Does Becoming FCW Champion Guarantee Success in the WWE?

John CitizenContributor IIJuly 8, 2011

Does Becoming FCW Champion Guarantee Success in the WWE?

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    Hello everyone. This is my first article for 14 months, so bear with me if it's a little off :)


    As many of us are aware, the WWE has a developmental territory known as Florida Championship Wrestling, and as that name suggests, the territory is located in the state of Florida (apologies if I have that part wrong; I'm Australian and I don't know the first thing about American states).

    The territory is designed to develop the next generation of WWE superstars, with many of the current crop of superstars having worked their way through the FCW ranks and to the main roster. Although many men and women that have signed developmental contracts, only to survive a few months and never get anywhere near the main roster, there have been many that have had considerable success.

    The territory has its own championships, making it like its own brand if you will. Those championships are the FCW Divas Championship, FCW 15 Championship, FCW Tag Team Championships and the FCW Championship.

    Three of those championships explain themselves, but allow me to give a quick explanation of what the FCW 15 Championship is all about. The current and only holder of this championship is Seth Rollins, known as Tyler Black from Ring of Honor, and basically the title is defended in 15-minute Iron Man matches.

    Now, as the title of this article states, I am taking an in-depth look at those that have been fortunate enough to hold the FCW Championship. If a superstar becomes WWE or World Heavyweight Champion, then they're really considered the top guy in the company, and I see the FCW Championship playing the same role in the territory.

    The title itself has been in existence since February 15th, 2008 and became the sole singles championship in the territory for close to three years when it was unified with the FCW Southern Heavyweight Championship on March 22nd, 2008. Since February 15th, 2008 there have only been 13 title reigns between 12 superstars, which is not many considering that the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships throw around titles countless times each year.

    The fact that only 12 superstars have held the FCW Championship in well over three years tells me that the title actually means quite a bit in the territory. Most that have held it have actually gone on to have a degree of success in the WWE, but some haven't been so lucky.

    But anyway, here is my analysis regarding whether or not becoming FCW Champion proves that a superstar has a very bright future in the WWE.

    Hope you all enjoy!

1. Jake Hager (Jack Swagger)

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    Championship Reign: February 15th, 2008 to September 18th, 2008

    WWE Debut: September 8th, 2008 on ECW

    WWE Accomplishments: One-time World Heavyweight Champion, one-time ECW Champion, 2010 Wrestlemania Money in the Bank winner

    Current WWE Brand: Monday Night RAW

    Current Age: 29


    The All-American American was the first-ever FCW Champion, not to mention that he is still the longest-reigning FCW Champion in history. You could consider Jack Swagger to be the first man to be known as the top guy in the territory, and if his success in the WWE is anything to go by, then becoming FCW Champion is a great privilege.

    His first WWE title came in the form of the ECW Championship, achieving this while amassing an impressive undefeated streak. Well, as impressive as it can get for being on ECW rather than RAW or Smackdown, but nonetheless he was the man to beat on the brand at the time. Swagger was champion for over three months before losing the title to Christian, which isn't anything to be ashamed about.

    Swagger is only one of two former FCW Champions to hold a World Championship in the WWE (the other being on the following slide), doing so by winning the Money in the Bank briefcase at Wrestlemania 26. Although his victory shocked many of us, there's no doubting the achievement as being a great one. There were many suitable winners in that match, but the WWE gave the briefcase to Swagger, who cashed it in under a week later to become World Heavyweight Champion.

    I assessed Swagger's reign as World Champion in my one and only article on Bleacher Report back in May last year. To say the least, I was quite critical of the reign, and I believe with good reason. Although he managed to fend off Chris Jericho and Edge to hang onto the World Heavyweight Championship for the first few weeks, his reign was littered with losses at times when he needed wins to establish himself as a credible World Champion.

    The fact he has been missing ever since losing the title proves that his reign was unsuccessful and he was never a credible World Champion. What I find funny is that since Wrestlemania 24, only John Cena, the Undertaker and Kane have held the World Heavyweight Championship longer than Jack Swagger... and that spans 23 reigns. Nobody can say Swagger didn't have enough time to get over.

