Ever wondered how the great wrestlers of history got to the top of the mountain? Well, it’s usually because they’re over six-foot six, 280lbs and look like they were carved by Zeus himself, but how these gods among men go from budding hopefuls to megastar main-eventers is usually through a developmental system. WWE has utilized plenty of developmental systems in its time, – OVW, FCW, NXT etc. – all of which have taken young talent and tried to help them on their way to the big leagues, giving them experience in everything from mic work to in-ring performance. It’s not uncommon for a wrestler we know and love on the main roster to be completely unrecognizable in developmental. Becky Lynch’s original NXT gimmick was an Irish dancer (real original, huh?), Rusev came out in a weird, leather skirt type thing long before he met Lana and Batista was called “Leviathan” during his days in OVW.
The point I’m trying to make is, WWE’s developmental systems are a treasure trove of bizarre trivia about your favourite wrestlers and, in this list, we’re going to be focusing on some of the strangest combinations of future superstars to win the tag team championships in their respective developmental systems. The list of developmental tag team champions is littered with superstars you wouldn’t ever expect to see interact on WWE TV today, let alone team up successfully. Some partners have gone on to do much, much better than others, some have even left the company and gone on to success elsewhere in the world, whilst other pairings just seem so strange when their current gimmicks are considered, you’ll be tempted to Google them just to check I’m not lying. I had to Google some to check I wasn’t lying. That’s how crazy some of these teams are.
So, prepare yourself for a trivia overload as you are about to bombarded with completely useless statistics you can alienate all your friends with. You’re welcome. Anyway, let’s begin shall we? Here are fifteen of the strangest teams to ever win the developmental tag team championships in WWE.
17 15. Dolph Ziggler and Tye Dillinger (FCW)
The Show-off and The Perfect Ten; sounds like a pretty good combination, actually. Ziggler and Dillinger won the FCW tag titles in August 2008 under the names Nick Nemeth and Gavin Spears, respectively. This would be Nemeth’s (which is Dolph’s real name) second reign with the titles, but Dolph had actually already enjoyed a reign as World Tag Team champion as a member of The Spirit Squad by this time. When he ascended to the main roster for the second time, this time under the Ziggler name, he would begin a career that would see four Intercontinental Championship reigns, a United States Championship reign, a Money In The Bank ladder match victory and two reigns with the World Heavyweight Championship, although I’m hesitant to count his first reign, because he was literally just given the championship by Vickie Guerrero, only to lose it to Edge later that night. Not mentioned a lot on commentary, that one.
As for Spears, well, he’s still in the developmental system as NXT's favourite narcissist, Tye Dillinger, but he has been on the main roster before. He performed under the Spears name for a few months in 2009 on ECW before being released. Dillinger wrestled from company to company, including TNA and Ring of Honor, from 2009 to 2013 until being signed back to WWE through NXT, where he has been ever since. Despite having very similar gimmicks and being champions at the same time, Ziggler and Dillinger’s careers took very different paths. One’s claim to fame is that he’s a former world champion, whilst the other’s is that he got Superkicked by Shawn Michaels at Cyber Sunday 2006. Go back, watch it, you’ll see.
16 14. Corey Graves and Jake Carter (FCW)
We continue our list with one name you most definitely will have heard of and one you may not have and if you have, you might not realize the significance of. Corey Graves and Jake Carter won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championships on March 15th 2012 after defeating The Rotundos (better known as real life brothers Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas) and would reign for ninety-three days, the fifth longest reign of all time. Following this, Graves would go on to some success when FCW (which stood for Florida Championship Wrestling, by the way) was rebranded and became NXT. Winning the tag team titles there with current Raw star Neville, Graves’ career was cut short when a series of concussions forced him into early retirement. Graves now provides colour commentary for Monday Night Raw (the one shining light in the otherwise vomit-inducing Raw commentary) and is regarded by many as one of WWE’s strongest commentators, if not their strongest when it comes to colour. But, you knew that already.
