The Brian Kendrick will face TJ Perkins for the Cruiserweight Championship at Clash of Champions.
The veteran defeated Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander and Gran Metalik in Raw’s first cruiserweight division match Monday to earn the title shot.
But why Kendrick, you ask?
Well, it’s simple. Kendrick is back to fill a role similar to Chris Jericho’s. He’s a veteran presence who is supposed to make all of the newer talent look better either by association or defeating him.
On Monday, all four competitors looked strong, which was what should’ve been expected by any knowledgable wrestling fan. The cruiserweight division is new and besides Kendrick, none of the featured Superstars were ever featured on Raw or SmackDown. In fact, Swann was the only other competitor to have multiple appearances on NXT prior to the Cruiserweight Classic.
So Monday’s match was successful in building the entire division, not just the victor. Alexander, Metalik and Swann all gave strong performances and looked like legitimate contenders for the title, even in defeat.
Kendrick, however, is the most recognizable name to the common WWE fan. Sure, he hasn’t competed in the company full-time since 2009, but he was still a memorable character. His “The Brian Kendrick” gimmick was becoming one of the company’s best characters before his release.
While we’re not going to dwell on Kendrick’s demons, his past accolades are important. Like Jericho, Kendrick’s veteran presence makes him a valuable asset to have.
Unlike the others, he has legitimacy as a former champion and mainstay on the main roster. So that provides Alexander, Metalik and Swann with more credibility just for competing with him.
As for Sunday’s match, it’s obvious that WWE wants to build Perkins as the face of the division, otherwise he wouldn’t have won the CWC. This is where Kendrick really plays the “veteran giving back to the business” role well.
We all know Perkins is going to retain. But he will first have to defeat the established veteran in a hard-fought victory that puts him over to the WWE Universe.
Again, defeating someone with a resume like Kendrick’s makes the victor look even more legitimate. Also, he can afford to take a loss without looking weak in the process.
For Alexander, Metalik and Swann, a loss to the Cruiserweight Champion is a repeat of the tournament. Right now, Perkins is on top of the food chain. But a strong run through the division will elevate his next opponent.
Instead of being thrust into a No. 1 contendership, Alexander, Metalik and Swann will have the chance to chase the title and be built as contenders. Kendrick, however, has already established himself so he provides the match with more credibility.
Let’s also acknowledge that Kendrick’s redemption story was one of the best in the Cruiserweight Classic. The veteran wrestled as if it was his last opportunity to showcase his skills, which added believability to his plea of making the most of his current WWE run.
Having that storyline coincide with Perkins’ real-life redemption tale would have been great for a longer buildup than throwing the match together six days in advance. Perhaps the feud will be extended past Clash of Champions.
But as for now, Kendrick was the most logical choice to compete in the first ever Cruiserweight Championship match on WWE’s main roster.