cruiserweight

Since its official relaunch a few months back, WWE’s Cruiserweight Division has yielded mixed results. Fans of independent and overseas wrestling are undoubtedly happy to see top talent now appearing on Monday Night Raw. WWE diehards are probably psyched to have more variety on Raw each week. From a behind-the-scenes perspective, it is great to know that WWE is acknowledging that some of its talent wrestling before coming to WWE and that a lot of its talent is able to work non-exclusively and under their original names.

Where a lot of people feel the Cruiserweight Division to fall short is the lack of storytelling both in-ring and out of the ring. I personally enjoy the high-flying action, but if you had not watched the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network — which I would assume to be the case with the majority of people watching Raw — then you do not know the backstories of the cruiserweights. Sure, you can figure out very quickly that Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese are heels and that Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander are babyfaces, but when the division debuted on Raw via a tag team match, it was not established why these four people would be fighting aside from them being called down to the ring. There is a storyline between TJ Perkins and Brian Kendrick getting a good amount of on-air build-up, but the other cruiserweight matches have not had any of the needed storytelling. In turn, you are just left with action, which not everyone is going to be opposed to.

Beyond the storytelling, once area I see that the WWE’s Cruiserweight Division could improve within would be in adding roster depth. A few weeks back, Sin Cara randomly appeared in a cruiserweight division match, which makes a lot of sense — he is a smaller guy, he can do acrobatic moves, and there is another luchador character within the division. But Sin Cara is not the only person on the main roster of WWE that could be easily thrown into the division. Neville also fits that criteria in terms of size and athleticism, while he is also without a substantial storyline. Sami Zayn has a program with Braun Strowman, but he would also fare well in the division. Epico and Primo, who are very far removed from the title picture in the tag division, would both do well as cruiserweights. Finn Balor may be too high-profile to be a cruiserweight upon returning from injury, of course, although he meets cruiserweight criteria. Same goes for Chris Jericho and Enzo Amore, who are both close to the top of the roster, title chases or not. Brand split, good cruiserweight options on Smackdown include The Usos, Chad Gable and Curt Hawkins; James Ellsworth, too, if he really is on the WWE roster. Plenty more of them in NXT including Hideo Itami and Austin Aries.

While it is unlikely that WWE is viewing the Cruiserweight Division as being a source for main events, the company made a lot of money with smaller talent like Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk on top. A lot of the top talent from Ring Of Honor, TNA and New Japan in recent years can be considered cruiserweights, meaning that it is no longer a stigma to be small in stature. Beyond letting more talent work the cruiserweight style, WWE could stand to benefit from not just calling its smaller talent “cruiserweights” with separate ring decorations and logos. But however the company chooses to brand its talent, and whether or not the storytelling gets to where it needs to, kudos go to WWE for its embracing of independent wrestlers from all over the world.