Ranking The Remnants: WWE Cruiserweight Classic — Four Years On

Four feckin years since we saw this piece of loveliness. If it wasn’t for all the shite gaan down in the world, I’d have loved another one. Like The Olympics.

That’d be nice.

But the world ain’t nice, kids.

This was though, and those that competed in it (or most of them) continue to be as well, wherever they may be. 205 Live may have taken a few hits in the past year, delivering more basic stories and matches that amount to showcases, but that ain’t always a bad thing… I just reckon they could be doing a tad more with it.

From those remaining from The Classic, there ain’t actually that many solely competing in the cruiserweight division, with some having gone on to main roster mid-card runs, some getting down on NXT, and others just jammin’, just doing their thing, maybe living vicariously through their avatar on UpUpDownDown.

Whatever they’re doing, they’re nailing it, ‘cos they can, and if they ain’t up on this list, they will be one day.
Not that it matters to them, I’m sure. Nor should it! This ain’t so much a comment on them, more their exposure.

We had 18 on the list last year, and it laid out like this.
18. Sean Maluta
17. Raul Mendoza
16. Gran Metalik
15. The Brian Kendrick
14. Lince Dorado
13. Akira Tozawa
12. Jack Gallagher
11. Sunil Singh
10. Samir Singh
9. Noam Dar
8. Fabian Aichner
7. Ariya Daivari
6. Tony Nese
5. Cedric Alexander
4. Drew Gulak
3. Mustafa Ali
2. Tomasso Ciampa
1. Johnny Gargano

That’s down to 17 now, with Jack Gallagher’s release coming through. But we’re focusing on who’s left, so let’s rank the remnants four years on from the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.

17/ SEAN MALUTA
Still bottom, but up one! Howdeedoodah!?
Another year, another two matches on NXT. The EVOLVE mainstay succumbed to Shane Thorne in a dark match, but did make it to NXT-TV, getting caved in by Cameron Grimes in six seconds. Cousin Uce isn’t formally employed, but with WWE’s purchase of EVOLVE and how sentimental I feel towards him, he will remain a fixture at the bottom of this list.
Will he rise one day?

DIFFERENCE: +1

16/ THE BRIAN KENDRICK
Still performing, still knocking about, with matches on NXT UK and 205 Live, but he has not been taken advantage of by NXT. Yeah, he’s a cracker of a trainer, but the man’s got a lot to offer and there is demand. His matches with Akira Tozawa, whether tagging with him or going against him, were smashing all over again, and I want more of the man.
Gimme that Brian.

DIFFERENCE: -1

15/ ARIYA DAIVARI
Much like Bri-Bri, Ariya got about and even teamed with The Kendrick just before the reduced schedule. In fact, he was turning it up week-in, week-out and was genuinely the most consistently impressive Cruiserweight Classic alum at one point this past year.
Here’s to seeing him back, ‘cos I’m missing Daddy Dinero.

DIFFERENCE: -8

14/ SUNIL SINGH
Singh has gone missing from time-to-time, but he takes what time he’s given and plays with it while running with it and looks good.
And he’s captured gold! Four times! A 4-time 24/7 champion now, that can’t be ignored.

DIFFERENCE: -3

13/ SAMIR SINGH
Singh has gone missing from time-to-time, but he takes what time he’s given and plays with it while running with it and looks good.
And he’s captured gold! Five times! A 5-time 24/7 champion now, that can’t be ignored.

DIFFERENCE: -3

12/ RAUL MENDOZA
He was turning out banger after banger with no real direction, but when you’re as good as Fat Dog, that don’t matter so much.
Then came the kidnapping. Taken victim, he would soon return as part of Legado del Fantasma, and has recently started picking up a bit of momentum with tag partner Joaquin Wilde. Next year should see him higher as the stable build a head of steam, but he’s on his way as the potential standout member of the group.

DIFFERENCE: +5

11/ LINCE DORADO
With Lucha House Party getting a few ops, Dorado has taken his opportunities, handing out Shooting Star presses like rice krispie squares. That being said, he has been thrown into matches quite a bit, which ain’t no thang, but if he was given something with a bit of meat, well that’d be tasty as tail for the golden lynx.

DIFFERENCE: +3

10/ NOAM DAR
One of the victims of NXT UK’s suspension, Noam Dar still couldn’t help but look like a star. Whenever he rocks up in the Britain-based promotion, he’s a big deal, and his talent and skill confirm that ten-fold.
The Scottish Supernova seems like a treasure trove for a company to have at their disposal, and they should really delve further into the gold to see what they got.

DIFFERENCE: -1

9/ GRAN METALIK
Like his fellow house party-goer, Metalik has been thrown about while delivering elbows across the blue brand. He’s looked a tad more impressive than his stable-mate and has been granted the opportunities to do so, as it looks like they might be trying to go somewhere with the group, but that’ll be criteria for next year’s list.

