Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A true classic... followed by the hard truths of reality

The Cruiserweight Classic ended in epic fashion last week with two amazing semi-finals that needed to be seen to be believed, followed up by a final between arguably the underdogs of the final four with TJ Perkins walking out as the first CWC winner and the first Cruiserweight champion of a new era.

I may not have written about it yet on this site, but I honestly feel the Cruiserweight Classic has been the best thing WWE has produced since the heyday of the Smackdown Six at the beginning of the last brand extension. Booked to feel like a real athletic contest with real stakes, hyped by the perfect salesmen in Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan, and filmed in front of a smart and rabid fanbase at Full Sail University, WWE proved feature programming could be a major selling point of WWE Network in the near future. Smart booking allowed relative unknowns like Sean Maluta, Ariya Daivari and Fabian (Adrian Severe) Aichner to suddenly draw a lot of attention from fans. It brought people like Gran Metalik and Kota Ibushi into a far stronger international spotlight than ever before. Cedric Alexander became a star of the future in just one match, something ROH failed to ever let the young talent ever bring a hint of in his five years of pointless toil with the company.

TJ Perkins' win surprised a few, but he's the right choice to lead the new
Cruiserweight division to glory. Image credit: WWE.com.
And then came Monday night.

Look, the Cruiserweight division is less than a week old, but already it feels like its been ghettoized. With the commentary team seemingly focused on "heart" of the smaller stars, they have immediately framed them into the vanilla midget stereotype Kevin Nash infamously gave them. Worse, instead of focusing on the superb athletic focused contest of the tournament, they gave us a fatal four way spotfest. And that's not to say that it wasn't a solid match, because it was, but it failed to feel particularly different than any other four way match featuring highly athletic competitors, which WWE has in droves these days.

For the Cruiserweights to succeed as a weekly part of Raw they need two things: 1. time and 2. the ability to feel different than the rest of the program. And without the focus on MMA style competition and the laser focused calls of Ranallo and Bryan, I fear that will never happen. WWE can right this ship quickly though.

Starting next week, focus the Cruiserweight division to two matches a night and always make them either traditional singles or tag matches outside very special occasions. Let the talents show their personality and build their feuds between in ring rivalries instead of out of ring snark or antics. Change up the announce team for the matches, perhaps having Saxton sit out in favor of someone who can announce, knows the move and also keep that sense of competition alive and laser focused. They've got a load of them sitting around: Jimmy Jacobs, William Regal, Sara Del Rey, Adam Pearce, Tyson Kidd, etc. etc.

I fear without that, the division will just be a failed experiment. Let's hope that's not the case.

Now, let's wait and watch to see which CWC talent makes a Smackdown debut first.

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