By John Moore
The Cruiserweight Division finally arrived on Raw. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t mind blowingly amazing, but it was a a decent start. What I kept running in my mind is, this can’t be as bad as the X Division. I did have that fear though when a Fatal Four Way was on the horizon.
Let’s start with the wrestlers. Rich Swann seems to be the entertaining one of the bunch. He can do 450s like any indie wrestler. He does have some natural charisma though that endears him to the crowd. If you want a contrast I’d recommend looking at the first guy who faced TJ Perkins in the Cruiserweight Classic, Da Mack, for someone who is trying to do the same thing as Rich but doesn’t have the charisma nor the talent.
The next wrestler is El Rey de las Cuerdas, the luchador Gran Metalik. I have the strange urge to see him in WWE one day with his mini analog, Mascarita Dorada/El Torrito, but that ship has sailed. Gran Metalik is interesting. He was the guy who had the hottest overall run in the CWC. I feel they have something here. He can be like the OG Sin Cara, just without the spot botching. It was sad that his crazy CWC entrance music wasn’t used, but at least his new theme is cool. It sounds like good video game music. Are they making it his gimmick where he speaks in Spanish, yet we never find out what he’s trying to say in English? I felt bad for Andrea D’Marco last week when Charly Caruso kept cutting her off when she was going for the translation. This week, Metalik did an inset promo and we never found out what the luchador said. Sad.
Cedric Alexander was positioned as a star and a good wrestler. Like everyone it’s cool to see a company actually get behind him in a big way. He beat Moose to end Moose’s ROH unbeaten streak. Veda Scott did a promo or two for Alexander and then he disappeared. I like how he can switch up his moves on a dime. He shined the most in this match as he was the guy who provided the most movement in this match while also selling everything extremely well. Maybe too well! I hope he doesn’t end up as the cruiserweight division’s version of Dolph Ziggler.
Brian Kendrick is one of my personal favorites. TJ Perkins was one of my favorites due to him suffering in TNA for so long while also being a cool regular person in general, but I felt that the The Brian Kendrick persona had main event potential. He did win the WWE World Championship for a few minutes when he pinned Jeff Hardy in the championship scramble (if that counts). I did get cringe when they dubbed Kendrick the “Wizard of Odd” since I thought that gimmick in TNA sucked when he would just talk in sentences that no one could understand. Thankfully, it looks like Paul London has adopted that gimmick now and Kendrick is going out there as a guy on his last chance. It also looked like he’s trying to establish himself as the heel of the division which he’s good at. Maybe they could sign Big Zeke back to be his heavy?
The four-way match on Raw was a spot fest, but not as bad as the TNA spot fests. Alexander should be especially commended for his selling ability in addition to his high spots. Rich Swann is a fan favorite who is easy to cheer. Kendrick was the most heelish… hopefully… since that division needs heels. Corey Graves commended Kendrick for being smart, so he must be a heel, right? Metalik did Lucha things, not the kind of Lucha Things that Kalisto does.
Overall, a good first effort. It’s tough to be as bad as the X Division is in its current form and this was not that. WWE was able to individualize each of the wrestlers and give them each individual identities. Josh Mathews on Impact refers to the X Division as “The Stars of the X Division” like they are a singular entity, like they are just a blob of spot monkeys. Matt Hardy was right, they are not significant, they are just spot monkeys. WWE can always regress to that state, but I have more confidence that they would do something good here out of necessity. It reminds me when I was younger and my favorite WCW wrestlers were Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Melenko, Billy Kidman, Chris Jericho, essentially the fun matches with some actual stories in hour one of Nitro. Here’s hoping WWE does not bury the cruiserweights in the Darren Young and Titus O’Neil “Primetime Player Hour” that is the third hour of Raw.