I previously reviewed Seth Rollins' match against (Antonio) Cesaro, which I believe was supposed to be a dark match for an NXT/Florida Championship Wrestling taping. Well, it was only a few months later that Rollins mixed it up with Cesaro's old Kings of Wrestling tag team partner, Kassius Ohno. Although Cesaro was fast-tracked to WWE's main roster around the same time as this FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship match (April 29, 2012), Ohno stuck around in developmental for a littler longer, and in fact, FCW/NXT is where he remained until getting released in 2013. Hell, even now, he remains in NXT/NXT UK and will likely never be brought up to the grand stage.
That said, Ohno is a tremendous talent and can work with pretty much anyone. To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of his in-ring style when I started watching in NXT, but his early work has since grown on me. He and Rollins wrestle very differently, yet they meshed exceptionally well here, and I loved their dynamic with Rollins being the fighting babyface champion coming into this contest and Ohno being the aggressive heel challenger who was willing to do anything to take the title. Even without knowing much about the buildup to the bout, I was hooked as a fan the moment the bell rang.
Dean Ambrose's recent departure from WWE has led to a lot of fans recalling his best bouts and feuds while with the company, and I don't think there can be any debate that his greatest rival was Seth Rollins. They were closely linked throughout their respective main roster runs, having started out in The Shield together and later feuding over the WWE World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships. Hell, they even teamed for a time and became Raw Tag Team Champions together.
What some may not know, however, is that their history dates all the way back to their days in Florida Championship Wrestling. There, they collided on many occasions, but perhaps their most memorable match against each other took place on September 18, 2011 where the FCW 15 Championship was on the line. For those unfamiliar, the title was contested in 15-minute Iron Man matches, which is actually a pretty cool concept, and Rollins was definitely the perfect person to be in possession of it at the time. Interestingly enough, instead of a traditional title belt, the championship was represented by a medal. Maybe they couldn't afford a title belt and had to settle for that?
Seth Rollins' run in NXT is well documented, as it was there that he became the inaugural NXT Champion and was eventually called up to the grand stage of WWE with the rest of The Shield. But before the relaunch of the black-and-gold brand in mid-2012, FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) was his stomping grounds, and he was being booked like a top talent even then. If anyone was being earmarked for the main roster, it was him, as he was wowed audiences in every match he had.
However, it was also around that time that (Antonio) Cesaro signed with WWE and started out in FCW. He quickly ran roughshod on the roster and set his sights on Rollins soon after his arrival. Prior to his FCW debut, Cesaro was mostly known for his tag team work alongside Kassius Ohno (f.k.a. Chris Hero) in The Kings of Wrestling, and even though they were brought into the company together, officials were interested in booking them as singles stars. To their credit, both men did extremely well for themselves on their own, and this match between Cesaro and Rollins made that evident.
Before becoming a multi-time world champion and first ballot WWE Hall of Famer, CM Punk was just another "local athlete" on an episode of Sunday Night Heat in May 2005. However, he actually stood out more than most local athletes do, likely because the company was aware of his potential and his buzz on the independent scene. If they weren't, the commentators wouldn't have said as such on commentary, so it was clear he was being groomed for greatness.
Interestingly enough, Punk wasn't signed to a developmental deal by WWE until that September, so this was merely a tryout for him (except in a televised setting) to see if he had what the company was looking for. I've never been the biggest Val Venis fan, but he was probably the perfect person for Punk to face in his unofficial WWE debut, as Venis had plenty of experience and could typically be counted on for a quality performance.
This past week, it was made official: Kenny Omega has signed with All Elite Wrestling. Admittedly, I thought there was a small chance he would go to WWE, but the more time passed, the more it became apparent that he was AEW bound. Thus, no one should be shocked by the news whatsoever. He can be the one the brand is built around, and who knows, maybe he'll wind up in WWE some day down the road.
I remember reading not too long ago that a match or two of Omega's from his WWE developmental days were available on the WWE Network, so coming off the announcement, I figured it was only fitting that I checked them out. This bout was from his time spent in Deep South Wrestling and took place on September 3, 2006. He took on Cru Jones in a quick exhibition, and although the entrances weren't televised, a pre-match promo from Omega was shown. It was evident even then that the guy had a presence about him that made him a star.
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