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Do It Right: 15 Steps To Booking The Cruiserweight Division On Raw

There was once a time when cruiserweight wrestling was taken seriously and was the best part of World Championship Wrestling programs that aired on cable television and pay-per-view telecasts. World W

There was once a time when cruiserweight wrestling was taken seriously and was the best part of World Championship Wrestling programs that aired on cable television and pay-per-view telecasts. World Wrestling Entertaining is apparently looking to turn the clock back and bring a return to those days. WWE Network is airing the Cruiserweight Classic tournament during the summer months. This competition features competitors who otherwise wouldn’t receive opportunities underneath the WWE umbrella. It was also announced during the summer that the WWE is bringing the cruiserweight division back to the Raw brand as a result of the WWE Draft that occurred in July. The cruiserweight division will be exclusive to the Raw brand, and it is assumed top cruiserweight contests will take place at major events such as Survivor Series and WrestleMania.

It should not be forgotten that the WWE dropped the ball in multiple ways regarding the cruiserweight division the last time that the company attempted to run with the idea over a decade ago. Learning from those mistakes is a must if the cruiserweight division is to be taken seriously by casual fans and if it is to become what it was in WCW in the mid-1990s. The Cruiserweight Classic is giving fans reasons to believe that the WWE wants to use cruiserweights as more than just fillers during three-hour weekly shows. Here is hoping that is the case, as cruiserweights can serve as some of the more entertaining performers on a roster. These wrestlers can also draw for the WWE so long as they are pushed properly.

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15 Show Highlights Of The Cruiserweight Classic

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This is the first thing that the WWE could do for the cruiserweight division before it even debuts on an edition of Raw. The WWE has all kinds of footage of the Cruiserweight Classic already saved in the company vault. Every episode of Raw should feature at least a minute or so of Cruiserweight Classic highlights as a way to promote the upcoming cruiserweight division.

Wrestlers who will be part of the division who participated in the Cruiserweight Classic could be spotlighted during such highlight promos. The WWE could also use Raw as a way to promote future Cruiserweight Classic episodes and tournament matches. Those who have followed the Cruiserweight Classic know that it is one of the most fun things that WWE has produced in 2016. Anything to get more eyes on the competition and on its wrestlers is a positive for the WWE, the tournament and also the future of the upcoming cruiserweight division.

14 Jobbers

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One part of what is being referred to on WWE programming as the “New Era” that began in 2016 is a return of jobbers to shows such as Raw and SmackDown. Jobbers help performers such as Braun Strowman and Nia Jax, two wrestlers who need some seasoning before they are able to hang with the better wrestlers on a roster, get over among fans and also get more comfortable in their own skins.

This theory holds true for every wrestling division and the cruiserweight division is no different. The cruiserweight division needs stars and stars are born in wrestling promotions by winning time and time again. Those who are the very best in the cruiserweight division will eventually have to face off against each other, but that should not happen until they establish themselves by beating packs of jobbers. There are plenty of performers out there who can and would serve as serviceable jobbers to the stars of the cruiserweight division.

13 Promote The Official Debut Date For The Cruiserweight Division

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This one sounds simple enough and yet it is something that the WWE has not yet done as of the posting of this piece. The WWE runs promos and vignettes for wrestlers who eventually will debut on the company’s main roster. That same thing should occur regarding the start of the cruiserweight division. There is no such thing as too long of a countdown for something that excites fans. The WWE should remind fans every week that they are seven days closer to seeing some of the best and most-skilled wrestlers in the world appearing on Raw.

Truth be told, such a countdown could be coupled with the WWE showing highlights of the Cruiserweight Classic and also of cruiserweight matches that occurred in the WWE and WCW back in the day. Anticipation among diehard WWE fans and also among casual viewers will grow every week due to the fact that the WWE has a talented department that creates videos and highlights.

12 Multiple Cruiserweight Matches Every Raw

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Every episode of Raw runs for over three hours on live television. Yes, a weekly three-hour show is too much for any single wrestling promotion, but it is what it is. The WWE and USA Network are not cutting back at any point in the foreseeable future. With all of this available time on episodes of Raw, there is no reason that the WWE should not feature at least two cruiserweight matches on every show.

In fact, the WWE could even run with the idea of having one cruiserweight match air per hour of Raw. The right cruiserweights will entertain in-arena audiences and television viewers, and airing multiple matches will help establish new wrestlers and new names to WWE fans who didn’t watch the Cruiserweight Classic and who do not pay much attention to independent promotions. We want to see the cruiserweights do what they do best and that is wrestle. Give that to fans, WWE, and the cruiserweight division will soar.

