Why The WWE Cruiserweight Classic Is Most Unique On WWE Network, Should Only Be Once A Year & Who Wins

Justin LaBar
wwe cruiserweight classic

Photo Credit: Bill Pritchard

My Friday column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review talks all about the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Here’s an excerpt:

The Cruiserweight Classic was the best representation to date of the potential the WWE Network has as the leading subscription service for sports entertainment and pro wrestling.

Yes, wrestling. That “W” word talent on RAW and SmackDown have to tip-toe around saying with Vince McMahon listening. In a 52-minute broadcast with four matches in the first episode of the CWC tournament, I counted more than a dozen times the word “wrestling” was said by commentators Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan. At one point it was said six times in less than a minute.

It doesn’t make sports entertainment wrong or bad, but it’s a reminder that wrestling shouldn’t carry a negative connotation.

The presentation of this show was extremely different than anything under the RAW, SmackDown and even NXT banners. It was treated with as much realism and sporting-event protocol as possible while still letting the audience get lost in the magic that is professional wrestling.

Participants had to weigh in at 205 pounds or less — far more sport than we’ve ever seen. So much so that there were alternates in case one of the 32 wrestlers got injured or didn’t make weight. The stories of guys having to cut weight were true. Independent wrestling stars like Cedric Alexander had to drop nearly 20 pounds in the past months in order to be featured in the tournament.

The referees checked each participant before the match, similar to other combat sports, to ensure their equipment was legal and contained no foreign objects. They gave instructions to the participants and asked for a show of sportsmanship. The winner wasn’t officially announced until both men got to the center of the ring and had the referee raise the winner’s hand.

Highlighting the countries being represented gave this tournament an Olympic-type feel. It confirmed to the audience that they were watching the 32 best pro wrestlers in the world under 205 pounds.

The arena setup was different, which seemed fitting for this show. The entrance way lined up to the corner of the ring. There was a more old-school and basic curtain entranceway with some lights. Even a Tapout sponsor logo on the mat. The CWC provided excellent in-ring action for an audience wanting that style but also branded itself as something different under the WWE Network name.

Ranallo and Bryan were the perfect pair to narrate this. The enthusiasm they had talking about what we were watching was addictive. It made everything feel more important and legitimate. Simple analysis from Bryan — such as Sean Maluta trying gain position behind Kota Ibushi to avoid his lethal kicks after being nailed by one in the opening seconds of the match — enhanced the experience.

CLICK HERE for why this can only be done once a year and who makes the finals of CWC.

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