The time has come for part two of my 'FCW Spotlight' series. As those of you who saw him in FCW (or just read the title) will have already realised, this article is on the intellectual saviour of the unwashed masses, Damien Sandow. Like the man in part one, Antonio Cesaro, he has already graduated from FCW to the main roster, and you can currently see him on SmackDown!, but he's new enough for me to count him. Besides, I've already said I was going to do one on him, and I'm a man of my word.
So here, for the benefit of you, the unwashed masses, is my spotlight on Sandow.
|Photo from WWE.com via http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1230316-damien-sandow-the-next-breakout-star-does-wwe-know-it|
BackgroundSandow has a history with WWE, having previously appeared on the main roster as Idol Stevens, one of Michelle McCool's 'Teachers Pets' along with KC James. Ultimately, the duo were taken off television and Sandow was sent back to OVW, at the time WWE's developmental territory. He was later released and returned to the independent circuit, before rejoining OVW and winning the OVW Heavyweight Championship for the second time. He was re-signed by WWE in 2010, and made his debut as Sandow late in the year. In his time at FCW he won the Jack Brisco 15 Championship, and competed against most of the top prospects in the company.
My TakeSandow has been extremely impressive in his first few appearances on SmackDown!, and he possesses plenty of attributes to suggest that he could be a valuable addition to the WWE roster, and would be able to work at or near main event level.
He's a very solid in the ring, with good technical ability and psychology, but he also brawls well, and he's more agile than many would expect, as we've seen from his rollthrough Russian legsweep and his post-match cartwheel. He also has a good look - from his scarf and gown to his purple and pink ring attire, everything about his appearance is different from the rest of the roster.
It's his mic skills that help him stand out most, though. He's cut numerous live promos in both FCW (where the 'lights, spotlight please' bit comes from) and WWE, and - despite speaking in a far more elaborate manner than anyone else on the roster - I can't remember him ever tripping over his words or losing track of what he was saying. His gimmick - that of a highly educated heel who considers himself better than the fans, and wants to 'help' them reach his level of sophistication - requires an excellent vocabulary and great mic skills, and Sandow has made it look easy so far, whilst also bringing a delightful twist to the gimmick.
When provoked, a switch seems to flip in him, and he turns from a calm, eloquent educator to a crazed, savage brawler, beating down his opponents with frenzied attacks before hitting his straightjacker neckbreaker and transforming back into captain culture, with only his psychotic smile giving away his dark(er) side. This seemingly minor addition gives Sandow some extra depth, and also helps to make him look like a more legitimate threat, whilst also providing a way for smart opponents to gain an advantage on him by making him lose his cool.
Whilst his gimmick may initally seem like one that will only work if Sandow is a heel, I believe that, with a few tweaks, it would work just as well for him as a face. Just drop change the method of helping the fans from educating them to removing the ignoramuses from the WWE, and you can happily have him go after Heath Slater, Jack Swagger or even possibly David Otunga, a Harvard educated ignoramus. At present though, there are more possible fueds for Sandow as a heel. I for one would like to see him, after he's done with Zack Ryder, move on to Santino Marella and rid him of the United States title, but he could concievably be put up against Brodus Clay, Christian, or maybe even Booker T. I would suggest Khali, but then he'd have to 'wrestle', so no.
Anyway, at present Sandow appears to be slotting in at around the same midcard level as Cesaro, if not slightly higher. Putting him in a feud and allowing him the chance to showcase his abilities in more detail would be wise, and with the right booking he could easily be considered a legitimate contender for one of the second tier titles in the very near future. Then again, this is something that could be said for a lot of the talent on the WWE roster, so it could still be difficult for Sandow to get a title shot without having to wait a long time.
In the long run, I can see Sandow fitting in comfortably at upper midcard level, having up a few US and Intercontinental title reigns and occasionally moving into main event matches and feuds to help put over current and/or potential main event talent. Despite not having any real flaws, I do feel that he may struggle to truly reach main event status without something being modified in his character, as - whilst he does possess a good deal of charisma - he doesn't scream 'main event star'. I can't quite put my finger on what it is that stops him being main event calibre to me, but he just seems to be missing that little special something that makes a top star. That said, I would be very happy to be proven wrong, as he is a favourite of mine, and I do feel he would do a very good job if pushed that far. In my head, he sits somewhere between Alberto Del Rio and Christian in potential (above ADR and below Christian, that is), which is still pretty damn good, just not quite CM Punk/Daniel Bryan good.
All in all then, Sandow is a very strong allround worker, with outstanding promo skills and an intriguing gimmick, but he ultimately lacks the 'x factor' that would make him an elite level talent. Nonetheless, he should have a great future in WWE, and could well become one of the best and most interesting heels we've seen in a long time. If you want a second opinion, then I suggest you check out Eonizzle's FCW Superstar Spotlight on Damien Sandow, but that's all you're getting from me.