Let’s talk about the name you may not have heard of. Jake Carter came to FCW in 2011 and made his TV debut for the promotion in mid-2012, not long before winning the titles with Graves. When FCW became NXT, Carter would find himself mostly jobbing out, before being released in 2013. So why am I talking about some random old jobber who isn’t even with WWE anymore? Because of his heritage, that’s why. Carter’s real name is Jesse White and his father is Leon White - better known as former WCW World Heavyweight Champion and the angriest wrestler on Twitter, Big Van Vader.
It may not be too exciting to you, but to me the idea of Vader’s son and Corey Graves teaming is a strange one, but not nearly as strange as Carter’s complete and utter failure to capture any attention or success in the WWE. Wrestling is in his blood and surely having a wrestler as innovative and successful as Vader as a father would help in some way, surely. Apparently not, as, to most people, Carter still remains an unknown, whilst his former partner is one of the best things about WWE today. Don’t cry too hard for Carter, though – he’s dating JoJo. Nice one, Jake.
15 13. Tyson Tomko and Kevin Thorn (OVW)
You know how I said you’d see some wrestlers on this list you never thought would interact. This is one of them. Under the name The Disciples of Synn (a name used by at least three different OVW Southern Tag Team champions), Tomko and Thorn, then known as Travis Bane and Seven, respectively, defeated Lance Cade and Rene Dupree in the finals of a tournament to win the vacant OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling) tag titles on 5th of March 2003. The duo would only reign for thirty-six days before being defeated by the APA (yes, I do mean that APA) to lose the titles. Neither man would have amazing success on the main roster, but both are names most fans will recognize.
Bane became Tyson Tomko, perhaps best known for his time allied with Christian and Trish Stratus during their feud with Chris Jericho. Tomko worked as a private bodyguard, rarely wrestling but often there to provide distractions or interference to ensure those who paid him got the win. Tomko had a short run as a monster heel before quitting WWE in 2006, going on to success outside of the company, holding both the TNA and IWGP World Tag Team Championships simultaneously.
Seven – real name Kevin Fertig – continued his macabre gimmick when he debuted as Mortdecai, an ultra-religious character with satanic undertones. Mortdecai didn’t last very long as Fertig was sent down to OVW again before re-debuting on WWE’s version of ECW as Kevin Thorn, a vampire. Not really much else to say about that. He was a vampire. He was meant to be in a stable with Gangrel, another vampire, but that never happened. Basically, they tried to make another Brood. Yay?
Anyway, Thorn had a fairly decent run on ECW before getting sent back down to OVW again in 2007 for what would be the last time. After a brief stint in FCW, Fertig was fired and he now wrestles largely on the indies. The idea of a vampire and a bodyguard teaming up is so strange that it only really could have existed in the world of pro-wrestling. Whilst neither man was going to be the next big thing, this is a nice little nugget of information to bring up the next time you’re talking about either Tomko or Kevin Thorn. Not that you’d ever talk about those two, but you know what I mean.
14 12. Paul Burchill and Wade Barrett (OVW)
This one might be less unusual because they’re both British and the WWE does love to group people based on their nationality (just ask the Un-Americans), but it’s still an odd pairing.
Wade Barrett had quite the successful runs in all three of WWE’s major developmental systems. He was the winner of the first season of NXT during its run as a reality show, he was a two-time FCW Tag champ with Drew McIntyre (now Drew Galloway in TNA) and won the OVW Southern Tag Team Championships with Paul Burchill on January 2nd 2008. Barrett would go on to lead The Nexus on the main roster, challenge for the WWE Championship on numerous occasions and would win the Intercontinental Championship five times, as well as 2015’s King of the Ring tournament before leaving the company earlier this year. Burchill’s story, well... that’s a little different.
