It was 1996 and Ted Turner’s WCW was stomping a mud hole in Vince McMahon’s WWE during the Monday Night Wars. The New World Order was the hottest ticket around but the cruiserweight division was the unspoken hero of that era. The cruiserweight division introduced many American fans to Lucha Libre wrestling. Rey Mysterio Jr. showed us that you didn’t have to be a giant to put on great matches. Eddie Guerrero smoothly mixed high flying maneuvers combined with technical grappling.
Today, the WWE has recently expressed more interest in luchadores because of their Global Cruiser Weight Series and NXT brand. Manny Andrade (La Sombra), who was signed in ’15, has already made his NXT debut. WWE also signed Lince Dorado for the Global Cruiser Weight Series in March. The company has also pushed Mexican wrestlers within the last year by having Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio feud for the U.S. title for several months.
For the list, we decided to exclude anyone over forty because we doubt WWE will sign someone of that age unless they’re a box office draw. If a luchador has already worked for the WWE, we excluded them also. Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) are the biggest promotions in Mexico but in the United States they can still be considered an indie promotion. We can save the debate for what’s indie and what’s not for another day.
15 Psycho Clown
You may not like his gimmick but he can pull it off with his charisma. The son of Brazo de Plata and a family member of the Alvardo Dynasty, Psycho Clown won his first singles title (the AAA Latin American Championship) in August. He isn’t a high flier like most wrestlers on the list but is more of a brawler. By far the best member of the Psycho Circus Stable, his deadly front flip pile driver can end an opponent quickly. He can work a long match, hit his spots, and seems to have fun doing it. His personality also connects him with the fan base, which ever promoter should be looking for in a wrestler.
14 Rey Cometa
Like the name suggests, the CMLL standout can be as fast as a comet. The high-flying acrobat loves to pull off the 450 splash, double corkscrew and springboard tornado planchas. Cometa has decades of experience even though he’s only 33 years old, as he debuted at the age of 16 in ’99. His talents also brought him outside of Mexico, performing for New Japan Professional Wrestling. If anyone should be in WWE’s Global Cruiser Weight Series, it should be the man who flies like a comet.
13 Bestia 666
The beast has already worked for a few promotions in the United States — Global Force Wrestling being the biggest — and has been invited to try out for the WWE in the past. He’s hardcore, think Mick Foley hardcore, and can bring toughness to the WWE while being technically sound as well. I can imagine him being a perfect psychological opponent to battle The Demon, Finn Balor. He’s also made a name for himself without relying too much on CMLL or AAA. Only in his mid-twenties, Bestia 666 could reasonably get another shot at the WWE in the future. His match against Pentagon Jr. at The Crash Lucha Libre event in October is one of the most memorable hardcore performances in recent years.
12 Volador Jr.
The oldest member on the list, Volador Jr. can still go for his age. He’s faced the best of the best and consistently puts on good performances. You can easily pair him with someone who’s green and get a good match out of him. He would be a great addition for WWE because of his experience and in-ring ability. When you talk about CMLL, you have to talk about Volador Jr. (the guy debuted in 2001). It’s a shame he hasn’t had more of an international presence recently but because he’s in excellent shape, he could still make it in the WWE.
11 El Bárbaro Cavernario
If a headshrinker had a baby with Bruiser Brody, you would get The Caveman. For only being in his early twenties, we were surprised with how well he sells the psychological aspects of the match. As a heel, he knows how to get heat. Even though his gimmick goes along with the comic book style characters of CMLL, The Caveman has a ton of room to grow. He sets a good pace, is very technical for his age, and can pull off maneuvers that you thought would be impossible for him. He recently has been pushed as a welterweight champion for CMLL. Watch The Caveman in a hair vs hair match against Rey Cometa at CMLL’s 81st Anniversary Show to get a glimpse of his style.
10 Mistico II
He was known as Dragon Lee in 2010 but took over CMLL’s Mistico when Caristico left the promotion to be Sin Cara in the WWE. He’s very fast, almost to the point where his pacing is too fast, but being in his mid-twenties, he still has time to be something special. If anyone is suited for a cruiserweight tournament, it would be Mistico II. He’s in-ring ability is smooth and has been in many memorable matches with top talent. It speaks volumes that CMLL let him be Mistico after the former was such a talent. He currently is one-third of the CMLL World Trios Champions.