DIFFERENCE: +7

8/ CEDRIC ALEXANDER
Had a solid start to this 12-month spell, gunning for the United States title in impressive style, but he would soon find solace in a cracker tag team with Ricochet which seems like a froot spot for him, they just need to be given a bit more… Even on Main Event, ya know, they light it up, compliment one another, it’s neat.

DIFFERENCE: -3

7/ DREW GULAK
Settling into the Smackdown mid-card, a lot of folk probably thought he wouldn’t get there. After dropping the Cruiserweight title, Drewlak settled back into his powerpoint shtick on the blue brand before personifying technical wrestling like he always could. A feud and partnership with Daniel Bryan followed, as well as several matches for the Intercontinental title, and he’s cemented himself.

DIFFERENCE: -3

6/ MUSTAFA ALI
Like Alexander and Gulak, his pursuits of the mid-card title were feckin sweet, as was his whole first half of this twelve-month spell, being highlighted on Smackdown.
Then he was just being an angel for a few months.
Then he cropped back up on RAW as the beast that he is.
Bless this baby.

DIFFERENCE: -3

5/ TONY NESE
Now without a belt,
Tony didn’t want help,
He stood on his own,
Got his head in the zone.

He put on display after display,
That would make people pay,
Across four shows on three nights,
He clocked up all the highlights.

DIFFERENCE: +1

4/ AKIRA TOZAWA
Since gaan to RAW, he’s bossed whatever’s come his way really.
You’re a ninja? Yeah, boi.
You lead a team of ninjas? Go for it.
24/7 Title? Gimme.
9ft tall ninja? Aye.
Granted it all revolves around ninjas, but it’s the enthusiasm and vigour with which he delivers the role that nails him high up this list.

DIFFERENCE: +9

3/ TOMASSO CIAMPA
It’s his first time out of the top two, but he’s still in the medal positions.
He came back and filler matches were few and far between, with massive match after massive match, including a Survivor Series elimination match, a WarGames match victory, a couple of NXT Title matches, and some blood feud bouts with his best frenemy.
So why out the top two? He’s missed months here and there, and he only came out on top in one of his big matches. He’s a big boss in NXT, but he’s lost his final boss status for now.

DIFFERENCE: -1

2/ JOHNNY GARGANO
Wait, what?
That’s right, neither one of #DIY at numero uno. But Gargano still tops Ciampa. Like Ciampa, Gargano was gone for a few months, but did come back with force, getting himself involved with Ciampa, Keith Lee, Moustache Mountain and Mia Yim in big (or cracker) matches. Johnny’s just shown his flexibility a bit more and has got himself about, like a proper busy-body, but he wasn’t busy enough to retain top spot.

DIFFERENCE: -1

1/ FABIAN AICHNER
CONTROVERSY ABOUNDS. The Italian has aligned himself with stars and become a part of the constellation himself.
Aichner and Imperium started the year off just beginning their dominance on NXT UK and planting seeds in North America. Next would come great matches for the NXT UK Tag Team Titles and a semi-final run in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and Aichner was a stand-out in both.
Then came an appearance on Main Event, which is big in itself, but when it’s sandwiched by that victory over Undisputed Era at Worlds Collide and a bloody NXT Tag Team Title victory, Aichner’s year and Imperium’s reign has been nothing short of spectacular, even if delicately so.

DIFFERENCE: +7

— —

There it be.

Classic.
Quality.
Controlled.

BIGGEST MOVE UP: +9 — Akira Tozawa
BIGGEST MOVE DOWN: -8 — Ariya Daivari

It’s a tricky time to be making big steps forward, so those that have, have truly done something special. For those who haven’t? Of course they feckin haven’t. Whether they’ve chosen to keep themselves safe, or keep their family safe, or take advantage for some time off amidst a hefty schedule, or whatever their reason, respect.
They might be happy with their lot, it’s all pretty sweet to me, but if they got something planned that I can’t wait for normality to resume to see it.
They’ve all been gaan for four years now, and they’ve all grown and evolved, and it’s been a feckin light show of fantasticism and loveliness.

So aye, Jack’s gone, and the winner of the thing went a while back, so we’re down to just over half, with those fifteen going onto their own lives of delightful fulfillment. And I hope that Da Mack, Anthony Bennett (probably still a teenager), Kenneth Johnson, Zack Sabre Jr., TJP, Kota Ibushi, Tajiri, Clement Petiot, Alejandro Saez (still the best facial expressions in wrestling), Damian Slater, Hoho Lun, Jason Lee, Rich Swann and Tyson Dux are fulfilled.

If this article seemed overly sexual in tone, I apologise. It was not intended that way, I don’t think.

But to all the lads, keep on goin’ hard.

And keep it streets ahead,

C.L.R.

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