WCW World Cruiserweight Championship
|WCW World Cruiserweight Championship|
|Date established||October 27, 1991|
|Promotion||WCW (1991 - 2001)|
The WCW World Cruiserweight Championship was a professional wrestling championship in World Championship Wrestling (WCW). WCW World Cruiserweight Championship matches were only fought amongst cruiserweight wrestlers, that is professional wrestler under 225 lbs. The title was introduced on October 27, 1991 as the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship. It was defended on the last WCW event, Monday Night Nitro on March 26, 2001. After WCW was purchased by World Wrestling Federation (WWF), now known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the belt was adopted and integrated into WWE programming as the WWE Cruiserweight Championship until September 25, 2007 when WWE deactivated and retired the title. A list of former WCW and later WWF/E Cruiserweight champions can be viewed in the following Wikipedia page link: List of WCW/WWF/WWE Cruiserweight Champions.
The Very Brief History of WCW Light Heavyweight Title (1991-92)
The WCW World Cruiserweight Championship is recognized by WWE as formerly being the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship; a title that was considered separate and distinct from the WCW Cruiserweight Championship by WCW officials. Following the introduction of the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship in 1991, a tournament was held to determine the inaugural WCW Light Heavyweight Champion on October 27. In the tournament final, "Flyin" Brian Pillman defeated Richard Morton to win the title.
"Flyin" Brian Pillman went on to defend the WCW World Cruiserweight Championship for 59 days before losing it to Jushin Thunder Liger on Christmas in 1991 at a WCW house show in Atlanta, Georgia. Liger held the title for 66 days before losing it back to Flyin" Brian Pillman in an extremely entertaining opening match at SuperBrawl II in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "Flyin" Brian Pillman preceded to have the longest reign as the WCW World Light Heavyweight Champion, holding onto the title for 112 days. At the first Beach Blast on June 20, 1992 in Mobile, Alabama, Pillman's run as champion was cut short by Scotty Flamingo, the first gimmick for Scott Levy (aka Raven) in WCW as a Floridian surfer. In contrast to Pillman's previous streak, Scotty Flamingo only held onto the title for 15 days before losing it at a house show in Atlanta, Georgia on July 5, 1992 to Brad Armstrong, the brother of occasional WWE wrestler Road Dogg and member of the famous wrestling family, the Armstrongs.
Brad Armstrong was forced to relinquish the title due to knee injury that he suffered in a match against The Great Muta in Sapporoduring a WCW tour of Japan. Brad Armstrong]] was officially stripped of the WCW Light Heavyweight Champion two month after suffering this knee injury on September 2, 1992 at Clash of the Champions XX in Atlanta, Georgia. Apparently, WCW officials had scheduled a tournament to decide the next champion, but these plans never materialized and the title remained inactive for almost four years.
Return of the Title in 1996 and the Introduction of Lucha Libre in Mainstream American Wrestling
The title was reintroduced during the Monday Night Wars as the WCW World Cruiserweight Championship on March 20, 1996 in a New Japan Professional Wrestling (NJPW) event. At this event, Shinjiro Otani defeated The Pegasus Kid (aka Chris Benoit) to be dubbed the first WCW World Cruiserweight Championship. The wrestling style of the cruiserweight matches for this new title soon shifted away from the traditional light heavyweight style of the previous title to a more fast-paced, Lucha Libre style of wrestling. This paradigm shift began to occur as WCW officials were able to use lucrative, guaranteed contracts to pry highly talented and experienced wrestlers with backgrounds in Lucha Libre away from smaller market and foreign promotions such as Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), NJPW, and AAA Wrestling. Notable cruiserweight alums include Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, Último Dragón, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Juventud Guerrera, and Billy Kidman amongst many others worth mentioning. This wrestling division was a crucial aspect of WCW's success during Monday Night Wars in 1996 and 1997. This division made opening and middle card wrestling matches in WCW more exciting, exposed many American wrestling fans to this exciting wrestling style for the first time and helped distinguish the WCW product from that of the WWF.
