Ever since WWE announced they would begin an annual Global Cruiserweight Series, designed to give lesser-known independent talent the grander stage to showcase their skills, rumors and dream matches have been running rampant from insiders to fans alike, as this is the opportunity of a life time. Although indy stars such as Ricochet and Will Ospreay have declined the opportunity, instead opting to compete in New Japan’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament, there is a plethora of world class talent ready to impress WWE management in hopes of earning a WWE NXT/developmental contract. Expect these talents to go all out and show every aspect of their talent possible when the show launches on the WWE Network in the summer, as no matter whom the company books for the rumored bracket style tournament will put on phenomenal matches regardless.
Whether these competitors compete for EVOLVE, Progress, compete regularly on NXT TV, or any other promotion around the world, this is a unique opportunity not afforded to any in WWE history, which further iterates the control Triple H is constantly gaining, as this changing ideology to satisfy the IWC will hopefully open the eyes of many more within WWE management. While some of these competitors may be confirmed for the tournament or under contract to other promotions, the following 20 wrestlers (excluding the aforementioned two who have officially denied their involvement) should be featured in the WWE Global Cruiserweight Series for the benefit of both the performers themselves and the success of this new and exciting venture for WWE.
20 Alex Shelley
One half of the most impressive tag team in TNA history, Shelley has begun to make his way into superstardom, mainly in Ring of Honor since his departure from TNA, and is one of the most impressive wrestlers in all of North America, combining high flying agility, with smooth technical prowess, he has often been considered a perfect fit for the recent rebranding of NXT, and it is seen as only a matter of time until the two sides make it official. For fans who are unaware of Shelley’s stellar in ring work, they will become fans of him instantly if he appears in the Series, as he is an innovative and highly skilled technician in the ring.
19 Chris Sabin
The other half of the Motor City Machine Guns has been a constant presence on the independent scene for over a decade, whether it be in TNA, ROH or smaller promotions, he always delivers as one of the smoothest and most impressive wrestlers on the circuit, being cited as an inspiration to many younger wrestlers for his conduct in and out of the ring. Sabin has achieved just about every measurable amount of success possible in the wrestling world, and the next logical step is to appear on the WWE Network, and bringing his tremendous following with him, it would be amazing to see him compete in front of the crowd and extended audience, and a dream match with partner Alex Shelley would quite possibly steal the entire tournament.
Aerostar has become one of the most under rated stars in the wacky world of Lucha Underground, and has extended his performances beyond the El Ray Network, competing in popular independent promotions such as PWG, competing and shining in last years Battle of Los Angeles along with many new LU talent like Pentagon Jr. and Fenix. While he may be small, even compared to some of these other cruiserweights, he would offer even more diversity to the tournament, which will help WWE bring in more viewers, and would put on some great matches along the way.
17 Mike Bailey
Speaking of PWG’s 2015 BOLA, while it was won by Zack Sabre Jr. the finale of the tournament featured a triple threat match involving independent veteran Chris Hero and young Mike Bailey, an up and coming high flier who possesses a unique look, which lends itself well to the under dog persona which he often portrays. While ‘Speedball’ may not possess the look WWE are hoping for in a star (it has been overcome before by stars such as Daniel Bryan or CM Punk), a long stay and some impressive performances against other star cruiserweights may be enough to change WWE’s mind and take a chance on Bailey.
16 Mark Andrews
As you will come to learn on this list, the British wrestling scene is hotter than it has ever been, and one of the over shadowed performers is young Welsh high flier Mark “Mandrews” Andrews, who competes most prominently in TNA and PWG, and has made a name for himself using a ‘skater’ gimmick while also being incredibly inventive and acrobatic inside the squared circle. While his TNA commitments may hinder his possible involvement, crazier things have happened, as the opportunity to compete on the WWE network may be too tempting and fruitful for his or any other competitors’ career to pass up.
