Cruiserweights: WWE's forgotten division
We recognize the underrated and underappreciated.
By JGeorge Estrella
A look at the forgotten WWE Cruiserweight Division 2002-2007
If you look at the WWE’s cruiserweight division from 2001 (following WWE's purchase of WCW) to 2007, you will see a roster full of talented wrestlers that put on high quality matches on a weekly basis. The cruiserweight division gave chances to those in the lower cards to get television time who otherwise might not have made it past the C shows (Sunday Night Heat, Velocity). It also gave them a chance to win a WWE championship (even if it's not the WWE Championship)--an opportunity to those who wouldn’t have gotten it otherwise. After months of inactivity and bad storylines centered around Hornswoggle (you read that correctly) the cruiserweight title became defunct in 2007--thus ending the division.
Many superstars of the fallen division went on to…nothing. They were never given a chance to move on past that cruiserweight level and when the division disappeared, so did whatever semblance of a push they had. Things like shotty gimmicks, size, and personality hindered these wrestlers from being taken seriously as WWE superstars and as a result their talents were overlooked.
Jamie by gawd Noble was mainstay in the WWE cruiserweight division, originally starting in WCW as a part of the Jung Dragons, under the name and mask of Jamie-San, Noble debuted in WWE shortly after the brand extension's inception in mid-2002. He played his trailer park trash to a T, and had great feuds with Billy Kidman, Yoshihiro Tajiri, and Rey Mysterio. Following his release, he spent a year honing his talents in Japan and top indy promotions.
Noble finally had a chance at main eventing in Ring of Honor, where he won ROH World Title, beating CM Punk, Samoa Joe, and Christopher Daniels in a four-way match. Now a seasoned competitor, Noble returned to WWE, this time sporting a more serious look. He was ready to move up the ranks, and had all the tools to do it. Unfortunately, injuries cut Noble's carrer short, forcing him to retire. He currently works backstage in WWE as a producer.
You can find some hidden classics in Jamie’s work with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Tajiri, CM Punk, and William Regal.
Nunzio (Little Guido Maritato)
Originally a product of the old ECW, Nunzio (then known as Little Guido) was the founding father of the epically hilarious stable the F.B.I. The group was more or less a running joke, with members like JT Smith, Tracey Smothers, and Tommy Rich, who contradicted the stable’s name: Full Blooded Italians. Nunzio proved he wasn’t just a comedy act with his matches against Super Crazy, and Tajiri.
He debuted as the cousin of Jamie Noble in WWE, but quickly went on to resurrect the F.B.I on the Smackdown brand, adding Chuck Palumbo and Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli to the mix. Nunzio managed win the cruiserweight title during his stay in the WWE. Even with all his technical mastery Nunzio was regulated to the role of enhancement talent.
Through out the 90s, Ultimo Dragon was a global phenomenon, combining the lucha libre style with the Japanese puroresu style.
At one point during his illustrious career, Dragon simultaneously held nine championships. In WCW, he put on wrestling clinics with the likes of Rey Mysterio, and Dean Malenko. Dragon made his debut in the WWE in late 2003, but had a less than stellar one year run.
Dragon, a world class athlete should've had great runs with the Cruiserweight title in WWE, but it wasn't meant to be due to bad booking and simply being underutilized.
Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
Guerrero comes from one the greatest families in wrestling. Him and his late uncle Eddie started wrestling since they could walk. There’s no doubting that Guerrero can go, but years of comedy skits hurt Guerrero’s chances of ever being taken seriously. Even in WCW, he was mostly treated as a running gag, being paired up with a wooden stick horse and a band of misfits. Guerrero did hold various titles throughout his career, with runs as cruiserweight champion and multiple tag team title reigns. He was even a member of the elite “Smackdown! Six” in 2002 and 2003--featuring Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Edge, Rey Mysterio, and Brock Lesnar--who put on the best TV matches fans had the pleasure of seeing. Sadly, despite all his accomplishments, Guerrero was never seen as anything but a midcarder. See a trend here?