11 Adequate Time For Cruiserweight Matches

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The previous idea mentioned in this piece will only go so far if the WWE turns cruiserweight matches into brief segments that are forgotten about almost as quickly as they occur. Cruiserweight matches should, by nature, be quicker and feature more athleticism than what fans would expect to see from others on the main WWE roster.

With that said, cruiserweight matches that do not include jobbers should go more than only a couple of minutes before one of the competitors has his hand raised. The opening round of the Cruiserweight Classic did well to feature four matches of varying lengths per episode. There is no reason why the WWE could not follow this formula when it has over three hours of programming to work with every week. Even six-to-eight minutes per match should be enough for cruiserweights capable of telling entertaining stories inside of the ring. Yes, squashes should happen now and again, but two top-tier cruiserweights need more than a couple of minutes for an encounter.

10 Take From the Best Parts Of The Cruiserweight Classic

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The Cruiserweight Classic is a hit for multiple reasons. Most importantly, of course, are the men who put together matches inside of the ring. One must also give credit to the WWE for making the Cruiserweight Classic stand apart from Raw and SmackDown and also from NXT shows that air on the WWE Network.

There is something unique and special about watching the two wrestlers shake hands and receive instructions from the referee in the center of the ring before they start a match. Knowing there is a set time limit gives fans something to think about as they notice that a match has gone on for several minutes. Last but not least, having the two wrestlers stand in the center of the ring as the referee raises the hand of the victor at the end adds a sense of realism and is straight out of mixed martial arts organizations such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The WWE should add these elements to the cruiserweight division.

9 Tournament!

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Wrestling fans love tournaments. It doesn’t matter if those fans are located in the United States, Mexico, Japan or anywhere else on the planet. Give wrestling fans a tournament that includes brackets and they will eat that competition up with a spoon. That is why the WWE ran with the King of the Ring idea for as long as it did and also why the company tried to bring King of the Ring back during the 2000s.

While we understand that the Cruiserweight Classic is a massive tournament, there are multiple reasons why it should not be how the WWE crowns the first Cruiserweight Champion of its new era. The biggest problem here is that only so many people who watch Raw also watch the WWE Network and the Cruiserweight Classic. A smaller tournament, perhaps one that features only eight wrestlers, could be a way to introduce different performers and also name the company’s first Cruiserweight Champion of 2016.

8 Have Cruiserweights Beat Heavyweights (Occasionally)...

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We do not love the idea of the WWE mixing cruiserweight wrestlers with heavyweights and other members of the roster. There is a right way to do it in certain circumstances, though, such as to elevate cruiserweights and show that they can hang with the best of the best regardless of size.

WWE recently went down this road on episodes of NXT, using that program to showcase talents who took part in the Cruiserweight Classic. That is fine as it pertains to Raw and the upcoming cruiserweight division, but only if the cruiserweights go over the heavyweights during the early stages of the division. Undersized cruiserweights are going to need all of the help they can get in the first months of the reborn division. Having the occasional cruiserweight notch convincing victories over established members of the Raw division could help create stars that the new division will need during the second half of 2016.

7 ...But Keep the Cruiserweights Separate Long-Term

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Having the cruiserweights interact with heavyweights and with other members of the main WWE roster every now and again is fine. For the most part, however, it is in the best interests of the cruiserweight wrestlers and also the cruiserweight division for these performers to be kept as separate entities in the long-term.

A cruiserweight division is only special if it is allowed to get over on its own and if the cruiserweights are seen as stars who do not need to hold a mid card championship, the WWE Championship or the Universal Championship. WCW got this right for a significant period of time. The same can be said for promotions located overseas. Cruiserweights battling cruiserweights should be the focus of the division, with the main goal of every wrestler in that division being to win the championship and hold the label as the very best cruiserweight signed to the WWE and maybe the best cruiserweight in the world.

6 Have The Announcers Put The Cruiserweights Over

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There are so many things outstanding about the Cruiserweight Classic. Two of the best parts of those programs are Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan. Ranallo is the best play-by-play man signed to the WWE today, while Bryan seems to be a natural working as a color commentator.

