Joe Lanza | May 25, 2018 | 0
A Look Back at WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic: The Competitors (Part 2)
As the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament powers on with another strong week of action ahead of WrestleMania, let’s continue our look back at the main catalyst for the resurgence of Cruiserweight wrestling: the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic.
Last week, we took a look back at Gran Metalik, Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, and the inaugural Classic winner TJP. All four guys have carved their own path since the launch of 205 Live, with some of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
But there are some who are just now breaking out and getting the opportunity to shine – the guys who did well in the tournament but were either strapped to a deadweight mouthpiece hack-of-a-champion in a faction that quickly went off the rails or were just not given the time to showcase their skills.
What a wild ride that has been Drew Gulak’s involvement in the WWE Cruiserweight division. He came into the Cruiserweight Classic as a ruthless mat-technician and looked like a medieval ass-kicker who would kick ass and chew bubblegum, and he was out of gum. Did I mention he was presented as an ultimate ass-kicker? Oh, and then he switched things up into a politician-esque character who wanted to change things for a “Better 205 Live”. No longer was he the badass ass-kicker. He was Drew Gulak, funny guy number five.
Thankfully, somebody realized that Drew Gulak has more potential than being a shill for Microsoft office. Gulak is back to being the ass-kicker of the Cruiserweight division. This is what he should be. He is an entertaining guy, but he is probably the best technician they have on the brand. As long as Gulak is treated as a threat, his future should shine bright and last longer than Clippy.
Akira Tozawa was eliminated from the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic in the Quarter-Finals to Gran Metalik. From there, Tozawa skyrocketed past Metalik in the Cruiserweight division on 205 Live and eventually held the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in August of last year… for a whopping 6 days. Tozawa is a great talent – check out his Dragon Gate stuff – and he is one of the more entertaining guys on the brand. Tozawa, unfortunately, hasn’t been a big focus of the brand since losing the title. But that seems to have changed after being put in a tag team with fellow Japanese competitor Hideo Itami. No matter the reason why those two were put together (hint: they have lots of respect for each other, Ms. Franklin), hopefully this alliance with Itami will spell good things for both of them for the rest of the year.
Tony Nese is one of the most underrated performers on the 205 roster. After years of competing on the independent scene and a brief sting in TNA, Nese entered the Cruiserweight Classic and beat Anthony Bennett (the guy with the best hair in wrestling), only to lose in the second round to Brian Kendrick. Since then, Nese has been presented as the Guy With Abs and hasn’t had much of an opportunity to break into the upper echelon of the Cruiserweight division. I hope that he gets a chance to shine after the end of the tournament, Nese can be something special.
Like the aforementioned Drew Gulak, Jack Gallagher is one of best technicians on the purple and yellow brand. Gallagher made it to the Round of 16 of the Cruiserweight Classic, where he lost to Akira Tozawa. He went on to be one of the bigger babyfaces in the division when 205 Live launched, and then he turned heel and sided with The Brian Kendrick. Since Kendrick’s injury, Gallagher has dropped the wrestling in a suit gimmick and is now just a certified badass – which is something that suits him greatly. Who doesn’t love an intelligent English villain? It works for Bond, and it works here.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW
- A very good opening tag team match between the two newest teams in the division. Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado mesh well together tag-wise, while Tozawa and Itami are a bit clunky. I’m hoping Metalik gets a singles run in the future. I really enjoy cocky Hideo Itami, and I think he would work a lot better as a kickass heel.
- I enjoyed the Roderick Strong sitdown promo. It reminded me of the presentation used by the UFC – it adds a great deal of depth and relatability to the wrestlers on the show. These are people fighting for the same goal of winning the championship of the division. These are people that we can relate too. This is good.
- As I mentioned in the column piece, the new attitude of Jack Gallagher is absolute gold. Him destroying the poor jobber this week was good for his story progression on the show and his stuff looked brutal. It was great.
- Once again, these sit down promos are great. They need to keep it up when building to big matches!
- Can we get Mustafa Ali to agent all promos on the main roster?
- Cedric Alexander vs. Roderick Strong was a hell of a match! Best in the tournament so far, and we have had a bunch of great matches. That launching backbreaker turnbuckle spot was absolutely brutal. I love when they get “This is awesome!” chants, it shows that good wrestling and simple storytelling can get fans invested into a product. A true MOTYC.
- The crowd was loud for Cedric’s post-match interview. They have made Cedric Alexander such a great guy on the brand and I am so happy he is going to WrestleMania. It will be a damn shame if they do not have him face Mustafa Ali at Mania. It will be a bigger damn shame if they don’t give Cedric/Ali 20+ minutes to open the Mania card proper.