FCW proves it is consistently one of the better stories told from the WWE (with perhaps the exception of NXT) and this week was no exception. Summer Rae, official general manager of FCW, has a photo op with Antonio Cesaro and Richie Steamboat in anticipation of their match next week while Adam Mercer continues to be Randy Orton Light – which I’m not exactly complaining about, just pointing it out.
4. Benicio Salazar vs. Rick Victor
Okay, I knew going in Victor was going to win for two reasons. First, this is only the second match I’ve seen Salazar in and FCW does not tend to have their wrestlers win their first few matches against already established guys. Second, Victor was escorted out by the beautiful, and talented, Sofia Cortez and Paige. Already great points to him. However, as usual, Victor puts on an entertaining match against their newest luchador and I look forward to seeing more!
3. Bo Rotundo vs. Big E Langston
I love Big E Langston. After Mark Henry is probably my favorite man with a physique of those proportions (you know, huge!) with the WWE. Ever. Because Langston is big he already has haters, and because Rotundo is pretty he already has lovers. Rotundo has a spear that is weak and while he has presence, he still needs that in-ring time to polish himself up. It took Husky (Wyatt) a bit of time, don’t push Rotundo before he’s ready, which is what they are doing. He won this match.
2. Nick Rogers vs. James Bronson
First, an earlier segment in the show involved the commentators letting us know there was something going on in the back. Bronson had Ambrose locked into a sleep while CJ Parker, Mike Dalton, and I think Jason Jordan (I didn’t get a good look at him) tried to pull Bronson off. Later comes the match for Bronson against Rogers. Rogers dropped the Mr. Jacked and instantly went up in my books, but now he has a beard! I’m not sure about the beard, but hey, that’s me. Bronson wins this match with a submission, then immediately puts Rogers in a second submission! Regal rushes out to save Rogers and twists Bronson into the Regal Stretch. Garrett Dylan (another FCW up and comer that I have not seen that much) comes out and tries to pull Regal off of Bronson, but Ambrose is right behind him. Ambrose pulls Dylan and puts him in the Regal Stretch and for one moment of complete serendipity we have Regal and Ambrose doing the Regal Stretch almost perfectly lined up side by side. Afterwards they both stand and Ambrose stares Regal down in a way that only Ambrose can, with an almost sad look while being completely furious. When Ambrose moves forward, Regal slides out of the ring. All together an awesome segment.
1. Kassius Ohno vs. Seth Rollins
Despite the excellent segments from earlier, and Regal’s dig at other commentators in the WWE (not all, I’m pretty sure Scott is safe) this match just had what I came to see: excellent wrestling. It started off slow but quickly began building up into a crescendo of moves that were perfectly executed in elegance. Ohno and Rollins show off their balance and agility and whatever bit of rust Ohno might have felt at the beginning chipped off and towards the end these man made you forget anything else but the beauty of this match.
This list should have been so much more than 4 but doing it now seems like I would be open to cheating in the future. Still, this episode was full of awesome for lack of a better word.
4. Seth Rollins vs. Rick Victor
Everyone already knows of Rollins and how good he is. Seeing him in action is always something to behold. But for some reason this might have been my favorite match I’ve seen thus far of his. Victor is coming along nicely and would be my pick for best dressed of the males. Rollins wins this match, which was obvious from the beginning, but there was enough back and forth that the tense moments were there.
She did not wrestle this week but she went out looking sensual in a blue dress that was cut low enough if she breathed wrong the men in the audience (and some of the women) would have enjoyed the show even more and her hairstyle is different, more stylish. She seems to be experimenting with her look but her attitude does not change, nor does it need to. Next week she promises to wrestle two women for the championship so that she can show she’s not a coward. It is nice to see a confident woman, a strong woman, a beautiful woman that is utilized the way she should be.
2. Damien Sandow vs. Richie Steamboat
What made this match was the ending. Oh, sure, it was exciting the entire way through, these men put on a good show, but I was surprised at the direction they took. This match was for the 15 Championship which Steamboat held. In fifteen minutes not one man won a pinfall over the other, which defaults it back to Steamboat. Steamboat, though, was unhappy. He nearly had the pin. Another second or two and he would have pinned Sandow. Why does he care? He is a man who wants to win on his own merits. When the crowd started chanting, “Five more minutes,” which I totally would have gone for, Steamboat was chanting with them five more minutes. When he was declared the winner he looks happy to be the winner and torn at having lost the pin. Great story in this.
