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By Richard Trionfo on 2013-12-19 23:38:50
On Thursday night, the six and a half year journey of FCW and NXT in Tampa ended with the final house show at the former FCW Arena. I was in attendance at the show and here is what happened.

(Some of the names might not be 100% correct, even with the assistance of the NXT Roster Page because the mics seemed to be at an unusually low volume throughout the night.)

Before the show started, a number of wrestlers made their way around the ring to sign autographs. Among the people signing were Bayley, NXT Women’s Champion Paige, Sasha Banks, Colin Cassady, Corey Graves, NXT Tag Team Champion Viktor, NXT Tag Team Champion K’Onor, Emma, and NXT Champion Bo Dallas. Sasha was using a stamp instead of actually signing the autographs.

Norman Smiley came out and he talked about starting his career in Tampa, relatively close to the building we were in tonight. He says that he was given a chance to train people at FCW and he talks about being proud of the number of people who are currently on Raw and Smackdown who have come through FCW and NXT.

Match Number One: Troy McClain defeated Travis Tyler with a uranage. Before the match, McClain came out with a wireless headset and he talked about how he thought his opponent tonight was a friend of his, but he turned his back on him. During the match, McClain put the wireless headset back on.

Match Number Two: Adam Rose (the former Leo Kruger) defeated Corey Graves with a rollup and his feet on the bottom rope so the referee could not see it. Rose did as much as possible to frustrate Graves during the match and teased using the claw. When Graves tried for Lucky Thirteen, Rose applied the claw to avoid the hold. Before Rose got the victory, Graves tried to use the ropes to get extra leverage on a cover but the referee saw his feet on the ropes.

Match Number Three: CJ Parker and Jason Jordan defeated Ty Dillinger and Baron Corbin when Jordan hit an Arabian Press after Parker connected with a palm thrust.

Match Number Four: Solomon Crowe defeated Kalisto when the lights went out while Kalisto was giving Crowe a standing Sliced Bread. It appeared that Kalisto was going to win but when the lights came back on, Crowe was covering Kalisto.

There was an intermission.

Coming back from Intermission, Santa Claus came out and he was interrupted by Aiden English. Aiden insulted Santa Claus and then Eugene came out to help Santa. Eugene wanted to sing Christmas carols with Aiden and Aiden took the mic from him and while English was singing, he was pantsed by Eugene and English went to the back.

Santa brought out his helpers who gave gifts to some of the people at ringside.

Match Number Five: Colin Cassady and Angelo Dawkins defeated The Ascension and Sylvester Lefort and Marcus Louis in a Non Title Elimination Tag Match when Dawkins pinned Viktor with a rollup after K’Onor was tripped by Cassady as they were setting to hit Fall of Man on Dawkins. Lefort and Louis were pinned in about 20 seconds after they knocked Cassady and Dawkins off the apron and The Ascension hit Fall of Man on Louis.

Match Number Six: Bayley and Emma defeated Raquel Diaz and Sasha Banks when Bayley pinned Banks after a belly-to-belly hugplex. They teased some tension during the match between Diaz and Banks when Banks made a harder than needed tag. Diaz refused the tag, leading to the finish of the match. At the start of the match, Bayley had a Christmas present for Diaz but Banks yelled at her. After the match, Diaz took the lipstick that she was given by Bayley and put it all over Banks’ face (something that Diaz was doing in her previous FCW/NXT run)

Match Number Seven: NXT Heavyweight Champion Bo Dallas defeated Billy Gunn with a spear in a No Disqualification Match to retain the NXT Heavyweight Title. The crowd was clearly behind Gunn during the match and they used many weapons during the match, but no tables to the dismay of the capacity crowd.

During the match, the following people did run ins: Viktor gave Gunn a flying boot. Eugene hit a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow on Dallas. Adam Rose gave Gunn the Slice. Someone I could not recognize came out and gave Dallas a snap mare and kick to the back. K’Onor gave Gunn a flapjack. Norman Smiley gave Dallas a slam (but no Big Wiggle). Corey Graves hit a Codebreaker on Gunn. Bill DeMott hit a plash on Dallas and gave him a slam. Saxton knocked DeMott off the turnbuckles and he got knocked off the apron by Gunn. This led to the finish of the match.

After the match, Billy Gunn got on the mic and he thanked everyone for coming to the show and for their support of the product. He brought out Norman Smiley.

Norman brought out Steve and Terry Keirn to thank them for what they did with FCW. They presented Steve with a plaque to thank him.

The wrestlers made their way to ringside and surrounded the ring.

Steve took the mic and gave a speech about how when he started FCW, he was told by Vince McMahon that they wanted two people each year to be on the main roster, but in six and a half years, they had over 100 people who came through FCW make it to the roster. Steve thanked Terry Taylor, Norman Smiley, and Bill DeMott. He also thanked his wife and family for being there and for allowing him to make a number of sacrifices. He also realized that since this was not being filmed, he did not have to worry about the hard camera so he apologized to the other side of the arena for having his back to them.

Steve apologized for not having a planned speech, but the crowd did not care and told him to keep going, but then he said that everyone could stay and help clean up while he went home.

Thoughts on the Final FCW Arena Show

I thought this was a decent show, but with WWE taping next Friday’s Smackdown tonight, it probably kept some people who might have been at the show from being there.

I was surprised that Paige did not wrestle because I could have sworn that she was announced to team with either Bayley or Emma against Raquel Diaz and Sasha Banks.

I was hoping to see Sami Zayn or Adrian Neville on the show but I did not see either of them during the show.

The best match on the show was Kalisto versus Solomon Crowe. I was hoping to get a chance to see Crowe in action after seeing the video of his debut. I would compare the Crowe entrance to the Ascension when they first started in the sense that it builds a lot of anticipation for him to appear.

There was one move that Crowe did that I was really impressed with. Crowe snaps himself off the ropes and then turns it into a splash on his opponent. I think that could potentially be a finisher since it looks like he gets a lot of force on the move.

While I have seen Kalisto wrestle in other companies, he was doing a few things that I had not seen from him before. He appeared to go for a handspring move using the ropes for momentum, but he did not use his hands.

I really liked the Corey Graves versus Adam Rose match. If Rose was still wrestling as Leo Kruger this would have been a match where you had two people with similar styles in the ring where they try to do whatever it takes to win their matches and inflict as much pain as possible on their opponent.

However, with Rose’s new character, he has a very demonstrative gimmick where he could potentially be paired with someone like Fandango. I know that Michael Spears, who I was sitting with at the show, has compared him to Russell Brand in some of his roles, but I thought he looked a little like Tommy Wiseau. Rose appears to have fun with the gimmick so maybe this means that he is on the fast track to the main roster.

With the blonde hair, I thought Raquel Diaz looked a lot like Danielle Fishel.

The main event was a decent match, but with it being a No Disqualification Match, you would expect some shenanigans. Once the run ins started, it was fun for the crowd to try to figure out who would be next. Some people wanted Steve Keirn to get involved. When Corey Graves came out, I was hoping that he would have attacked both men and left instead of just going after Gunn.

The Keirn speech at the end was very good. This was definitely worth the price of admission to hear from the man who ran this facility for the last 6 plus years and to hear him say that Corporate wanted two people per year to come out of developmental and then to average almost 20 shows the talent that came through Tampa and other cities in Florida before going to Raw or Smackdown.

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