NXT Cruiserweight Championship

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NXT Cruiserweight Championship
NXT CW Title.png
The final NXT Cruiserweight Championship belt with default side plates
(2020–2022)
Details
PromotionWWE
BrandRaw (2016–2018)
205 Live (2018–2022)
NXT (2019–2022)
NXT UK (2020–2022)
Date establishedSeptember 14, 2016
Date retiredJanuary 4, 2022 (unified with the NXT North American Championship)
Other name(s)
  • WWE Cruiserweight Championship
    (2016–2019)
  • NXT Cruiserweight Championship
    (2019–2022)
Statistics
First champion(s)T. J. Perkins
Final champion(s)Carmelo Hayes
Most reigns2 reigns:
Longest reignJordan Devlin
(439 days[a])
Shortest reignCarmelo Hayes
(<1 minute[b])
Oldest championRoderick Strong (38 years, 57 days)
Youngest championLio Rush
(24 years, 332 days)
Heaviest championCarmelo Hayes and Buddy Murphy
(205 lb (93 kg))
Lightest championAkira Tozawa
(156 lb (71 kg))

The NXT Cruiserweight Championship was a professional wrestling championship that was created and promoted by the American promotion WWE. Before its retirement, it was defended across the NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live brand divisions, which were developmental brands for WWE. During its short tenure, it was the promotion's only championship with a weight limit, wherein only wrestlers 205 lb (93 kg) and under—designated as cruiserweights—could compete for the title.

Originally established as the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, it was first unveiled on September 14, 2016, as the award for the Cruiserweight Classic, which was won by T. J. Perkins. It was originally defended on Monday Night Raw as part of the Raw brand's cruiserweight division before the premiere of the cruiserweight-exclusive 205 Live in November 2016, after which, it was defended on both shows. Following WrestleMania 34 in 2018, the title became exclusively defended on the 205 Live brand.[1][2] In October 2019, 205 Live merged under NXT and the title was renamed NXT Cruiserweight Championship, and the title's contendership was extended to NXT UK in January 2020. On January 4, 2022, at New Year's Evil, the title was unified into the NXT North American Championship, officially retiring the title in the process, with Carmelo Hayes recognized as the final champion.

The title was distinct from the previous WWE Cruiserweight Championship that originated in World Championship Wrestling and was retired in 2007. The two titles had shared the same name, but did not share the same title history.[3]

History[edit]

The inaugural Cruiserweight Champion T. J. Perkins

In mid-2016, WWE held the Cruiserweight Classic, a tournament for wrestlers 205 lb (93 kg) and under, billed as cruiserweights, that aired on the WWE Network.[4] Tournament qualifying matches took place in various promotions of the independent circuit, including well known promotions such as Revolution Pro Wrestling, Progress Wrestling, and Evolve. Many cruiserweight wrestlers from around the world were given the chance to qualify for the 32-man single-elimination tournament, which took place over four dates: June 23, July 13, August 26, and September 14.[5]

The final of the Cruiserweight Classic came down to T. J. Perkins and Gran Metalik. Before the final match, WWE executive Triple H revealed that the winner would not only receive a trophy but would also become the inaugural WWE Cruiserweight Champion for the revived cruiserweight division for the promotion's Raw brand. Perkins defeated Metalik to become the inaugural champion.[6][7]

Originally, the championship was defended exclusively on Monday Night Raw. On November 29, 2016, a cruiserweight-exclusive show entitled 205 Live premiered on the WWE Network.[8] On the premiere episode, Rich Swann defeated The Brian Kendrick to win the championship.[9] The title then became defended on both Raw and 205 Live. In early 2018, Triple H was given creative control over 205 Live, as he had with the NXT brand, and began restructuring the show. Following WrestleMania 34, 205 Live became its own brand where the title became exclusively defended. Although the title became exclusive to 205 Live, it was still defended on WWE's main pay-per-views alongside Raw and SmackDown.[2]

