It’s PPV Spotlight time again! This time round I’m going to write about a match that’s representing a division I’ve been a bit quiet on for the last couple of months: the Cruiserweight Division. The match in question being Brian Kendrick vs TJ Perkins for the Cruiserweight Championship.
I was very vocal during the summer about my love for the CWC, both on here and in terms of trying to tell people I was messaging or speaking to about it. But something has felt different since the division as a whole came to Raw, and it hasn’t clicked in the same way the 32-man tournament did.
That could be because of a number of reasons – the crowds are more casual, so they’re less likely to already be familiar with the talent in the ring and even less likely to appreciate the finer details of the spectacle they’re seeing. It could be the time and spot on the card they’re given, the lack of prior promotion. It could be the lack of star names to get people excited like the Kota Ibushi’s, and the Zack Sabre Jr’s.
It could be that they are wheeled out like novelty acts instead of being given a chance for character development. And the way WWE will look at it, it could be that they picked the wrong champion to be the first face of the division in TJ Perkins.
I was impressed by TJP in the CWC, but he was a bit of a slow burner for me. He revamped his entrance, but his music and video don’t then translate to what he says, how he acts or how he wrestles, so it gets a bit lost in the wider scope of things. I think he’s a very capable talent, but the crowd aren’t fully embracing him in the way the Full Sail crowd in the summer did.
Brian Kendrick I think has done good work. He had his feel-good veteran moment when he lost to Ibushi in the summer, and now his experience and desperation has led him to become crafty, and use underhand tactics in a bid to stay in the spotlight while he still can. That for me is a solid character base, but he’s the only man in the division who has the benefit of that.
An attempt has at least been made to tie in their real life history while Perkins was in the very early stage of his career, which should have made this a bitter rivalry. Ten years ago I’d have said this would be a prime candidate for a blood feud. But while I look forward to the Cruiserweight segments on Raw, I’m not sure they feel like a big deal, and when this is the only proper rivalry in the division you have to look at it and ask why.
I think they can produce great things tonight, but I highly doubt they will be given the chance to. I think WWE will be promoting the title matches in the cell so much that this title match will seem like an afterthought, and I can’t see them going past 12 minutes. As a collective the Cruiserweights showed in the Classic they can still deliver in matches sub-10 minutes, but I just can’t see it happening tonight.
Which leads me to wonder, going forward, if the whole reason Rich Swann beat Brian Kendrick on Raw is that WWE has already lost faith in TJ Perkins. It makes me think that they see how he can potentially excite a crowd, and want their main title rivalry over the next few months to be Swann vs Kendrick.
On paper, there is no shortage of talent under WWE contract (which would rule out Ibushi and Sabre who I mentioned earlier) who can make the purple division the best Raw has to offer, with the likes of Sami Zayn, Neville, Hideo Itami (when he’s not injured), Austin Aries, Kalisto and Finn Balor all the requisite weight.
Some of those might sound ridiculous to be in the bracket of the Cruiserweights as it stands, but WWE need to work out what they want the division to be, who they want in it, and how many flying monkeys they are actually going to give. It can be special, but they need to know what they’re doing with it first.
Tonight, I’m expecting a title change. I think it’s a bit harsh on TJP, and I do think he can still go far, but he himself needs to figure out what his character is and how to present it. Then he can come back and be triumphant in the future. He’s definitely good enough. Hopefully I’m proven wrong in the next couple of weeks, but maybe now just isn’t the right time for him. We shall see.