WWE Cruiserweight Classic: Former WWE Champions Among The Newly Released 32-Man Field
The WWE Cruiserweight Classic finally has a full list of participants.
The tournament, which was announced back in February, is set to start taping next week at Full Sail University, but only a handful of names had been released prior to this afternoon when WWE announced the full 32-man field. Cruiserweights from around the world, including a few former WWE champions, will compete in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, which will premiere on the WWE Network on July 13. Here’s a rundown of all 32 participants.
Perhaps one of the toughest competitors in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, Italy’s Fabian Aichner overcame an extremely tough childhood to win grappling championships all across Europe before finding his way to professional wrestling. Even as a cruiserweight, he became a Heavyweight Champion in New European Championship Wrestling on multiple occasions.
For those who don’t know I’ll just leave this herehttps://t.co/KkbTccSfK4@WWENXT @WWE
# Cruiserweight Classic
— Cedric Alexander (@CedricAlexander) June 13, 2016
Cedric Alexander comes into the WWE Cruiserweight Classic as one of the favorites. Since making his debut for Ring of Honor in 2011, the 5’10”, 205-lb. Alexander has wowed audiences around the world and has battled big-name superstars such as Kevin Owens in the past. Less than a month ago, he announced his departure from ROH and is considered to be one of the biggest free agents on the market. The WWE Cruiserweight Classic may end up being one big audition for NXT.
If nothing else, Anthony Bennett brings the best hair to the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Sporting a high-top that Kid ‘n Play would be proud of, the New Jersey native is becoming well known on the indie scene and this appearance will do nothing but help him.
Tommaso Ciampa and his tag team partner, Johnny Gargano, shocked the world when they defeated Tyler Breeze and Bull Dempsey in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and has been on a roll since signing with NXT last fall.
Da Mack enters the WWE Cruiserweight Classic having already trained with WWE superstar Cesaro and the German already has multiple championships to his credit, including three tag titles and the “Shotgun Championship” in Europe’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling.
Ariya Daivari, the brother of former WWE and TNA wrestler Shawn Daivari (real name Dara Daivari), is looking to create his own legacy as he enters the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.
Noam Dar enters the WWE Cruiserweight Classic as one of the youngest competitors in the field. At just 22, the Scotsman has already battled the likes of AJ Styles and Finn Balor while making a name for himself as one of the brightest stars of the U.K.
Trained early in his career by WWE superstar Cesaro and former NXT superstar Chris Hero, among others, Lince Dorado brings nine years of experience to the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. The masked star works well on the ground and in the air and has competed mostly in Mexico and Japan.
Tyson Dux comes into the WWE Cruiserweight Classic as one of the most experienced wrestlers in the tournament. With nearly two decades of work to his credit, including time in Ring of Honor, TNA, and a short stint in WWE in the early 2000s, the Ontario native brings a mix of technical wrestling and high-flying ability to the field of 32.
When you see Jack Gallagher wrestle at the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, you may find yourself thinking that he’s the third member of The Vaudevillains. The Englishman has the same manicured mustache and everything. He’s also got some wrestling ability as well, blending his experience in mixed martial arts with grappling, making for one of the more interesting entries into this tournament.
Brought into NXT in 2015 as part of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic with partner Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano will showcase his skills as a singles competitor in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Since his debut in NXT, he’s battled Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin in singles action.
Gran Metalik comes into the WWE Cruiserweight Classic having competed against some of NXT’s top stars such as Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura. His high-flying style has been seen most notably in New Japan Pro Wrestling and Mexico’s CMLL.
One of the earliest qualifiers for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic by way of defeating Tracy Williams at EVOLVE 61, Drew Gulak enters the tournament with 11 years of experience to his credit. One of his biggest accomplishments was winning EVOLVE’s Battle Style Tournament in 2013 and is also a former Combat Zone Wrestling Heavyweight Champion.
The WWE Cruiserweight Classic was designed to highlight some of wrestling’s biggest prospects, and there may be no bigger prospect in Japan right now than Kota Ibushi. “The Golden Star” has already competed against big names like Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles in New Japan and has won the prestigious IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship three times. Following an appearance at NXT Takeover: Dallas, the high-flying superstar is likely to go deep in this tournament.
Kenneth Johnson comes into the WWE Cruiserweight Classic with a dazzling array of high-flying maneuvers and has showcased them for many promotions throughout the country, including a stint in Ring of Honor.
