Seven months ago in July, we were introduced to the Cruiserweight Classic. During this first return of the Cruiserweights: #WWE crowds were excited, the atmosphere was palpable, and every match felt important. Fast forward to February, and Cruiserweight matches are treated almost like bathroom breaks.
So, what happened?
Why aren't people really caring about the Cruiserweight division? I've been giving the division time to establish itself since July, but I've found a multitude of problems.
1) 205 Live should not be taped after Smackdown Live.
Last week, I was at a Smackdown show in Anaheim, and it had a stellar main event of Bray Wyatt vs John Cena vs AJ Styles. Immediately after Smackdown was #205Live, and a match between Noam Dar and Rich Swann. The crowd was so drained from Smackdown's main event, that barely anybody cared about the Noam Dar match. The arena was literally dead quiet at certain points of the match. Even myself, a guy who prides himself on energy, found it very very hard to get into 205 Live because of the timing.
There are three solutions to this:
- Tape 205 Live before Smackdown
- Pre-tape 205 Live
- Tape the show before #NXT
Personally, I believe the show should be taped before NXT for right now, because NXT fans would appreciate it the most. Once the energy & excitement is built back up, then 205 Live could be moved to Smackdown's pre-show.
2) There are too many holds in matches
When you think of Cruiserweights, you think of flips, plain and simple. During the CWC holds were effective because the stakes were so high in every match, but that's not the case in a regular match.
In regards to the Cruiserweight title match at Roadblock, JR had this to say:
JR accurately describes the problem perfectly. TJ Perkins has a submission finish, Brian Kendrick has a submission finish, Neville has a submission finish, and so does Drew Gulak. There are so many submission based finishers for a division that people expect to see high-flying moves. If you were paying to see Cruiserweights, you're paying to see Neville's Red Arrow, or Mustafa Ali's inverted 450 splash. The goal of the Cruiserweights should be to give you that spot you want to record.
3) Not enough personality
This has been the most common complaint among fans. Cruiserweight matches on RAW just feel like randomly strung together matches with no story. The concept wasn't much different on the CWC, but the stakes were high because the winner received a contract. The high stakes made you forget about the lack of personality.
The division has been better about this though. I really enjoy the development of Noam Dar, Neville, Jack Gallagher, and Brian Kendrick. Other than those 4 superstars, there's very little flavor.
Tony Nese is just an athletic guy, Rich Swann is just a dancing guy, Ariya Daivari is the angry foreigner, and I have no clue what TJ Perkins & Drew Gulak are supposed to be.
I will say that I have high hopes for the personality development of this division. I believe that with more time, we'll see a lot more of these characters fleshed out.
Give me more of this.
4) Cruiserweights do the same moves as the Heavyweights
This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves with the Cruiserweights. The other week, I was watching a match on RAW where Ariya Daivari finished an opponent with a Frog Splash. I immediately thought to myself "Why should I care if Ariya Daivari does a Frog Splash if both Kevin Owens & Seth Rollins do it, and never finish people with it?"
The more thought I about it, the more I realized that this applies to all of the Cruiserweights. Very few of them do things I can't see the Heavyweights on RAW do. Wrestling has evolved so much that the Heavyweights of today were the Cruiserweights of yesterday. I like seeing Rich Swann do the standing 450 splash because nobody else can do that. I don't care to see Rich Swann do a Phoenix Splash because Seth Rollins already does that. All a casual viewer is going to see is a bunch of people they've never seen before wrestling the same matches you can see on RAW.
Hopefully, if given more time, the Cruiserweights can innovate more. I need to see more moves like TJ Perkins' Detonation Kick, or Cedric Alexander's Lumbar check. That's what I'm paying to see. I'm paying to see moments I want to see in slow motion.