1. Sakamoto vs. Dean Ambrose
I like Sakamoto. He has a good luck and a good style. But he was up against Dean Ambrose. There was no winning this. William Regal perhaps gave Ambrose the best compliment a man could receive during this match: “Have either of you ever faced the person that is going to be your demise? That is what I see in the eyes of Dean Ambrose.” If you have been online you know of Dean Ambrose, it is time to see him in action, using Regal’s finishers, and giving the man an epic stare down. Ambrose wins this match with a Regal Stretch.
Here are the things that would have made the list if I wasn’t always going for 4:
5. Corey Graves vs. CJ Parker
6. James Bronson and Dean Ambrose promos
7. Big E Langston vs. Jason Jordan
Yeah, the episode was that full of greatness.
This week saw the return of Bo Rotundo. He’s widely loved throughout the FCW community and I could feel the excitement resonating from a collective sigh. He did not make my list. I started watching FCW after Rotundo was injured so this was the first match I have ever seen Bo Rotundo in while watching FCW. He was against Nick Rogers (Mr. Jacked, seeming to have dropped that awful gimmicky name). It was a squash. Rotundo did not show anything of what I had been told to adore about him in the two minute squash. This is why Brodus Clay is only entrance music to me, the matches show me nothing. I can’t get behind a guy who squashes just because he’s returned.
That was a bit of a rant, but I think I needed to explain why this list is leaving Bo Rotundo out. I apologize.
5. William Regal and Byron Saxton
What the Hell, Solace? Did you forget how to count? Nope. This episode was so crammed with things I loved, and again the matches took precedence, that I had to scurry in my fifth thing. William Regal is beloved on commentary and there is only one person I would put above Byron Saxton in a pairing with Regal. Regal’s quiet snark works with Saxton’s outright egotism. Two heel announcers, not burying talent? This is what commentary should sound like.
4. Eli Cottonwood and Corey Graves vs. Brad Maddox and Briley Pierce
Let me start off by saying, yes, Eli Cottonwood is still employed. And looking like a different person. When I had last seen him on NXT he had been trying to grow a mustache and had been a bit soft, but he had the height. He may not have been my favorite on that season but I still liked him and was sad to see him go. Now he’s muscled, has a mustache and beard, and looked good in the ring. Paired with Corey Graves, who is a scary looking dude without a shirt and intriguing with, the two could make a freaky tag team. I approve. Brad Maddox and Briley Pierce continue to show why they work well together but unfortunately it was not enough to get them a win. Cottonwood pinned Pierce for, hopefully, an opportunity at the tag team titles.
3. Damien Sandow vs. Richie Steamboat
“Lights. Spotlight please. If you all were smart you would get your cameras out.” Sandow steps to the ring and a Steamboat chant fills the small arena. Sandow retorts, “I thank you for your irrelevant opinion.” These men are good in the ring but I am still not completely sold. Steamboat, while skilled, comes out flat. Sandow, while knowing the right words to say, does not deliver his lines with any interest in the character he’s built up. Between the two of them I was under whelmed and then had an ending that made me grimace. They were putting on a decent match and then comes the wrench for the turnbuckle, Sandow knocking Steamboat out.
2. Audrey Marie and Kaitlyn vs. Sofia Cortez and Raquel Diaz
Kaitlyn can not do a dropkick. It is the place where she continues to struggle. Unfortunately, with her being the one signed into WWE, the other women show her up in this match. Audrey Marie comes out in the blue version of Kaitlyn‘s pink baseball ensemble. Sofia Cortez, who I feared was going to be another skinny blonde that could not do much of anything, stepped out and rocked in the ring, and has a better figure than I initially gave her credit for. Raquel Diaz rounds out this group with superior talent and in-ring presence. Everyone has a chance to show off their wrestling chops in this match. All four women are forces to contend with, if WWE gets its act together on how to treat women.