15 Andrew Everett
Any conversation about young, reckless high fliers who are innovating the sport of professional wrestling has to include Andrew Everett, who at 23 has 9 years as a professional under his belt, competing for OMEGA, Rev Pro in England and TNA, to where he is currently signed. Learning from the original death defying high fliers the Hardyz, Everett began in their promotion, OMEGA, and has not looked back since, impressing the wrestling world with his innovation and high flying antics similar to PAC (Adrian Neville) when he began his ascent in the American independent circuit. While he may or may not be available for the 2015 version of this tournament, any world renowned cruiserweight tournament would not be complete without this young star.
14 Cedric Alexander
One man who has been linked to an NXT developmental deal in recent memory is former ROH stand out Cedric Alexander, who made a name for himself as a tag team and singles competitor, he would be perfect for the land of the WWE with the recently heightened focus on in ring ability, rather than character and promo work, which can always be improved. While no deal has been struck since Alexander left ROH in May of 2016, this tournament and the opportunity to showcase his skills which at one point had him dubbed as the future of ROH would be a perfect way to earn the contract, and the admiration of the WWE Universe who may not be familiar with his body of work.
13 Rich Swann
The charismatic and energetic high flying Rich Swann has recently begun making more appearances on NXT television, and has impressed in losses against both Baron Corbin and Finn Balor, but already seems to have the Full Sail audience on his side. The PWG stand out (of which there are now many in the WWE, like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Neville) has yet to show much of his potential, as he has over 8 years in the business, while still at the young age of 25, he is both young and mature enough to become a major player on the NXT scene, and the Global Cruiserweight Series provides a prefect star making opportunity for Swann.
12 Christopher Girard
Better known to the smarter crowd as independent stand out Biff Busick, Girard recently made his NXT debut in a loss, but managed to capture the attention of WWE officials at the Full Sail crowd, and this hopefully warrants inclusion in the Series, as his hard hitting, physical style would be a perfect compliment to the technical prowess and high flying antics of the majority of the other competitors. Whether he shines on this stage, he still has an NXT developmental contract and will be poised to lead the next generation of NXT stand outs, with Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Balor all poised to head to the main roster in the very near future.
11 Johnny Gargano
“Johnny Wrestling” has made several appearances on NXT TV already, and is a fan favourite among the crowd at Full Sail University because of the work ethic and exciting style that earned him that nickname on the independent circuit. Competing in Progress Wrestling, EVOLVE, PWG and every promotion in between, Gargano has endeared himself to fans all around the world, despite his smaller stature, which would serve him well in this Series on top of his incredible wrestling ability. While the surface has yet to be scratched with the potential of Johnny in NXT, several high profile, stand out matches may just push him into the main event in the yellow brand.
Despite being signed to Ring of Honor, the 10 year veteran of just 28 is at the stage in his career where WWE becomes a perfect fit, as he has paid his dues and developed as a great technical flier in the ring, with the ability to work various different styles, and also has great experience working on television with world class opponents. Despite not having one or two stand out matches which make him a well known star around the world, he consistently puts on great performances making both himself and his opponent look like world class performers, and would be a solid addition to the roster for the tournament.
Despite talented wrestlers like Johnny Mundo, Pentagon Jr. and Prince Puma competing and shining in Lucha Underground, Fenix has managed to stand out among the crowd, becoming a crowd favourite and one of the hottest commodities in the wrestling world. The former Lucha Underground champion has been embroiled in the biggest and most exciting feuds in the promotion, and if booked correctly throughout the Series to highlight his captivating and smooth high flying ability, he could become a crowd favourite for the WWE Universe, and continue his rise within the wrestling world.
8 Jack Evans
Competing in independent promotions all over the world, most recently Lucha Underground, Evans has the special ability to garner heel heat from the crowd, while being one of the most innovative and awe inspiring high fliers, even in a wrestling world filtered by impressive risk takers. Whether performing as part of a tag team or on his own, Evans is in a league of his own when it comes to risk taking, and that kind of over the top athleticism would be perfect to offer variation for the tournament, making him an ideal candidate to go far and impress all within the WWE Universe.