Burchill debuted on the main roster in August of 2005 after his initial run in OVW and formed an alliance with yet another Englishman, William Regal. Damn, WWE really aren’t very creative when it comes to putting teams together. After some matches for the tag titles, Burchill’s career took a turn decidedly for the worst. In a now infamous moment, Burchill would debut a new look on the February 10th 2006 episode of Smackdown and that new look was... a pirate. Not like someone who steals things on the Internet or cruises the Cape of Africa or something. Nope, a proper, shiver me timbers, eye patch and peg leg style pirate. Who thought this was a good idea? Now the only thing anyone ever remembers about Burchill is that he was the goddamn pirate, not that he was incredible athletic and very charismatic, no, pirate. So yeah, Bad News Barrett teamed up with a pirate once. Fun times.
13 11. Fandango and Tyler Reks (FCW)
Another very strange, but extremely successful developmental pairing here. Under the name Johnny Curtis, Fandango teamed with Tyler Reks, who was wrestling under the name, umm, Tyler Reks, to win the FCW Florida Tag Team Championships from DH Smith and TJ Wilson (later known as David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd) and would reign for 160 days, the longest single reign in the belt’s history. Both men would have other successes in developmental before being called up, however, despite being contemporaries, they were not called up at the same.
Reks was the first to debut and he did so on ECW in 2009 with a surfer gimmick, because, you know, he had dreadlocks. He then went to Smackdown and transformed into a monster heel of sorts, though he never really accomplished much besides the 2010 Bragging Rights trophy. After a run with Curt Hawkins that eventually lead to a male stripper gimmick (ugh), he would quit the WWE in 2012, right before his former partner would debut on the main roster.
Curtis would spend some more time in FCW before participating in season four of NXT, which he won. He came up to main roster in late 2012 on Smackdown and gained huge attention when he defeated Chris Jericho in his debut match at WrestleMania 29. However, this would be the high point of his career as he now finds himself a certified jobber, teaming with Tyler Breeze and barely appearing on TV. It’s such a shame that both of these talented wrestlers haven’t been given the attention they deserve on the main roster, even more so when you consider how well they were booked in FCW. Here’s some advice for you WWE: if you want talented wrestlers to do well, don’t book them as surfers and ballroom dancers. Just a thought.
12 10. Seth Rollins and Richie Steamboat (FCW)
Another son of a former wrestler denied a WWE career now, only this time his partner went on to become one of the best in the world today. Seth Rollins and Richie Steamboat, son of Hall of Famer, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championships in March of 2011, just under two years before Rollins would debut on the main roster as a member of The Shield, and would reign for 48 days before losing the belt to Calvin Raines (no idea) and Big E Langston (more of an idea).
Rollins’ career would go from strength to strength following this win; he became the first ever NXT Champion in July of 2012, rose to prominence as a member of The Shield alongside Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, won Money In The Bank in 2015 and has had reigns with the WWE Tag Team, United States and World Championships. Things couldn’t have gone much differently for his former partner, however.
Rollins and Steamboat were one of the most successful pairings of wrestlers in FCW history; both men were FCW Grand Slam Champions and both were piped for big things on the main roster. Sadly, in late 2012, Steamboat suffered a serious back injury that required major surgery. After years of confusion regarding Steamboat’s status, it would be his father who announced that, due to his injuries. Richie would never be able to wrestle again. An incredibly sad story made even worse when you think that Rollins and Steamboat were seen on the same level in developmental, Richie Steamboat joins Corey Graves on the list of wrestling “what ifs”. Woah, things got depressing there. Everybody just think of that time Seth Rollins got goo squirted in his face on Raw. Better? Phew, that was close.
11 9. Colt Cabana and Tye Dillinger (OVW)
Yes, I know, we’ve already covered Tye, but there’s a reason for his second appearance on the list. This time wrestling as Shawn Spears, Dillinger won the OVW Southern Tag Team Championships with Colt Cabana after the titles were vacated by The James Boys. This would be Spears’ third reign with these titles after two reigns with Cody Runnels (later Cody Rhodes) but Cabana’s, who would find the majority of his fame outside of WWE, first. This would lead to an angle where the team mates turned on each other and wanted to split up; only problem was, only one of them could have control of the titles. To decide who, the two faced off in a ladder match for the rights to the titles, a match won by Colt Cabana. This lead to an interesting situation where, for two whole weeks, Colt Cabana reigned as OVW Tag Team Champions by himself.