1. Leakee vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
These three men are in my top five on FCW. And unlike Booker T’s top five, mine remains the same until I just drop someone. I will skip the majority of details on this match and just go straight to the ending. We had just discussed that we had not actually seen Ambrose use his finisher yet and he looked to be about to use it on Leakee. Breath held, Leakee reversed it. He was going to do a Samoan Drop. Disappointment started to weigh in until Seth Rollins ran in to try to stop Leakee from getting the pin. What it did instead was get Rollins caught up in Leakee’s other arm and then both dropped. After, Leakee goes for a Bulldog on Ambrose and gets the pin. Okay, so I still have not seen Ambrose’s finisher, but wow. Wow.
And with all of those things mentioned I did not even tease upon the two segments that were filled with amounts of hilarity that are almost unheard of unless done by Derrick Bateman. This continues to be the show to watch week after week.
FCW this week has Dusty Rhodes joining Matt Martlaro on commentary. Dusty Rhodes is a living legend but a good commentator he is not. Though I had to smile when Rhodes mentioned, “Steven Regal.” William Regal still has a plotline going on so he is out of commentary and tonight’s episode did not see him return to the ring, though we did see a return of Dean Ambrose. FCW continues to be the best WWE produced show. Highlights? Why here’s the top four of this episode!
4. Maxine and Aksana
Maxine, as general manager, seems to have an open door policy. She allows people to walk in and speak to her and seems to be patient, almost the opposite of her NXT character. However, no matter where Maxine is, she is a devious woman with something always up her sleeve. But, so is Aksana. Aksana comes in asking for the Steamboat/Harris match to be for the title and puts on a womanly pout. At the end of this discussion the two even hug, with similar looks on their faces behind the other’s back. Beautifully done. These women know how to give a promo.
3. Corey Graves vs. Leakee
Graves is accompanied by Leah West to the ring, which at first I thought Rhodes was saying Leo West and left me wondering if Kruger changed his name until I saw her. Graves was to face Leakee who I’ve quickly become a fan of. He has the look, he has the moves, I just do not know his promotional skills yet. That is all right, I am happy to watch this man in the ring. Graves puts on a good show and is more believable than I was expecting. I was expecting them to feed the man to Leakee, not let him have a good showing before he was finally pinned. WWE has done a good job programming me, and yet it’s so bad.
2. 6 Man Tag Match
Derrick Bateman may be upset with me for this one, but his match has to go to number two. This match is an excellent showing of talent and there is not one person who I do not think deserves a spot with the WWE. Dean Ambrose, Damien Sandow, and Antonio Cesaro are up against Seth Rollins, Johnny Curtis, and Derrick Bateman. While Derrick Bateman will outshine anyone, he has the most charisma and the best abs, this still is an entertaining match that showcases each man and touches more on the upcoming feud between Cesaro and Rollins. Why was this not the best?
1. Richie Steamboat vs. Husky Harris
A pinfall anywhere match. Or “Pretty much anywhere in the Tampa area!” as Martlaro would tell us. I was expecting a slow match, I do not think I have completely forgiven Harris for his first showing in NXT. He continues to try to prove me wrong about him and Harris and Steamboat put on a match that had me on the edge of my seat. The ending alone made this show worth watching because I want to know what happens next! How often does a wrestling show end and I continue to sit there and go, “Well? What happened?”
Lowlight? NO Ascension. At all. Not even a promo.
Another highlight of this episode was a very special happy birthday to a woman in the crowd. Since it was October, and her birthday, and breast cancer awareness month, they wish this breast-cancer a happy birthday that had her in tears. Now that is touching.
This week was heavy on the matches and light on the Ascension (as in not even a promo!). With five matches and the ability to stand out amongst the crowd I am glad to announce I can return the top four reason to watch for FCW this week.
4. Byron Saxton
Byron Saxton was the commentator for the evening as William Regal was preparing for his match against Dean Ambrose. At first I inwardly groaned because this is the man who leads Naomi and Cameron Lynn around and these two women are the most obnoxious thing I’ve seen on FCW. They might beat out divas I dislike in the WWE for annoyance they are that bad. Byron had commentating down solid and when Matt Matlaro stopped to take a breath what Saxton interjected was always succinctly put. Even if it was just him saying to Regal, “You’re evil! You’re evil!” It may sound like a childish taunt and still it somehow worked on Saxton. A certain someone pointed out to me that Saxton was the opposite of Regal on the mic. While Regal is a face announcer with heel tendencies Saxton is the heel announcer who has the excitement of a face. This described the feeling perfectly.
