WWE: The State of the Cruiserweight Division


What is the state of the WWE Cruiserweights?

September brought probably the most exciting thing to happen to wrestling in years: an elimination style tournament known as the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. If you watched it then you know how truly exciting it was, and if you didn’t watch it, stop what you’re doing, get to the network, and watch it now.

The Classic brought us 32 of the greatest wrestlers weighing in at 205 pounds or less from all around the world, and man did those guys deliver. Every match was high impact and phenomenal action from both competitors. We also saw matches regularly last longer than 10 minutes. With every elimination, it seemed as if the remaining competitors stepped up their game, giving us even more than they had before.

Some matches were so incredible that they even got guys signed to the company on the spot. If you’re one of those who didn’t watch the Classic when it originally aired and are looking for the matches that will blow your mind, go ahead and look for Kota Ibushi and Cedric Alexander. Alexander impressed the universe and Triple H so much that his match that night earned him a contract. Of course, you can’t take anything away from Ibushi who, no matter who he faced, always delivered five star performances.

The Classic brought us matches we won’t likely see again, at least not on the same level as we saw during the Classic. Matches like DIY facing off against each other for a spot, TJ Perkins against Rich Swan and in the against Gran Metalik, all were match of the year quality. To say that they left everything in the ring is a huge understatement.

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When we heard that they were going to give the cruiserweights their own show — now known as 205 Live — and that the cruiserweights would be Raw-exclusive, we were all looking forward to more of what we saw on the Classic. Unfortunately, now months later, we are still waiting on that level of action.

Where exactly has the cruiserweight division gone wrong within the WWE? Is the fault to be placed on the division itself or should we be looking at those higher up for the lack of excitement for the guys of 205? With only a fraction of the competitors from the Classic signed, they went from a solid three matches on Raw, the brand claiming exclusivity of the division, to now one match on Raw. Crowds on Tuesdays dwindle for the live taping of the network exclusive 205 Live show, and ratings are down for that as well. Why?

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There have been arguments that the poor performance of the 205 Live show could be because it doesn’t start until 10:00 p.m. ET and that it goes until 11. While this could be a logical point, it just doesn’t hold up. Raw usually won’t end until at least 10 minutes after 11:00 ET every single week, and that last hour doesn’t see the same result at the hour allotted to 205 just one night later.

Could it be that people don’t feel like the hassle of switching from regular cable programming to their network application, however they access that? This to me is a more likely reason than the time of the show, but it still is an argument that falls flat to me. If the quality of the show is there, the audience will want to watch it no matter what that means they must do.

Here is the problem within the Cruiserweight division: for the company to invest so heavily in the tournament last year, they have dropped the ball in investing in those who they have kept on post-CWC. They have not given any real effort into promoting 205 Live aside from a casual, random, passing mention that gets lost in the talk of a live show.

Not only have they not invested into the division, they have completely overlooked character development within the division. We have not seen any attention given to any of the participant’s characters, at least not until this past week where we saw a bit of embellishment on Ariya Davari’s character. Even still it left much to be desired as it almost recycled the role I can remember his brother having as the rich, entitled Persian.

So, what would it take to make 205 something that everyone wants to see? For me that answer is simple. The WWE itself needs to be excited about the product, they need to invest in it, and they need to put time into the development of those who make up the division. Think about it. If the WWE isn’t excited and boosting its own product, then why on earth should anyone else be?

Since the Classic we have seen the UK tournament, which was done over the course of two days, a much shorter time frame than the Classic saw. Yet since crowning a champion in Tyler Bate, we’ve not seen anything from this group of amazing talent. Once again, exciting, high impact action that amounted to nothing more than a rare appearance now and again.

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Considering how these two highly promoted tournaments were handled after there was a winner crowned, and considering how the women of WWE have never been the most well-handled on the roster, one must wonder what the women’s tournament that is coming this summer will bring. If the previous two showings of highly promoted and talked about events are indication, well, we know we at least have the tournament itself to look forward to.