As the tides turned in the Monday Night Wars during the WWF's Attitude Era in the late 1990s, many of the top cruiserweight wrestlers began jumped ship to WWF, including Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, and Eddie Guerrero. Some argue that WCW officials refused to give these up-and-coming superstars the push to the top of the card, keeping them trapped in the middle of the card, because they were considered "too small" and thus not believable as the company's top talent so as to be a main attraction for the company. These predictions turned out to be wrong as some of these former WCW cruiserweights went on to have very successful, even Hall of Fame, careers in WWE and in the end of the Monday Night Wars, helped contribute the downfall of WCW by attracting fans away from WCW and towards the WWE product.
History of the Title in WWE
In March 2001, WWE purchased WCW. Soon after, "The Invasion" took place, in which The Alliance was ultimately dismantled. Following Survivor Series 2001, the title was renamed the WWF Cruiserweight Championship, replacing the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.
On September 28, 2007, the title was vacated after the final champion, Hornswoggle, was stripped of the championship by SmackDown! General manager, Vickie Guerrero. Hornswoggle had won the championship in a Cruiserweight Open at that year's The Great American Bashevent. The last ever match contested for the title occurred on the August 31st episode of SmackDown, when Hornswoggle defended the title to Jamie Noble.
After a six month absence, on March 3, 2008, WWE removed the championship from the active championship web page, where originally the title was listed as "vacant." Afterward, the title was removed from the active titles list on WWE's title histories web page to the defunct championship list. In this way, the title was quietly retired.
Gregory Helms has had the longest title reign in both WWE and WCW, with 385 days. Helms won the championship at Royal Rumblein 2006 winning a Cruiserweight Open despite originally being a member of the Raw brand but transferred over to SmackDown in conjunction with winning the title. He lost it in a Cruiserweight Open at No Way Outin 2007, thirteen months later to Chavo Guerrero. Psicosis has had the shortest title reign, holding it for approximately an hour. Rey Mysterio Jr. has had the most title reigns with eight (five reigns in WCW, three in WWE). Three women have held the championship; Madusa and Daffney both had reigns with WCW while Jacqueline is the only female to win the Cruiserweight Championship in its WWE incarnation.
The cruiserweight division in WWE never attained the popularity of WCW's cruiserweight division. One former WWE creative writer argues that this is a result of the company being unable to handle the division and failure to incorporate into the WWE product the culture in which the style of wrestling originates. Here is an excerpt from an interview of that former employee on the Inside the Ropes radio station:
"I really wanted to create a high octane Cruiserweight division and build it around Ultimo Dragon, and bring in guys he'd worked with in Mexico and Japan like Super Crazy, Juventud, Psychosis. I realised writing my book, that there's a huge latino community in the US and I wanted to bring a strong lucha libre style to the WWE to bridge the cultural gap. But it didn't happen. That's one of the first big fights I had with Vince. The concept of the masked wrestler is lost on the WWE, they don't really understand it, they don't appreciate it, unlike Mexico where that's the focal point. I think in America, it's a whole different ballgame, the psychology is different. I lost that fight a couple of times in the room. At one point, we lost Ultimo he went back to Japan, and we just had Rey, Vince goes "We have one masked wrestler in the ring, any more of them on the roster and it'll confuse the fans" I said to him "Vince there's 10,000 wrestlers in Mexico in masks, no-one's confused" I looked around the room and I wasn't gonna win that fight. That was the biggest disappointment, that they wouldn't let lucha libre be a featured style on the show."
- List of WWE Cruiserweight Champions
- WWF Light Heavyweight Championship
- WWE Cruiserweight Championship
- Cruiserweight Championship - Brian Pillman
- WWE: Inside WWE > Title History > Light Heavyweight
- "Hornswoggled". WWE. Retrieved 2007-11-12.
- "WWE Superstars". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- "WWE title histories". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-03-04.