After then-champion Enzo Amore was released from WWE on January 23, 2018, and the title was vacated,[10][11] it was announced that a general manager would be appointed for 205 Live and would address the championship.[12] On the January 30 episode of 205 Live, Drake Maverick (formerly known as Rockstar Spud in Impact Wrestling) was appointed as the 205 Live General Manager. Maverick announced that there would be a 16-man single elimination tournament to crown a new WWE Cruiserweight Champion, with the finals to occur on the WrestleMania 34 Kickoff pre-show. The tournament came down to Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali, where Alexander defeated Ali to win the vacant championship.[13]

Prior to NXT moving to the USA Network in September 2019, NXT head Triple H spoke with Newsweek and said that "You'll start to see 205 [Live] begin to become part of NXT". He said that 205 Live's talent would start moving towards NXT, that 205 Live had "become lost in [the] limbo", and that the Cruiserweight Championship would have more meaning on NXT where it could create more opportunities for the cruiserweight wrestlers.[14] It was then reported that the NXT Creative Team would be in charge of 205 Live.[15] The following month, the title was renamed to the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, becoming part of the NXT brand, and started being defended on the NXT show.[16]

On October 18, 2019, Drake Maverick – who himself was drafted to SmackDown but remained as the General Manager of 205 Live – announced that following the 2019 WWE Draft, he had made a talent exchange agreement with NXT General Manager William Regal, whereby NXT's cruiserweight wrestlers could also wrestle on 205 Live.[17][18] With Jordan Devlin's win at Worlds Collide on January 25, 2020, the title also became shared with the NXT UK brand.[19]

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Ireland, reigning champion Jordan Devlin was unable to travel outside of his home country and defend the title. On April 8, 2020, NXT General Manager William Regal announced a tournament to crown an interim champion in the United States which would begin on the April 15 episode of NXT. Devlin responded by stating that whoever won was a fraud, and that he would prove that he was the only true NXT Cruiserweight Champion upon his return.[20][21] The interim championship tournament was won by Santos Escobar, who used his prior persona El Hijo del Fantasma during the tournament.[22] After the travel ban was lifted, Devlin made his return to the U.S. on the March 17, 2021, episode of NXT and confronted Escobar over who the real champion was. Escobar then challenged Devlin to a match at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver to determine the undisputed NXT Cruiserweight Champion.[23] The match was subsequently scheduled as a ladder match on Night 2 of the event on April 8.[24] At the event, Escobar defeated Devlin to become the undisputed champion, ending Devlin's reign at 439 days while continuing Escobar's.[25]

Although the championship was established exclusively for cruiserweight wrestlers, this ruling was lifted once for a match at NXT WarGames on December 5, 2021. Joe Gacy, who weighed 245 lbs, felt that the championship weight shamed wrestlers who were above the weight limit. Reigning NXT Cruiserweight Champion Roderick Strong allowed Gacy to challenge for the title at WarGames, with Gacy proclaiming that if he won the title, he would make it an all-inclusive championship.[26][27] At the event, however, Strong retained.[28]

In January 2022, the championship was unified into the NXT North American Championship. At the special New Year's Evil episode of NXT 2.0 on January 4, 2022, North American Champion Carmelo Hayes defeated reigning Cruiserweight Champion Roderick Strong to unify the titles with Hayes recognized as the final champion and going forward as North American Champion.[29][30][31]

Inaugural tournament (2016)[edit]

 
Round of 32
Taped June 23
Round of 16
Taped July 14
Quarterfinals
Taped August 26
Semifinals
Live on September 14
Final
Live on September 14
 
                  
 
July 20 –
 
 
Kenneth JohnsonPin
 
August 17 –
 
Akira Tozawa09:46[32]
 
Akira TozawaPin
 
August 3 –
 
Jack Gallagher11:38[36]
 
Jack GallagherPin
 
August 31 -
 
Fabian Aichner06:45[33]
 
Akira TozawaPin
 
July 20 –
 
Gran Metalik15:49[39]
 
TajiriPin
 
August 10 –
 
Damian Slater05:28[32]
 
TajiriPin
 
July 13 –
 
Gran Metalik10:53[37]
 
