WCW, may it rest in peace, had a lot to offer to the mainstream wrestling audience. There were the villainous antics of the nWo, the great heritage of the Four Horsemen, legendary superstars such as Flair and Sting, but one thing that stands out the most for many wrestling fans is WCW's Cruiserweight division. During the mid 1990s, the Cruiserweight division afforded us the opportunity to see a unique type of in-ring action that many in America hadn't seen before.
The Cruiserweight division introduced fans to an array of international superstars and their different styles. From Mexico. we saw the migration of the Lucha-Libre style to the mainstream. We were introduced to their amazing characters and stylish high flyers.We also witnessed the emergence of several great Japanese cruisers. Let us not forget, many great Cruiserweights still hailed from the U.S. and Canada.
The melding of styles, characters, thrills, and, of course, many masks are a few aspects of what made the Cruiserweight division stand out to become arguably one of the most entertaining aspects of WCW Monday Nitro. There was very seldom a lackluster match involving these competitors. It should be noted, that anyone under 225 pounds was considered a Cruiserweight.
While there are so many great talents to choose from, after much deliberation we have come up with the top 15 members of WCW's Cruiserweight division. From around the globe, these superstars came together to bring us a showcase of great wrestling and entertainment. Some of these wrestlers even went beyond the limits of the "mid-card" status that was commonly set as a limit for many small competitors in the history of pro-wrestling. A very select few, went on to achieve success as world champions. We hope you enjoy the list.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
15 Super Calo
An export of AAA in Mexico, Super Calo was an exciting superstar to say the least. He made his WCW debut in 1996. Although he may be considered a lesser known name to many wrestling fans, his in-ring ability and natural charisma made him a guaranteed fun watch. Calo even received a Cruiserweight championship opportunity at Fall Brawl 1996 against Rey Mysterio. He didn't win the match, but it gave him an opportunity to be noticed. Super Calo didn't reach any spectacular heights in WCW, nor did he win any championships, but he brought a lot of electricity to the ring. He was the master of the diving huricanrana. He had some odd, but very interesting ring attire as well. Calo makes the list for his sheer ability to wrestle and pull off some amazing high spots.
14 Prince Iaukea
The former two time WCW Cruiserweight champion and one time WCW Television champion, Prince Iaukea, was a master of his craft. He had a very technical approach to wrestling and always seemed able to execute very well in the ring. He had a high-flying arsenal to go along with his martial arts style. He used a variety of kicks and judo holds, not to mention one of the most impressive sunset flips ever seen. WCW creative saw something in him, giving him somewhat of a character push as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea. This heel persona didn't push Iaukea to any major heights, but it was over with fans and earned him regular television time. If you're not familiar with the Prince, we strongly suggest watching some of his matches. You won't regret it.
13 Kaz Hayashi
Kaz Hayashi, although he never won the WCW Cruiserweight championship, was a staple of the division. His career began in Japan before he moved on to wrestle in Mexico just before joining the WCW roster. He was decently popular and always performed well. While the WCW Cruiserweight title eluded him, he won nearly 20 different championships competing internationally. Although sometimes used as a comedy act, his wrestling talents were never to be taken lightly. He enjoyed a great deal of popularity as a member of The Jung Dragons, a stable featuring members Jamie Noble and Jimmy Yang. Noble and Yang were great wrestlers themselves and went on to accomplish much after the group ended, but Hayashi was easily the best wrestler in the group.
12 Lash Leroux
Here is another example of a wrestler whose popularity was very limited, but popularity isn't everything in wrestling. The Rajun Cajun hit the scene in 1997 after training at the WCW Power Plant. He had a unique look, complete with fiery red hair and massive sideburns shaped like the letter L. While he never won the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, he did enjoy success as one half of the WCW World Tag Team champions with Chavo Guerrero. Lash was charismatic and great in the ring, but his greatness wasn't limited to just wrestling, as Lash is an accomplished freelance artist and also had a reputation for reaching out to his fans.
11 Shane Helms
Shane Helms is a former WCW Cruiserweight champion who had great success after the demise of WCW, in WWE. Helms captured the WWE version of the Cruiserweight title along with other championships. In WCW, Helms gained a lot of popularity as a member of the boy band parody trio, 3 Count, alongside Evan Karagias and his personal friend Shannon Moore. 3 Count was never taken seriously as a head line act, but they drummed up several entertaining moments and some high-spot laiden pay-per-view matches. Helms was definitely the star of the group, although in its inception Karagias was the focal point. Helms was the final reigning WCW Cruiserweight champion before the promotion was bought by WWE in 2001. Also, Helms went on to play Hurricane Helms in WWE, one of the more iconic and memorable characters he has ever played.