3. Brad Maddox
Brad Maddox was set to fight Percy Watson and Titus O’Neil and needed a partner. As Briley Pierce sat idly by with his microphone and dressed in his suit Maddox called him out and told him he would be the partner. Honestly, the match itself was uninteresting as I tend to get a glazed over look when Watson and O’Neil are anywhere close by and Maddox and Pierce have yet to really impress me in the ring. However, Maddox’s taunts of Pierce telling him he didn’t have time to change and that he was serious about him being his partner were fun. Maddox does have the personality he just is not quite there with the talent. Yet.
2. Dean Ambrose
This man has taken crazy to a new level. In an era when crazy is growing on us he mixes Orton, Rhodes, and guest from an asylum perfectly. He twitches, he snorts, and he generally looks like he’s enjoying himself with a crazed smile, even as he is being destroyed by his opponent. I am not quite sure what it is that he is still lacking but watching him it is something. Perhaps I think he could take this character even further. Of course having Ambrose at number two can lead me right into number one.
1. William Regal
This man is charismatic. That in itself shines every time he steps in the ring. The FCW fans are always lively but when Regal stepped out the chants were the most audible part of the night. Regal is up to his usual tricks in this match when he has Ambrose in a corner and is facing the ref while kicking Ambrose. Regal does not stop there. He actually slips Ambrose’s arm into the turnbuckle and tightens it around his arm. The ref has to help Ambrose escape, all the while Regal stands back and watches with his usual, “What?” look. If this was on of the WWE shows they would have disqualified Regal and had no ending to this match, however FCW is all about finishing as many matches as they can. Which only leads Ambrose to even more abuse by Regal so that Regal can win this main event. Regal is a brilliant man in and out of the ring and it’s good to see him used.
I would just like to end this blog with one simple question: “What do you mean there was no Ascension?” Not to worry, I hear they return next week!
This episode of FCW is brought to you by Ascension with a smattering of Ambrose.
4. Damien Sandow vs. Seth Rollins
This battle is for the Jack Briscoe Fifteen Minute Championship. Really easy to figure out. Whoever has the most pinfalls or submissions at the end of the fifteen minutes wins the title. Seth Rollins was the first champion and has held it for ten months straight. This was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing Rollins wrestle on FCW and sadly he loses, though it is by no fault of his own. In fact, it is reason number 3.
3. Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose does creepy like no one before him. He’s greasy, he wears dirty clothing, and you have to wonder if he would pass a wellness test. His first appearance of the night is during the battle between Sandow and Rollins. He interferes and costs Rollins the Championship. His next appearance leads to the storyline between number 2.
2. William Regal
In case you have no actually been paying attention a few weeks ago there was a match between William Regal and Dean Ambrose. Finally on television is the build up. First Regal is called away without reason, and replaced with Eden Stiles on commentary. Then during the match between Husky Harris and Richie Steamboat he comes running out with general manager Maxine to break up the fight that has erupted between the two after Harris knocks down a referee. When Maxine is knocked down Regal goes to check on her and while the rest of the men who came out to pull Harris and Steamboat apart Ambrose stares at Regal with that crazed look he gets. Ambrose listens to his voices well and runs in to attack Regal. After the two separate Maxine gets her own crazed look on her face, one of pure malicious pleasure as she begins to hatch a plan.
I loved the Ascension before I began watching FCW. Now that I can watch it every week I want to crawl through my television and touch these people. Five promos and one match. I should be bored with them. Instead I still have chills every time they appear on the screen. Their match this week is Conor O’Brian vs. Colin Cassady. The members of Ascension have such electricity and energy between the four of them that they bring the watcher’s attention from anything else simply to them. Conor is solid in the ring and the others make a great distraction. To continue with their characters they put Raquel Diaz on a mic that his mostly hidden by her hair so that you can hear every word she says to Conor, as these three men are meant to do what she tells them to do. This is the perfectly rounded group we should be seeing on Raw or Smackdown, but FCW has it and they alone are worth watching for.