In June of last year, WWE held their first ever Cruiserweight Classic. Pitting 32 of the best cruiserweight wrestlers the world had to offer. Bringing in names like Kota Ibushi, Noam Dar, Cedric Alexander, Gran Metalik and TJ Perkins.
The event was held in Winter Park, Florida. A suburb of Orlando and is the venue WWE hosts its developmental brand NXT out of every week. And in front of that hardcore fan base in Winter Park, the competitors of the Cruiserweight Classic weren’t unknown. The hardcore fans were familiar with their exploits on the independent scene and knew how good these guys were, and were excited to watch them wrestle.
At the conclusion of the of the Cruiserweight Classic, WWE COO Triple H walked out and announced that WWE was bringing back its cruiserweight division and that they would be wrestling on the companies flagship show Monday Night Raw. Along with getting their own show on the WWE Network that would air after Tuesday Nights Smackdown Live.
Ever since the debut of the cruiserweights on Raw the whole division has felt bland, and because of this, fans have lost interest, and are all waiting for it to die a slow death.
Here are five ways WWE can save the Cruiserweight Division:
1. Tell the Fans More About the Cruiserweights
One of the biggest reasons the Cruiserweight Division was such a success was because the crowd in Winter Park knew all the wrestlers that were competing. In one way or another, they were all familiar with their work outside of the WWE.
Unfortunately, this is also one of the reasons the division is failing. Now a part of the main roster, and away from that hardcore crowd, the casual fans that sit in the arena for Raw, and after Smackdown, don’t know who these guys are.
This all falls on WWE too. They have done nothing to get fans invested in who these guys are. No vignettes explaining where they’re from, no video packages showing them outside WWE. All we know about them is that they wrestled in the CWC and that they are now a part of WWE’s newest division.
Take Jack Gallagher for instance. All we know about Jack is that he is from Great Britain, and because of that, he’s a gentleman. No mention of his accomplishments while wrestling over seas. Being a two-time Future Shock Wrestling champion, and a tag team champion while with FSW. As well, as a one-time Grand Pro Wrestling champion.
Gallagher was heralded as one of the best technical, and submission based wrestlers in the CWC. He more than proved he deserved that moniker as well. After he was involved in the CWC though and joined WWE, we have found nothing else out about him.
It’s hard for fans to care about wrestlers, no matter how gifted they are, when WWE can’t even care enough to tell us about them.
2. Move More Recognizable Names to the Division
If giving the current members of the roster backstories, the fans can get behind, and care about isn’t something WWE is interested in; then the only other option is to move WWE stars to the division is the only other option.
Fan interest is a huge thing in WWE. If the fans don’t get behind you as a wrestler, then it can kill your potential run, if you don’t believe me ask Drew McIntyre. He was introduced as WWE CEO Vince McMahon’s favorite new comer to WWE. Someone who would be the next big thing in WWE. Then just a few years later he was a part of the jobber stable 3MB, and then after that was released. The turnaround of the group has been unheralded; I’ll admit that. But at the time, it appeared to be the death of McIntyre’s WWE career.
If fans aren’t interested in an entire division, then the idea as a whole may be scrapped, and that would be a shame.
3. Who to Bring to the Division
The cruiserweight division has some great wrestlers in it and should be one of the most watched shows on the WWE Network. But people just don’t seem to care. Moving main roster guys to the division could help.
Amore is going to spin his wheels on Raw after his feud with Big Cass is over, and it already seems that it is. He can go back and forth with just about anyone on the mic and is okay in the ring. Granted, most of the wrestlers on the cruiserweight roster are better in the ring than him. Not many are better than him on the mic.
Both Gargano and Ciampa were involved in the CWC. Where they faced off against each other in a fantastic match; they were both eliminated from the tournament, and went back to NXT to finish off their tag team run.
After losing to the Authors of Pain at NXT Takeover: Chicago though Ciampa turned on Gargano and beat him up after the match. Shortly after his turn though Ciampa left to have surgery that he had been putting off to finish out the storyline he was in.
Moving Gargano to the division now, and Ciampa later will lead to more great matches. Instead of using their feud to hype up NXT further, use it to help save the cruiserweight division. If they are continuously putting on great matches at Pay-Per-Views, and having great back and forths on the mic on 205 Live, then fans are more likely to tune in just to see what they are doing.
After their feud, WWE can use them to build up other guys on the roster. Give them someone to feud with, that the fans care about, and the fans will care more about them.
4. Take Them off the Road
One of the reasons the CWC was such a success was because of the hardcore fan base in Winter Park. Moving the Cruiserweights back to Winter Park would help the current roster out tremendously.
Taking them off the road doesn’t mean taking them off of Raw. In fact leaving them on Raw makes more sense. It gives them extra exposure.
If they record on Friday night with NXT and then air the show on the network on a different day; or, they could even continue to do 205 Live live, just move it to Friday nights.
One of the biggest problems in having them go on after Smackdown, which is a two-hour show on its own, is the crowd is dead. They’re tired, they don’t care, and if you watch 205 Live, you can see the crowd leaving the arena. They just want to go home.
However, if WWE were to put them in front of the Winter Park crowd, whether it is before or after NXT, they won’t be tired. They’ll be invested in every match, and react when things in the ring happen.
Plus, as mentioned before, they won’t have to try and get guys on the roster now over with the crowd. They are invested in them. The struggle of having the main roster crowd get invested won’t be a problem anymore.
5. Let the Cruiserweights BE Cruiserweights!
The biggest problem with the cruiserweight division is they don’t wrestle like cruiserweights. Cruiserweights are supposed to be high flyers, that exhilarate the crowd, and pull off death defying moves in and out of the ring. They did this in the CWC. But since they moved to the main roster they haven’t looked the same.
The CWC was a success because they looked different from the rest of the roster. And it was a welcomed difference by WWE fans worldwide. Everyone loved the CWC because it was so different from the normal WWE product. They were allowed to do stuff no one else in WWE was allowed to do.
The matches were fast paced, non-stop action, and high flying moves highlighted every episode.
Now, the only difference between the Cruiserweights and the rest of Raw is the purple ropes, and they just recently stopped using the purple ropes. Maybe that means they will start letting them wrestle like cruiserweights again. One can only hope.