    Nonetheless, Swagger has been on the WWE roster for two years and 10 months and he has had great success. Who knows, maybe he'll win the RAW Money in the Bank match next Sunday. Although I doubt it, you never know.

2. Sheamus O'Shaunessy (Sheamus)

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    Championship Reign: September 18th, 2008 to December 11th, 2008

    WWE Debut: June 30th, 2009 on ECW

    WWE Accomplishments: Two-time WWE Champion, one-time WWE United States Champion, 2010 WWE King of the Ring, 2009 Slammy Award for Breakout Star of the Year

    Current WWE Brand: Friday Night Smackdown

    Current Age: 33


    The Celtic Warrior took a bit of a different path into the WWE than Jack Swagger. While Swagger was the reigning FCW Champion when he made his debut on ECW, Sheamus remained in FCW after losing the title for a further six months before being elevated to the main roster. This really didn't hamper his progress.

    Sheamus had a back-and-forth feud with Goldust while on ECW, followed by one with Shelton Benjamin, coming out on top in both feuds. Suddenly the WWE moved Sheamus from ECW to RAW, where he made his RAW debut on October 26th, 2009. Sheamus legitimately ended the career of Jamie Noble, was a sole survivor at Survivor Series alongside Drew McIntyre and Team Captain The Miz, and then won the "Breakthrough" Battle Royal to earn himself a WWE Championship opportunity.

    That is quite an impressive list of accomplishments achieved in just one month, but what he did at the following pay-per-view was even bigger.

    Nobody gave Sheamus a chance in hell in taking the WWE Championship from John Cena at the TLC pay-per-view on December 13th, but that's exactly what he did. To this day I am still shocked when I think about it as I remember Sheamus raising the WWE Championship high, with a big smile on his face and his foot on Cena's chest, who is a broken wreck in the middle of a snapped table.

    Sorry, I just thought it was awesome.

    Anyway, Sheamus was WWE Champion for just over two months, although it was tough to consider him as a credible champion due to his fast rise to the top. He lost the title in the Elimination Chamber, which isn't a bad way to lose it at all. Sheamus then lost to Triple H at Wrestlemania before beating him at Extreme Rules in a Street Fight, which resulted in Triple H being absent from WWE television for 10 months. Putting The Game "on the shelf" for so long really boosted Sheamus' credibility; that's for sure.

    Two months later, Sheamus once again defeated John Cena to become WWE Champion, and this time his reign was a little more credible considering that Triple H was gone and Sheamus had established himself as a top heel on RAW. His second reign as WWE Champion lasted three weeks longer than his previous one before he lost the title in another six-man match.

    Fast forward a few months, and Sheamus became King of the Ring. I thought this would be another avenue of returning to the WWE Championship picture, but instead it all went in a different direction. Sheamus went on a long losing run, eventually dropping the "King Sheamus" name and declaring that if he didn't win the United States Championship, he'd leave. Fortunately, he won the title from Daniel Bryan, but their rematch was ridiculously left off the televised Wrestlemania card.

    Eventually Sheamus would lose the United States Championship to Kofi Kingston after being drafted to Smackdown, where he is now firmly in the World Heavyweight Championship picture. Although he's in the Smackdown Money in the Bank match, there's a possibility he could be involved in the World Heavyweight Championship match instead.

    Either way, Sheamus has had a considerable amount of success in a two-year stint on the main roster. There's no doubt that Sheamus has been the most successful former FCW Champion.

3. Eric Escobar

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    Championship Reign: December 11th, 2008 to February 26th, 2009

    WWE Debut: October 2nd, 2009 on Smackdown

    WWE Accomplishments: None

    Current WWE Brand: Released from his WWE contract on January 17th, 2010

    Current Age: 31


    Now there are two things that you all may be thinking:

    1) What a failure this guy was!


    2) Who the hell is Eric Escobar?


    I cannot blame anybody for having those thoughts, because the fact is his time on Smackdown was short-lived. His last televised match came on December 18th, 2009, just two months after he made his debut on Smackdown. I think that just about proves how much of a failure this guy was.