Alejandro SaezPin
 
September 14 –
 
Gran Metalik04:04[34]
 
Gran MetalikPin
 
July 27 –
 
Zack Sabre Jr.13:13[7]
 
Harv SihraSub
 
August 24 –
 
Drew Gulak05:18[35]
 
Drew GulakPin
 
July 27 –
 
Zack Sabre Jr.08:27[38]
 
Zack Sabre Jr.Sub
 
September 7 -
 
Tyson Dux08:28[35]
 
Zack Sabre Jr.Sub
 
August 3 –
 
Noam Dar15:46[40]
 
Noam DarSub
 
August 17 –
 
Gurv Sihra05:26[33]
 
Noam DarSub
 
July 13 –
 
Ho Ho Lun07:02[36]
 
Ariya DaivariPin
 
September 14 –
 
Ho Ho Lun05:03[34]
 
Gran MetalikSub
 
July 27 –
 
T. J. Perkins 17:47[7]
 
Raul MendozaSub
 
August 17 –
 
The Brian Kendrick07:35[35]
 
The Brian KendrickSub
 
July 27 –
 
Tony Nese13:42[36]
 
Anthony BennettPin
 
August 31 -
 
Tony Nese06:34[35]
 
The Brian KendrickPin
 
July 13 –
 
Kota Ibushi13:58[39]
 
Kota IbushiPin
 
August 10 –
 
Sean Maluta09:40[34]
 
Kota IbushiPin
 
July 13 –
 
Cedric Alexander15:00[37]
 
Cedric AlexanderPin
 
September 14 –
 
Clement Petiot05:58[34]
 
Kota IbushiSub
 
July 20 –
 
T. J. Perkins14:52[7]
 
T. J. PerkinsSub
 
August 24 –
 
Da Mack06:32[32]
 
T. J. PerkinsSub
 
August 3 –
 
Johnny Gargano12:18[38]
 
Johnny GarganoPin
 
September 7 -
 
Tommaso Ciampa10:47[33]
 
T. J. PerkinsSub
 
July 20 –
 
Rich Swann17:03[40]
 
Mustafa Ali Pin
 
August 24 –
 
Lince Dorado05:55[32]
 
Lince DoradoPin
 
August 3 –
 
Rich Swann08:14[38]
 
Rich Swann Pin
 
 
Jason Lee03:47[33]
 

Interim championship tournament (2020)[edit]

El Hijo del Fantasma defeated Drake Maverick to become Interim Champion. During his reign he would unmask and change his name to Santos Escobar.

A round-robin tournament began on April 15, 2020, to determine the interim NXT Cruiserweight Champion after Jordan Devlin was deemed unable to defend the title due to COVID-19 pandemic-related travel restrictions. Eight wrestlers were split into two groups of four, where each wrestler competed against the other three members of their respective group. The wrestlers with the best record in each group then competed to determine the interim champion. Any ties were broken by head-to-head results.[41] Group A consisted of Kushida, Tony Nese, Jake Atlas, and former 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick, while Group B consisted of Isaiah "Swerve" Scott, El Hijo del Fantasma, Akira Tozawa, and Gentleman Jack Gallagher.[42] Although Maverick was released from WWE on April 15,[43] he confirmed via Twitter that he would still be competing in the tournament; at the time, he had stated they would be his last matches in the company.[44] As a result of a tie in Group A, Maverick, Kushida, and Atlas faced each other in a triple threat match on the May 27 episode of NXT to determine the winner of the group; Maverick won to advance to the final against Group B's winner, Fantasma.[45] The final occurred during the May 27 tapings of NXT (aired June 3) where Fantasma defeated Maverick to become the interim champion; following the match, Triple H offered Maverick a new NXT contract, which he accepted.[22] The following week, Fantasma turned heel on Maverick, unmasked himself, and changed his ring name to Santos Escobar.[46]