Eventually, Cabana would choose a new partner in the form of Charles Evans (no idea who that is, but they chose a terrible name) before losing the titles to Burchill and Barrett (see above) on the same night. Cabana made it to the main roster as Scotty Goldman, but would only last six months before being released. Cabana would find great success on the independent circuit with promotions like Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, the National Wrestling Alliance and, most famously, Ring of Honor. Now the host of a successful wrestling podcast, The Art of Wrestling, Cabana’s doing ok, all things considered.
As for his partner, well, now you know that Dillinger has been through three different developmental systems and still isn’t on the main roster. It’s taken well over a decade, but now it finally looks like things are falling into place for the former Shawn Spears, as his Perfect Ten gimmick is one of the most over in NXT. Time will only tell what’s next for Tye, but I personally can’t wait. But, maybe don't wait too much longer, WWE. I mean, he is thirty-five. Hurry up already!
10 8. Damien Sandow and Titus O’Neil (FCW)
One was an intellectual saviour of the masses. One got suspended for shoving Vince McMahon. Swings and roundabouts, I guess. Sandow and Titus won the belts after they were vacated by Xavier Woods and Wes Brisco in late 2010, defeating Woods and Mason Ryan (remember him? He was Welsh) to win the vacant belts.
Titus would debut on the main roster alongside tag team partner, Darren Young, as The Prime Time Players. The duo would have some success and get over with the fans with their “Millions of Dollars” dance and would eventually win the WWE Tag Team Champions at Money In The Bank 2015. Since then Titus’ most famous moment probably came when at Battleground 2016, when he kissed his son on the mouth and ignited an internet debate, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the great Jaffa Cake debate (it’s a cake, dammit).
Sandow had actually had some experience on the main roster before this team. He was appearing on Smackdown all the way back in 2006 as Idol Stevens, alongside KC James and Michelle McCool, even receiving a match at No Mercy for the WWE Tag Team Championships. However, this was to be a brief appearance as he was released by the company (for the first time) in August 2007. After being resigned in 2010, Stevens would debut on the main roster in 2012 as Damien Sandow and, despite a string of bad booking decisions, would become one of the most popular superstars in recent WWE history. Despite a Money In The Bank briefcase win and a reign with the WWE Tag Team Championships, Sandow was released from the company in early 2016, but he now finds himself as a pretty high-profile player in TNA, so I guess things are going ok? Kinda?
Anyway, despite going on to have two radically different gimmicks, Sandow and O’Neil can trace their careers back to the same point, it’s just a shame things haven’t worked out too well for either man. Also, Sandow should seriously consider suing Justin Gabriel for gimmick infringement; he was the Easter Bunny at Vengeance 2003 in the APA Bar Room Brawl. Bad form, Justin.
9 7. Curtis Axel and Low Ki (FCW)
Another one for the ROH loyalists. Kaval and Michael McGillicutty won the FCW Tag Team Championships on July 15th 2010, but only reigned for a single day before losing the belts back to Epico and Hunico (who’s now Sin Cara, in case you were wondering). This was McGillicutty’s fourth and final reign with the titles, alongside Brett DiBiase (Ted DiBiase’s son), Heath Slater and Tyler Reks, but his first under his current name. All the other reigns came under his real name, Joe Hennig, betraying his superstar roots as the son of WWE Hall of Famer, Mr. Perfect. McGillicutty would debut on the main roster under that name as a member of The Nexus and would go on to win the Tag Team titles with David Otunga before re-debuting as Curtis Axel in 2013. Axel was pushed as the Intercontinental Champion shortly after this debut and would play a prominent role in the high-profile feud between Paul Heyman and CM Punk in the summer of 2013. Now, Axel finds himself a jobber whose most recent accomplishment was getting over dressed as Hulk Hogan. Thanks for ruining that for him, Hulkster.