    I will admit, when he first debuted he showed a lot of promise. For somebody to be immediately partnered with Vickie Guerrero is quite a compliment due to Guerrero being majorly over with the crowd as a heel. Escobar defeated Matt Hardy to earn himself a spot in Smackdown's Bragging Rights team, which is a great start for him.

    Unfortunately, that was really his highest point, and even that isn't very high.

    Three weeks later, Escobar and four other Smackdown superstars were taken out of the team. If memory serves me correctly, they lost a five-on-five tag team match and consequently all lost their spots on the team.

    For the next month, Escobar didn't do very much of note, before Guerrero scored him an Intercontinental Championship shot against John Morrison on November 27th, 2009. You'd think this would be his highest point, but actually it signalled the end for Escobar.

    Morrison beat Escobar, prompting Guerrero to yell and slap her "boyfriend," which initiated a face turn for Escobar. For the next few weeks, Escobar would get squashed in Handicap matches against The Hart Dynasty and Jerishow, followed by losing his final match to Kane.

    The funny thing is that Escobar spent five years in WWE's various developmental territories, hanging around for nearly eight months after losing the FCW Championship, which pretty much means they must've seen something in him to keep him for some time.

    Apparently Escobar and Primo Colon formed quite a formidable tag team while in FCW, becoming Tag Team Champions three times. Oh well, so much for that.

4. Joe Hennig (Michael McGillicutty)

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    Championship Reign: February 26th, 2009 to March 19th, 2009 (relinquished due to injury)

    WWE Debut: June 8th, 2010 on NXT

    WWE Accomplishments: One-time and current WWE Tag Team Champion (with David Otunga)

    Current WWE Brand: Monday Night RAW

    Current Age: 31


    It's safe to assume that if it wasn't for his injury while FCW Champion, McGillicutty would likely have been elevated to the main roster before NXT existed, following the likes of Swagger, Sheamus and Escobar onto the main roster.

    When McGillicutty returned from injury a few months later in June 2009, after having relinquished the FCW Championship, he spent the next year in FCW's tag team division, winning the FCW Tag Team Championships with Brett DiBiase (Ted's younger brother) and Kaval, before appearing on the second season of NXT.

    Although McGillicutty probably should've won the season (in my eyes anyway), it doesn't change the fact his career has gone nowhere. The season ended at the end of August and he made his return to WWE television alongside Husky Harris as two new members of the Nexus.

    That's really where McGillicutty's career becomes self-explanatory.

    Basically, if you want to know more about his career, think about what the Nexus has done since the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (you know, when Barrett was actually involved in the main event scene).

    Obviously McGillicutty is one-half of the reigning WWE Tag Team Champions, alongside fellow Nexus member David Otunga, and winning the titles was the highlight of his career to date. The thing that's disappointing is that they've been sucked into the failing tag team division, hardly even wrestling a match since becoming champions on May 23rd.

    I still see a bright future for McGillicutty, but he hasn't had very much success thus far.

5. Drew McIntyre

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    Championship Reign: March 19th, 2009 to June 11th, 2009

    WWE Debut: October 12th, 2007, then August 28th, 2009

    WWE Accomplishments: One-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, One-time WWE Tag Team Champion (with Cody Rhodes)

    Current WWE Brand: Monday Night RAW

    Current Age: 26


    No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. It is true that Drew McIntyre first debuted in the WWE back in 2007, although he did nothing of note.

    McIntyre worked alongside Dave Taylor, winning two singles matches on Smackdown against The Major Brothers (known now as Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder). When it just ticked over to the year 2008, McIntyre was moved to Monday Night RAW, beating Charlie Haas on January 4th, but that would be his final appearance for a while.

    Although McIntyre first appeared in the company as a face, he re-debuted as a heel. McIntyre would beat up R-Truth each week, turning his attention to Charlie Haas at one point, before Vince McMahon announced the following week that McIntyre was a "future World Champion" that he had personally signed to the WWE.

    What a big start to your career!

