WCW Light Heavyweight Championship
|WCW Light Heavyweight Championship|
|Promotion||World Championship Wrestling|
|Date established||October 27, 1991|
|Date retired||September 2, 1992|
Conceived in 1991, the championship was first awarded as the result of a single-elimination tournament; its subsequent lineage would end when the final champion Brad Armstrong was stripped of the title due to injury. A second tournament to decide Armstrong's successor was announced, but never took place. During this time, the title was held by four different champions, with the inaugural champion Brian Pillman being the only wrestler to win it on more than one occasion.
The light heavyweight division which contested the championship had proved popular with fans, but its viability suffered as a result of WCW's creative decisions; in 1992, Bill Watts became the head booker, and implemented storyline changes in WCW's product which stymied the division's style. WCW would later introduce another, similar title in the WCW Cruiserweight Championship; the two titles are now considered one and the same by the wrestling promotion WWE, who purchased WCW's assets in 2001.
The WCW Light Heavyweight Championship was created in 1991, with the inaugural champion decided though a single-elimination tournament held over several weeks. Seven wrestlers were used for the tournament—three quarter final matches, with the seventh competitor entering at the semi final stages. The first two quarter finals were broadcast on WorldWide in August 1991, and saw The York Foundation's Richard Morton defeat Johnny Rich, and Badstreet defeat Joey Maggs. The next month, WCW's Main Event featured the last quarter final, in which Mike Graham triumphed over another York Foundation member in Terrance Taylor.
Both of the semi final matches were held at September's Clash of the Champions XVI event in Augusta, Georgia; Morton defeated Graham in a heel finish which depicted him using several illegal advantages to win. In the other leg of the tournament, Badstreet was defeated by the newly-entering Brian Pillman with a body press from the top rope. Morton and Pillmen contested the final round at the 1991 Halloween Havoc event, held in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Pillman won the match and championship with another top rope body press.
|Quarter finals||Semi finals||Final|
|Clash of the Champions XVI|
Defending the title
Pillman's reign as champion continued until December 1991, when he began to feud with masked Japanese wrestler Jushin Thunder Liger. Liger defeated Pillman for the championship at a house show held in Atlanta, Georgia on December 25, 1991. Pillman reclaimed the title in a rematch at the SuperBrawl II pay-per-view event on February 29 the following year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, becoming the only wrestler to hold the championship more than once.
Pillman successfully defended the championship against Tom Zenk at the May 17 WrestleWar event in Jacksonville, Florida; before being defeated by Scotty Flamingo in Mobile, Alabama, during the June 20 Beach Blast pay-per-view. Flamingo's brief reign was ended by Brad Armstrong during a house show; the match was filmed out-of-sequence with several other televised championship matches, which meant Flamingo would tape a defense against Scott Sandlin despite having already lost the championship, while Armstrong recorded a match against Tracy Smothers that would air as a title defense despite being shot before his win was officially acknowledged. Armstrong's reign saw the return of Liger as a challenger; they fought on several occasions, either with Armstrong winning or the match ending in a draw. Armstrong's last successful defense of the Light Heavyweight Championship was against Flamingo on August 14 in Fort Myers, Florida.
Vacancy and legacy
As the September 1992 Clash of the Champions XX approached, Armstrong suffered a knee injury and was unable to participate in a planned title match against Pillman at the event. Armstrong was formally stripped of the belt at Clash of the Champions, depicted as the result of him not defending it for thirty days, and another tournament to appoint a new champion was announced. However, Bill Watts had taken over the role of head booker for WCW and began to implement several changes in the work being produced. Among Watts' edicts was a new rule that would depict any maneuver performed from the top rope of the ring as illegal and resulting in disqualification; this effectively ended the appeal of the light heavyweight style, even though the matches involved in the championship picture had been considered "outstanding" by the fans. As a result, the planned tournament was never held and the light heavyweight division was ignored for the remainder of Watts' tenure.
In 1996, WCW once again held a tournament to crown a champion for the weight class, this time under the title WCW Cruiserweight Championship. The first champion under this new lineage was Shinjiro Otani, who defeated Chris Benoit in the tournament final. After the acquisition of WCW's assets by rival company WWE, both title lineages were considered to be related, and WWE refers to the holders of the Light Heavyweight Championship as former Cruiserweight Champions.
|No.||The overall championship reign|
|Reign||The reign number for the specific champion listed|
|Days||The number of the days that the champion held the title for|
|No.||Champion||Championship change||Reign statistics||Notes||Ref.|
|1||Brian Pillman||October 27, 1991||Halloween Havoc 1991||Chattanooga, Tennessee||1||59||Defeated Richard Morton in the finals of a tournament to decide the inaugural champion.|||
|2||Jushin Thunder Liger||December 25, 1991||House show||Atlanta, Georgia||1||66|||
|3||Brian Pillman||February 29, 1992||SuperBrawl II||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||2||113|||
|4||Scotty Flamingo||June 20, 1992||Beach Blast 1992||Mobile, Alabama||1||15|||
|5||Brad Armstrong||July 5, 1992||House show||Atlanta, Georgia||1||59|||
|—||Deactivated||September 2, 1992||Clash of the Champions XX: 20th Anniversary||Atlanta, Georgia||—||—||Title vacated due to Armstrong's injury; a tournament to crown a new champion was announced, but never held.|||
List of combined reigns
|Rank||Champion||No. of reigns||Combined days|
|2||Jushin Thunder Liger||1||66|
- "WCW Light Heavyweight Championship Tournament – 1991". The History of WWE. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- Lentz 2003, p. 271.
- Lipinski, Keith (October 28, 2003). "Strap On, Strap Off – This Week in History, Halloween Havoc Remembered (Part II)". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "WCW World Light Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "Jushin Liger". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "WCW – 1992". The History of WWE. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- Hoops, Brian (November 27, 2007). "WCW Clash of the Champions (15 Yrs. Ago): Steamboat & Douglas vs. Windham & Rhodes". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- Klein 2012, p. 129.
- "Cruiserweight Championship – Brad Armstrong". WWE. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "Cruiserweight Championship – Shinjiro Otani". WWE. Archived from the original on September 17, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "Cruiserweight Championship". WWE. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "Cruiserweight Championship – Brian Pillman". WWE. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "Cruiserweight Championship – Jushin Liger". WWE. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "Cruiserweight Championship – Brian Pillman (2)". WWE. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
- "Cruiserweight Championship – Scotty Flamingo". WWE. Archived from the original on September 17, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2016.