As for Low Ki, well, he was actually somewhat of a legend before his partnership with Axel in FCW. As one of the “founding fathers” of Ring Of Honor alongside CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, Low Ki holds the distinction of being the first ever ROH World Champion after defeating Christopher Daniels, Doug Williams and Spanky (that’s Brian Kendrick, in case you were wondering) in a Four-Way sixty minute Iron Man match. Jeez, I’m exhausted just typing that sentence.
A legend on the indie scene, Low Ki was eventually beckoned by WWE and won the second season of NXT under the ring name, Kaval. He would go on to challenge (unsuccessfully) Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series 2010, but his run with the company was pretty uneventful besides this and he would be released just a month after his IC title shot. Two days before Christmas as well. Damn, WWE sure are cold when it comes to releasing ROH founding fathers. Watch out, Daniel. Anyhow, despite a less than stellar run in WWE, Low Ki is still a legend and still performs to the highest standard to this day. As for Axel, well, he could still get over, maybe, perhaps, possibly, probably not. Sorry, Ax Man, I still love you though.
8 6. Rob Conway and Eugene (OVW)
Oh jeez, I’m gonna have to talk about Eugene now. Oh Lord, here we go. Robert Conway and Nick Dinsmore (Eugene’s real name) were a force to be reckoned with in Ohio Valley Wrestling. Between 1998 and 2002, The Lords of the Ring, as they were known, won the OVW Southern Tag Team Championships a record-tying ten times, taking each individual wrestlers’ total reigns to eleven, another record. After their incredible run in the tag division in OVW, both men ascended to the main roster at around the same time, even teaming together on an episode of Smackdown in 2003, albeit both under masks.
Conway joined La Resistance, an anti-American heel tag team, and would win the tag team titles three times as partner to Sylvain Grenier. Conway would eventually be released in 2007. Conway would actually go on to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice after his release, but neither he, not his awful, awful theme music would never be seen in the WWE again.
As for Dinsmore. Well... He would rise to prominence as Eugene, nephew of William Regal. Eugene displayed some, uh, interesting qualities, umm... alright, fine, there’s no way of tip-toeing around this: Eugene was mentally challenged and this was used to “comedic” effect on Raw. Whilst Dinsmore did win the World Tag Team Championship once with Regal, his character has gone down in history as one of the most offensive, politically incorrect in WWE history, which is a real shame because Dinsmore was an incredibly talented performer that deserved, much, much better.
Both Dinsmore and Conway were victims of bad gimmicks, but, at least they will always go down in history as OVW’s greatest tag team performers. Now, please, can I move on from Eugene now? I feel a little unwell.
7 5. Justin Gabriel and Brian Cage (FCW)
Once again, it’s a former Nexus member and an independent star, but, somehow, they reigned for even less time than Axel and Low Ki. Justin Gabriel and Kris Logan defeated Caylen Croft and Trent Barreta on July 23rd 2009 to win the titles for the first time. However, the night was not over for Logan and Gabriel. They were then challenged by the Rotundos (Bray and Bo, again) who defeated them to win their first FCW Tag Team Championships, titles they hold the record for most consecutive days held.
Gabriel would find fame on the main roster as the high-flying owner of the 450 splash, a move guaranteed to get you over with its complexity and visual impressiveness. Aside from a few impressive uses of the 450 (including one on Vince McMahon, because Vince is the toughest Grandpa in the world) Gabriel’s only real accomplishment in WWE were three WWE Tag Team Championships, but, outside of WWE, he has won titles in TNA, GFW and Lucha Underground, the only man in history to win championships in those four promotions. Currently signed to Lucha Underground as PJ Black, Gabriel continues to excite fans with his high-flying offence and seems to finally be getting the respect he deserves as a performer.
