1. Home
  2. WWE
  3. FCW/WWE Updates / Tampa Tribute Article

Florida Championship Wrestling holds shows every Tuesday night at Bourbon Street Night Club, 4331 US 19N in New Port Richey FL. FCW is an official developmental territory to World Wrestling Entertainment. The shows will begin at 8:30pm with tickets at 7 dollars.

Last week the war between new FCW Heavyweight champion Afa Jr. and “the Mastodon of Mayhem” G-Rilla got interesting when Afa’s new friend the Giant Titan fought G-Rilla to a no contest in a #1 contender’s bout. How interesting you ask, how about former champion and current Raw Superstar Harry Smith coming out and saved his former rival from a 2 on 1 beat down. Was it a one time thing or will we see a possible tag team match this week?

Come out this Tuesday to see those athletes plus Kofi Kingston, “Handsome” Heath Miller, “The Professional” Mike Mondo, “The Natural” Nick Nemeth, Sinn Bowdee, Vade Hansen, Ted DiBiase Jr., Moose Madison, TJ Wilson, Jake Hager, “Bad Seed” Shawn Osborne, Johnny Curtis, Steve Lewington, Sheamus O’Shaunessy, Mariouz Jablanski, Rycklon, Robert Anthony, and the British Lions (Chris Grey and Tommy Taylor). Plus FCW Diva’s Victoria Crawford and the Bella Twins (Nicole and Bri) and always be on the look out for some surprises.

Florida Championship Wrestling returns to its roots in Citrus County. On Saturday November 10th FCW will be at the Lecanto High School 3810 W. Educational Path, Lecanto, FL 34461. FCW will be part of the “David Williams Celebrity Tribute to Jesse’s Place.” Percentage of Funds raised will go to Jesse’s Place. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 7 PM Show Starts at 8 PM.

Just announced former WWE Tag Team champions and current Smackdown superstars Deuce and Domino with their manager Cherry will be in attendance! Plus Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Guard #72 Dan Buenning and Hall of Fame inductee, the one and only Big Nasty!

Check out www.fcwwrestling.com for more information.

FCW will return to the Jewish Community Center on Saturday December 1st. ticket and event information will be available in the coming days.

FCW in the Media:

At the link below are audio clips and a slideshow of photos from the event.


Wrestling With Tradition
Skip directly to the full story.

By GEOFF FOX The Tampa Tribune

NEW PORT RICHEY – Thanks to her sparkling smile, bleach-blonde hair and diva-like presence, most people probably wouldn’t assume at first glance that Nattie Neidhart‘s father is someone called “The Anvil.”

Nor is it immediately evident that the daughter of famed professional wrestler Jim Neidhart is one of a few women to have endured grueling training sessions in an infamous basement facility known as “The Dungeon.”

Watch her whip an opponent into a turnbuckle, though, and it’s clear that wrestling is in her blood.

“It’s hard, but pro wrestling is just something I’ve been surrounded by my whole life,” said Nattie Neidhart, whose grandfather, Stu Hart, ran the storied “Dungeon,” in Calgary, Alberta, where he trained Neidhart’s father, as well as her uncles, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith, among countless others.

Nattie Neidhart is one of several second- or third-generation wrestlers currently employed by Florida Championship Wrestling, one of two “developmental” territories run by Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment, an industry juggernaut. The other territory is based in Louisville, Ky.

About 40 FCW wrestlers are under contract with the WWE. They train five days a week at a training center off Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, and they usually perform at least once a week.

During a recent show at Bourbon Street on U.S. 19, where local FCW promoter Ralph Mosca holds weekly shows, Neidhart, Ted DiBiase Jr. and Afa Anoai Jr., member of a famous Samoan wrestling family, sharpened their skills against an array of trash-talking, knee-dropping, Spandex-clad opponents.

Waiting On A Call
Like their colleagues without famous last names, Neidhart, DiBiase Jr. and Afa Jr., as Anoai is known in the ring, dream of appearing on WWE TV shows like “Raw” or “Smackdown.” Lacey Von Erich, daughter of the late Kerry Von Erich, and Harry Smith, the late Davey Boy Smith’s son, also are on FCW’s roster.

“I’m waiting on my call. We’re all waiting on a call, until we’re told otherwise. We could be here a month or three years,” said Afa Jr., whose wrestling relatives also include Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and The Wild Samoans, a legendary tag team comprised of his father Afa Anoai and uncle, Sika Anoai.

“Pretty much any [Pacific] Islander that’s been involved in wrestling is related to me,” said Afa Jr., born and raised in Allentown, Pa.

When it comes to getting ahead in pro wrestling, name recognition helps, but it’s no guarantee for success, said Dusty Rhodes, the legendary “American Dream,” who works for WWE as a writer, consultant and talent scout. Rhodes sat beside Jim Neidhart during the recent Bourbon Street show.

