In order for a cruiserweight show to work Vince McMahon and Triple H would need to limit their involvement. Both men are driving forces behind WWE’s bigger is better attitude and while I’m sure they appreciate the skill and athleticism required to work the style synonymous with smaller wrestlers they don’t enjoy watching it themselves. That means they don’t promote it in the correct way.
The company should look to hire two or three writers to work exclusively on the cruiserweight programme, ideally people who actually appreciate the style. The hiring policy they have used for the past decade or so is to look for writers who have television experience, with an interest in wrestling said to be a disadvantage for the position.
Personally I don’t like this approach but it’s unlikely the company will change the habit for a show focusing on smaller guys. However, it’s not too much to hope that WWE brings in a keen, knowledgeable fan or someone with wrestling and TV experience to work on the show. A cruiserweight show is something completely different for WWE viewers and should have a different feel to RAW, SmackDown and the rest of the promotion’s output. The best way to do that is to have someone working on the show that would not usually be considered for a writing gig.
The format of the new NXT would actually be perfect for a cruiserweight show. The smaller venue of Full Sail University promotes a more intimate atmosphere and attracts a knowledgeable and respectful crowd. I think those fans would be very appreciative of an all cruisers TV taping.
Even if WWE didn’t want to use Full Sail (which would be understandable, too many shows in one market would risk burning the audience out) I’m sure a similar venue could be found somewhere in the United States. Universities seem a good idea for WWE tapings. There must be dozens who would be willing to enter into a similar partnership with a company that can offer what WWE does (revenue, TV experience for students, etc.).
Rey Mystterio could benefit an all cruiserweights show with sporadic appearances
Not having any backstage segments (or at least keeping them to a bare minimum) at all allows for the action to take centre stage, exactly what a cruiserweight show should be about. Storylines on NXT are based around winning and losing. Simple and effective. That approach would benefit this hypothetical show (and RAW and SmackDown as well for that matter, but that won’t be happening anytime soon).
As far as announcers go I think WWE would be wise to go with a three man unit. One veteran announcer who can keep up with the action and lead the trio, one colour commentator, and one fresh hire who can be groomed for a larger role within the promotion at some point in the future. The obvious candidate for the veteran position is Jim Ross. He always does an outstanding job and has helped make NXT a phenomenal viewing experience.
Personally I wouldn’t pick him though. WWE has the ideal commentator already under contract: Joey Styles. He is wasted toiling on the company’s website, is well versed at calling fast paced matches and would be able to pass his own experience and wisdom onto the crew. Styles, more than JR, is perfect for calling faster matches featuring a plethora of moves rarely seen on RAW and SmackDown.
The new hire obviously isn’t someone that can predicted, but they should be keen on a career in the wrestling business and passionate about making the best show possible. That may seem an obvious thing to say but we’re discussing the company that happily promotes Michael Cole as its lead broadcaster.
The colour commentator could be almost anybody on the roster who would be interested in a commentary spot. Wade Barrett has worked in the role during his time in FCW. Christian seems a natural choice for a commentary gig too. WWE could even reach out to Rey Mysterio, easily the most successful small guy to ever work for the promotion, and see if he would be interested in a broadcasting job. His involvement could really enhance the show.
Something I think that should be avoided is the reinstatement of the cruiserweight title. Introducing a championship as soon as the show starts would take at least some of the focus off the wrestlers. We should get to know the men (and perhaps women) wrestling on the show long before we start caring about which of them has a championship.
Give it six months or a year and then think about a tournament to crown a champion. By then the best workers will have risen to the top and the audience will have chosen their favourites. Those are the wrestlers who should be at the top of the card and they can only get there with time.
The roster is obviously something that people are going to be very interested in, but we won’t know who’s going to be appearing on our screens until closer to the show’s (and the Network’s) launch. A hefty portion should be newcomers though, wrestlers signed from the independents based on their ability to work a fast, entertaining match.
Inevitably the show will need big, established names. I mentioned Rey Mysterio above in relation to a commentary spot. I don’t think he should be a regular wrestler on the show, but the occasional match here and there, such as on the debut episode, would help draw ratings and expose the less famous talent to the audience.
Alex Shelley is expected to join the show. He’ll be a good hire. Other names that could be considered are Jimmy Rave, Jack Evans, Homicide, PAC, Akira Tozawa, El Generico and most of the members of Chikara, Dragon Gate USA, and Ring of Honor’s locker rooms. WWE is not above scouting those companies for talent to use on its new shows.
If and when a WWE cruiserweight show rolls around it will have the potential to be great. There’s a lot that can go wrong with the venture (mainly because, as stated above, the promotion has a long history of dismissing smaller guys) but if done right I think it could help WWE create plenty of new stars and encourage a healthy viewership. Follow the outline above and it could be a highlight of the WWE Network.