Not only do Ranallo and Bryan add further entertainment to excellent matches, both men do well to put the competitors over regardless of if those wrestlers are working as heels or babyfaces. In fact, Bryan “marking out” for competitors has become part of Cruiserweight Classic programs. The WWE likely won’t put Ranallo and Bryan on Raw because those running the promotion often don’t know a good thing when they see it. That’s fine, as the current three-man crew calling matches during Raw can learn a thing or two from watching Ranallo and Bryan work episodes of the Cruiserweight Classic.

5 Learn From Mistakes Made By X-Division

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Total Nonstop Action Wrestling had an opportunity to differentiate itself from the WWE when TNA first formed following the death of WCW. TNA promised fans matches they wouldn’t see on WWE programming, specifically with the X-Division that had “no limits” and that featured noteworthy workers such as A.J. Styles, Low Ki, Chris Saban and Samoa Joe.

A problem with some of the early matches in the X-Division is that they were perceived as “spot-fests” that did little in the way of telling compelling stories. Even worse was that the X-Division title changed hands time and time again during the first year of TNA Wrestling. The WWE has been smart with protecting the three championships won and defended in NXT. We hope the company will also protect the Cruiserweight Championship so that it means something when that title changes hands at a pay-per-view or during an episode of Raw.

4 Let Cruiserweights Work Main Events Now And Then

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In 2015, the WWE kicked off what the company referred to as its “Divas Revolution” regarding the female wrestlers signed to the company. Ironically, this revolution resulted in the company abandoning the term “Divas.” It also led to Bayley and Sasha Banks working in the co-main event of the 2015 NXT Takeover: Brooklyn show when those two women should have closed that show.

The WWE learned from that mistake, as Banks and Bayley worked in the main event of a different NXT: Takeover. We hope the WWE remembers this and uses cruiserweight wrestlers in main events of Raw every now and again. For this to work, the WWE may need to partner certain cruiserweights up with established stars on the main roster. That’s fine, but only if a cruiserweight is responsible for winning that main event. In time, fans will accept two cruiserweights battling for a championship in a contest that begins during the final 15 minutes of an edition of Raw.

3 Don’t Relegate Wrestlers To The Cruiserweight Division

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One concern some WWE fans may have about the upcoming cruiserweight division is that the WWE will use it as a way to feature certain talents who have no existing spots on the main roster. That, after all, occurred in the WWE following the original brand split during which the cruiserweight division was featured on the SmackDown brand.

While it is understandable that the WWE would want to use contracted talent anyway it can, the cruiserweight division needs to feel special during its early days back on cable television. The biggest stars of that division, thus, should be wrestlers who are newer faces to those who didn’t watch the Cruiserweight Classic. Filling the cruiserweight division with castoffs from the main roster would do more to sink that division than it would to propel it or any cruiserweight wrestler. A wrestler’s weight alone should not determine whether or not he is added to the updated cruiserweight division.

2 Sign Additional Cruiserweight Talent

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The WWE Draft and brand split that took place in July 2016 not only created two products for WWE fans to consume on a weekly basis. It also depleted the impressive NXT roster, as talents such as Finn Balor and American Alpha earned deserved call-ups to main shows.

The Cruiserweight Classic allowed several noteworthy workers to perform in front of WWE fans. Those individuals are not, however, the only cruiserweights out there who could help build a division for the Raw brand. The WWE needs a talent influx for every one of its brands. That is also the case for the cruiserweight division, especially if the company is serious about making that division more than an afterthought. Every Raw is three hours, and thus the WWE needs more than only a handful of talented cruiserweights for this division. We are excited to see who the WWE will sign between the end of summer and the 2017 WrestleMania season.

1 Build A Strong Champion

wwe.com

The WWE realized that simply calling something a “Divas Revolution” was not enough to turn things around for the women’s division. Thus, the WWE placed that division’s championship on Charlotte, a proven talent who held the NXT Women’s Championship and who has repeatedly had entertaining matches while working underneath the WWE umbrella. Sasha Banks, a great worker who is beloved among fans, won that championship in July of 2016.

In that same light, the WWE needs to build a strong champion for its cruiserweight division. This individual should be a talented in-ring worker fans want to see regardless of if he is a babyface or a heel. A strong champion does wonders for an entire division, as he gives legitimacy to a title and also to contenders. So long as the WWE gives us a strong Cruiserweight Champion coupled with interesting feuds, we will have no problem buying into that division as something to watch every Monday night.

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Do It Right: 15 Steps To Booking The Cruiserweight Division On Raw