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Brooksville's Rotunda brothers follow dad Mike into professional wrestling

As children, Brooksville natives Taylor and Windham Rotunda spent a lot of time watching their father do his job.

Mike Rotunda wasn't in law enforcement, medicine or some other traditional vocation. He dressed in flashy costumes, marched around to his own theme music, and worked in front of thousands of people, many of whom wanted his head to be torn off.

Mike was a professional wrestler, and his two sons now are making their own bids to follow in his footsteps.

"It was surreal growing up with my dad," Windham said. "When I was 8, I really thought that wrestling was all there was in the world. I was living through my father's eyes."

While at Hernando High School, Windham won a state wrestling championship as a heavyweight and played well enough on the interior line in football to earn a scholarship to Troy University. He graduated from high school in 2005.

Younger brother Taylor qualified for the state wrestling championships the final two years of high school before graduating from Hernando High in 2008.

When a scholarship offer for football fell through, he turned his attention to the ring.

Windham was at a crossroads at Troy, so the two brothers revived a dream they had both had growing up: to perform as sports entertainers, just as their father had for years.

With Mike employed as a road agent for World Wrestling Entertainment, there were opportunities for them to prove themselves. The WWE is the Vince McMahon-owned conglomerate that is the cream of the crop when it comes to the professional wrestling industry.

Florida Championship Wrestling was one of the doors that opened.

"I had to go with my dad up to Chicago and meet with the head of talent relations, John Laurinaitis, and some other (executives)," Taylor said. "These were guys that I grew up knowing as my dad's friends, and now they were my bosses."

Taylor debuted for FCW in December 2008, and Windham debuted in April. Both immediately began testing different gimmicks and characters.

In his opening bout, Taylor pinned Caleb O'Neal in Fort Myers. Windham, who was named for his father's former tag-team partner, Barry Windham, debuted under the name Alex Rotundo and won his opening match as well.

As a wrestler, Mike had long runs as American Wrestling Association tag team champion with Barry Windham and was the WWE tag team champion as the character Irwin R. Schyster (I.R.S.) with "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.

Based in Tampa, FCW is an official developmental territory for the WWE. Many current stars have emerged from the local organization, including Ted DiBiase Jr., Jack Swagger and Ricky Ortiz.

The Rotunda brothers are among many other second-generation wrestlers competing in the FCW, including Joe Hennig, the son of "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, and Brett DiBiase.

There is a comfort level, they say, in being around wrestlers with a similar history.

"A lot of the second- and third-generation guys are automatically friends," Taylor said. "We all know what each other have been through."

Under their new names, Bo and Duke Rotundo, Taylor and Windham won the FCW tag team championships on June 23, defeating Kris Logan and Justin Angel, who is now the FCW Florida heavyweight champion.

Less than a year into their professional careers, the Rotundo brothers already have the second-longest reign of any title holders in FCW history.

Their appearances on local television and in live matches are a constant tryout for the big time. FCW airs weekly on Bright House Sports Network at 6 p.m. Sunday. The organization also tours around the Suncoast on a regular basis, including a recent show at the Crystal River Armory.

"I love (the Crystal River) show," Windham said. "It doesn't matter whether the huge stars come down because we are the hometown boys, and the fans want to see us just as much."

At a glance

Windham and

Taylor Rotunda

Ages: 22 and 19

Wrestling names: Duke and Bo

Rotundo

Pro debuts: April 2009, December 2008

Accomplishments: FCW tag team champions

Web site: www.fcwwrestling.com

Brooksville's Rotunda brothers follow dad Mike into professional wrestling 11/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 7:23pm]

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