Welcome all professional wrestling fans. You’ve now entered a world where no punches are pulled in sports entertainment as I look to wrestle with reality. In this week’s Wrestling with Reality, I would like to focus on cruiserweights, junior heavyweights, light heavyweights…or whatever name that you might know this special brand of wrestlers by. Then again, you may have forgotten about cruiserweights. Why? Because Vince McMahon’s powerful empire does not seem to care about them. Sure, lightweight wrestlers do still exist in the WWE, but without a title to showcase them, they are left in the dust. They can not show-off their unique brand of wrestling because they do not have a title belt to strive for. Cruiserweights are also hardly ever given a solid push on WWE television. Once again, you may ask why. Well to fully address this matter you would have to march right down to WWE Corporate in Stanford, Connecticut and ask the chairman of the throne himself. Now I do not doubt Vince McMahon’s knowledge in professional wrestling…most of the time…but why he doesn’t showcase cruiserweights is beyond my understanding of the man.
If Vince McMahon doesn’t realize the drawing power of cruiserweights, then maybe he should take a look at WCW. Yes, I said it, WCW. The company that is often analyzed for what NOT to do in professional wrestling was also beating WWF in ratings for 84 consecutive weeks during the Monday Night Wars, might I remind you. In WCW, cruiserweights were showcased almost every night and every pay per view. DESPITE the fact that Bischoff and other WCW management did not give a care in the world about the division, they shined each and every week when they got to showcase their talents. While the big guys in the upper card battled out slow and boring main events, you could always count on the good ol’ cruiserweights to give you your money’s worth. The exciting high-flying action that they delivered night in and night out was the highlight of every WCW show for many viewers.
Even in the world of WWE, I’m sure we can all recall the time when the cruiserweight division was given the emphasis that it deserved. A cruiserweight title was eventually introduced, and you could turn on Smackdown every Thursday at 8 pm to see the division at its best. Sure, I don’t think it ever lived up to its TRUE potential (nor do I think it did in WCW), but the division was alive and well on Smackdown. Well unfortunately it lost some steam over time. Vince McMahon and company did not seem to fully care about them. Gregory Helms eventually ended up holding the title for a year because of the lack of challengers, and then the symbolic killing of the division occurred when Hornswoggle won, and destroyed the credibility of, the Cruiserweight championship. It was a sad day in sports entertainment. After that, the cruiserweights of the WWE were never given proper time or a division to awe the fans. And man do I have to struggle to even recall the last time a true cruiserweight was given a push. We all know the rumors that Vince McMahon loves his big, beefy body builders but does he really not see that cruiserweights are marketable? I think we can all agree that the size of a wrestler is not what makes him a superstar. If Vince McMahon needs proof of the success of smaller wrestlers then all he needs to do is put in an old tape of WCW in its prime. He would see that the best match of the best wrestling show at the time involved cruiserweights.
I can barely even think of cruiserweights that are being pushed on today’s WWE television. Of course you have Roid…erm…I mean Rey Mysterio who still is given the time to showcase his abilities, but other then that I have a hard time thinking of other high flyers. Evan Bourne is another one off of the top of my head that is given time on WWE TV (although we haven’t seen enough of him). Evan Bourne is the quintessential cruiserweight in my mind. He is quick, nimble, and a superb high-flyer. If there was a division of Evan Bourne’s, you have got to admit, you would tune it to see the matches. That’s what Vince McMahon needs to realize…that there is a market for these wrestlers and that they CAN help his product. Now you will not see me using TNA often as a good example, but at least they give cruiserweight action a spotlight. Their “X Division” is what arguably put them on the map in the world of wrestling. The X Division showcases high-flyers and the risky maneuvers that they perform. And although it has unfortunately lost some steam, it is still one of the (few) primary reasons that people tune in to watch TNA. Yes Vince, you can even learn something by watching your “peasant competition.”
Perhaps one day Vince McMahon will realize that cruiserweight wrestling is and has always been an important part of “sports entertainment.” But until then, I guess we will be force fed sluggish, oily body builders on WWE TV. Maybe the “WWE Universe” can give Vince a wake-up call by cheering all of the worthy little guys!
Until then, I guess smarks and marks alike will continue to wrestle with reality.
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