Where Are They Now: Former FCW Stars

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - APRIL 1: John Cena looks on before his match against Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson during WrestleMania XXVIII at Sun Life Stadium on April 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - APRIL 1: John Cena looks on before his match against Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson during WrestleMania XXVIII at Sun Life Stadium on April 1, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images) /

Before NXT would undergo three different transformations in the 2010s and become the signature “development” brand of WWE, there was Florida Championship Wrestling. It was practically the same concept as NXT, but was much lower on the wrestling totem pole and didn’t even have a tenth of the attention NXT has gotten in recent years.

Active from 2007-2012, Florida Championship Wrestling was based out of Tampa, Florida. Some of the biggest WWE stars today got their start in the developmental program. People like WWE Champion Big E, Seth Rollins, Xavier Woods, Cesaro, and Roman Reigns all spent time in the FCW world. Even people who would go on to other companies spent time here, including Bram, Ivelisse, and Juice Robinson.

Coming off the recent nine-year anniversary, I’ve decided to take a look behind the curtain to document some of the brand’s biggest stars, and biggest failures too, and see exactly what they’re up to nowadays.

CJ Parker – Now known as Juice Robinson

CJ Parker spent about five years in the WWE system, but for the most part, he didn’t accomplish much. Parker started off his career in FCW, winning the tag team championships with Donny Marlow (Tanga Loa) within his first few months on the brand.

Parker and Marlow would hold her titles for a few months before dropping them to Brad Maddox and Briley Pierce (Ryan Nemeth) and ultimately disbanding as a team. Parker would go on to win the belts with another partner, Jason Jordan, in 2012.

“The Flamboyant” would not go on to find the same success in NXT. He would feud with the likes of Xavier Woods, Tye Dillinger, and Baron Corbin and would boast a recycling gimmick. Parker requested his release from WWE in early 2015 and it was granted within days. Parker’s first interview after being released would be with Daily DDT.

Not even two weeks after his departure from the Titan Towers, Parker ended up in CZW under the name “CJP”. After dabbling in some Europe-based independents, Parker would show face in New Japan Pro Wrestling under the name “Juice Robinson”.

Robinson would compete in a bunch of tag matches with rotating partners in late 2015 and early 2016 as he settled into the promotion. Some of his partners included Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, and David Finlay – who is still his current tag partner to this day.

Robinson was arguably lost in the shuffle until 2017, where he would have a remarkable G1 Climax run with wins over guys like Kenny Omega, Michael Elgin, and Satoshi Kojima. He also had a singles match at Wrestle Kingdom against Cody Rhodes.

Robinson would continue to climb the card more and more and in July 2018, he won the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship. Robinson went on to have two reigns with the belt that stretched over a combined period of 237 days.

Today, Robinson currently resides in the United States still and while travel to Japan is limited for the time being, he was a regular on Impact programming over the summer with tag partner David Finlay. Robinson also competes on the US-based NJPW Strong show.

Richie Steamboat – Retired

In today’s wrestling scene, second and third-generation superstars are treated very well and usually receive a ton of attention at the top of the card. People like Randy Orton, Charlotte Flair, Cody Rhodes, The Usos, Natalya, and Andrade are all headliners on their respective brands.

There’s always going to be a few people that don’t pan out in the wrestling business, and one of those people happens to be Richie Steamboat. Richie is the son of legendary hall of fame wrestler Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

Steamboat started his wrestling career in 2008 after being trained by George South and Harley Race. After spending some time in both the domestic and international independent scenes, he signed with WWE in December 2009.

Steamboat experienced a ton of success in his first year in FCW, boasting a win/loss record of 30-9 in 2010. By the time Spring of 2011 rolled around, he won the tag team championships with Seth Rollins. Although the reign wasn’t long, the two were a great team together.

More championships were in Richie’s future shortly after his 48-day tag championship reign with Rollins. On the first FCW show of 2012, he captured the FCW 15 title from Damien Sandow in a 2 out of 3 falls match.

After holding the 15 Title for the first half of 2012, Steamboat would eventually drop it to Brad Maddox. Only a month later, Steamboat would win the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship, a title that Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Bo Dallas, and Seth Rollins had held before him.

12 days into his reign, FCW was “shut down” and rebranded into NXT. Steamboat lives in wrestling history as the last person to ever hold the FCW Heavyweight Title.

You would think once NXT got up and running, Steamboat would be the first in line for an NXT Championship match – but that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately after a small feud with Kassius Ohno later that year, Steamboat would be put on the shelf with back issues.

And then, he just never returned. In December 2013, Mike Johnson of PWInsider reported that Steamboat (real name Richard Blood Jr.) had been released from WWE. Over two years later, his father Ricky would confirm that Richie was unable to wrestle again due to the back injury.

Steamboat is still inactive to this day.

Corey Graves – Transitioned to commentary

If you’ve only gotten into wrestling in the past couple of years, you might not know that Raw commentator Corey Graves used to be a full-time wrestler.

Graves is actually a fourteen-year veteran of the squared circle. Although he didn’t arrive in FCW until 2011, Graves spent time in independent promotions like PWX, IWC, ROH, and the NWA under the name “Sterling James Keenan”.

In August 2011, Graves signed a developmental contract with WWE. He mostly had no direction in FCW until he won the tag titles with Jake Carter in the spring of 2012. As mentioned early, FCW shut down a few months after they won the titles and transitioned into NXT.

Graves found tons of tag team success in NXT, going on to win the NXT Tag Team Championships in 2013 with Neville (PAC). After losing the titles only 84 days later, Neville and Graves feuded for a small amount of time before Graves was sidelined due to a legitimate concussion.

Graves made a return to the black and gold brand in early 2014 but was quickly sidelined with another concussion in April. Graves was absent from NXT programming until the Takeover: Revolution show, where he announced his retirement.

Graves would go on to be mainly a pre-show panelist before transitioning into a full-time commentary gig. Graves has moved around from Raw to Smackdown consistently but has always stayed the main color commentator of whatever brand he’s on.

Next. Charlotte Flair vs Alexa Bliss has potential to exceed expectations. dark

Although FCW was only around for four years, it helped produce some of the biggest stars in wrestling today. I’d classify the brand as being NXT before being NXT was cool.