Group A Group B
Drake Maverick 3–1 El Hijo del Fantasma 2–1
Kushida 2–2 Akira Tozawa 2–1
Jake Atlas 2–2 Isaiah "Swerve" Scott 1–2
Tony Nese 0–3 Gentleman Jack Gallagher 1–2
Group A Kushida Nese Atlas Maverick
Kushida Kushida
(NXT, April 22)[47]
Kushida
(NXT, May 6)
Maverick
(NXT, May 20)
Nese Kushida
(NXT, April 22)[47]
Atlas
(NXT, May 13)
Maverick
(NXT, April 29)[48]
Atlas Kushida
(NXT, May 6)
Atlas
(NXT, May 13)
Atlas
(NXT, April 22)[47]
Maverick Maverick
(NXT, May 20)
Maverick
(NXT, April 29)[48]
Atlas
(NXT, April 22)[47]
Group B Swerve Fantasma Tozawa Gallagher
Swerve Swerve
(NXT, April 29)[48]
Tozawa
(NXT, April 15)[50]
Gallagher
(NXT, May 13)
Fantasma Swerve
(NXT, April 29)[48]
Fantasma
(NXT, May 20)
Fantasma
(NXT, April 22)[47]
Tozawa Tozawa
(NXT, April 15)[50]
Fantasma
(NXT, May 20)
Tozawa
(NXT, May 6)
Gallagher Gallagher
(NXT, May 13)
Fantasma
(NXT, April 22)[47]
Tozawa
(NXT, May 6)
Group A Decision
NXT, May 27
Final
NXT, June 3
      
A1 Drake Maverick Pin
B1 El Hijo Del Fantasma 11:32
A1 Kushida Pin
A2
A3
Jake Atlas
Drake Maverick
7:53

Brand designation[edit]

The following is a list of dates indicating the transitions of the NXT Cruiserweight Championship between WWE's brands.

Date of transition Brand Notes
September 14, 2016 Raw The championship was established for Raw as the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. T. J. Perkins became the inaugural champion by winning the Cruiserweight Classic.
April 9, 2018 205 Live The WWE Cruiserweight Championship became exclusive to 205 Live after the establishment of that brand following WrestleMania 34 on April 8, 2018.
October 9, 2019 NXT
205 Live
NXT UK
When 205 Live was integrated with NXT in October 2019, the WWE Cruiserweight Championship was renamed to NXT Cruiserweight Championship and became shared between both brands. Beginning January 25, 2020, the NXT Cruiserweight Championship also became shared with NXT UK.
January 4, 2022 N/A The NXT Cruiserweight Championship was retired after it was unified with the NXT North American Championship.

Belt design[edit]

When the championship was introduced, the irregularly shaped center plate of the belt largely featured a globe with the WWE logo over the top of it. Above the globe was a banner that read "Cruiserweight" and below the globe was one that read "Champion". Ornamentation filled out the rest of the plate. In what became a prominent feature of WWE's championship belts, the side plates featured removable center sections, allowing the holder's personal logo to be added to the championship belt; the default side plates showed silver and purple world maps with the WWE logo over them. The plates were on a purple strap. During Neville's first reign, the color of the slash under the WWE logo on the center plate and default side plates was changed from purple to orange.[51]

After the title was renamed to NXT Cruiserweight Championship, Triple H and NXT General Manager William Regal presented an updated version of the Cruiserweight Championship belt to reigning champion Angel Garza on January 25, 2020. The design was largely the same, except the WWE logo on the center plate was replaced with a vertical NXT logo and the purple strap was changed to a dark purple, almost black colored strap. The color of the slash under the WWE logo on the side plates was also changed to silver.[52]

Reigns[edit]

Throughout the championship's short history, there were 20 reigns between 18 champions and one vacancy. The inaugural champion was T. J. Perkins. The oldest champion was Roderick Strong, winning the title at 38 years old, while the youngest champion was Lio Rush when he won it at 24. Neville and Enzo Amore were tied for the most reigns at two. Jordan Devlin's sole reign was the longest reign at 439 days, while final champion Carmelo Hayes' singular reign was the shortest at less than a minute as the title was immediately retired after he won it in a title unification match.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ WWE officially recognizes 438 days
  2. ^ Unified with the NXT North American Championship

References[edit]

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External links[edit]