While the WWE Cruiserweight division started off a little slow after the finish of the stellar Cruiserweight Classic tournament, it appears the purple brand is starting to gain a little traction and get a bit more noticed. With growing feuds between Jack Gallagher and Daivari, the love triangle between Noam Dar, Cedric Alexander and Alicia Fox, as well as the re-birth of The Man Gravity Forgot, Neville, the Cruiserweight division is finally starting to catch on with the WWE Universe. While it's going to take time for WWE to develop the brand, some of the best cruiserweight competitors in the world are now taking battle in between the purple ropes on Monday Night Raw and 205 Live on Tuesday nights. Guys like current WWE Cruiserweight Champion, Rich Swann, The Brian Kendrick and T.J. Perkins, just to name a few, are the core of the division and likely will be for a long time. However, while that is an extremely solid core to have for the division, there are a lot of big names out there that could potentially bring the division to the next level.
The WWE Network is looking to bank on the Cruiserweight division and one of the ways to do it is to recruit the best possible talent out there for their post SmackDown Live show, 205 Live, exclusive to network subscribers. With the division still being extremely fresh and new, there are a lot of names out there that we would love to see join the division. Whether they're currently on the WWE roster, names from the past, or someone from outside the company, let's take a look into who we want to see in the Cruiserweight division in 2017.
While we got a brief taste of Kalisto in the division when he took on The Brian Kendrick for the Cruiserweight Championship at Survivor Series in November, one has to wonder why The Lucha Dragon has yet to appear in the Cruiserweight division. Yes, he is drafted to SmackDown Live, however it seems the extremely gifted athlete has come to a dead end on the blue brand. Kalisto battled with Baron Corbin in a seemingly never ending “David vs. Goliath” style feud and then just kind of disappeared after that. After a run with the United States championship and defeating guys like Ryback numerous times for the title earlier this year, Kalisto has everything it takes to be a great WWE Cruiserweight Champion. We have seen his former Lucha Dragons tag team partner, Sin Cara, take part in a few Cruiserweight division matches, so why not Kalisto? A run at the belt could help raise Kalisto to the level he was earlier this year or even a feud with his former tag team partner could help generate some needed “buzz” for the Cruiserweight division.
14 Andrade "Cien" Almas
Andrade “Cien” Almas was hyped up huge prior to his debut in NXT. Video vignettes aired for what seemed to be months and the excitement was brilliantly built for his eventual debut. However, he never seemed to connect with the fans as a babyface in the NXT brand. While “Cien” is an amazing in-ring worker, his gimmick has held him back immensely and he's had almost no reaction from a usually loud NXT crowd. Now that Almas has turned heel in NXT, it appears the former masked luchador may finally be turning the corner to becoming the star he was projected to become in WWE. Coming from a lucha style in Mexico, Almas would fit in amazingly in the Cruiserweight division. He would bring a different style to the table and it would be a real treat to see him take on other superstars like Rich Swann or T.J. Perkins. Whether or not we will see Andrade “Cien” Almas as a WWE Cruiserweight remains to be seen, but it only makes sense to send him to the purple team once they’re ready to move him from NXT.
13 Tyler Breeze
One of the most highly touted call ups from the NXT roster over the past couple years, Tyler Breeze has never found his stride or reached his potential on the main roster. Despite being poorly written on WWE programming, Breeze is an absolutely incredible in-ring performer. His style of high flying and his very modern day gimmick would fit in well on Tuesday nights on the WWE Network and, much like Neville recently, could be a revitalization to a promising career for a buried former NXT Champion. His current gimmick on SmackDown Live as part of Breezango is going nowhere and it’s time for a change for The Gorgeous One. With an already crowded roster on SmackDown Live, it might be time for Tyler Breeze to move to the red brand and get a fresh start as a true cruiserweight.
12 Heath Slater
Three words as to why we want to see Heath Slater in the Cruiserweight Division? He’s got kids. In case you have missed it over the past few months, Heath Slater is one of the most over guys not only on the SmackDown Live roster, but in all of WWE. Despite a forgettable run as the leader of The Social Outcasts earlier in 2016, Slater’s popularity skyrocketed after not being selected in the brand draft by either Raw or SmackDown Live. Since then, fans have been chanting “We Want Slater” at various WWE events and Slater has even found success with Rhyno, winning the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. However, it’s only a matter of time now where Rhyno either Gores Slater in half or moves into the political world. Now, Slater is a few pounds over the 205 limit for the Cruiserweight Division, but we all know anything can happen in WWE. The Cruiserweight Division could be a place for Slater to shine, as opportunities unfortunately seem to be limited for the “One Man Band” on SmackDown Live. Could we see Heath Slater in the Cruiserweight Division in 2017? A run as Cruiserweight Champion could definitely help pay the bills for that double wide trailer.