As for Logan, well, he never made it to the main roster after being released from his contract in September of 2009. Following this departure, he became Brian Cage and gained a serious following on the independent circuit, wrestling for promotions such as PWG and TNA and now entertains audiences alongside his former partner in Lucha Underground. Over his varied career, Cage has won the AAA Lucha Libre World Cup (along with John Morrison and Chav Guerrero), the Lucha Underground Gift of the Gods Championship and the PWG World Tag Team Championship, but you could say it all began with that brief reign as FCW Tag Team Champion.
Both incredible talents that WWE missed out on, both Cage and Gabriel have been talented enough to make a career elsewhere in pro wrestling, although, if the time ever came, I don’t think anyone would be sad to see either man return to the company. Also, fun fact: remember that bunny that followed Adam Rose around for a bit? That was Justin Gabriel. Wrestling’s awful sometimes.
4 4. Brad Maddox and Viktor (FCW)
Nope, you read that right. A former Raw authority figure and one half of The Ascension. This odd couple actually hold the distinction of being the final FCW Tag Team Champions before the titles were deactivated and FCW was rebranded as NXT. This was to be Maddox’s second reign with the belts after reigning with Briley Pierce (who is the real life brother of Dolph Ziggler), but for Viktor, who was competed under the name Rick Victor, this was to be his first and only run as a tag team champion. Well, until NXT, of course.
After a brief singles run, including a non-title match with then-NXT Champion, Seth Rollins, Victor found himself partnering with Conor O’Brien, later under the names Viktor and Konnor respectively, as The Ascension. The Ascension became NXT Tag Team Champions after beating Corey Graves and Adrian Neville and would reign for a record-setting 364 days (so close to a year), before losing to Sin Cara and Kalisto at NXT Takeover: Fatal 4-Way. Since then, the team have gone up to the main roster, been beaten up by a bunch of old men and accomplished precisely nothing. To see such a promising team derailed so spectacularly on the main roster is extremely upsetting, but perhaps there is still time for Konnor and Viktor to be booked well again. I mean, if Jack Swagger can get a push, anyone can.
As for Maddox, he’s best known for his time as assistant to Raw General Manager, Vickie Guerrero. Maddox was portrayed as the cowardly sidekick to Vickie, but had other memorable moments, like getting beaten up by Randy Orton on Raw and being in the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, despite being the second person to be eliminated. Maddox never really made it as a wrestler on the main roster, but he was still pretty entertaining and deserved better than to be fired after an incident at a house show. Both men deserved far better than they were dealt in the WWE, but, then again, you could say that for half the people on this list. Well, maybe except these next two. These are pretty bad ass.
3 3. Shelton Benjamin and Brock Lesnar (OVW)
Told you. When you explore the history of these two talented performers, their teaming makes total sense. Lesnar and Benjamin and are only two years apart in age and both attended the University of Minnesota, which they both attended on a full wrestling scholarship and even shared a room together. Both men ended up in WWE at around the same time and formed a tag team in OVW known as The Minnesota Stretching Crew, an homage to The Minnesota Wrecking Crew, a tag team made up of various fictional members of the Anderson family (including WWE Hall of Famer, Arn). Benjamin and Lesnar held the OVW tag titles three times in 2001 before splitting and, eventually, ascending to the main roster.
Shelton Benjamin would go onto the win the Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship and World Tag Team Championship in a successful run from 2002 to 2010, as well as taking that Superkick from Shawn Michaels in one of the best finishes in WWE history. With plans for a return to WWE in the near future, fans might see even more success from The Gold Standard. Or, they’ll just team him up with James Ellsworth or something.
Most people know Lesnar’s story; debuting in a hardcore match, attacking the likes of Maven, Al Snow and Spike Dudley, winning King of the Ring, the Royal Rumble and the WWE Championship all within his rookie year, going onto main event SummerSlam and WrestleMania, leaving the company and becoming UFC Heavyweight Champion, making a successful return, recapturing the world title and becoming one of the biggest draws in combat sports history. It’s unfair to compare Shelton to Brock when it comes to success; both these men had incredible careers and deservedly so. If anything, Shelton actually deserve merit for this; he’s managed to step out of the shadow of both Brock and Kurt Angle and is still one of the most respected performers in the business today at the age of 41. Good going, Shelton. Just leave your mum at home when you do come back, yeah?
