When the cruiserweight division was brought into play last month following the rousing success of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, many believed that the extremely talented athletes involved in the tournament would quickly become a featured attraction on Monday Night Raw.
Instead, the majority of the division has sunken into obscurity, and the magic that was once felt every Wednesday night throughout the summer has long since been lost.
That being said, there are a number of redeeming qualities that make the cruiserweights worth watching — namely Brian Kendrick, whose story arc has been consistently enthralling since returning to the WWE in order to participate in the inaugural rendition of the CWC.
Given Kendrick’s many years in the ring, starting out alongside Daniel Bryan in the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy back in 1999 and establishing a humble career for himself, “the man with a plan” has seen his role in the CWC and the cruiserweight division as his final opportunity to get his life back on track and amass a legacy for himself worthy of a WWE Hall of Famer.
At Hell in a Cell, Kendrick will have an opportunity at TJ Perkins — the eventual winner of the aforementioned tournament — and the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. With the two having squared off a number of times since debuting the division, a lot of fans have pointed the finger at the so-called “post-apocalyptic scavenger” as the brand’s next representative with the gold, especially given how his recent character work has been on par with that of the company’s finest today.
Take this week’s episode of Raw as your prime example, with Brian Kendrick actually succumbing to the fun-loving and ever-enthusiastic Rich Swann in a pinfall loss just days before his scheduled championship opportunity, leaving the veteran in a state of desperation backstage.
Instead of making excuses and trying to get a cheap shot in on Perkins, Kendrick presented himself to the champion as a helpless individual with a quickly depreciating sense of self-worth. He’d go so far as to beg TJ Perkins to lay down for him at the pay-per-view and let him walk out with the title, as Perkins is still at the stage in his career where he could easily bounce back from defeat.
The storied history these two men have together made Perkins actually look sympathetic towards the No. 1 contender, ending the segment with the champion in psychological turmoil over the decision to look out for himself and retain the title, or to help out an old friend and lay down.
Of course, nobody is expecting TJ Perkins to just hand him the championship — it would completely undermine the integrity of the title if he did — but just considering Kendrick’s request will turn Sunday into a really compelling emotional encounter.
What’s fantastic about this is that it goes perfectly in line with Kendrick’s heel persona.
He’s tried everything in the book to earn the WWE Cruiserweight Championship over his several encounters with TJ Perkins, and it’s been to no avail, so now he’s using the last thing in his arsenal — empathy — to get one over on the champ and become the face of the cruiserweight division.
All it’s going to take at Hell in a Cell is one single moment of hesitation on behalf of TJ Perkins to finish the job and put Kendrick away — further allowing his many years in the squared circle to catch up with him and potentially remove any sense of hope for future redemption — for the challenger to turn things around, screw Perkins over and walk out as the brand new champion.
With all the criticism that Raw has taken over the state of its cruiserweight division, and its product as a whole, you have to hand it to them for creating a really intriguing dynamic between the division’s champion and challenger. It’s easily one of the brand’s most emotionally driven feuds, and the last stretch has made this a serious contender for Match of the Night at Hell in a Cell.