The Cruiserweight Classic has given young superstars a chance to shine in front of the WWE audience. But one veteran has made the most of his opportunity in the tournament.
The Brian Kendrick’s redemption story has been one of the best angles of the CWC. But that shouldn’t be any surprise. Kendrick has long been one of the best cruiserweights in professional wrestling, but his immaturity out of the ring has cost him an even longer run in WWE.
Kendrick was one of the first graduates from the defunct Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy in 1999. He – along with fellow SMWA grad Daniel Bryan – signed a developmental deal with WWE one year after training.
After being released, Kendrick worked the indies, most notably in Ring of Honor before rejoining WWE in 2005. He teamed with Paul London as part of a high-flying duo which held the tag team titles for 331 days, a record surpassed by New Day’s current reign.
Kendrick was eventually drafted to SmackDown in 2008, which forced the popular team to split up. He then adopted the moniker of “The Brian Kendrick,” and played a cocky heel.
At 30, Kendrick seemed to have a bright future in WWE with a combination of charisma and in-ring ability. But numerous failed marijuana test led to his release in 2009.
Following stints in TNA and NJPW, Kendrick made sporadic appearances in NXT in 2014. He also accepted a job as a trainer at the WWE Performance Center working with Eva Marie and several Tough Enough contestants Daria Berenato and Mada Abdelhamid.
At 37, Kendrick proved to WWE that he’s more mature. This has allowed him to participate in the CWC and provide a veteran presence.
Kendrick was one of the most experienced superstars in the tournament. That bodes well for his chances of competing in WWE full-time.
While many expect the company to sign top young talent, veterans have a greater chance of earning a contract. With Raw set to debut its new cruiserweight division, someone like Kendrick is the perfect fit.
Unlike Zack Sabre Jr., Akira Tozawa or Kota Ibushi, the veteran already knows the WWE style. Sure, all three wrestlers deserve contracts, but would likely go through NXT before debuting on Raw.
Kendrick not only has experience working on WWE television, but he teaches classes at the PC. He and Tajiri are the only two names in the tourney that would be ready to compete on Raw tomorrow, at least in WWE’s eyes.
Also, the CWC has properly booked him as a veteran with a chip on his shoulder. Kendrick looked strong in each of his first two matches.
Not only does his character have legitimacy, but also a road to redemption. That’s something that will keep him interesting beyond the tournament.
It’s also great that Bryan is on commentary for his matches. The two will forever be linked as the two of the first graduates of Michaels’ academy. Both Bryan and Kendrick are undersized superstars with similar wrestling styles. The former leader of the Yes! Movement is a best case scenario of “what might have been” in Kendrick’s career. Now he’s cheering his friend on through his redemption run.
That adds further intrigue to Kendrick as a competitor in the CWC. But his performance in the tournament and talent should be enough to land him a full-time spot in the Raw cruiserweight division.
Kendrick has made the most of his recent role in WWE and deserves another opportunity at the main roster following a magnificent run in the CWC.