    McIntyre's first big moment was being a sole survivor alongside Sheamus and The Miz at Survivor Series, with Sheamus and The Miz both being from RAW. After a victory over the Intercontinental Champion John Morrison a few weeks later, McIntyre earned himself a title shot at TLC, on which he capitalised.

    McIntyre was champion for over five months, and since Unforgiven 2005 only Jeff Hardy has held the Intercontinental Championship longer. The Chosen One had quite a successful reign as champion before losing the title to Kofi Kingston at Over The Limit 2010, but other than a short reign as WWE Tag Team Champion alongside Cody Rhodes, McIntyre's career has been on the down.

    Since being drafted to RAW in 2011, McIntyre has done absolutely nothing and has since been lost in the mid-card shuffle. This is likely due to the WWE changing their focus from pushing younger stars to their older superstars like Christian, Mark Henry and R-Truth.

    It's unfortunate that this has happened to McIntyre, but the fact he has bags of potential will definitely see him with the company for a long time. He has had a decent amount of success, but it doesn't look like it will be growing anytime soon.

6. Tyler Reks

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    Championship Reign: June 11th, 2009 to August 13th, 2009

    WWE Debut: June 30th, 2009 on ECW

    WWE Accomplishments: None

    Current WWE Brand: Monday Night RAW

    Current Age: 32


    Don't get me started on Tyler Reks.

    I HATE the fact that Reks has very rarely been used since he debuted, especially now with his new gimmick. Granted, he has never had mic time, but he makes up for it by being great in the ring and having an awesome look. Why he is never used is beyond me. I just don't understand it.

    Reks' WWE career really hasn't amounted to anything. While he was on ECW he won a few matches, but that was pretty much it. Reks was off WWE television from November 2009 to October 2010, which is a very long time to not be used even once when there's no reported injury or personal issue.

    When Reks returned on Smackdown, he defeated Kaval to earn a spot on Smackdown's Bragging Rights team, going on to eliminate Santino Marella in the match before being eliminated by Sheamus, which is nothing be ashamed of.

    Reks was then put in Alberto Del Rio's Survivor Series team to go up against that of Rey Mysterio, with Reks being eliminated fifth. Sure enough, Reks was relegated to appearing on Superstars and was involved in a feud with Chris Masters (another guy you shouldn't get me started on). They traded wins and losses before Masters won for a few straight weeks, and the feud ended there.

    The last time Reks was seen on WWE television was at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Reks entered 16th and was eliminated by CM Punk after being in the match for just 34 seconds. Reks was then moved to RAW through the Draft but has yet to appear.

    Other than Eric Escobar, Reks is the only other former FCW Champion to have no decent moments in the WWE. Personally, I think the WWE has majorly dropped the ball when it comes to Reks. They may as well just release him if he has only wrestled a handful of matches in over two years.

7 & 8. Heath Miller (Slater) and Justin Angel (Gabriel)

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    I decided to do these two on the same slide considering that they've basically been attached at the hip since NXT1 ended.


    Slater's Championship Reign: August 13th, 2009 to September 24th, 2009

    Gabriel's Championship Reign: September 24th, 2009 to March 18th, 2010

    WWE Debuts: February 23rd, 2010 on NXT

    WWE Accomplishments: Three-time WWE Tag Team Champions

    Current WWE Brand: Friday Night Smackdown

    Current Ages: 27 (Slater) & 30 (Gabriel)


    Both men's WWE careers have primarily been as members of a stable. First there was the Nexus, followed by The Corre, but now the duo continue on their own as a tag team since The Corre disbanded. I think this is great for the tag division more than anything.

    They placed third and fourth on the first season of NXT before becoming members of the Nexus. Eventually they wouldn't buy into CM Punk's deal, so they followed Wade Barrett over to Friday Night Smackdown and helped establish The Corre alongside the returning Ezekiel Jackson.

    Together, Slater and Gabriel have become WWE Tag Team Champions three times, which may sound impressive but in reality is far from it. They're classic examples of why the Tag Team Championships are no longer prestigious. Don't get what I mean? Let me explain.