Brian Kendrick is easily one of the biggest names in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. A trainee of WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, Kendrick had multiple stints in WWE, including a record 331-day tag team title reign with Paul London. After leaving WWE in 2009, Kendrick worked the indies for a bit and also had stops in TNA and New Japan before making his return to WWE in 2014 as part of NXT. He wrestled Finn Balor in an episode in early 2015 and has also been helping out as a trainer at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
Jason Lee is one of the youngest wrestlers in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic but could also be one of the most dynamic performers in this tournament. Known for his high-flying maneuvers and striking ability, this is a chance for Lee to make a big impression on a worldwide audience.
Ho Ho Lun
Ho Ho Lun enters the WWE Cruiserweight Classic as a very respected wrestler in the East. As the founder of the Hong Kong Pro Wrestling Federation, he’s battled some of the biggest stars that China and Japan have to offer and brings an exciting mix of striking and high-flying maneuvers to the tournament.
Sean Maluta has wrestling royalty in his blood. The Samoan star is the nephew of WWE Hall of Famer Afa and brings a nice mix of striking and high-flying ability to the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.
Raul Mendoza comes into the WWE Cruiserweight Classic with plenty of experience around the world. Over the past decade, he’s competed in AAA, Perros Del Mal, and Japan’s Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Sporting one of the best physiques in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, Tony Nese comes into the tournament with big-match experience, having battled stars such as Matt Hardy and Paul London, and has an impressive array of maneuvers in the ring, including a 450 Splash that should wow the WWE Cruiserweight Classic crowd.
While he may not be a household name, TJ Perkins has worked with some of the biggest names in WWE, training with the likes of Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura at the Los Angeles dojo of New Japan Pro Wrestling and has been thrilling audiences since he was a teenager and has the honor of being the youngest American to ever compete for NJPW.
Representing France at the WWE Cruiserweight Classic is Clement Petiot, who’s been lucky enough to have been trained by the great Lance Storm and has battled Chris Hero in the past. He’s wrestled in Europe for the past six years and finally gets his chance to show off his skills on the big stage.
Zack Sabre Jr.
Earning his way into the WWE Cruiserweight Classic via a qualifying match in PROGRESS Wrestling, Zack Sabre Jr. has also competed in Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan, WXW in Germany, and Pro Wrestling Guerilla in the United States. The Englishman has been described as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world today.
One of the bigger competitors in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic at 6’1″ and 205 pounds, Alejandro Saez was taught by WWE superstar Neville and the legendary Super Crazy. The Santiago, Chile native has accumulated nine championships in his career, including the XNL World Championship and the X-LAW Junior Heavyweight Championship.
Known mostly as a tag-team wrestler with his brother Haru (see below), Guru Sihra finds himself in the singles world as he enters the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. While winning multiple tag team championships in many promotions, he’s also held some Junior Heavyweight crowns along the way as well.
Nicknamed the “Bollywood Don”, Haru Sirha enters the WWE Cruiserweight Classic with years of experience in multiple promotions, mostly in tag-team action with his brother Guru (see above), but looks to make a name for himself in this tournament. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the two brothers clash at some point.
Damian Slater calls himself “The World Beater” and he’ll have to do just that at the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. The Australian native is one of the most respected cruiserweights in the world and has been on the prestigious “PWI 500” list three times. He brings a unique style of offense to the table and should be one of the most exciting guys to watch when the tournament gets underway.
Signed by WWE in 2015, Rich Swann has faced off with Finn Balor and Baron Corbin on NXT television and comes into the WWE Cruiserweight Classic as one of the most agile athletes in the tournament. His standing 450 is absolutely unbelievable.
Arguably the most popular name in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, Tajiri brings years of experience to the tournament, including a run in ECW and of course his time in WWE in the early 2000s. He won the now-defunct Cruiserweight Championship on three separate occasions and also held the United States Championship, the Light Heavyweight Championship, and both the WWE and World Tag Team Championship. He last appeared in WWE at the One Night Stand pay-per-view in 2006.
Known for dishing out some Brock Lesnar-like German suplexes, Akira Tozawa could be one of the most entertaining competitors in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Along with his technical ability, Tozawa can do the high-flying thing as well and his bicycle kick is really something special. He brings many years of experience to the tournament and has experience against some of WWE’s biggest names, including Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens.
One of the few masked wrestlers in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic is Zumbi, a Brazilian-born Lucha Libre-style wrestler that’s had success not just in his native country, but also in Mexico’s CMLL and AAA.
What are your thoughts on the field for this exciting tournament and who do you think will come out on top in the inaugural WWE Cruiserweight Classic? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via WWE]