WWE’s current Cruiserweight division is a disaster. Unfortunately, the problem does not lie in the wrestling itself, but the booking. When small, agile wrestlers capable of flipping and flying all over the arena are reduced to mat grappling, there is a problem.
There is no saving the Cruiserweight division the way it is now. Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali had a great match on the January 23 episode of 205 Live. However, the mild crowd investment by the end of the match speaks volumes to the current product. At a venue like Full Sail University, the crowd would lose their minds over this kind of match. But in front of the casual crowds that these wrestlers see every week, it does not work.
It is well established that the reason these matches do not get loud reactions is because the crowd does not care about the wrestlers in the ring. The only reason Enzo Amore was Cruiserweight champion for so long, despite his lack of wrestling ability, was because he could connect with the crowd. People do not care about the likes of Alexander, Ali, Tony Nese, Gran Metalik etc.
So, a possible solution to this Cruiserweight crisis is simple, yet complex. WWE needs to put more stars in the Cruiserweight division, but it goes far beyond that. Currently, it feels as if these wrestlers are on their own little island, isolated from the rest of the main roster. When they wrestle on Monday Night RAW, the lights change from red to purple and every graphic in the arena reads “CRUISERWEIGHTS.” This needs to stop. Allow these guys to interact with “heavyweight” wrestlers like Finn Balor, The Miz or anyone that the crowd cares about. In NXT, Pete Dunne once defended the UNITED KINGDOM CHAMPIONSHIP against Johnny Gargano, who, by the way, is not from the UK. WWE only letting Cruiserweights interact with Cruiserweights is actively hindering their ability to get over with the crowd.
Dunne is one of a number of superstars that would be a great fit as a Cruiserweight. Not as a Cruiserweight right now, but if WWE fixes 205 Live, in the future he would fit like a glove. Other superstars around the weight limit to be a Cruiserweight (205 pounds) include Balor, Roderick Strong, Adam Cole, and many more. These are all superstars that could immediately give the brand credibility, but only if they can interact with the rest of the roster.
205 Live should not have its own exclusive roster. Why can’t guys like Balor (who weighs 190 pounds) compete for the Cruiserweight title, yet still interact with the heavyweight division? Right now, getting called up to the main roster and put on 205 Live feels like the kiss of death. Hideo Itami has been nothing special since getting called up from NXT, even though he is one of the best talents on the roster. WWE needs to let these superstars off this island and let them get over with the crowd in their own way.
The Cruiserweight Championship needs to mean something. Credible, popular superstars need to compete for the belt. Every superstar’s goal should be to become champion. If guys are eligible, why would they not want to go after the Cruiserweight title? In New Japan Pro Wrestling, the Intercontinental Championship was relatively meaningless…until Shinsuke Nakamura won it. It is simple, Nakamura is a great performer and is very popular. He immediately gave the belt credibility and built it up to what it is today, the second most prestigious championship in the company. Imagine the possibilities WWE has with the superstars that qualify as Cruiserweights.
If two bona fide superstars, like Dunne and Balor, competed for this championship, people will care. And that is the ultimate goal in all of this, to get people to care.