    Slater and Gabriel's first reign as Tag Team Champions came following the night that John Cena and David Otunga became champions. Since Otunga was seemingly looking to take over the role as Nexus leader, Wade Barrett decided to punish him by making him lay down in the middle of the ring, thus losing the titles to Slater and Gabriel. The team's reign lasted just over a month, losing the titles to Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov.

    Fast forward over two months to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, and Slater and Gabriel's second reign began when they took back their titles from Marella and Kozlov thanks to an assist by Ezekiel Jackson. This reign would unfortunately only last one day, and here's the reason why.

    The duo were forced to defend the titles against John Cena and The Miz on RAW, with Cena and Miz winning that match and the championships. Barrett would then invoke Slater and Gabriel's rematch clause, proving to be a successful course of action as Slater and Gabriel took back their titles... only after Miz hit Cena with the Skull Crushing Finale and walked out. This reign lasted just under two months.

    So to summarise, Slater and Gabriel's three reigns as the WWE Tag Team Champions have come by an opponent laying down, an outside interference and an opponent leaving his partner out to dry. Throw in the fact they haven't held the belts for longer than 57 days and it all sounds quite unimpressive.

    Still, a title reign is a title reign, so I guess I have to give them credit for holding the belts three times. Maybe now that they're no longer a part of a stable, they could prove themselves as a formidable tag team and actually have better success.

9. Alex Riley

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    Championship Reign: March 18th, 2010 to July 22nd, 2010

    WWE Debut: June 8th, 2010 on NXT

    WWE Accomplishments: None

    Current WWE Brand: Monday Night RAW

    Current Age: 30


    Don't let the lack of accomplishments fool you; that void will be filled sooner rather than later. Alex Riley is on the up and it's a safe bet that he'll become a champion this year.

    After placing third on the second season of NXT, Riley immediately began making appearances on RAW as The Miz's personal assistant. This was always going to pan out to be a great thing for Riley in the long-run, and we're just seeing the benefits now. Miz was on the rise as the WWE United States Champion and 2010 RAW Money in the Bank winner, and it was only a matter of time before he cashed in the briefcase to become WWE Champion.

    Riley has been with The Miz every step of the way since NXT2 ended, from the Miz's pursuit of the WWE Championship, throughout Miz's championship reign and to when Miz looked to regain the title. It looked as if Riley had once again assisted Miz to a victory, but this time to make Miz a two-time WWE Champion.

    Just one lapse in judgement became the catalyst for the rise of Alex Riley.

    We all witnessed Riley raise Miz's arm in victory, causing the WWE Championship (that was used illegally to win the match) to fly across the ring, prompting the referee to change the decision and disqualify Miz. Although Riley was truly disappointed that he had done such a thing to Miz, it couldn't have been better for his career.

    Riley is now rising up the ranks on RAW, using Miz's heat as a heel to garner big cheers from the WWE Universe. Riley now has two one-on-one victories over his former mentor, which is huge considering the massive year that the Miz has had.

    Big things are to come for Riley in the future, not to mention he's in the RAW Money in the Bank match. Who knows. Maybe he could repeat what his former mentor did this time last year. Personally, I hope he doesn't as he isn't ready, but who knows what the WWE has planned.

10. Mason Ryan

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    Championship Reign: July 22nd, 2010 to February 3rd, 2011

    WWE Debut: January 17th, 2011 on RAW

    WWE Accomplishments: None

    Current WWE Brand: Monday Night RAW

    Current Age: 29


    The huge Mason Ryan has been a member of the RAW roster for nearly six months and has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with.

    The addition of Ryan to the Nexus was a much needed boost for the ailing stable, providing them with the powerhouse the group has lacked during the absence of Skip Sheffield (who is sadly still injured). Ryan has established himself as CM Punk's right hand man, often the guy Punk would turn to in a time of need. If it wasn't for Ryan constantly taking out the Big Show and Kane, the Nexus would simply have been crushed by the giant duo.

    On that topic, I don't think I've seen anyone put over Big Show and Kane like Ryan was during this feud.

    Anyway, anybody that has watched him is fully aware of how green he is in the ring, really only being elevated to the main roster because he looks so much like Batista. At the moment, Ryan has absolutely nothing on Batista, but the potential for development is there.

