In response to declining interest and subpar ratings, the WWE devised its boldest plan of the year with the reincarnation of the brand extension this summer, and therefore, the WWE Draft. In contrast, NXT’s popularity continued to climb, allowing for the brand split to be executed to address any initial depth concerns. Part of Vince McMahon’s vision in re-instituting two separate brands was to employ the biggest roster in WWE history.
This proposed infusion of talent stemmed from a three-phase plan: Promote from within (NXT), recruit free agents with prior WWE experience on their resume and resuscitate the Cruiserweight Division. The latter came to light thanks to the success and immense popularity of the Cruiserweight Classic, exclusive at the time to the WWE Network.
NXT witnessed seven of their former standouts get the call to the main roster in the form of Finn Balor, American Alpha, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Mojo Rawley and Nia Jax. Plenty more, including Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura were equally deserving, but the goal was to bolster the WWE’s two rosters without depleting NXT. The cruiserweights have since invaded RAW, led by their champion TJ Perkins.
Phase two of the WWE’s plan didn’t quite work out the way they had hoped, due in large part to what many free agents considered low-ball offers. The only debuts/returns we’ve seen in the wake of the brand split have come from Jinder Mahal, Rhyno, Curt Hawkins and Shelton Benjamin, and Benjamin’s return has been delayed due to injury.
WWE officials have been impressed enough with Rhyno to slap the SmackDown tag team titles around his waist along with his partner, Heath Slater. Hawkins has been given solid treatment by virtue of the weekly vignettes promoting his return to the company. But it’s one cruiserweight in particular that has many WWE officials singing his praises.
The Cruiserweight Division, which debuted exclusively on Monday Night RAW last month, features the likes of Perkins, Ariya Daivari, Brian Kendrick, Cedric Alexander, Drew Gulak, Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado, Noam Dar, Rich Swann, Tony Nese and now, Sin Cara. Sin Cara just declared his intentions to compete in the division and teamed with Dorado in a victory over Nese and Gulak this week on RAW.
However, despite the most recent loss, Daily Wrestling News is reporting that WWE officials are extremely high on Tony Nese at the moment. Last week, Nese defeated Rich Swann in a singles match on RAW, but it was his loss to TJ Perkins the week before that impressed WWE management backstage the most. It’s being said that Nese could be next in line for a title shot once the smoke clears from Perkins’ feud with Brian Kendrick.
It’s unclear if Nese will defeat the winner of that program (likely Perkins) but there has been a lot of talk among WWE officials about giving him a run with the belt at some point. Sin Cara’s addition to the division is the WWE’s hope to add some familiarity to an otherwise unknown crop of stars, and adding a secondary angle to the division will certainly enhance its credibility with the mainstream WWE fan.
Tony Nese, like many of the cruiserweight stars, made his bones on the independent circuit, though he was briefly employed by TNA in parts of 2011, 12 and 13. Nese burst onto the scene in WWE by advancing to the second round of the CWC, defeating Anthony Bennett, before falling to Brian Kendrick in his second match.
Nese and Gulak have claimed to be the resident bullies of the WWE’s Cruiserweight Division, but their job Monday night, of course, was to put over Sin Cara. It should be noted that Gulak ended up taking the pin and not Nese. So be on the lookout for a future push for Nese, though expectations are that most of the competitors will be given opportunities to shine.
[Featured Image By WWE]