Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Case for a WWE Light Heavyweight Division, Part 1: The Rules and the Ace

Ziggler can, and should, be the face of a WWE junior heavyweight division
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Unlike some folks around the Twittersphere, including the head bee guy here, I don't enjoy hosses on the same grand scale. Because I prefer the idea of the cruiserweights more, it has meant that I've found my enjoyment for the particular style of wrestling in other places. But in my head, there has always been an idea for something cool that I thought you could do in the WWE if given enough time and inclination. But as I think about it more,  I realize that if I want a chance for younger fans to be dazzled by pro wrestling beyond what the 'E gives them I have to really sit down and try to make this work. Because, if it's done right, what the WCW cruiserweight division meant to so many, and what Michinoku Pro and Dragon Gate mean to so many now, these two divisions can mean now if they're done right. That last sentence, though, is the important part. Because, for both the large company in Stamford, there are lots of things that need to be explained, and fixed, about the way that the juniors have been viewed during all of the previous times that they have tried this.

Now I know that this is my white whale, and I accept it. I am, if nothing else, a man who loves wrestling big and small, past and present, and I'd like very much to see something I know could work done the right way.


That part had to be capitalized for Vince McMahon and his collection of lieutenants, or stooges if you prefer the term. Because that part, that key most important thing, was missing the last time we tried this, and is missing in the smaller promotion now.

This, by the way, does not mean that we turn everything into a walking wet dream of Davey Richards or Jim Cornette, where no gimmicks inhabit, and everyone's a serious pro wrestler who enjoys training and kicking ass. That's an e-fedder's idea of a wrestling show, and believe me when I tell you, that's not the point of a junior heavy division at all. Rather, what you should strive for is a simple truism. Treat every person on the roster, rudo or tecnico alike, as professionals and not as jokes.

Not sure how to make this work? Easy. Think of how ECW treated everyone. At no point during its run, even when it shouldn't have been able to, did the ocmpany give you the sense that any of its wrestlers or champions were jokes? Were the wrestlers otherwise unworthy of your time and attention? The titles were protected and became supremely important. This scenario can be reproduced with a little hard work and a firewall between the worst of the Attitude Era BS and the best of old territory-style booking.

Now I could go chapter and verse about how to protect champions and titles, but this feels frankly insulting  to have to tell it to New York. I do not think this to be presumptuous to write out, but the men whose job it is to make these decisions have made more money in months than I have ever in my life.


I know why this might be hard to do, especially with the constant need to create compelling programming, but what you are going to do here is to build something that your audience hasn't seen in five full years, or longer if you'd like to point out that the last Cruiserweight Champion was Hornswoggle. The one thing you want to do right now, as much as is humanly possible, is to avoid the urge to sacrifice the entire division on a funeral pyre to get your next big muscled project over.

Also, and this works really well with the reliance on stables and trios that the 'E has going, there can be the light heavyweight guy in each one of those armies who goes after the title. WCW did this a little bit with Syxx in the NWO and with Bradstreet in the Freebirds. (You could argue Richard Morton with the York Foundation, and I wouldn't disagree with you.) In Japan, of course, they could teach a master class on this entire thing. And considering that the single greatest angle in North American wrestling history was cribbed from the UWFI-New Japan feud, perhaps it's time to get some more tips from the Land of the Rising Sun. But there is one thing that New York can do.


The reason that the first WCW light heavyweight division worked, before Bill Watts came along and murdered it which is another story for another time, is that the man who was rather quickly established as the king of the hill was a guy who had already by the start of it been the US Tag Team Champion, was the focal storyline point of the company's signature blowoff match, and had a really awesome feud with Barry Windham. That was the guy who built the division.

Does that guy, with all of his credibility to make the belt mean something, exist currently on the WWE roster? Yes he does. Now I know what you're thinking, and no I am not going to make Daniel Bryan drop down to junior heavyweight just to get this over. No, what I would like to do is do it with someone who is in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment, the sort of guy who might very well relish a chance like this. Would you like an introduction?

Now, Dolph can do this. He's a big enough star that if he professes a desire to be the Light Heavyweight Champion, linking it to the rich history that includes Tiger Mask, Dynamite Kid, and Rey Misterio Jr., that the fanbase might very well accept it as a thing worth paying attention to.

Will it work? Not sure. There might be too much damage and scar tissue. But should they try? Why not. Be the industry leader for once, and innovate instead of just talking about how cool you are on your TV shows all the time.