Greetings to each and every one of you readers. It is an honor to have 6 1/2 eyes reading this column each week.
Last week we started with a little “what if” scenario that involved the WWE purchasing Ring of Honor. Instead of doing a full-on invasion angle, I thought we could go through the roster of Ring of Honor and provide an introductory storyline for them. This way, they could integrate into the roster faster and give each of WWE’s brands a little bit of depth and a shot in the arm.
We went through some thoughts of wrestlers going to NXT which would really bolster their roster and create a lot of good opportunities for guys new and old. Today we will take a look at the WWE Cruiserweight division.
The WWE’s Cruiserweight division started off great with the Cruiserweight Classic tournament. Almost immediately after that tournament though, the division had trouble finding its footing in the WWE landscape. A new show, 205 Live, was added to showcase the talent they have, but the division remained an outlier. A returning Neville, sporting a new nastiness, added a big jolt in the division and gave it a credible champion the crowd already knew and could get behind.
Then, after having Neville defeat almost everyone in the division decisively, the WWE returned Austin Aries to competition and began a program between the two men. This feud has been pretty good and resulted in three pretty good to great PPV matches, but Neville has won all three. So now what? Cedric Alexander has just returned from injury and could possibly give Neville some strong competition, but after that, who knows?
Ring of Honor has several guys who could help make the Cruiserweight division more interesting, even if a couple of them are basically glorified jobbers. And then there is one or two guys who could break the cruiserweights out of their slump and make 205 Live must-see TV.
Let’s start with the most jobbery of the jobbers – Cheeseburger. I don’t know if you really have to create a storyline for Cheeseburger. The dude is about 80 pounds soaking wet but takes the sickest of bumps and the crowds love his heart. Just this past week on ROH television, Cheeseburger kicked out of a huge sit-out powerslam by Ray Rowe and popped the crowd huge. Admitedly, I am not a Cheeseburger fan, at all, but even I marked out a bit for that perfectly timed kick out. The guy can play to the crowd well, he’s the underdog always, and even would be in the Cruiserweight division, and he almost guarantees a big pop. The ultimate curtain jerker, Cheeseburger can get anyone you want to get over simply by taking bumps for them like he is dying. Plus, think of all the cheesy merchandise the WWE can print, or the advertising deals they could work out with any number of fast food franchises.
Cheeseburger is not the only guy ROH could bring to the curiserweight party. Burger’s tag team partner, Will Ferrara could also be well utilized by the WWE. Ferrara is stronger than Cheeseburger and I have seen him work a more “WWE” style at times. He can still fly and is fast as anything, so he would be a good fit going against anyone.
Personally, I think Ferrara would be a good heel, and I know the WWE loves their little groupings, so I would introduce him with Tony Nese and The Brian Kendrick. Kendrick could act as the mouthpiece for the group, and as a trio they could wreck some havoc in a cruiserweight mid-card, so to speak. The good thing about this grouping is that on short notice, any one of the three could be made to look like a top contender with some outside interference getting a few wins, etc.
I would add Jay White to this list for the WWE cruiserweights, but I think he would be more interested in going back over to Japan for a while. Maybe in a few years, but for now, we will pass on the talented youngster.
Next up would be Jonathan Gresham. Gresham is an interesting case as he is more of a grappler than a high flyer, but that completely works to his advantage. With Aries and Neville bringing a more strategic submission based style to their last encounter, I think Gresham could work off of that well. In fact, I would bring him as an immediate opponent for Austin Aries.
Aries could be doubting himself after his losses to Neville. In a sit-down interview with Aries, he could express his doubt about his abilities, his future, and especially his reliance on the Last Chancery. The next week, he could face a debuting Jonathan Gresham who would surprisingly outclass Aries throughout the match and even make him tap out after a series of submission holds. Aries would look stunned afterwards and a little despondent. But before the show was over, Aries would come back out to the ring, grab a microphone and demand a rematch with Gresham the following week.
