I’ve been thinking about doing a piece like this for a couple of weeks now, but after last Wednesday it had to happen. I have to take a moment to talk about what is for me the best piece of WWE-content right now. The Cruiserweight Classic.
Cedric Alexander vs Kota Ibushi. For me, it was right up there at the very top of match of the year candidates. Both guys seemed to pull everything out of the bag, and delivered. The ideal aim of any rivalry or match is for both guys to come out of it looking like bigger stars than they did going in. A standing ovation and on-screen props from Triple H isn’t a bad way for the loser to go out of the tournament is it?
But it hasn’t just been one match either. Hell, it wasn’t even just one match on the same show. Earlier Tajiri and Gran Metalik put on a great match that I was all ready to put down as a highlight of the tournament before it was outshone by Cedric and Ibushi.
And a week earlier, in the final first round contest, Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa had another match that has to be near the top of the match of the year stakes. I was also very impressed with TJ Perkins vs Da Mack, and Lince Dorado vs Mustafa Ali – both from week two. And come on, if you don’t love Jack Gallagher are you even a wrestling fan?
I had heard a lot about many of the competitors in the CWC going in, but I had only actually seen a couple of them in action. And I don’t think there’s anyone who has been a massive let-down. The way it’s been booked so far, just about everyone has had a chance to shine, and that’s not easy to do when you’re talking about clashes of styles amongst 32 guys in relatively short matches to this point.
So credit where credit is due – to the scouts who found all these guys, to the booking team, and to the performers themselves – WWE’s inaugural Cruiserweight Classic has been a raging success, and we’re only half way through.
Where do we go from here though? With the Cruiserweight division returning to Raw, what’s next? It looks likely that the overall winner of the tournament will be crowned the new Cruiserweight Champion, but there are still question marks over exactly who will be appearing on Raw, and to be honest I have my doubts over how they will be used.
I worry that the 200-pounders will be one segment wonders every week. I worry that they will be given the same amount of time the Divas used to get. I worry that there will be no chance of progression for the real stars, even though you know that Ibushi vs Seth Rollins or Cedric vs Kevin Owens would be money. For all the dream matches we’ve seen in one form or another in 2016, there are still so many more that would be possible in a WWE ring.
Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Hopefully I will be. But we all know that Vince loves his giants, and if you thought the tide was turning with the successes of Daniel Bryan, and more recently Sami Zayn and Finn Balor, Ric Flair’s recent comments (“a cruiserweight will never headline Wrestlemania”) show that those biases still exist.
But for the shorter term, I’m looking forward to more great matches on the Network. Every round now has at least one stellar match to look forward to based on how I would guess the brackets will turn out.
Personally though, I’d like to see some extra matches. Last Wednesday featured two second round bouts only, and the show ran for 47 minutes. They have an hour. Why not have two guys who were eliminated in the first round go out and show what they can do for ten minutes? If you have that exhibition between competitive matches, it could give the crowd a break to ensure they’re hot for all the matches that matter, but it also gives us the chance to see more of some guys – and fulfil some other dream pairings.
I mean come on, wouldn’t you want to see the no nonsense Ciampa going up against the flashy Da Mack? As you go through the tournament the possibilities are endless. TJ Perkins vs Cedric Alexander. Tajiri vs Rich Swann. Akira Tozawa vs Johnny Gargano. Jack Gallagher vs Zack Sabre. Gurv Sihra vs Harv Sihra?
Later in the competition you could even potentially have them for Raw contracts, so that we have more of an idea as to who will comprise the division on TV. Then they mean something if the idea of throwaway matches doesn’t take your fancy, but it’s something different from a semi-final match.
But that’s just a tweak. As I started off this article by saying, the in ring quality has been nothing short of fantastic, including two potential match of the year contenders. For my money, the Cruiserweight Classic has been WWE’s best show since it debuted. And theoretically, it should only get better from here.
This isn’t the last you’ll see of me this week, as I’ll be back with an NXT focused article on Thursday or Friday, and then my PPV Spotlight before SummerSlam on Sunday. Keep your eyes peeled!