11 Austin Aries
While he’s currently out of action with an eye injury he suffered at an overseas NXT event, it’s only a matter of time before we see The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived on Raw on Monday nights and 205 Live on Tuesday nights. One of the greatest performers outside of WWE for the past decade before joining NXT, Austin Aries is going to excel in the Cruiserweight division. As a heel on NXT, Aries has been one of the most entertaining superstars of all of 2016 and his debut in a WWE ring was welcomed with open arms. Austin Aries is one of the most charismatic superstars in and out of the ring, and his recent work as colour commentator on 205 Live has shown a new side to Aries that is extremely entertaining. While we enjoy hearing Aries call the action on 205 Live alongside Corey Graves and Mauro Ranallo, we are counting down the days until The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived finally steps between the purple ropes.
10 Gregory Helms
Probably the most unlikely candidate on our list to ever go back to WWE, Gregory Helms was one of the premiere talents in the last version of the WWE Cruiserweight division. In fact, Helms holds the record for the longest reign as WWE Cruiserweight champion at 385 days. Back when WWE purchased WCW in 2001, Helms was actually the guy to bring the WCW Cruiserweight title to WWE, re-creating the division in WWE until it was subsequently ended in 2008. With that said, Helms can be looked at as a legend in the Cruiserweight division. Whether he was going under the moniker of Gregory Helms, Shane Helms, or the hugely popular Hurricane character, Helms was always a treat to watch in WWE back in the early 2000s. While he is currently signed to TNA and heavily involved in the writing in that company, we can only hope that maybe one day The Hurricane will come back through WWE and tear up the Cruiserweight division once again.
While it was recently announced that we would get to see Tajiri back in a WWE ring again, the excitement is real for The Japanese Buzzsaw. One of the best cruiserweights of all time and highly revered from his ECW days, Tajiri is going to be extremely exciting to watch, even in his mid forties. Despite not being much of a talker, Tajiri's mysterious nature and in ring abilities make him one of the best things to look forward to in 2017 in the Cruiserweight division. Whether he's kicking someone in the head with a vicious Buzzsaw kick, locking in the impressive Tarantula or spitting the trademark "green mist," The Japanese Buzzsaw is going to bring a whole new element of experience and nostalgia to the WWE and we hope it comes with the Cruiserweights. We can't wait to see what the future has in store for Tajiri, as he looks to not be slowing down anytime soon, based on his strong performance in the Cruiserweight Classic tournament.
8 Enzo Amore
Coming in at around 200 pounds, a lot of people likely don’t realize that Enzo is actually eligible for the Cruiserweight division. Currently involved in a feud with Rusev, along with his partner Big Cass, what direction could the Certified G be headed next? It’s not a huge secret that Vince McMahon is a huge fan of Big Cass and likely has him in line for a big push sometime soon, which is what brings us to Enzo. Amore has an uncanny ability on the microphone, something that the Cruiserweight division has been lacking since it first started. We have been treated to a little bit of high flying from Enzo in tag team action, but there’s a lot more to be seen in a potential singles run. If Enzo and Cass don’t end up winning the Raw Tag Titles over the next few months, we could see Skywalker Trashtalker gracing the microphone in the Cruiserweight division on 205 Live - and you can’t teach that.
7 Xavier Woods
Now that The New Day have made history by breaking Demolition’s record as the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history, and then subsequently losing the titles to Sheamus and Cesaro, what’s next for the three leaders of positivity on Raw? Many speculate that the creators of Booty-O’s could be on their way to a split, which could make for three very interesting character paths for Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. That brings us to the trombone playing, video game fanatic, Xavier Woods. One of the most underrated Superstars in the ring, Woods could have the ability to bring a new life to the Cruiserweight division. Woods is extremely versatile on the microphone and has proven to work well in both face and heel roles. Could Xavier Woods move on from the tag division, and perhaps try to become the next “W…W…E… Cruiser…Weight…Champion?” Only time will tell.