10 Elix Skipper
Elix Skipper's matches generated a lot of "wow" moments during his run in WCW. He's a lean, agile athlete who performed some of the most flawless, high-risk maneuvers ever witnessed. He won the WCW Cruiserweight Championship one time, as well as earning a reign as a Cruiserweight tag team champion, opposite his partner Kid Romeo. Skipper was also a member of WCW's Team Canada faction, but it was after the group broke up that he was noticed as a stand alone act. He was good enough to be brought over to WWE during the Invasion angle, but after being sent to developmental territories he was later released. He went on to have some great matches in TNA's X Division, where he shared match of the year honors with Christopher Daniels. Skipper was one of the finer points of WCW's Cruiserweight crusade.
9 Chavo Guerrero
Two-time WCW Cruiserweight Champion and member of the legendary Guerrero wrestling family, Chavo lived up to his family's great reputation and storied heritage. He was the nephew of the late great Eddie Guererro, an off and on friend and foe throughout his wrestling career. Chavo has a funny personality, as was illustrated through his work as Lieutenant Loco, as well as the eccentric Chavo wielding a hobby horse named Pepe. Chavo was one of the keystone members of the Cruiserweight division and regularly had great matches. His finishing move, a corner Tornado DDT, helped distinguish him from other Cruiserweights during a time when aerial maneuvers and submission holds were more commonplace in the division. There's no question as to how great Chavo was. He would go on to achieve success in WWE and even partnered with his uncle Eddie to win the WWE World Tag Team Championships as Los Guerreros.
Psychosiswas one of the many great masked superstars of Mexico to make their way to WCW. He dresses as a Dia de Los Muertos demon complete with horns, which helped make him stand out among other masked wrestlers. He dazzled audiences with his Lucha-Libre style and captured the WCW Cruiserweight Championship on two occasions. He had great matches with many other Cruiserweight royalty such as Rey Mysterio, La Parka, Chris Jericho, and Dean Malenko. He was also a former of Eddie Guererro's Latino World Order. He did lose some steam after losing his mask to Billy Kidman, but mask or no mask he is easily a top 10 all time great Cruiserweight.
7 Eddie Guerrero
Eddie is one of the greatest wrestlers to ever have lived. He would have earned a spot lower on the list, but his legacy was cemented after his departure from WCW. The span of greatness throughout Eddie's career leaves too much room to pigeon hole him as simply a Cruiserweight. Nonetheless, Eddie set the division on fire. Eddie won the Cruiserweight title on two occasions as well as the United States title on one occasion. He had great matches with Rey Mysterio and his nephew Chavo. Eddie left WCW after growing frustrations with the way his career was managed. In WWE, Eddie eventually found himself as WWE World Champion. He had a great WrestleMania match with Kurt Angle, but one of his most famous matches came in WCW. Eddie had returned from an injury stemming from a car crash in the best shape of his career. He worked a notoriously vicious match with Juventud Guerrera that goes down in the books as one of the best Cruiserweight matches in WCW history.
6 Billy Kidman
Billy Kidman entered WCW as a generic competitor who typically lost matches. Later, he would become a member of Raven's Flock as a character with very poor hygiene. During his days as the grungy flock member, Kidman turned some heads with his acrobatics and most of all with his sensational Shooting Star Press maneuver. After Raven's Flock disassembled, Kidman became one of the best solo wrestlers the division had ever seen, holding the Cruiserweight Championship a total of three times. He was a true success story who worked his way from the very bottom to the very top. One of his greatest career moments came when he pinned Hollywood Hogan on an episode of Monday Nitro, to one of the biggest reactions in Nitro history. Kidman's record speaks for itself and we are all lucky to have watched his rise in the world of wrestling.
5 Juventud Guerrera
Finally, The Juice has made his appearance on the list! Juvi was a daredevil in WCW. When he took to the ring , it was as if he was shot out of an invisible cannon at his opponent. No one had the in-ring intensity that Juvi had. He was sometimes criticized for being reckless, but when you're giving 110% of your effort, a few erratic moves can be expected. Juvi held the Cruiserweight title three times and had great feuds with Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho. His charisma was much more noticeable after losing his mask to Jericho, as he picked up a microphone and donned the character of "The Juice," a subtly parody of The Rock. Juvi was hands down the most fun to watch wrestler in WCW at one point. Some argue that if he had been a bit more conservative that he would have eclipsed Rey Mysterio's star-power, but that's a discussion for another day.
