Saturday, November 07, 2009
Time for a Change: A Call to Reinstate the Cruiserweight Championship
Longtime wrestling fans may remember that as Owen Hart’s catchphrase, which is appropriate given today’s topic – the defunct Cruiserweight Championship.
Hart was an incredible wrestler who could take to the air with the best of them and, in a day when aerial maneuvers were still in their infancy stages in the United States, he was a man ahead of the times.
If the Cruiserweight gold had been around during Hart’s tenure with the WWE, he no doubt would have been a multi-time champion. Unfortunately, he never got that opportunity and, sadly, neither will many of today’s best high-flyers.
The Cruiserweight Championship has been retired for more than two years now, ever since Vickie Guerrero—then the General Manager of Smackdown—stripped Hornswoggle of the title, rendering it vacant.
Six months later the WWE officially removed the title from the “active title” list and placed it alongside other defunct relics of days gone by such as the European and Hardcore Championships.
As such, I’m channeling Hart with my cry that enough is enough and it’s time for a change…it’s time to bring back the Cruiserweight Championship.
The WWE has struggled for years to create new superstars, a fact that is not lost on Vince McMahon or any of his cronies in the front-office.
They’ve attempted to shove behemoths such as The Great Khali, Vladimir Kozlov, and Bobby Lashley down our throats only to see all three fail.
It is a different crop of smaller, faster, and infinitely more-talented superstars that are getting over with the WWE fans. Men like Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler, Evan Bourne, Yoshi Tatsu and a whole host of others have proven themselves in a way the overgrown and under-talented behemoths couldn’t.
These are exactly the type of superstars who have historically benefited from the Cruiserweight Championship.
For years, the Cruiserweight Championship—and for the sake of this article the Lightweight Championship, which eventually unified with the Cruiserweight Championship—were used to push some of WCW and WWE’s smaller, yet supremely-talented, superstars.
Men such as Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, and Jeff Hardy have worn an incarnation of the Cruiserweight or Lightweight Championships and gone on to become World Champions in the WWE.
Chavo Guerrero, Christian, and Matt Hardy all propelled from their reigns as Cruiserweight or Lightweight Champions to eventually rule in the land of extreme as ECW Champion.
Rather than bring back the title to push some of the smaller, more exciting superstars on the roster, the WWE has chosen to leave it retired and use many of those wrestlers as glorified jobbers.
Enough is enough and it’s time for a change.
The WWE has an incredible opportunity to build a new wave of exciting superstars simply by reactivating the Cruiserweight Championship.
Many superstars would see their careers—which are currently sitting in neutral—become re-energized with real opportunity and the chance to put on five-star matches, the kind that most of the WWE’s upper-card is greatly lacking.
The WWE’s biggest competitor, Total Nonstop Action has—in the past—made it a point to push the X-Division.
Although a two-year lull of dependence on aging superstars with “name-value” stunted the growth of the division, no less than half a dozen superstars could say they were “born” within the X-Division’s heyday.
The WWE needs to look around the roster and take stock of all the talent they’re currently wasting by using them as curtain-jerkers and fodder for the upper mid-card.
My recommendation is that the WWE bring back the Cruiserweight Championship in ECW, but allow it to be defended on all shows.
The title would largely be defended on ECW and Superstars and hopefully, the popularity would grow enough for the title and the men who ply their exceptional skills to get the respect they deserve on the A and B shows, RAW and Smackdown, respectively.
The new Cruiserweight Division could logically contain a myriad of talented, underutilized superstars such as: Carlito, Chavo Guerrero, Eric Escobar, Evan Bourne, Gregory Helms, Jamie Noble, Jimmy Wang Yang, JTG, Kung Fu Naki, Primo, R-Truth, Santino Marella, Slam Master J, Tyson Kidd, and Yoshi Tatsu among many others.
Additionally, reviving the Cruiserweight Division could serve as a good jumping off point for debuting superstars in the future.
Current developmental wrestlers such as Kaval (Low-Ki) and Justin Angel would benefit in a big way from debuting in the Cruiserweight Division rather than toiling for months on ECW’s undercard with nothing to show for it but wins over Goldust and Tommy Dreamer.
If the WWE were to wise up and make the decision to reinstate the Cruiserweight Championship, the biggest question would be whether or not we could trust the writing team to avoid their urge to turn smaller wrestlers into a joke.
In its rather brief existence the title has had periods of brilliance and periods of absolute absurdity, if the latter is the likely outcome of a title return, leave it retired.
However, if the writing team can be counted on to use the division and title to legitimately push new talent; they should waste no time in bringing back one of the most exciting championships in wrestling.
Enough is enough and it’s time for a change.