The team of Tommasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano is one of the hottest things going in NXT right now. Fresh off their NXT title victory at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, these two guys have an extremely bright future in WWE. Collectively known as #DIY, Ciampa and Gargano have stolen the show at the past two Takeover events, with two five star matches against The Revival. With not much of a gimmick given to either of them, Ciampa and Gargano are easily two of the best performers and in ring competitors in all of WWE. While it was teased prior to their tag team run in NXT that the two would be joining the Cruiserweight division months ago, we never got to see the two hit the purple ropes. It's not an entirely bad thing, as these two are stellar in NXT as a tag team, but sometime in 2017, seeing these two battle in the Cruiserweight division would be a real treat for wrestling fans. Their match in the Cruiserweight Classic was only a taste of what's to come and we can't wait to see what they eventually bring to the Cruiserweight division.
5 Paul London
Anyone who watched WWE back in the early 2000s remembers Paul London. London and Brian Kendrick formed a high flying, dynamic duo and held the WWE Tag Team titles for one of the longest reigns in WWE history. Paul London was one of the most entertaining superstars in WWE for years, bouncing between the Tag Team and Cruiserweight divisions. One could even make the argument that without Paul London, there would be no Brian Kendrick in a WWE ring today. While London left the WWE in 2008 with a bitter taste in his mouth, you can never say never in the world of professional wrestling and sports entertainment. How cool would it be to see London and Kendrick back together again in the Cruiserweight division? The two of them together would not only likely bring an older demographic back into watching the product, but the two would likely tear up the division as a veteran unit. Never say never.
4 Evan Bourne
Evan Bourne was one of the most entertaining performers in WWE during his short stint. Perhaps one of the best high flyers WWE has ever seen, Bourne would excel in today’s version of the Cruiserweight division. Unfortunately, some wellness problems and injuries sustained in a car accident prematurely ended Bourne’s time in WWE, however he is still competing on the independent circuit to this day. Bourne spent most of his time in WWE under the watered down version of ECW on Tuesday nights and unfortunately was not used to his full potential. With that said, wrestling fans are itching to see the high flyer back in a WWE ring again and the Cruiserweight division is just the place to be for Evan Bourne. Now working on the indies as Matt Sydal, the former Evan Bourne has always said he'd return to the WWE under the right circumstances, so let's cross our fingers!
3 Hideo Itami
Although his career in the WWE so far has been unfortunately plastered with serious injuries, Hideo Itami is one of the most athletically gifted wrestlers on the NXT roster. Signs showed recently that Itami was in line for a big run when he took out Austin Aries at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn with a devastating GTS. However, yet another unfortunate injury has sidelined Itami long term for the second time in 2016. There was a very good chance that Itami was likely very high up the line for a shot at either Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura for the NXT title, but who knows what will happen once he returns from his most recent setback. Hideo Itami could flourish in the Cruiserweight division with his style and the fans would love to see him between the purple ropes before taking on other challenges on one of the main rosters. Given that he stays healthy, Itami would be a huge boost to the Cruiserweight division.
2 Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. is probably the greatest in -ing performer we witnessed participating in the Cruiserweight Classic to not sign a WWE contract. While it’s said that both sides couldn’t reach an agreement, WWE dropped the ball on this one. Sabre Jr. was easily one of the most entertaining athletes of the entire tournament and the British technician even made it to the semi-finals of the tournament, before losing to Gran Metalik. While it’s somewhat unclear as to why he never signed with WWE, Sabre Jr. is one of the greatest in ring performers on the face of the planet and WWE should be doing whatever they can to bring him to the purple brand. His hard hitting, technical style would be a welcome change to the division and could create some great matches with guys like Jack Gallagher in the Cruiserweight division. Whatever the original problem was with signing him, we can only hope to see Zack Sabre Jr. in a WWE ring in 2017.
1 Rey Mysterio
We all know this one is extremely unlikely, but how badass would this be? If Rey Mysterio ever returned to the WWE (you know what they say, never say never), he would more than likely be pushed into the upper mid-card on either Raw or SmackDown Live. We'd suggest him going purple instead of blue or red. A former multi-time Cruiserweight Champion in WWE as well as WCW, Mysterio would become the face of the division and would bring unprecedented attention to 205 Live and the WWE Network. While Mysterio is obviously getting older and can’t fly around like the guy we used to know once upon a time, Mysterio is still in incredible shape and can still put on a show. While the presence of Brian Kendrick and Tajiri does bring a large sense of veteran presence to the division, Rey Mysterio is the guy to bring the division to the next level. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see a 619 and West Coast Pop combo every week once again?
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