WWE’s Cruiserweight Championship: Past and Future Kings
Recently WWE presented its 32 new contenders from 16 countries around the world, representing the new WWE Cruiserweight Classic brand. You may or may not have heard whispers about it, when WWE also announced the return of Daniel Bryan as one of the lead commentators, being joined by Mauro Renallo and Corey Graves every Wednesday after NXT on the WWE network.
The history of this division has a list of names that have carried companies for years. Not to mention including wrestling family royalty, and goes back to 1991 when it was originally pushed by WCW.
Between 1991 and 1992, the title known as the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship was held by Brian Pillman and a name that may sound familiar to many wrestling fans around the world, Jushin Thunder Liger. It was also carried by Raven ( as Scott Flamingo ) and the third member of the Fabulous Freebirds; even if just for one Pay Per View event, Brad Armstrong, before being temporarily vacated.
In 1996, the title was given a rebirth by WCW and given the name of what it stands as today, the Cruiserweight Championship. The first title holder after being rechristened was a Japanese wrestler by the name of Shinjiro Otani. Who did he beat for it, you might be asking? None other than Chris Benoit (wrestling as Wild Pegasus).
Two months later the title was claimed by Dean Malenko who had it on and off for around 10 months. He lost two times during that period; once to none other than Rey Mysterio, the other time to Ultima Dragon.
In February 1997 X-Pac claimed the title (wrestling as Syxx), before losing it to Fozzy’s lead singer Chris Jericho. Before WWE (then WWF) bought WCW in March of 2001, the title changed hands between a number of folks, including Chavo Guerrero Jr, Lance Storm, Daffney, Madusa (later Alundra Blayze in WWE), Disco Inferno, Psychosis, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero.
Once WWE claimed their new company they continued to push the Cruiserweight title, with it replacing the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. Billy Kidman carried it for about a year and a half, while X-Pac, Shane Helms, and Tajiri from Japan (a three-time WWE Cruiserweight Champion) claimed it from time to time.
Tajiri already has one win under his belt with the current WWE Cruiserweight Classic as well.
In 2003 Matt Hardy had a temporary reign before Mysterio picked it up intermittently in June 2003 for a year, taking it back from Chavo Guerrero Sr (who took it from his son Guerrero Jr) for the final time in June 2004. After 2004 it was passed through the hands of a number of folks until Hornswaggle took it from Chavo Guerrero Jr, in July 2007, by pinning Jamie Noble in a 6 way Championship match at The Great American Bash. Swaggle held the belt until the championship was temporarily retired in September 2007, until the current Cruiserweight Classic happening now brought it back from the dead.
With all of that being said, there are some very promising contenders in the current WWE Cruiserweight Classic brand. They scouted talent representing 16 countries, and with them comes a good amount of new culture and skills never before seen in the WWE.
This ‘New Era’ brought about with the reintegration of Shane McMahon, we were promised things never before seen in the company, and so far the company has been keeping its word. You never know what’s coming around the next corner it seems. With that being said, bringing the Cruiserweight Title out of retirement could result in a number of possible futures for the WWE and their new rebrandings including, in my opinion, a new brand similar to NXT, scouting future talent for WWE’s main roster, NXT, or something similar to TNA’s X Division Championship.
What do you think this means for the future of WWE and Sports Entertainment?