WWE folding the cruiserweight division is a mistake

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First off, I want to say that this is in no way a reflection on Carmelo Hayes. I think he is an incredible talent and if the unified title—the now-defunct Cruiserweight and North American Championship—had to go to one star on the NXT roster, I’m extremely happy it went to him. He’s a future face of the game and main-eventer; I have no doubt about it. But in this piece, I’ll set out to prove that folding the cruiserweight division is a mistake regardless.

History of the division

In pro wrestling, the term cruiserweight was first used by WCW in 1996 when they launched the division that would vie for the title of Cruiserweight Champion. The company put a lot of stock in those matches after interest was noticed…and not only interest from the fans but by the locker room as well…legends of the ring watching from the back and even finding empty seats in the stadium or even from behind the curtain.

The division gained prominence as matches between the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera and Chris Jericho (amongst so many others) had battles in the WCW ring, often out-wrestling even the aforementioned legends of the ring.

Of course, the division, or rather a counterpart division exists and has existed in many other territories and/or promotions, including NJPW. The weight limit there was 220 pounds. WWE, until the belt’s disseverment from NXT/WWE, or folding, if you will, had a 205-pound weight limit.

In WWE, or rather while it was known as WWWF under the leadership of Vincent J. McMahon (Senior)—Vince’s dad—had a lightweight title. It was known as the Junior Heavyweight Championship (founded in 1965).

Of course, this title would see many champions crowned and go through a few revamps over the years. Perhaps a tad too much history to go into here, but rest assured there is a lot of lineages attached to it.

In 2001, when WWE purchased WCW, the Cruiserweight division obviously came right along with that purchase and WWE tried desperately to capitalize on the attention the wrestlers in that division got. Over the years though and on the WWE platform, that division failed to gain the momentum it once had.

In 2016, WWE officially re-launched the division, and of course, this was until they unified it with the North American Championship on NXT just recently.

The good

The only good thing to come out of the folding of such a historic championship was the last match we were given. The two wrestlers in the ring did a phenomenal job of retiring such a title.

Carmelo, as stated at the top of this piece, was the right man to take the newly unified title, and Roderick Strong, who is a respected in-ring technician, was the perfect person to have held the Cruiserweight Title for the last time. A former ROH Champion, PWG World champion, a tag team champion many times over and all over the indie scene, as well as so many other accolades and accomplishments, he brought history into the ring that night.

The stage was set for the two to have a match, and this was after a few weeks of going back and forth in segments filmed for NXT TV. Melo would finally accept the challenge, saying:

"“Hey Roderick Strong, you want smoke with Melo? Well, I got so much smoke that you gonna choke. ‘Cause I am the A-Champion and in 2021 when I shot, I never missed.Going into 2022, we gonna keep it the exact same way. so at new year’s evil, I’mma give you a Christmas present and I’mma give you that match, but I’mma be the one walking out with two titles.”via Carmelo Hayes / itwrestling.com (Transcription)"

Now talk about hype! This was huge, or at least anyone who respected the history of the cruiserweight title thought so.

Yeah, the whole deal was sad, as I’ll get into soon, but at least, it went out with quite the bang. I congratulate both men on an epic match.

The bad…or rather quite sad

The bad thing is that not only do we lose a division and a belt on NXT, but the wrestlers lose possible angles and matches that they can have moving forward. Getting rid of all that history is one thing, but to take a possible tool at creating matches for a brand that is unfortunately struggling, is a mistake overall and one I wish they’d reverse.

Next. Charlotte Flair needs to lose the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. dark

I hate to end a piece on the negative, dear readers, but unfortunately, that’s what I’m stuck with. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go watch WrestleMania 20…where there was a Cruiserweight Open for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship featuring the likes of Billy Kidman, Funaki, Akio, Jamie Noble, Rey Mysterio, Shannon Moore, Tajiri, Nunzio, Último Dragón and of course Chavo Guerrero. Ah…the good old days.