Despite not winning the Monday Night Wars in the late 90s, early 2000’s, there were a lot of things that World Championship Wrestling did correctly. To be fair, there were a lot of things that WCW did horribly incorrectly, but early on, WCW was the place to be. What drew me early on to WCW was the world of the cruiserweight wrestlers. Doing gymnastics as a kid, watching wrestlers like Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Psychosis, I thought they were doing some of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. Then throw in the likes of Dean Malenko, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Jericho and others, you had some of the most technical wrestling that was ever available on Television.
Fast forward to 2016 where Triple H is leading the charge in WWE to produce just as (if not more) exciting wrestling on the WWE Network. He started first with NXT, WWE’s developmental program, where stars like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Neville, Shinsuke Nakamura, among others, have put on the most incredible wrestling performances in recent memory on WWE branded programming. And now, debuting last night, July 13th, Triple H and WWE Network brought to the world the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.
The CWC brings together 32 of the best cruiserweight wrestlers from across the globe, representing 16 countries. It is to be noted that almost none of these wrestlers are under exclusive contract to WWE, which makes this event even more special. These cruiserweights are essentially on loan from their home promotions, which allows their home companies from around the world to get even more exposure as well. This is pretty much a win-win situation for everyone involved. The program has a different feel than anything that is currently on WWE Television. The graphics resemble a 1990’s SNES/Genesis video game like Street Fighter. The commentary is provided superbly by Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo, who both have great knowledge of these performers and what they can do.
Cruiserweight Wrestlers To Watch
(Other than “all of them”)
Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. might be, if not is, the best technical wrestler in the world today. Billed as “The Technical Wizard”, Sabre’s matches are like watching someone put on a clinic in professional wrestling, able to go in and out of submission holds with grace and ease. Sabre has a notable list of accolades, including being the PWG Battle of Los Angeles winner (2015), the 2016 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament winner, and two-time Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. If anyone in this tournament should be considered the odds-on favorite, it’s Zack Sabre Jr.
If this Tournament is not set up to make Zack Sabre Jr. a star, it’s to further rise the popularity of Japanese wrestler Kota Ibushi. Ibushi has been a big name in Japan for almost 10 years now. He has wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling, DDT Pro-Wrestling, while also making appearances in places like Chikara. He is a three time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, Best of the Super Juniors 2011 Champion and 2009 Chikara Rey de Voladores Champion. Kota Ibushi is such an incredible wrestler that he could even make a rag doll look like a million bucks. No, seriously…
Johnny Gargano is the Bees Knees, the Cat’s Pajamas, The Whole She-Bang, All-Heart, Cleveland’s own Johnny Wrestling. I’ve seen Gargano live on a number of occasions and he is just a fun wrestler to watch. He’s also a big super nerd, openly loving Disney World, Boy Meets World, among other things. Gargano always seems to be having a good time in the ring. Gargano is a decorated wrestler as well, holding the Dragon Gate USA Open the Freedom Gate Championship on two occasions for a combined 1005 days, the only two time champion. He was also a two-time Chikara Campeonatos de Parejas (Tag Team Champion) with the “Kentucky Gentleman” Chuck Taylor. Oh, and part of the most adorable wrestling couple:
The WWE Cruiserweight Classic airs on the WWE Network on Wednesday Nights at 9PM, immediately following NXT.