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    Monday, July 9, 2018

    #MustWatchMonday (7/9/18): From Florida to the World

    Remember when the WWE was fed directly by its affiliate developmental territories—namely Ohio Valley Wrestling, Deep South Wrestling, and Florida Championship Wrestling? The farm leagues churning out the kind of American-made, built-from-scratch wrestler Vince McMahon loved? Those sure were some fun times.

    While there are a number of them, especially early in the last decade, that would go on to be future Hall of Famers (look no further than the fabled 2002 OVW class), even more would end up being "just there" products of the WWE. With relatively few exceptions, many of the FCW-trained prospects from the mid-to-late 2000s would either eventually debut on the main roster and not go very far, or transition to the current NXT format in 2012 and languish there. If you weren't an indy darling or physically extraordinary, you didn't have much of a chance in developmental.

    Such was the story of one environmentalist hippie/wrestler named CJ Parker. The only difference between CJ Parker and the other homegrown farm league talents, however, is yesterday, CJ Parker became the IWGP United States Champion.

    This hard-fought win at the G1 Special in San Francisco comes despite Juice suffering from a broken left hand, which opponent Jay White targets all match and is also forbidden to use against him because of the cast. The Knife Pervert has his way with the Flamboyant One, throwing him around at ringside, against the barricades, just straight up hurting Juice and his hand. 

    There's even a hilarious moment in which Jay throws Juice against the barricade right in front of the English announce team, knocking Jim Ross back and causing color commentator Josh Barnett to make like Gilas Pilipinas and chase him around the ring. The two break all pretense of professionalism and cuss the Knife Perv out—because hey, we're in the 21st century and this isn't on cable.

    The action mounts until referee Red Shoes gets knocked down, allowing White to make like Nakamura and kick Juice in the balls—and, in turn, letting Juice finally use his cast. A Pulp Friction almost gets the job done, but in the end Jay falls to a simple small package that makes Juice the first American IWGP United States Champion.

    What makes this story amazing is that nobody's jumped from WWE developmental to not just another company, but a completely different kind of mainstream culture until CJ Parker found success as Juice Robinson.

    This was the guy who had to make do with a Greenpeace gimmick, and whose only real memorable moment down at NXT was breaking Kevin Owens's nose. To transition into an alien environment—without even soaking up important experience on the WWE main roster, the way his peer Cody Rhodes, and even main show midcarder Tanga Loa did—is unheard of. The fact that the business is thriving enough for a CJ Parker to get an opportunity like that should serve as some inspiration for other wrestlers who feel like their careers are stuck in midcard hell.

    But for those only tuning into both WWE and NJPW now, it doesn't matter that much. What's important is Juice Robinson's now an NJPW champ, opening a whole realm of possibilities in the company's midcard. Oh, and anything can happen if you work hard enough. We pray for the Japanese chick he went balls-deep in last night.

    Photo from NJPW
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    Item Reviewed: #MustWatchMonday (7/9/18): From Florida to the World Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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