For the first time, it truly seems like the concept of a farm system in wrestling is about to pay off. Unlike the territory days, the wrestlers in FCW/NXT can develop their gimmick for as long as it takes, and won't have the agents tweaking/modifying the character (ex. Damien Sandow worked on his character for years, found one he's a natural at, and has exactly the same gimmick in WWE that he had 2 years ago in FCW). Even now, if the WWE plucks a talent from ROH or TNA, they need to adjust the character and style into the WWE paradigm.
My questions are
1. As bad as the product has been on a general basis, do you feel good about the crop of rookies that will be on TV in the next year (Ambrose, Rollins, The Ascension, Kruger and Steamboat, to name a few)?
2. Is the new NXT concept a good thing for the long term of wrestling, to expose fans to future stars long before a WWE run? (BTW, I assume the FCW titles will be integrated into NXT and possibly be rebranded).
I'm not sure I agree entirely with your detective work there.
It's really, REALLY hard to say what will work in WWE as compared to what works in a very limited sample size like FCW, so saying Sandow found a gimmick that works is a bit of a faulty premise. I mean, look at how different Cena and Batista ended up becoming once they moved past The Prototype and Leviathan. The point of the developmental system is supposed to be to teach them how to work a match and cut promos, not come up with a character so that the creative team doesn't have to. In theory you can always take a great wrestler and find them a character, whereas someone in a one-note gimmick is generally going to have a short shelf-life. Undertaker excepted, of course.
On with the numbered questions…
1. Never seen Ambrose work before, but Rollins was a good worker in ROH and he looked good on NXT last week. The Ascension has an awesome entrance, but they need gimmick names instead of Reilly O'Kyle and Kyle O'Reilly or whatever they are now. I wish Krueger would cut his damn hair, but he's a got a good look and I think he'll be a star. I certainly don't credit FCW for anything with Rollins or Cesaro, though, because they came fully formed from ROH anyway.
2. I really like the NXT concept like this because no one is basically watching, so they can do whatever they want and develop as they need, but at the same time they get a taste of doing TV tapings and can slowly mix into the main card as needed.