“If you grew up in wrestling, it can help you understand the psychology of the industry,” said Rhodes, whose sons, Dustin and Cody, are now wrestlers. “I always tell [a wrestler’s children] to be your own self. Dustin was his own being; Cody is a modern-day young man. I always tell them, ‘Don’t be the next Ted DiBiase or the next ‘Anvil.’

“The [developmental territory] is like minor-league baseball. It all depends on talent and what the big club wants. You also have to have an ability to represent this company.”

Dangers Well-Documented
A wrestling career might seem glamorous and lucrative, but big-time wrestlers face exhausting travel schedules, while the high-flying, hard-hitting moves that keep fans screaming can take a heavy toll on a wrestler’s body.

Since the highly publicized suicide of former WWE star Chris Benoit, who also killed his wife and son, the industry has come under intense scrutiny.

Doctors who analyzed Benoit’s brain said it showed signs of repeated concussions that could ultimately have contributed to the deaths, according to a report by ESPN the Magazine and The Associated Press.

Anabolic steroids also were found in Benoit’s home and tests showed that he had about 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system when he died at 40, The Associated Press reported.

Dave Meltzer, editor and founder of the internationally distributed Wrestling Observer newsletter, said a disturbing trend of pro wrestlers dying at 45 and younger started around the mid-1980s.

“It started to pick up steam around 1996 or ’97, and in the last couple years it’s been really bad,” Meltzer said. “When you look at it, the guys who wrestled in the 1960s and ’70s lived pretty long lives, like a normal person.”

Asked about the recent media attention, Rhodes, whose career has spanned parts of five decades, said, “You just deal with it.”

“Like any form of entertainment, from Michael Vick to Britney Spears to ‘Pacman’ Jones, we are very visible,” he said. “We take care of our athletes. Our standards are very high, but when something happens, it’s magnified.”

Given the dangers, some might wonder what compels intelligent young adults to enter a business that can be as painful as it is potentially profitable.

Neidhart, 25, DiBiase Jr., 24, and Afa Jr., 23, seem to draw inspiration from their famous fathers.

“It might sound like a cliche,” DiBiase Jr. said, “but my dad was always my hero. I wanted to do what he did. I’ve played soccer, and I played college football. I’m just a natural athlete, and I can’t imagine doing anything else, especially with the history. I want to carry on the family tradition.”

Like Fathers, Like Sons
During a career that spanned parts of four decades Ted DiBiase, now a born-again Christian, was renowned as a world-class “heel.” The mere mention of his name could whip arenas full of people into an angry lather.

DiBiase Jr. seems equally given to rascality.

Before his match with Briton Steve Lewington, he loudly articulated his disdain for the British and refused to shake Lewington’s hand before the bell. Scanning the booing crowd, DiBiase Jr. then questioned the depth of the area’s “gene pool.” He was eventually disqualified by the referee for spending too much time outside the ring.

Like his father before him, Afa Jr. is adept at leaping from the top rope onto a fallen opponent.

During his FCW heavyweight title match with Billy Kidman, however, Afa Jr.’s vaunted “frog splash” missed. However, he effectively gouged Kidman’s eyes, rammed him shoulder-first into a metal post and appeared to bite him on the forehead.

After completing a difficult move that involved slamming Kidman onto his back from the top rope, Afa Jr. pinned him to retain the title.

“I turned pro at 13,” Afa Jr. said before the match. “It was in Austria. Back then, I was about as tall as I am now, about 6-foot-2, but I only weighed about 190. I wrestled in high school and played football at the University of Connecticut, but I blew my knee out. That’s when I decided to go into the family business [full time].”

The decision wasn’t easy, he said.

“I wanted to make my own way in football.”

‘You Can Never Leave’
Nattie Neidhart engaged in a tag-team match with partner Victoria against the Bella Twins.

It was a match that men in the crowd seemed to particularly enjoy, as any of the competent women wrestlers could probably succeed in less-violent endeavors, such as swimsuit modeling.

Together, the Bella Twins may have weighed less than 200 pounds, but their acrobatic moves, deceptive strength and fiery combativeness was too much for Neidhart and Victoria, who lost when Neidhart was pinned.

Afterward, Neidhart and Victoria argued with each other, the referee and their opponents in a display that could have made Rowdy Roddy Piper blush.

“I like the theatrics and the athleticism,” Nattie Neidhart said before the bout. “I have a good feeling. I love what I’m doing and I have the best trainers in the world in Steve Keirn and Tom Pritchard.

“It’s my passion. It’s my family’s passion. It’s part of my happiness and sense of fulfillment.”

The adrenaline rush and interaction with fans is also like an addiction, she said.

“It’s like ‘Hotel California.’ You can check out, but you can never leave.”

Reporter Geoff Fox can be reached at (813) 948-4217 or [email protected].