TJ Perkins was the inaugural WWE Cruiserweight Champion after winning the WWE Network’s Cruiserweight Classic. As one of the most exciting wrestling shows of the week, the Cruiserweight tournament, hosted by Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan, showcased 32 competitors from around the world. Names such as Tajiri, Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre, Jr., Cedric Alexander, and Brian Kendrick were already established names, while names such as Noam Dar, Hoho Lun, Anthony Bennett, and Sean Maluta were using the opportunity as launchpads to their careers. In the end, Perkins was able to defeat Gran Metalik and become champion.
While his championship reign only lasted a month and a half, Perkins became a staple of the Cruiserweight division on Raw and 205 Live. However, his push was not near as successful as his CWC tournament run, as he would oftentimes come out on the losing end. Moreover, the crowd lost interest in him, and he started to get booed. On Raw, Neville manipulated Perkins to believe that no one in the Cruiserweight division cared about him, especially Austin Aries. After his match with Aries, Perkins attacked him, turning heel in the process.
During SmackDown Live. Perkins commented on his turn to the darkside.
“Everyone’s been sleeping on TJP, except for the Cruiserweight champion himself, Neville. And after his words of encouragement, I dropped that loserweight Austin Aries on Raw.”
For a long period of time, Perkins was under a mask in Impact Wrestling under the name Suicide. He would be heavily involved in the X Division, donning the character that had been portrayed by many other names. However, while he was Suicide, Perkins would get his name changed to Manik, as TNA executives did not like the name of Suicide. As Manik, Perkins would experience a run as the X Division Champion. For weeks, he was scouted by James Storm to be a part of the stable of rejects, The Revolution. Perkins eventually gave in and joined the group. After a period of time in the group, Manik would be tired of the abuse given by Storm, and decided to leave. He would also remove his mask and turn face again in the process.
After a few more appearances in Impact Wrestling, the company decided not to renew his contract, and he would return to the independent circuit. When he received the opportunity by the WWE to participate, and eventually win, the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, Perkins was excited and awe-struck.
“The whole time I’ve been involved in the CWC, I’ve thought this would be more than a footnote in history; that it would be a benchmark for future generations to look back on. I believed in the history we were creating. I always took pride in following in my heroes’ footsteps and achieving some of the things they achieved. Now, to be part of something that’s brand-new, starting over and paving a new road, to be the first is a huge part of history. I can’t express in words what that means to me.”
For Perkins, he fought through a period of homelessness before entering the WWE. In what he admitted was a bad time to move to Florida as a result of the recession, Perkins still wanted to compete for the then-Florida Championship Wrestling promotion, but it did not pan out. Fortunately, he remained consistent in his journey to become a WWE superstar and succeeded in his goal. Now, for Perkins, he has a refreshing character as a heel, and he has an opportunity to regain the stock that he accrued during the Cruiserweight Classic. Regardless, Perkins is elated that he finally gets to live out his dream of competing for the WWE.
[Featured Image by WWE]