2 2. Roman Reigns and Tyler Breeze (FCW)
Wow. Just wow. Couldn’t really get any further away from each other, could you? On 15th June 2012, Mike Dalton and Leakee (Breeze and Reigns respectively) won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championships from Corey Graves and Jake Carter and would hold onto them for just under a month. What happened to the two men after this is one hell of a tale.
After FCW was rebranded NXT, Leakee would be rebranded too. And so, Roman Reigns was born, and, across the world, millions of people suddenly felt the urge to boo. From member of The Shield to Royal Rumble winner, failed main eventer to three-time world champion, Reigns’ rollercoaster career has been truly fascinating to watch in the same way that you might stop and stare at a dead bird you found on the side of the road. You don’t like it and you don’t feel comfortable watching it, but it still interests you.
As for Dalton, well, things really couldn’t have gone any differently really. After being told to change his character to get over, Dalton became Tyler Breeze, a self-obsessed, selfie-obsessed (har de har, I’m so funny) supermodel who wore frilly boots, fur coats and filmed himself on the way to the ring. It was glorious. Breeze shot to the top of NXT, competing for the NXT Championship in numerous high profile matches, feuding with the likes of Hideo Itani and Finn Balor and is the only man to date to have faced legendary Japanese wrestler, Jushin Thunder Liger, in a WWE ring. Then he made his main roster debut.
Actually, that ugh wasn’t sufficient enough to display my anger.
Better. Despite a strong showing against Dolph Ziggler at Survivor Series, Breeze was quickly reduced to a jobber. Despite showing promise, even when feuding with The Golden Truth alongside Fandango, Breeze is destined to join many other members of this list as a promising developmental talent who was mistreated on the main roster. Oh well, at least Roman Reigns is doing well. Ugh.
1 1. John Cena and Rico (OVW)
Nope, you did read that correctly. John Cena, the fifteen-time world champion, two-time Royal Rumble winner, future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest of all time, was tag team champion with a man whose most famous gimmick was a hair stylist. Wrestling is amazing. Cena, wrestling under the name The Prototype (oh, how right that would prove to be), and Rico won the titles after winning a tournament. They reigned for 75 days before dropping the titles to The Minnesota Stretching Crew; one of the first times two of the company’s defining figures would meet in a WWE environment. I am of course talking about Rico and Shelton Benjamin.
After this, Cena would go on to become, well, John Cena; one of the most popular (at times) and famous wrestlers of all time and is still at the top of his game to this day. As for Rico (who’s real first name is Americo, by the way), well, he hasn’t quite captured the same essence as Cena, but, in all fairness, neither have 99.99% of the rest of the roster. Rico did make a big splash on his debut in March 21st; allying himself with Billy and Chuck and winning the World Tag Team Championship with Rikishi (why their team wasn’t called Rico-kishi I’ll never know) at Judgement Day that year and even defeated Ric Flair in late 2002 on Raw, clean too. Rico would go onto win the WWE Tag Team Championships with Charlie Haas, before being released in 2004. He went on to wrestle on the indies for a bit, but now finds himself working as a policeman in Nevada, where he holds the rank of Sergeant Inspector. So, take that Cena, screw you and your fifteen world titles!
With such contrasting gimmicks and career paths, not many people would associate Cena and Rico, let alone have them pinned as former tag team champions. But, that just goes to show, between developmental and the end of a WWE wrestler’s career, anything can happen. Who knows, we might be talking one day about WWE Hall of Famer Dash Wilder, teaming up with manager of Breezango, Scott Dawson, in NXT. That’s the beauty of wrestling. Also, if that actually happens, I knew all along - and if it doesn’t happen, it was totally a joke, guys. Phew. Covered myself.
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