It was the division that brought eyes to WCW, even during the company’s dying days. It was the division that WWE never really attempted to recreate, and a division that TNA managed to turn from a potential diamond, into dust. Now, WWE’s looking once again to the smaller guys.
Announced by WWE today, the Global Cruiserweight Series will be a Network-exclusive show featuring 32 wrestlers, with the winner being crowned “the best cruiserweight in wrestling”. The rules require that every contender be 205lbs or lower (a full 20lbs lower than the limit imposed by WCW), and will likely feature a clutch of wrestlers under contract to WWE, on the fringes of NXT, and a variety of independent guys, especially those who currently call EVOLVE their home base.
The show will start its run on July 13, airing straight after NXT, with the finals airing on September 14.
We’ll likely cover the aftermath of this tournament in a future Fantasy Booking article, however, the track record that WWE has with smaller wrestlers will fill some people with dread, particularly at the point when they move up to the main roster. Then again, with the company having had Hornswoggle as champion when their Cruiserweight division was phased out in 2007, can you blame them?
Although NXT has increasingly focused smaller wrestlers, with the likes of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa featuring as glorified enhancement talent in developmental, the black-and-yellow brand has also featured guys such as Neville, Enzo Amore and Hideo Itami in various roles, whilst Austin Aries will be featuring on the show in the near future. Looking at NXT’s unofficial partnership with the EVOLVE promotion, and you suddenly have access to guys such as Jason Cade, Caleb Konley, Zack Sabre Jr, Tracey Williams and former UFC fighter Matt Riddle.
Already people are dreaming of matches featuring guys on the current roster – such as the former La Sombra (now known as Manny Andrade), Rich Swann, and even Sami Zayn if he hangs around in developmental for a little longer. Add in some guys that WWE may have half a shot of getting from the worldwide scene, such as Dragon Gate’s Masato Yoshino, Shingo Takagi or YAMATO. If New Japan were willing to play ball, in spite of their agreement with Ring of Honor, the ultimate dream would be for the likes of KUSHIDA to be involved, but in all fairness, Jay White is probably a more likely bet to take a slot in the tournament over any of Japan’s bigger names.
Until names of some of the talent involved are announced, a lot of people will withhold judgment, but will be ready to cast a cynical eye over this series (myself included). However, as long as this is being put together by the crew who does NXT, as opposed to Raw or even Tough Enough, and this has half a chance of creating a new star, even if its only for the developmental show.