Here’s my thing with the Cruiserweight division: the wrestling is phenomenal, but weaker characters on the onslaught of the division’s debut ruined the momentum when first being rolled out. This is simply my opinion. The Brian Kendrick had an incredible feud with TJ Perkins, however, while Perkins’ wrestling ability was (and is) solid, his character was lackluster and didn’t connect with the fans. Kendrick carried that feud from start to finish; which is hard, because as strong of a superstar that Brian is, you need a solid face to really help boost things. The other 205 LIVE characters to follow were great to look at, did (and still do) incredible things in the ring, but when it came to storylines, the Cruiserweights just missed that ‘something’ – and even I can’t put my finger on it. To look at Tony Nese, Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, and Noam Dar, again, amazing talents, but as a main roster fan, I haven’t been able to connect with any of these personas.
Now anything that is newly launched needs time to grow, and as the months have progressed, Creative has worked hard to help the division grow. It has a lot of potential, the wrestling is phenomenal, and as I don’t watch 205 LIVE, I can’t comment on that programming; but, why don’t I watch it? To be honest, I don’t feel compelled to. After five hours of wrestling (three on Monday Night, two on Tuesday), I need a real hook to get me to watch one more hour. Jack Gallagher did peak my interest and when he arrived on the scene, and I thought to myself; now here is a character that stands out. Someone who knows who he is, has an air of confidence, and might be that missing piece to 205 LIVE, that I believe needs a boost. Alas, one man, cannot carry a division into success.
But, two men … maybe?
When Neville returned to the scene and joined the Cruiserweights, I was excited. For a multitude of reasons. Who knew he was born to play a heel? I recently attended a house show and was blown away at just how incredible he played that role live; sneering at children, stare downs at fans, and the overall miserableness of his character. The king of the cruiserweights had arrived and it wasn’t too long after that he was crowned with main roster gold. He comes to the ring and people react. Why? Well, heel or face, Neville is not only a true competitor in the ring, but he’s strong on the mic, and knowns the character he is playing. He’s got the total package and he’s extremely talented. But, the division needs a strong, viable competitor to truly challenge Neville, to create a program to “bring it up” a notch. Not only for main roster fans, but to add some credibility to the Cruiserweights. Enter: Austin Aries.
We all knew it was coming: Aries was a commentator for the Cruiserweights and began doing these in-ring interviews and a tease of a feud between him and Neville was eminent. Still, that punch though. Aries knocked Neville down on the March 6th edition of Monday Night RAW, and the internet exploded.
The punch that was heard around the world! #RAW#205Live pic.twitter.com/svqRopBL4D
— WrestleNewz.com (@wrestlenewz) March 7, 2017
There hasn’t been much between these two as of yet, but I like what I see. In a sea of unknowns across the Cruiserweights (with Kendrick an exception), fans are familiar with Neville and Aries; and if you weren’t a fan of Aries from TNA or NXT, main roster fans grew to know and understand who he was (from a personality side) thanks to his commentating skills on RAW during 205 LIVE matches. There’s something huge to be said about this and the impact it may have had on Aries connecting with main stream audiences. Mission accomplished.
And now these two are headed to Wrestlmania 33. Can they be the saviors the Cruiserweight division needs? One can listen to the rumors and speculate. I certainly don’t think the WWE will wipe out the division entirely, not anytime soon. Just like anything else that is new, it does need to grow, develop, and a little time. But any division on the WWE cannot live on simply wrestling alone. The Cruiserweights not only need solid television time for matches, but also for promos and to allow their characters to connect with audiences; this is something that wasn’t happening earlier on, but certainly is happening now. One strong feud could help encourage main stream audiences to tune in after SmackDown LIVE, or even stay in their seat if they are at SD LIVE.
If rolled out properly, this Neville/Aries program could be that feud. The lead up (so far) into Wrestlemania between these two has been phenomenal; the build up very slow, but unfolding very nicely as the weeks go by. I have no doubt in my mind that their match, while not headlining the show by any stretch of the imagination, will steal the show and be the one people are talking about the next day. If they are given enough time to tell a solid story and are given a Wrestlemania moment, I do believe that Aries and Neville just might be the saviors to help elevate WWE’s Cruiserweight division.