9 Aero Star
Aero Star hits all the spots a luchador should hit. If you want consistency in a high-flyer, he’s your man. He can hit the Senton Bomb, Springboard Splash, Shooting Star Press, and the 450 splash with ease. Wearing his trademark blue and red colors, Aero Star has competed in several organizations such as AAA, Lucha Underground, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Chikara. If WWE wants a more child friendly face, Aero Star can be the perfect fit as a “super hero.” The only thing that may hold him back is his non-versatile move set.
8 Sexy Star
The great thing about Lucha Underground, which is an off-shoot of AAA, is allowing inter-gender matches. Sexy Star was the perfect choice to represent female luchador wrestling in the United States. Just because she’s allowed in a match full of men doesn’t mean much, but the fact that she can pull it off like she belongs there earns her a spot on this list. She can work with the best and has a wide variety of moves that keeps her fresh. With some officials in WWE trying to steer away from the beautiful diva stereotype to more convincing wrestlers, Sexy Star is the perfect candidate for the job.
7 Angel de Oro
The CMLL Light Heavyweight Champion has one of the best moonsaults in the world. When you think there's no way someone can pull of a springboard moonsault, Angel de Oro tells you otherwise. A very talented high flyer that can mix it up with a light ground base style, he truly seems like he comes from the heavens. A knee injury derailed his career in 2013, but he’s been putting on quite the show since then. The Sasuke Special from Angel de Oro is something that everyone needs to see if they’re a fan.
6 Máscara Dorada
A master of the hurricanrana, Máscara Dorada has been a multiple champion for CMLL and has put on great performances for NJPW. He’s just entering his prime years as an athlete and already has accomplished more than most. The way he can jump and walk on ropes is mind blowing, like Jesus walking on water mind blowing. The Dorada Screwdriver (a modified sit-out scoop slam driver) as well as the corkscrew somersault senton bomb gives fans goosebumps every time he uses them. His one year contract with NJPW ended months ago and we hope to see him perform globally again.
Just like his brother Mistico, Rush was born to perform in the ring. His name is like his style: hard hitting, stiff, and explosive. For his image, he separates himself from the stereotypical looking luchador with a strong physique, long hair, and not donning the traditional mask. Rush can take a bump and his grapple game is on point. He’s leading a generation of new luchador performers in CMLL and is only getting better. He’s already held several reigns as a champion under the organization and we doubt he’s going to stop. Check out his feud with WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura and tell us you didn’t feel all bruised up after the match.
4 Pentagon Jr.
Arguably one of the best wrestlers to come out of Mexico, Pentagon Jr. has it all. He’s very charismatic, his in-ring work is great, can set the tempo of the pace, knows the psychological mind games involving the crowd, and has a violent move set that makes him a great heel or anti-hero. Although he hasn’t won many single championships, things can change after he exploded onto televisions in the United States because of Lucha Underground. It's impossible to look away when he’s trying to snap his opponent’s arms. He’s also the older brother of the next person on the list.
If you think WWE's Kalisto can fly, check out Fenix. The sky is literally the limit for this young up and comer. The way he can elevate, twist and turn, and finish a spot is unbelievable. He’s accomplished a lot for only being 25 by winning major titles in Lucha Underground, AAA, Chikara, and The Crash. Not only is he a high flier but he can move on the mat as well. His feuds in Lucha Underground are some of the best we’ve seen in the last few years. He has the potential to be the face of luchador wrestling for years to come.
2 El Texano Jr.
Like many other luchadores, El Texano Jr.’s family has a rich history in professional wrestling. The American audience has been getting a taste of the brawler on Lucha Underground but he cemented his roots in CMLL before being pushed as a champion in AAA. He has one of the longest modern day reigns in professional wrestling, holding onto the AAA Mega Championship for two years. He’s not a high flyer but is an in-ring artist who likes to show off his power. His charisma makes his heel gimmick believable and he’s competed at the highest level, making him an excellent choice for WWE. In March, he won the AAA Mega Championship for a second time.
1 King Cuerno
Also known as El Hijo del Fantasma, King Cuerno is one of the better workers in the world. He is a technically gifted wrestler and may have the best suicide dive in the business. King Cuerno always finds success, as he's had championship reigns wherever he's gone. His lucha based wrestling has evolved into a well-rounded wrestler that doesn’t have many weaknesses. He can speak well on the mic and his attire has a dear head as a hat, which can be pretty intimidating to people. The dirt sheets have reported that WWE is interested in his talents but AAA and LU don’t want him performing in the Global Cruiser Weight Series. Probably because he has greatness oozing out of every orifice.