WWE needs to stop treating the Cruiserweight division like a sideshow
The Cruiserweight division is a great addition to WWE, but the company needs to treat it better.
WWE received unanimous praise for the Cruiserweight Classic tournament last summer, but the actual Cruiserweight division which was spawned from it has been much less successful.
There's no denying how much talent WWE has on the roster. We have seen some incredible matches produced by most of the division, but there has been a noticeable divide between how WWE treats the Cruiserweights and the rest of the roster.
It boils down to three issues: how 205 Live is produced, the way the division is presented on other shows and the lack of integration with the rest of the roster. We'll look at the issues with 205 Live first.
Giving the Cruiserweights their own show was a good idea, but the execution has been less than ideal. The biggest issue is how the program is filmed live immediately following SmackDown.
Having the word "live” in its title was a mistake because it means WWE has to actually broadcast the show as it takes place, at least the majority of the time. While this might prevent people from posting spoilers online, it leads to bigger problems.
Depending on what time zone WWE is filming in that week, the end of SmackDown could be as late as 10 PM. Anyone with children likely wants to get them put to bed so that they are ready for school in the morning.
Also read: 5 ways to improve the Cruiserweight Division
This ends up leading to the audience for 205 Live being noticeably smaller than it was for SmackDown. WWE does its best to hide this by dimming the lights in the arena, but there's only so much the company can do to mask the lack of crowd noise.
This also leads to the problem of the crowd's energy. By the time SmackDown ends and 205 Live starts filming, a lot of fans are probably worn out from having spent the last few hours cheering for all their favourite stars from the blue brand.
Unfortunately, the way a crowd responds to a show can have a negative impact on how the show is perceived by those watching at home. If people aren't cheering during a match, viewers could take it as the crowd being bored by what they are seeing.
These issues can all be addressed and fixed by management, but there is another problem. When the Cruiserweight division is featured on Raw and the pay-per-views, it is treated like an entirely different product.
Bringing in Austin Aries for commentary always makes for some good entertainment, but WWE doesn't need to keep changing the ring ropes to purple and putting down a new mat with the Cruiserweight division's logo.
Those things are fine for 205 Live because it differentiates the show from Raw and SmackDown, but when these guys are used on Raw, it should be made clear that they are members of the Raw roster.
This connects to the final problem mentioned above. With the exception of Alicia Fox, there hasn't been a single instance of someone from a different division having anything to do with one of the Cruiserweights.
When the Cruiserweight division was at its best in WCW, many of the talents competing for the title were also involved in other storylines that had nothing to do with which weight class they fell into.
Chris Jericho pursued the Television Championship, and some of the guys in the division were involved in one of the many NWO storylines WCW was running at the same time.
Rey Mysterio's most famous moment from WCW didn't involve winning a title. It was when Kevin Nash threw him into the side of a production trailer like he was a lawn dart.
Mixing the Cruiserweights with the rest of the roster will not only benefit those in the division, but it would also provide some of WWE's top stars with new opponents that they have never faced before.
We could see matches like Dolph Ziggler vs. TJ Perkins, Brian Kendrick vs. Finn Balor and Kevin Owens vs. Cedric Alexander, which any Ring of Honor fan would love to see.
Putting any two members of the division together for a feud with the tag team champions or having one of them pursue the United States Championship for a short time would get these Superstars noticed by a lot more people.
Even having main event stars like John Cena and Randy Orton mix it up with some of the top Cruiserweights would make for some entertaining combinations.
Giving the Cruiserweight division its own spotlight early on was a good idea because it made it clear that WWE wanted it to succeed, but now it's time to stop treating these Superstars like they are part of a different product and begin integrating them with the rest of the roster.
It will offer a number of fresh matchups and storylines, bring more attention to the Cruiserweight division and create more interest in 205 Live. There's no downside.
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