4 Ultimo Dragon
Here's where things begin to get tricky. The top four entrants required a great deal of consideration because we are moving into the Mount Rushmore, so to speak, of WCW's Cruiserweight division. Taking his rightful spot on the mountain is Ultimo Dragon, Japanese wrestling sensation. Ultimo arrived in WCW and quickly became one of the early architects of the Cruiserweight division, as he had storied rivalries with both Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko. Ultimo won the WCW Cruiserweight championship on two occasions, beating both Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. He also appeared on WCW Nitro with the J Cup championship from Japan which consisted of nine different championships, including the WCW Television Championship. He won over 30 different championships world-wide during his illustrious career. Also, his patented Dragon Sleeper was one of the most definitive and feared moves in the wrestling business.
3 Dean Malenko
With nicknames like Ice Man and The Man of 1,000 holds, it's no surprise that Dean Malenko earned a spot in the top three. Arguably the best technical wrestler in wrestling history, Malenko was a true mat technician. He had legendary feuds with Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio and he always seemed to bring out the best in his opponents. His feud with Jericho was a highlight of WCW Nitro for a series of months. He ties Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho as a four time holder of the Cruiserweight title before WWE adopted it as their own. Unlike many on this list, Dean wasn't much of a high flyer but drew you into his matches with his flawless execution and great technical skill. His intensity and skill made him a stand alone guy who never failed to deliver exceptional performances.
2 Rey Mysterio
Forget for a moment that Rey isn't number one on the list. We will come back to that.
Rey was the absolute face and crown bearer of the Cruiserweight division. He was the first true high-flyer in WCW. He was pulling off maneuvers never before seen by many American wrestling fans. Many of his predecessors, Jushen Liger and Brian Pillman included, never dreamed of doing what Mysterio did in the ring. He was a true underdog in every match because of his small stature, but Rey proved that size means nothing. Fans loved Mysterio, this is without question. His unique look, move arsenal, and ability to take on any wrestler despite size differences easily make him the poster boy for WCW Cruiserweights. It was Rey's early WCW matches with Dean Malenko that turned people on to the lucha-libre style. Rey went as far to become a two time WWE World Champion, but his Cruiserweight roots in WCW are what ultimately paved the road to ultimate success for Rey.
1 Chris Jericho
Remember the part about forgetting for a moment that Rey wasn't number one on the list? It's time to let that go. It's time to lay any question or angst concerning the ranking to rest.
Chris Jericho is the absolute greatest Cruiserweight in WCW history. Jericho was well received by fans immediately, debuting as the baby face Lion Heart character. His in-ring style was great, but the character was a mere footnote to how far Jericho's range could go. He became a sniveling, temper tantrum throwing character who cried conspiracy over decisions made by the fictitious WCW Championship committee. His work as a bad guy made him the most popular Cruiserweight in the division's history.
He had memorable feud with every top Cruiserweight in WCW, most notably against Dean Malenko and Rey Mysterio. He also had a collection of masks he acquired from other wrestlers during a time when he was gunning for identities of masked superstars. Jericho's ridiculous antics, sense of humor, and rock star attitude made him a must see wrestler and television personality.
Who didn't have a home made Jericho Personal Security shirt at home? Who didn't love his televised listing of his "1,004 holds"? Mind you, that's four more holds than Dean Malenko. Who didn't love his weekly attempts at calling out Goldberg? (a move that earned him legitimate backstage heat from Goldberg).
Jericho was entertaining in every aspect of wrestling. His character development and in-ring skill are what set him apart from all others, even Rey Mysterio. Jericho was becoming more than the most popular Cruiserweight, he was becoming the most popular wrestler in WCW.
As the story goes, WCW didn't want to move Jericho to a higher level than the mid-card which caused him to become frustrated and leave the company. He would later be signed by WWE and debut in the most memorable fashion. Jericho achieved so much success in WWE, but it was his work in WCW that caused fans to fall in love with him, giving WWE all the fuel they needed to continue Jericho's launch to super stardom.
As a future first ballot hall of famer, Chris Jericho may have provided some of the best banter, matches, and moments in the entire history of the WCW Cruiserweight division.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!