Cruiserweight (professional wrestling)
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In professional wrestling, a cruiserweight is a wrestler weighing 220 lb (100 kg) and less, sometimes 215. The older term junior heavyweight, which was used to describe the division, is more favored in Japan, where many titles for lighter-weight competitors are called junior heavyweight titles. Prominent titles include New Japan Pro Wrestling's IWGP, Pro Wrestling Noah's GHC, and All Japan Pro Wrestling's World/PWF titles. The weight limit utilized by World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Japanese promotions is "up to 220 lbs" (100 kg). New Japan and Noah also have junior heavyweight tag team titles, for teams composed of junior heavyweights. WCW tested such a format with their own title shortly before the company was purchased by World Wrestling Entertainment.
Cruiserweight wrestlers are generally shorter and possess less muscle bulk than heavyweights, a build which lends itself to a high-flying wrestling style. While there are many cruiserweights who specialize in alternate wrestling styles, cruiserweights are strongly associated with moves performed from the top rope and moves requiring a degree of speed, agility, balance and torque. Cruiserweight wrestling is often associated with lucha libre, where similar moves and match pacing are used, but Mexico uses a different weight class system and the actual term "cruiserweight" (crucero, in Spanish) is rarely used in favor of Light-Heavyweight (peso semicompleto in Spanish). Cruiserweight wrestlers tend to be wrestlers of average human height and weight.
The high spots performed by cruiserweights are normally visually impressive but carry a varying degree of risk. A cruiserweight match with little to no transition holds featuring little psychology and storytelling is known as a spotfest. While spotfests do sometimes occur featuring heavyweights, they're far more common among cruiserweights. Some fans and wrestlers alike us the term "spotmonkey" to describe wrestlers whose matches consist primarily of high spots. In the United States, the term is generally meant as an insult and derogatory criticism, suggesting that the wrestlers have to rely on risky spots to get a reaction from fans due to a lack of charisma, personality and understanding of psychology.
Championships contested by cruiserweights cannot be held by wrestlers who are not cruiserweights, but cruiserweights are normally eligible to compete for heavyweight championships.
World Championship Wrestling
The term was popularized in World Championship Wrestling, when WCW President Eric Bischoff in 1996 re-established the light-heavyweight division as the cruiserweight division and reactivated the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship as the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. Bischoff renamed the division because he felt that "light-heavyweight" was a pejorative term. During Bischoff's stay in the company, the smaller wrestlers gradually became less important. As a result, in the declining years of WCW, the cruiserweights were seen more as comic relief to the heavyweight wrestlers. As one of the top wrestlers in the division, Rey Mysterio would go on to voice his disdain in regards to Eric's business sentiment:
|“||The division kicked off to a certain point but they never put us on top, and when they unmasked us it all came tumbling down. Those in charge of WCW had the mindset that only big men could draw and didn't create new superstars. But wrestling now has changed so much. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho have all been world champions, but back in WCW they were mainly cruiserweights. Also the top guys in WCW were scared that fans were more interested in watching luchadore action and high-flying moves than big men just going out there and stomping on each other for 10 minutes. The heavyweights were getting into Eric Bischoff's ear, saying: "We can't let these guys be on top. They're small and wrestling has never been about this, we've got to keep the tradition going." It was stupid for Eric Bischoff, who was running a huge company like WCW, to listen to other people. Vince McMahon runs his own company and does what he wants to do, as did Paul Heyman. Wrestling is about what the fans want, not what the boys want.||”|
After the World Wrestling Federation acquired the intellectual property of WCW in 2001, the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship was abandoned in favor of the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, and the title was renamed the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. However it is no longer contested, Hornswoggle being the last champion before being stripped of the title for his own safety, when the title was also discontinued.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
In 2002, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling created the X Division Championship, a title with no upper or lower weight limits but which is epitomized as "wrestling reinvented" and views its contenders as those who compete on the innovative side of professional wrestling. To help market this emphasis, the phrase "It's not about weight limits; it's about no limits" was used. Almost all of the X Division champions have been high-flyers, with Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe and Abyss being notable exceptions. In August 2011, the division was given a 225 lb (102 kg) weight limit until they went back being an openweight division. In 2013, the weight limit returned.
Due to their initial affiliation with the National Wrestling Alliance, many NWA territories have started sanctioning their own X Division championships, while some of them even replaced the territories' cruiserweight belts.
The following is a list of all titles equivalent to a cruiser weight championship. Title names vary, but include cruiserweight, lightweight, midweight, middleweight, flyweight, welterweight, featherweight, X Division, and junior heavyweight in their name. It is worth noting that each of these class listings are separate in boxing and amateur wrestling, but are almost interchangeable in professional wrestling.
- NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship
- NWA World Middleweight Championship
- NWA World Welterweight Championship
- NWA Canadian Junior Heavyweight Championship
- CZW World Junior Heavyweight Championship
- JAPW Light Heavyweight Championship
- UWA Light Heavyweight Championship
- AAA World Cruiserweight Championship
- CMLL World Light Heavyweight Championship
- CMLL World Super Lightweight Championship
- CMLL World Middleweight Championship
- CMLL World Welterweight Championship
- Mexican National Middleweight Championship (AAA)
- Mexican National Welterweight Championship (CMLL)
- NWA Virginia Junior Heavyweight Championship
- TNA X Division Championship
- NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship
- AWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship (defended inZero1)
- Dragon Gate I-J Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
- Dragon Gate Open the Brave Gate Championship
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
- AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Championship
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
- WWE Cruiserweight Championship
- WCW Light Heavyweight Championship
- WCW World Cruiserweight Championship
- WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship
- WCW Women's Cruiserweight Championship
- WCWA Light Heavyweight Championship
- WWF Light Heavyweight Championship
- XWF Cruiserweight Championship
- OVW Light Heavyweight Championship
- AWA Light Heavyweight Championship
- GWF Light Heavyweight Championship
- NWA Southwest Junior Heavyweight Championship
- NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship (New Jersey version)
- WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship
- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship
- NWA International Light Heavyweight Championship
- NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship
- FMW World Junior Heavyweight Championship
- BJW World Junior Heavyweight Championship