smaller wrestler with similar physique to Daniel Bryan but it is his unique demeanour in the ring that sets him apart from the other developmental talent. Unhinged characters have been used to great effect in WWE, however, Ambrose brings a something new to the table. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan and Jim Ross have all publicly praised Ambrose. With a little help from Regal, Foley, Ross, Bryan and Punk, Ambrose could be wrestling in main events for years to come.
Honourable mentions go to Damien Sandow, Maxine, Bo Rotunda, Husky Harris and Xavier Woods.