The South African high flier has most recently found fame in Lucha Underground, where he has wowed the audience in Boyle Heights every time he steps into the ring, using a deadly arsenal of kicks and death defying stunts to stand out in even the wackiest of wrestling worlds. While he is one of the tallest cruiserweights in wrestling, this stage is perfect for Angelico, as he would no doubt impress the WWE higher ups (as long as they don’t treat him like the last South African dare devil they had), and should steal the show at every opportunity given to him.
6 Marty Scurll
‘The Villain’ is often over looked when it comes to promising young British wrestling talent, due to the amazing reputations of Zack Sabre and Will Ospreay most prominently, but plays the role of villain to perfection, with an impressive move set and a fantastic ability to play to the crowd and garner heat. Scurll is part of a British wrestling revolution, as he has worked fantastic matches with some of the best talent in the world including AJ Styles, Chris Hero and the rest of the young, up and coming British talent, and would no doubt shine an even more positive light on these young stars by competing in the tournament, as he would no doubt be one of the better heels to appear.
5 Davey Richards
While not as much of a high flier as others on this list, one half of the American Wolves is one of the most technically sound and vicious cruiserweights in the world, and would no doubt be right at home with the other independent talent on show for the tournament. Despite already having a WWE NXT tryout and not being impressed by the environment, he would add a legitimacy and veteran presence to the younger guys competing looking to make a name for themselves, and will also put on great matches as he is a very sound technical story teller in the ring.
4 Eddie Edwards
The other half of one of the most prestigious tag teams in the world of wrestling, Eddie Edwards is one of the more well known independent talents, as he has put on stellar matches throughout his career, in the singles or tag team domain, including several must see matches against his tag team partner, Davey Richards. While a matchup with the aforementioned Richards may unfortunately not come to pass, the level of experience that the younger talents would achieve from getting in the ring with Edwards would be invaluable, as he is a master at various different in ring styles, impressive at all.
3 Kota Ibushi
This Japanese legend made head lines recently when he left his home in New Japan Pro Wrestling to go rouge and seek other promotions around the world to ply his craft for, and in a telling moment, was featured in the crowd at NXT Takeover: Dallas, which is an indication that a contract will not be far behind. Whether that means he will be competing in the tournament or just brought straight to NXT so far is unclear, but what is clear is that with the acquisition of Ibushi, NXT would become one of the most diverse and entertaining products in wrestling history. While the legendary Ibushi may be getting up there in age, it would no doubt be a treat to see him on the WWE network, and would be a fantastic treat for fans of him and people getting introduced to him for the first time, as he is one of the smoothest and best cruiserweights in wrestling history.
2 Manny Andrade
It has been rumored for months that the invention of this Cruiserweight tournament was a way to introduce the former La Sombra to the WWE Universe, competing under his real life name Manny Andrade on the live NXT circuit as of late. Whether this is true or not, Andrade must be featured in this tournament, as seeing him compete against some of the best cruiserweights in the world will no doubt prove his worth to the higher ups in WWE, as he is seen backstage at the NXT level as very likeable and the Latino star WWE have been searching for. While that may be looking too far into the future, there is no doubt that this tournament is perfect for Manny, and he will steal the show no matter who he steps into the ring against.
1 Zack Sabre Jr.
Already qualified for the Series, Sabre has long been rumored for the WWE, and this is the perfect way to introduce the technical wizard to those fans who have not witnessed his incredible in ring ability before. The British Sabre has been stealing shows around the world, and is credited for dethroning Daniel Bryan as the ‘Best Technical Wrestler in the World’, an award that he will soon not let go of, as he continues to improve his all around game in the ring, it will be amazing to see Sabre compete under the bright lights of WWE, as he has done almost everything possible on the independent circuit. Whether he wins or not, he will no doubt impress, and hopefully for the benefit of the WWE Universe he gains a contract and continues on to NXT and hopefully the main roster, where countless dream matches await him.