Gresham would come out and say that he would be happy to stretch Aries again next week and show him he isn’t a fluke. The next week, Gresham would win again, in another dominating fashion, making Aries look a step behind on every move. Aries would snap after the match and beat down Gresham with a chair. Aries would cut a heel promo after saying that no one should doubt him, he is the greatest after all. Aries arrogant persona would morph into an arrogant but out-of-touch persona where he didn’t recognize losses, etc.
Gresham could continue to be the object of Aries’ ire for a while and possibly even have a blow off match on a PPV. The feud between these two could immediately make Gresham look like a top star and give Aries a new direction to work.
Finally, the last cruiserweight under contract for Ring of Honor that I would find room for is Will Ospreay. People have argued that 205 Live and the cruiserweight matches on Raw have been toned down since the Cruiserweight Classic. I don’t disagree with that assessment. I know WWE wants to ground their wrestlers a little bit, work more of the psychology of matches, etc. and I do not disagree with that sentiment most of the time. But they already have two (or three if you count NXT) brands that do that. Eventually, I think even Triple H and Vince McMahon will realize the cruiserweights are their own animal and will stop clipping their wings.
While their are high flyers already on the roster, even their champion was promoted as a super high flyer early on, no one matches the aerial insanity of Will Ospreay. Don’t believe me, then watch this –
I would have Ospreay come out and interrupt a Neville promo. He would say that Neville used to be called “The Man that Gravity Forgot,” and that’s cool and all, but he never saw it, looking down from his perch. He would get in the ring and tell Neville that he is the champion for now, but “The Aerial Assassin is here and the Cruiserweight division is about to fly.” Neville would seethe and say that he is going to learn to bow to his king soon and would leave the ring.
Neville would go on to demand a match against Ospreay to show “this peasant kid” what it means to be in the presence of royalty. Ospreay will mock Neville and accept the challenge. Then, Neville will make the stupid pro wrestling cliche and put the belt on the line for the following week’s Raw.
The Raw match will be shown at the 10pm hour to signify its importance. And it would be something the WWE crowds have never seen before. The athleticism and aerobatics that Ospreay would display would leave the crowd in awe and he would walk out as the new champion and a huge new babyface star for the company. Neville would get some revenge in future weeks and on 205 Live and it would set up a rematch at a PPV. Again, Ospreay would take the victory by displaying high flying moves well beyond normal WWE limits.
Ospreay’s victory and championship run will allow the cruiserweights to take the top off their styles and really become the exciting and fast paced brand they should be. In addition, this should also attract additional superstars, including some the WWE have already expressed rumored interest in. In the video above, that is Will Ospreay fighting against Ricochet, who has been rumored to be WWE bound for quite a while now. If he could be brought on board it would set up a ton of fun contests. Lio Rush, formerly of Ring of Honor, has also been on WWE’s radar and would be a great addition. With those three men on the roster, they might need to start providing neck braces for the fans, since they will be looking up so often.
So, with an ROH purchase, the WWE could definitely shore up their Cruiserweight roster. They would be able to add new fan favorites (like Cheeseburger), new heel stables (including Will Ferrara), incredibly tough grapplers to hold down the mat-based side of the division (see Jonathan Gresham), and also shoot the moon by allowing the cruiserweights to work the high-wire act they can (by following Will Ospreay’s lead). These additions could lead to even more talented additions (such as Ricochet or Lio Rush) and would make the WWE’s Cruiserweight division one of, if not the, most envied juniors division in wrestling.
I am not ignoring that Ring of Honor has a few other wrestlers on their roster that could be considered cruiserweights, but hang tight, I may just have plans for them. After all, we haven’t even gotten to the Smackdown or Raw rosters yet.
Until next week…
Tags: Austin Aries, brian kendrick, cedric alexander, Cheeseburger, Jonathan Gresham, Neville, Tony Nese, Will Ferrara, Will Ospreay