On this week’s final edition of WWE Raw before the brand split takes effect on this week’s first live SmackDown, one of the bizarre announcements (along with The Undertaker not being tied to a specific brand, whilst Brock Lesnar will be) came when Stephanie McMahon announced that the cruiserweight division would be making its return to Mondays.
This announcement came a mere five days after the premiere of the CruiserWeight Classic on the WWE Network – something that Triple-H tells us had been in the works for years.
That first episode was good, but nothing special to be honest. It seemed to have edited portions of each match out (for time?) as each of the four matches had some jarring pace changes.
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The obvious standouts in the tournament are Kota Ibushi, The Brian Kendrick, Noam Dar, Zack Sabre Jr, Akira Tozawa, Cedric Alexander and Jack Gallagher. All of these should, and probably will, be signed to a contract.
Ibushi signed his months ago and is probably ready for the main roster as a seasoned NJPW veteran. He seems to be the favorite to win the tournament, and now presumably receive a new cruiserweight championship belt.
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Even if WWE signed all of these men and pushed them as the equals of the heavyweights, would the division take? Remember some of the champions of yesteryear that we were given? The name Hornswoggle ring any bells?
More importantly, does Vince McMahon consider the cruisers to be the equals of the heavyweights? Historically WWE just plain hasn’t understood what the division represents to the fan base that keeps abreast of these things.
Perhaps this will be the latest in a long line of new toys that the old man tires of a couple of weeks after tearing off the packaging. As a larger gentleman, Mr. McMahon’s treatment of smaller wrestlers throughout his tenure as the top man in pro wrestling has never been particularly inspiring (see Daniel Bryan’s burial before the Yes Movement took hold).
A better way to go may have been to slowly introduce the cruisers through the remaining nine weeks of CruiserWeight Classic. Then they should have put in some NXT time. Then, perhaps after next year’s Classic, they could have been introduced to SmackDown. As purportedly the more exciting of the two brands, SmackDown would be a better fit for an exciting new division, surely.
The cruiserweights have barely started re-establishing themselves in WWE, and so a longer time should have passed between this year’s initial reintroduction and promotion to one of the two major TV shows. Get their names out there as people worth making the time to watch.
It’s far too soon to be putting the cruisers on Raw isn’t it? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.