The CWC WWE Cruiserweight Classic launched last Wednesday, and if you’re of the streaming generation, you may just now be getting around to watching it.
The company actually started it a little early, with CWC Bracketology introducing the 32 competitors who would be facing off in one-on-one matches to determine the first winner of the company’s presumably recurring Cruiserweight Cup.
— Gabo Echeveste 11 (@GaboEcheveste11) July 8, 2016
While there has been some speculation that this could institute the return of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, the competition is likely more a recruiting tool and an unprecedented directional shift for the company.
With CWC, WWE is showing that it’s ready to focus on a different type of pro wrestler, and with recent events like two of the company’s biggest stars — Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns — failing separate drug tests, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some of these 205-pound-and-lessers make their way to the top of the cards at NXT and the main brand.
That said, how is the WWE doing? What has it gotten right with the Cruiserweight Classic so far?
1. With CWC, WWE is veering away from “sports entertainment” and embracing the sporting aspects of professional wrestling.
Viewers got a sense watching the Bracketology show that Triple H, the program’s curator, was aiming for a show that felt more like UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter.
Storylines focused more on the wrestlers’ real-life backgrounds and their differing in-ring styles. Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan, the commentators for the Cruiserweight Classic, even drew comparisons to the MMA product in their interactions.
And while there was some “heeling” during a couple of the first week’s matches, outcomes relied on gamesmanship rather than theatrics.
2. With CWC, WWE is building on its video packaging prowess to make you care about the characters.
In keeping with its “reality era” push, WWE has opened up its video packaging department to make viewers care about the characters. Digging into a wrestler’s past to tell deeply personal stories — as they’ve done to strong effect on NXT — essentially made viewers care about the wrestlers before their matches even if they had never heard of the competitor.
There’s the guy who overcame homelessness. Former WWE fading star, The Brian Kendrick. The sensational Cedric Alexander, whose pastor even told him he would never make it as a professional wrestler.
With CWC, WWE is telling you what you need to know about each competitor’s life and their style, giving just enough of a thread for you to care about the match.
3. The WWE Cruiserweight Classic competitors offer a safer recruiting ground.
The 205-pound weight limit is being sold to audiences in terms of its importance, and by keeping the competitors at or below that classification, WWE is reducing the probability that a competitor is utilizing steroids or other banned substances.
Essentially, they are recruiting top talents here that they probably won’t have to worry as much about as a Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns when it comes to PED use.
4. And speaking of recruiting, WWE is already locking down some of their bigger talents.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Kota Ibushi has already signed with the company, and he hasn’t even been crowned the winner of the Cruiserweight Cup (yet). Expect the WWE to bring more of these guys — winners and losers — over to NXT throughout the tournament and immediately following.
With a brand split and a soon-to-be-plucked clean NXT, they’re going to need some fresh faces who don’t require as much of a learning curve. With CWC, WWE has a treasure trove of potential talent.
5. With CWC, WWE has the tools to go global.
WWE’s continued success and brand growth require that they make a splash in overseas markets, and with CWC, WWE is well on its way.
These are top talents who can help the company advance in areas where previous penetration has been limited — Japan and China immediately come to mind.
While the WWE Cruiserweight Classic may seem like an experiment at present, the fallout from it will take the company in a significantly new direction and have implications for years to come.
This CWC is mine. pic.twitter.com/h3WwZi5B6a
— TJ Perkins. (@KeepsHisGrind) July 8, 2016
But what do you think, readers? With CWC, WWE seems to be on to something — do you think they’re handling it well? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via WWE]