    Unfortunately, Ryan's development has been hit with a big setback due to an injury suffered outside of the ring. The nature of the injury remains unkown, but it could keep him out for anywhere between six weeks and six months.

    Due to the Nexus ending, Ryan is to be repackaged when he returns. The main idea to have been pitched is being the bodyguard to either Alberto Del Rio or The Miz. This would assist his development greatly and hopefully eliminate how green he is in the ring.

    Although he has had little success in the way of championships, it's likely he'll have a big 2012.

12. Lucky Cannon

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    Twelve comes after 10, right? Chill, I know it doesn't, but you'll understand why I skipped eleven on the following slide.


    Championship Reign: February 3rd, 2011 to May 19th, 2011

    WWE Debut: June 8th, 2010 on NXT

    WWE Accomplishments: None

    Current WWE Brand: Recently eliminated from WWE NXT: Redemption

    Current Age: 27


    If I had to pick anybody to follow in the footsteps of Eric Escobar and Tyler Reks, I'd actually pick Lucky Cannon. I purely based this "prediction" on the fact he placed sixth from eight in the second season of NXT and fourth from six in the fifth season.

    Now, Cannon first appeared in the WWE on the second season of NXT, debuting as a face. There really wasn't much to Cannon's character and he never got over with the crowd. Although he was decent in the ring, it didn't save him from being eliminated early.

    In between seasons two and five, Cannon became the FCW Champion for over three months due to a change in attitude and gimmick.

    Sure enough, Cannon was included on NXT: Redemption, sporting the new gimmick. Cannon was no longer a face and would proclaim that NXT "was all about him." Also, Cannon gave himself the nicknames "Da-Lish" and "Mr Steal Your Girl," furthering his new character as a ladies’ man.

    I don't think anybody should be critical of Cannon's unsuccessful stint on NXT: Redemption. Not only did he refuse to compete in the challenges and further his character by doing so, but he also got the crowd to boo him. Considering it's up to the WWE Universe to decide who stays and who goes, Cannon's early elimination could actually assist him.

    I see some potential in the new Lucky Cannon, and hopefully the WWE will see it too. Otherwise, he'll be out the door very soon.

11 & Current Champion: Bo Rotundo

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    Championship Reign No. 1: February 3rd, 2011 to February 3rd, 2011

    Championship Reign No. 2: May 19th, 2011 to Present

    WWE Debut: Yet to debut

    WWE Accomplishments: None

    Current WWE Brand: Yet to debut

    Current Age: 21


    First of all, I want to point out his age. This man is only 21 years old and yet he is the current FCW Champion. I think that right there suggests that he has a bright future in the WWE. I could be jumping the gun, but you cannot deny that that's quite an indicator.

    For those who aren't aware of who Bo Rotundo is, allow me to explain. Rotundo is the younger brother of Husky Harris, the son of Irwin R. Schyster and the grandson of Blackjack Mulligan, and of course the man to beat in Florida Championship Wrestling. Rotundo is billed at 6'3", 240 lbs. (109kg)

    I am unsure as to why his first reign as FCW Champion never lasted a day, but that is erased with the fact he's the champion now. Rotundo is allegedly quite good in the ring, but I've never actually heard what he's like on the microphone. There could be a video on YouTube of him on the mic, but I haven't looked. If you're interested in seeing more of Rotundo, I suggest having a look yourself.

    Now, with the crop of FCW superstars that are considered for NXT Season 6 seen as being better than those used for Season 4 (done intentionally), Rotundo is actually one of my choices to be included. Why wouldn't he be? He's the current FCW Champion, so unless the WWE have something planned (which I doubt), then he'll be on the next season.

    At such a young age and with a rich family legacy, Rotundo has a bright future. He doesn't have the best look, but pictures don't show you anything when it comes to charisma, in-ring skills or mic skills.

    None of us know what the future holds for young Bo Rotundo, but I look forward to seeing his eventual debut.


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    Hopefully I have opened some eyes as to how important the FCW Championship is for developing future WWE superstars.

    Feel free to leave your opinions on the article.

    You stay classy, Bleacher Report.