The last aired episode of FCW gives us a goodbye match that is intense and still could leave the rivalry open, or it could have ended a career. Dusty Rhodes and Jim Ross commentate this match and together it’s sort of a mess. I respect both of these men for what they have done for the company over their years and their dedication, but considering the matches that we faced tonight I would have loved an epic commentary team. No, for those who immediately think I’m going to say Scott, I will tell you no. This is FCW, leave Jim Ross or leave Dusty Rhodes, but together they could not pull full duty. Would have been nice to hear Chris Russo or Byron Saxton, a legend with someone who gets passed the torch on commentary, someone who had been there. Alas, it was not to be, but that’s the end of the rant on FCW and onto the Top 4…ish.
4. Audrey Marie vs. Paige
As no disqualification matches go there were many different combos that would have worked. Paige is brutal and lovely to watch in the ring and she would be queen of this type of match. Audrey Marie is not made for brutality, she’s pretty to look at with wrestling skills that have yet to match any of her opponents. Still, for Paige alone, this is worth watching, because Paige is a diva with power. Or anti-diva.
3. Mike Dalton & CJ Parker vs. Corey Graves & Jake Carter
Can I just say wow? All four men show off their skills with Dalton and Parker working as a team on quite a few moves that were almost perfectly synchronized. The commentary team gives us a little info on Jake Carter (for those who do not know, he is Vader’s son) and his football playing years and how much he has slimmed down from that time. Carter and Graves, current tag champs in the episode, show why they have the skills to retain at the end of the match. A lot of excellent back and forth with hardly a dead spot the entire time. And, of course, Dalton is wearing those pants that are just perfect. Perfect.
2. + 1. William Regal vs. Dean Ambrose
And I thought the last match was great. This proved that things could get better. As the match that closes out the show this lived up to what it needed to be. Regal works on Ambrose’s arm and shoulder, Ambrose works on Regal’s ear, and the two are just all out brutal with one another. There is no winner of this match, and there did not need to be. The tension built and continued and it took an entire roster to keep Ambrose from continuing to attack Regal when he was down. There are not words that properly explain why this is an excellent match. This is one you have to see.
The episode was actually filled with matches and promos, unfortunately not all of them were up to snuff in quality. Someone, and I won’t mention names, gave a promo and looked as confused by what he was saying as I felt hearing it. However, there were also some great points in this episode, like Summer Rae and Paige and a bit of Richie Steamboat. Oh, and the Top 4.
4. Adam Mercer vs. Eric Rowan
This one sort of slides into 4th place but could almost have been easily replaceable. I was looking forward to watching Mercer because after a few hype videos, then a disappearance, and now finally a match I was looking forward to seeing him wrestle. However, Eric Rowan is also on a roll and it lead to a slightly underwhelming match. But I look forward to getting to know these men more.
3. Brad Maddox vs. Conor O’Brian
This is another match-up that is more about a certain aspect than the wrestling, and while I love storytelling there were two matches too good to let even the Ascension get ahead of. Brad Maddox comes out to the ring to be overshadowed by the powerful Conor O’Brian who is accompanied to the ring with Kenneth Cameron. The entrance alone could have given them a spot on this episode but then they continued to be incredible. Maddox for his part does a great job of fearing the dark demons while Cameron sneaks up behind him without even needing to try and O’Brian does his job of being large and menacing. Oh, more please.
2. Big E Langston vs. Jason Jordan
It’s no secret I like both of these men so it should be no secret that as they were grappling I was holding my breath a lot. This was a hard to predict match because both men have been getting a push from the company. Jordan and Langston have grappling down and it’s always a pleasure to be able to see Langston show off his moves. This match had the perfect length, a great ending, great antics. So why didn’t it make number one?
1. Jiro vs. Rick Victor
I know, Jiro’s no longer with the company. I know, this match was shorter. But these are the types of matches I look forward to more than any other match. While Langston and Jordan put on an incredible grapple, Victor and Jiro refused to slow down. It’s a shame Jiro is gone because this was the match that proved the sort of wrestler he could be but instead the spot goes to Victor, who kept up, surpassed, and makes everyone realize that there is more to him than the little we’ve seen on NXT.
Okay, so as the show is coming near its close the stories have sort of gone out of the window and we’re waiting for NXT to pick up some storylines to really get it going. During this transitional period we are getting an FCW with just matches, but most of the men in this ring know how to keep a story going, even if it’s just during their match.
4. Benicio Salazar vs. Erik Rowan
Okay, so this match was not a great example of storytelling. As far as I know this was Salazar’s last match and for some reason had to have him unmasked to be defeated in about 20 seconds by Rowan. I love Rowan’s look and I hope he runs with it, but that’s all this match was, unfortunately, a way to showcase Rowan.
3. Garrett Dylan vs. Kassius Ohno
Garrett Dylan is still a little green along the edges but every time I see him he’s improved on the last time, so he’s got the rhythm and is taking it up a notch each time. Ohno decided this would be the match he would really learn to sell nearly being pinned and kicking out. Combined, the match was good, but not the best, but taking into consideration the type of match, is absolutely forgivable. It also was still a match worth watching and in no way should be skipped.
2. Alexander Rusev and Colin Cassady vs. Ascension
In case you have been living under a rock, Ascension consists of Conor O’Brian (with an a, not an e) and Kenneth Cameron. Colin Cassady seems to be evolving into a look that suits him and Rusev seems to be nearly recovered from a pervious injury. This is the match that should have debuted Ascension on NXT. This match showed off their skills like most matches do not and it gave a taste of what their opponents could do. Cameron and O’Brian show off how well they work as a tag team, seeming to read one another’s minds when it comes to switching off. They carry a brutality in their movements, even when they are not knocking down their opponents, and it carries over from their in-ring work to their interactions. This is what I want to see more of from these men. Rusev and Cassady did a great job of holding their own and it was a great look at what these men can do and hopefully this means some positive development will happen for them with their characters.
1. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Well there was never any doubt really that Ambrose and Rollins were going to have the number one match of FCW, of the week, of the month? It was that good and Ambrose does the, “I’ve been brutally beaten,” routine better than I’ve seen it before. His shoulder is dislocated and he takes a moment ala Mel Gibson in one of the Lethal Weapon movies and stands against the ring and tries to smack it back into place. Later he gets Rollins into a submission hold and tells him, “You break my arm, I’ll break your leg.” Unfortunately for him, but good for Rollins, Rollins does escape and gets Ambrose into a submission you might find familiar. Rollins does ultimately win the match, but Ambrose puts up one Hell of a fight.
Sunday’s episode of FCW is pretty much full for the one hour show. It has a promo from Seth Rollins, which might be his best yet, talking about his match with Dean Ambrose next week. Summer Rae and Rob Naylor, in a fetching matching pink, concede Maxine’s office to Dusty Rhodes. Raquel Diaz came out looking Gaga’d up. Wait, what? Uh, the blue lipstick has to go…
4. Audrey Marie vs. Paige accompanied by Sofia Cortez
Audrey Marie just is not improving in the ring. As a former champion she does not live up to the ability that should claim and is trumped even more because she’s facing off against Paige, who is nearly flawless in her abilities. This match also continues the destruction of Paige and Sofia’s alliance as Sofia’s quick hands are the reason Paige loses this match
3. Big E Langston vs. Bo Dallas
Big E Langston (who I suspect will end up with a name change at some point) gets all of the offense in during this match. He beats up Dallas (formerly Rotundo), he beats him up some more, he beats him up again, and then Dallas wins with a spear. Langston sells this spear like the champ he should be because it’s the best Bo-Bo’s looked with a spear yet. Great display of Langston’s abilities, but not a great match.
2. Rick Victor vs. CJ Parker
This is where we get into great match territory. The first two matches, while good, did not live up to these two. I had a hard time choosing which I preferred, but in the end the great Rick Victor, with new ring gear and music, faced off with CJ Parker, with new ring gear and music, fell into #2. Parker’s put on a bit more muscle, and it cost him in movement during this match, almost like he’s not quite used to it yet, while Victor continued to be the dominant wrestler he is.
1. Mike Dalton & Xavier Woods vs. Jake Carter & Corey Graves
Dalton and Woods had on new shiny pants, which I loved, and it must have given them super-powers because they won this match-up. But that’s not to discredit Carter and Graves in any way. This was a fast paced match where there were never any lulls. Both tag teams work like tag teams should, knowing when to tag, knowing when to help out. It’s a smooth match and starts off the show with a bang. When a show starts off hot it’s hard to turn away.
Sorry, no pictures this time, but here, watch the episode!
FCW was back to an array of plotlines and matches this week unlike the past few weeks which seemed to only be filled with matches. I say only almost like it’s a bad thing, but FCW is good at giving you a plot that isn’t just abandoned (like last week’s accusation from Paige that Raquel once had wanted to be an anti-diva). This is only a Top 4 list so a few things had to be left off, including an Ohno promo that was pretty good but not as precise as the one from the week before and a Bray Wyatt match against Jiro which was terribly predictable since Wyatt is the one they are pushing. And it lacked Eli.
4. Summer Rae as GM
Summer Rae is exactly what her name suggests, a ray of absolute sunshine. Corny as that may be, she’s fun to watch and listen to and has this sultry quality to her voice even as she speaks in a super chipper, almost ditzy but yet clever, general manager. Maxine was the sensual woman who took her character of fooling around with others over the top and beyond. Summer Rae can get by on her attitude, her smarts, and let’s admit it, she looks like a school teacher fantasy with Rob Naylor as her student that eternally kisses his way to the top. Excellent combination for a new era of GM.
3. Dean Ambrose Promo
People who don’t even watch FCW are awaiting the moment he comes up to Raw or Smackdown, he’s become that big of a sensation already. There’s a reason for it. Tonight he cuts a promo with Rollins interrupting which promises a match between them soon (which sort of ruins the ending for a match coming up in the show, but still, this is an awesome promo). The hair makes the different to me. Anyone who reads my top 4 on Superstars knows I have a thing for certain hairstyles. He went away from the greasy, close to his head look and just seems more disheveled. It fits.
2. Richie Steamboat vs. Seth Rollins
This is the match you knew Rollins was going to win. Why else have Ambrose start a feud with him? Though that would have been a hilarious swerve I would have enjoyed. Steamboat’s great. Rollins is great. Together, they aren’t as great as they could be. Still, a decent match, and better than the Wyatt and Jiro match, but I think I expect so much more from these two and they didn’t deliver. When you hold someone in high esteem you hold them to certain levels. And, let’s be honest, nothing that happened on this episode of FCW was beating…
1. Jason Jordan vs. Leo Kruger
This might make it to match of the week status. Jason Jordan and Leo Kruger work off one another’s strengths, and weaknesses, giving this match a constant flow. Kruger starts off by offering Jordan the chance to leave the ring before the match beings, but Jordan chooses to stay in it, and thank goodness he did. There was a bit of ring around the rosy, much back and forth, Kruger’s, “Self-proclaimed King of Africa,” and Jordan’s smile. Kruger may have won this match, but Jordan made him work for it.