Caught in the Ropes- A Glance at FCW Part 2

Welcome back to Caught in the Ropes and to the second installment in my ongoing series highlighting the roster of FCW. Sorry about missing last week; strep throat sucks kids. Anyway, with Hell in a Cell putting a spotlight on some of the WWE’s problems, it does seem apropos to discuss the company’s rising young talent. Speaking of which, check out 10 Thoughts on Raw this week as I dissect tonight’s madness. Also, make sure to check out Inside Pulse Wrestling Talk Radio, where the Pulse Wrestling staff tackles the issues of the day as well as your questions and comments.

Brad Maddox

Maddox seems to be playing a character that’s a cross between Rick Rude and Abraham Washington, but I don’t know if I’m sold on his act. Here, judge for yourself:

That can be changed, of course. Speaking of changes, Maddox (real name: Brent Wellington) went by the ring-name “Beef Wellington” over in OVW, a name so bad I kind of hate myself for even bringing it up. At just 5’11” and 204 pounds, Maddox has all the markings of a career mid-carder, though he’s been kicking around the WWE developmental system for three years with nothing to show for it. That being said, Maddox is quick and charismatic in the ring, reminding me a lot of guys like Dolph Ziggler. He can play the slimy heel well, has some good striking, and his “Deal Breaker” finisher is a fairly unique DDT. I also like his entrance, replete with water bottle. I don’t know if Maddox has the kind of charisma necessary to get him over, and while his ring-work is solid, it’s nothing extraordinary.

Rating: ***

Briley Pierce

Pierce, real name Ryan Nemeth, is an Xavier University graduate and author of the unfortunately titled I Can Make-Out with Any Girl Here. At 6’1” tall and 214 pounds, he has a WWE-friendly physique, though he is maybe a tad on the small side. Since he’s only been in FCW for a short time, it’s hard to get a real feel for his ring-work. The only video I could find for Pierce was a short squash match versus Big E Langston, who basically tossed the kid around the ring like a rag-doll. Briley Pierce did do some interviews for FCW with the likes of Bo Rotundo and Johnny Curtis, but Pierce has an obnoxiously nasally voice that doesn’t do much to endear him to me. It’s probably too early to really form an opinion on him, but that said…

Rating: **

Brodus Clay

Clay was the runner-up on Season 4 of NXT and is currently listed as part of the Smackdown brand, but he’s still training down in FCW as well, so I’ll talk about him here. Clay is a big dude at 6’8” (according to the WWE, or 6’6” according to FCW) and 364 pounds, and was apparently a former bodyguard for Snoop Dogg, like that means anything. Clay kind of, sort of broke out as Alberto del Rio’s bodyguard, but he went off to film a WWE horror movie titled No One Lives and has been working the Superstars beat since returning. I like that Brodus shaved off the Abraham Lincoln beard, but the WWE hasn’t really built much of a character for him since he’s returned, other than that he’s a really big guy.

Clay can move though, I’ll give him that, and I like the fluid suplexes he utilizes, including the T-Bone suplex. His finisher, the running cross-body, is impressive for a guy his size and better than the G-Grip chokeslam he used for much of his FCW tenure, but I have to argue against his use of a two-handed shoulder claw. In the end, I have to believe that Clay can make an impact in the WWE due to his size and agility, so long as the WWE gives him the right push.

Rating: ****

Byron Saxton

Saxton (Bryan Kelly) was a former television traffic reporter and producer for WJXT Jacksonville, Florida before joining FCW as a color commentator and manager. At 6’1”, 230 pounds, Saxton is looking to make the transition to in-ring competitor. Take a look for yourself here, and please try to overlook Abraham Washington running circles around Mason Ryan on commentary:

Saxton came up short in NXT seasons four and five, though his failure in season five was foreshadowed when the WWE selected Yoshi Tatsu as his mentor.

Saxton is a fine public speaker, but his tone and voice lends itself to an entitled rich guy gimmick, and the WWE has enough of those as it is. As for his ring-work, it’s so-so. I see him needing a few years to mature as an actual wrestler, though he does have some athletic gifts. His striking is okay, and he has some charisma; look for his match against Abraham Washington for proof of this. However, there’s just not enough there as of this moment to say that he’ll be a major player in the WWE in the years ahead.

Rating: ***

Calvin Raines

Raines, née Patrick Brink, was in FCW back in 2009 but was released within six months. Like any responsible professional, he took to the internet to right some perceived wrongs. Raines is 6’4” tall and 236 pounds and reminds me, in shape at least, of Wade Barrett, and recently vied for the FCW championship. Actually, Raines is like Wade Barrett in a lot of ways: he’s a brawler, has a limited move-set, and uses a finisher that starts with a fireman’s carry, though Raines’ Rain Drop ends in a spinebuster. Lots of big boots, stomps, elbow drops, forearm shots, and an overabundance of falling neckbreakers. Color me unimpressed.

He also uses a flying shoulder block, like that’s never been used before, but he sets it up in an awkward way befitting a spear more than a block. I decided to use his match against Tito Colon to show how he fares against a quicker technical wrestler, and to me he seems a bit sloppy. Now, Wade Barrett’s biggest saving grace is his mic ability. Raines doesn’t have that kind of ability, at least not yet. From what I’ve seen, and even though he was an FCW tag champ with Big E Langston, I have no desire to see him in the WWE any time soon.

Rating: *

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