Monday Night Raw is three hours long. Some would argue that it is approximately an entire hour too long. With good reason too, as programming a wrestling show for that many hours with limited talent at the WWE’s disposal has proven a task incredibly difficult to do well.
However, on the latest edition of Raw, the one before SmackDown Live’s brand-extension draft, Stephanie McMahon announced that the company was bringing back the cruiserweight division.
She did the entire WWE Network plug of the Cruiserweight Classic, which has been incredibly delightful, as a reason for it. The reality of the situation is that the division is indeed coming back partially do to that, but also to help with the thinning of the roster and to provide programming for a large portion of Raw.
One can think back to how WCW handled its cruiserweight division. The first hour of Monday Nitro was almost exclusively the home of all the high-flyers — and Dean Malenko. It made for an engaging watch, and most notably provided wrestling fans an alternative to watching giant humanoids trot about the squared-circle with the grace of broken 1983 Honda Accord.
In one quick announcement, assuming many of the CWC’s participants are joining the fold, the WWE is adding a ton of additional talent to its roster and roughly a solid hour of good programming.
It is worth noting that it isn’t totally perfect, though.
The CWC is still going on. It isn’t planned to end for another nine weeks. One would justifiably assume the company is bringing back the Cruiserweight Championship, but if the WWE wants the CWC to be of importance, that title should go to the winner of the event — which would mean, at least potentially, the cruiserweight division can function for another eight-ish Raws without having a title.
Another small wrinkle in this story is in the fact that the CWC works so well for a variety of reasons, but none much bigger than the announcing team of Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo. Bryan is the SmackDown general manager now and there’s no guarantee Ranallo will be drafted to Raw. Having cruiserweight matches being called by someone who does not know the names of the moves or the backgrounds of the talent involved will be less than ideal.
There’s also the running idea that having a cruiserweight division puts a glass ceiling on wrestlers’ careers. While that should be a concern for the WWE and the talent moving forward, if the cruiserweight division was not reintroduced many of the stars fans are about to fall in love with would otherwise go without a platform as large as Raw.
That’s the bad. The rest is good — at least we think so.
Circling back to how it directly alters Raw in a good way, the cruiserweight division should keep live audiences fresh. Three hours of wrestling is a lot of mostly the same thing to consume. Considering many of the wrestlers in the division will be bringing a vastly different style to the ring, it should keep the crowd vibrant with noise and reaction. It should also keep them engaged and in a frenzied state. After all, who won’t get all riled up after witnessing a wrestler do some crazy move we’ve never seen before?
As long as the WWE stays committed to building the division, in honest and sincere ways, it is hitting a home run. New angles, stories, and characters being added to a three-hour show that lacked those same exact characteristics is a truly wonderful thing. So, too, will be the inevitable breaking out of stars from the division itself after it is established.
While no one knows exactly awaits the WWE Universe post-brand extension, at least we now know that the company is willing to take a risk, even if that risk is as obvious as bringing back one of the best divisions of wrestling.