The Plight of the Lightweight in WWE
Recently I posted an article questioning what could be done to help ECW gain ratings as well as respect and interest from WWE fans. One point I made was the possibility of introducing a secondary title, like the Intercontinental and US Championships, to create more competition for the show, as well as something for the mid card wrestlers to strive for.
The options I listed were the Hardcore Title and the Cruiserweight Championship. Both are titles that are still property of the WWE despite being retired for all intents and purposes.
Now I did state that the Hardcore Title is probably the most suitable belt to introduce to the show. However, out of pure interest I decided to check out the rosters and see just what the cruiserweight division could be if the title were reintroduced tonight (keep in mind this is according to the rosters for each show as posted by WWE.com).
The qualifications for the cruiserweight title state that the wrestler must weigh no more than 215 pounds. The following is a list of superstars that fall into that catergory:
- Jamie Noble - 202lbs.: A former cruiserweight champion who finds himself a mid-carder on RAW, which in my books is the least friendly to lightweights. I feel that his future in the company is in jeopardy unless they find something interesting for him to do, such as challenging for the Cruiserweight title,
- Rey Mysterio - 175 lbs.: Another former cruiserweight champion who finds himself on RAW. Fortunately for Rey, he is more over than any of the other lightweights in the company. The Cruiserweight Title may be below him at this point, but it's always an opportunity if it is reinstated.
- Hurricane Helms - 215 lbs.: Gregory Helms is the longest reigning cruiserweight champion in history. This man is a gold mine in terms of lightweight talent. If the title were to come back he would likely be one of the biggest dogs in the fight, but even so Helms has proven he can run with bigger competition as his win over the Rock proved.
- Jesse - 210 lbs.: Really what can be said about Jesse? He's part of what may be the most popular tag team on Smackdown, but how much of that can be credited to him? With Festus being the main draw for the team it may be best for Jesse to think of his own career if things should ever come between the two.
- Jimmy Wang Yang - 206 lbs.: Many may not know this but prior to his transformation Wang assisted Tajiri as his "goon" under the alias of Akio. But unlike Tajiri, Jimmy has never captured cruiserweight gold, though he has challenged for it. Wang has all the potential in the world, but a questionable gimmick and lack of a push seem to be the biggest factors holding him back.
- Kung Fu Naki - 192 lbs.: Sometimes it's hard to believe that Fu Naki is still around, or maybe I should say Kung Fu Naki. It's even harder to believe he is a former cruiserweight champion. But even though his Kientai days are past, Kung Fu Naki is still fighting, and may be a great addition to the cruiserweight division.
- The Brian Kendrick - 184 lbs.: The Brian Kendrick is possibly one of the most promoted lightweights on Smackdown, yet unlike Helms and Kung Fu Naki he has never held cruiserweight gold. But if his work is any testament to where he can go, gold is not out of his league. I think he would be a perfect fit as cruiserweight champion as the WWE seems high on him, even if the fans are not.
- Zack Ryder - 214 lbs.: I was surprised to find out that either Ryder or Hawkins made this list. Considering how closely they resemble each other it seems odd that Zack would qualify but not Curt. However this may be the stepping stone that may save Ryder from the obscurity that his tag team with Hawkins seems to be falling into. If the strap was brought back it may be just the thing for Zack Ryder to get over with the fans and possibly create some interest in his character.
- Chavo Guerrero - 215 lbs.: Chavo may not seem like much now. He hardly wrestles anymore, and even when he does he is so out-classed it seems like punishment for him. But at one time he could really perform as a small guy, and had many interesting matches with Mysterio. Could we see him revert to his old self if he had a bit of gold to persuade him?
- Evan Bourne - 183 lbs.: The possibilities here are endless. Bourne may get to the point where this is beyond his ability, much like Mysterio. However for the time being Bourne is a star that is shining bright, having the title would only help reflect his glory.
The following is a list of a few wrestlers who weigh slightly more than the 215 pounds allotted by the title rules. These superstars are less than five pounds over qualifying for the title, so I believe the potential is there for them to compete if they could drop the meager four pounds or so.
- Cody Rhodes - 219 lbs.: In the cruiserweight division he would be the odd man out. The division is mainly composed of wrestlers who use their agility to make up for their small stature. Although Cody may be the black sheep that makes the division interesting. In comparison Rey is in stark contrast to what most World Champions are, yet no one will deny he was a good champion, some might even say a great champion.
- Kofi Kingston - 218 lbs.: The man has all the agility of a lightweight, sometimes it seems as though he chooses when he lets gravity ground him. The things Kofi can do in the ring are impressive, and if the belt were brought back they may be impressive enough to earn him a shot at it.
- Primo Colon - 218 lbs.: A relative newcomer to the scene in WWE, Primo's style is much like Carlito's, only faster. While both brothers have surprising agility Primo is the one Colon who could potentially qualify for the cruiserweight division. His agility and speed would be a welcome asset to a reformed division.
- John Morrison - 219 lbs.: John Morrison is, in my books, the most underrated superstar on ECW. The man is a former ECW champion (my second favorite in ECW's short lifespan) and part of the most over tag team in WWE at present. The Cruiserweight Title may be a little under his radar though considering the places he could go if given the right push.
Now many of you may note I left off a former cruiserweight champion from this list. And although he is well under the restrictions I do not feel he is a good addition to the roster. Yes I am talking about Hornswoggle. He may have been champion, but a joke champion is what he was meant to be.
His reign was the sign of the end for me, and sure enough it led to the retiring of the belt. Horny should stay away from the Cruiserweight Championship should it reform. The one thing the belt will need should it be re-introduced is a strong legitimate champion. Hornswoggle is none of those things.
Now looking at the list composed I would say we have some interesting potential for a new division. While the number have not been as strong as they were in the past, when you look at what cruiserweights have to compete for now why would the WWE hire lightweights when they can't even use the ones they have?
Many good, able performers have been misused in the WWE. Jamie Noble is a guy who brings great wrestling to any match he is in.
Unfortunately there is no real storyline for a lightweight wrestler. Both the Intercontinental and US title race seems to be dominated by bigger wrestlers that Noble and other have little hope of defeating.
The tag team division is no where near as strong as it could be, yet even that is being dominated by wrestlers of larger proportions.
Currently the WWE has eight titles for men to compete for. None of those titles are being held by a man weighing less than 215 pounds. While divas have won the Cruiserweight Title before, they have never really been considered outright contenders for the belt. Plus the fact that they have two womens' belts now more than gives them something to do than aim for a lightweight belt.
While some of the stars I have listed do have a chance at those titles (Evan Bourne and Rey Mysterio come to mind) the majority have nothing to compete for. The addition of another title, the Cruiserweight Title would help alot of the smaller talent out.
One final antagonizing factor for the majority of the cruiserweights is the WWE's list of banned moves. Many moves on this list are high-flying moves that have the potential to be dangerous. This is unfortunate as cruiserweights are known mostly for their high flying spectacles.
However, I would just like to note that the shooting star press was on the banned list of moves, but with Evan Bourne's use of it, it would seem that it has been taken off that list.
Though there is no set list available for public viewing (at least none that I could find), there is indeed a list of moves that for one reason or another have been banned. this was the main reason for the release of Juventud Guerrera.
I know many WWE fans right now could care less about the cruiserweight division, as well as many of the stars I have listed. But after watching the Rey Mysterio DVD I can't help but wish for the kind of action cruiserweights provided back in ECW, WCW and to a lesser extent WWE a few years back. I encourage anyone who likes to watch exciting wrestling to either buy, rent or steal a copy (yes, it's that good) just to enjoy what these men can do.
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