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WWE Cruiserweight Championship (1996–2007)

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WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Cruiserweight Championship.png
The WWE Cruiserweight Championship belt (2002–2007)
Date establishedMarch 20, 1996[a]
October 27, 1991[b]
Date retiredSeptember 28, 2007
Other name(s)

The WWE Cruiserweight Championship was a professional wrestling championship originally used in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and later, World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/WWE). It was challenged by cruiserweights at a maximum weight of 225 lbs. Following the acquisition of WCW by the then-WWF in 2001, it became a WWF (and later, WWE) championship and replaced the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. During the first WWE brand extension, it was the only title to be exclusive to the SmackDown! brand during its entire tenure.

The championship was created in WCW in 1996, with Shinjiro Otani as the inaugural champion. However, following WCW's purchase, the WWF/E considered the title to be a continuation of the earlier WCW Light Heavyweight Championship, which had been created in 1991 with Brian Pillman as the inaugural champion. The Cruiserweight Championship was retired in 2007 with Hornswoggle as its final holder.

A new WWE Cruiserweight Championship was created in 2016, and although both championships had shared the same name (before the newer title was renamed to the NXT Cruiserweight Championship in 2019), the new championship does not carry the lineage of the original.[2][3] The newer title also has a different weight limit of 205 lbs (93 kg).


The Cruiserweight Championship was originally created as the WCW Cruiserweight Championship on March 20, 1996. However, after the acquisition of World Championship Wrestling's assets by rival company WWE (then WWF), both lineages of the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship and the WCW Cruiserweight Championship are considered to be one and the same, and WWE refers to the holders of the Light Heavyweight Championship as former Cruiserweight Champions.[4] During the existence of WCW, the two titles were considered distinct and did not share a common lineage.[5]

Following the introduction of the Light Heavyweight Championship in 1991 (which WCW had considered to be a separate title, but WWE does not), a tournament was held to determine the inaugural champion. On October 27, Brian Pillman defeated Richard Morton in the tournament final to win the title.[6] However, when Brad Armstrong was forced to relinquish the title due to injury on September 2, 1992, it became inactive. Then, on March 20, 1996, Shinjiro Otani defeated Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit) in a decision match to win what then became known as the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.

In March 2001, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) purchased World Championship Wrestling. Soon after, "The Invasion" took place, in which The Alliance was ultimately dismantled. Following the Survivor Series in November 2001, the title was renamed the WWF Cruiserweight Championship, replacing the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.[7] Following the WWF/WWE name change in 2002, the championship was subsequently referred to as the WWE Cruiserweight Championship and became exclusive to the SmackDown brand.

Hornswoggle, who was the final Cruiserweight Champion

On September 28, 2007, the title was vacated after the final champion, Hornswoggle, was stripped of the championship by SmackDown! General manager, Vickie Guerrero.[8] Hornswoggle had won the championship in a Cruiserweight Open at that year's The Great American Bash pay-per-view event. The last match contested for the title occurred on the August 31, 2007 episode of SmackDown!, when Hornswoggle successfully defended the title against Jamie Noble.

After a six-month absence, WWE removed the championship from the active championship web page, to the defunct championship list. In this way, the title was quietly retired. WWE lists its retirement year as 2007.[9][10]

Brand designation history[edit]

Following the brand split on March 25, 2002, all titles in WWE became exclusive to either the Raw brand or SmackDown brand

Date of transition Brand Notes
March 25, 2002 SmackDown Tajiri was drafted to SmackDown! as the Cruiserweight Champion, taking the championship with him in the process.


Gregory Helms had the longest reign at 385 days. Helms won the championship at the 2006 Royal Rumble in a Cruiserweight Open, despite originally being a member of the Raw brand; he transferred to SmackDown in conjunction with winning the title. He lost it in a Cruiserweight Open at No Way Out in 2007, thirteen months later, to Chavo Guerrero. Psicosis had the shortest title reign, holding it for approximately one 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 in WCW, while Jacqueline is the only woman to win the Cruiserweight Championship in its WWE incarnation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The date it was established in WCW before WWE's purchase.
  2. ^ As per WWE's official title history, which considers the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship and the Cruiserweight Championship to be one and the same.
  3. ^ As per WWE's official title history, which considers the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship and the Cruiserweight Championship to be one and the same.
  4. ^ Otani was the inaugural champion in WCW before WWE's purchase.
  5. ^ As per WWE's official title history, which considers the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship and the Cruiserweight Championship to be one and the same.
  1. ^
  2. ^ "WWE Cruiserweight Classic: T.J. Perkins becomes Raw's first WWE Cruiserweight Champion". September 14, 2016.
  3. ^ "WWE Cruiserweight Championship".
  4. ^ "Cruiserweight Championship". WWE. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  5. ^ " Cruiserweight Championship history". World Championship Wrestling. Archived from the original on February 7, 2001. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  6. ^ Cruiserweight Championship - Brian Pillman
  7. ^ WWE: Inside WWE > Title History > Light Heavyweight
  8. ^ "Hornswoggled". WWE. Retrieved 2007-11-12.
  9. ^ "WWE Superstars". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  10. ^ "WWE title histories". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-03-04.

External links[edit]

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