The Live Wire - By Tony Cottam

TLW: Good Things In Small Packages

Well, hello. Welcome back to The Live Wire, the column that can curse you as well as entertain you – allegedly. Why do I say that? Well, within mere hours of last week’s edition of The Live Wire hitting the ‘Net and naming Spanky and Paul London as ones to watch in 2004 – Spanky quits!

Well, hello. Welcome back to The Live Wire, the column that can curse you as well as entertain you – allegedly. Why do I say that? Well, within mere hours of last week’s edition of The Live Wire hitting the ‘Net and naming Spanky and Paul London as ones to watch in 2004 – Spanky quits!

With that in mind, I hereby change my nominations for ones to watch in 2004 to Billy Gunn, Mark Henry, Goldberg, Lita and Rikishi & Scotty. Now, come on curse – do your worst! I dares ya!

On Spanky’s choice, I say well done, Mr. Spanky! Someone finally had the guts to walk out on a paycheque because they weren’t happy in their job. I sincerely hope he goes on to become one of the top guys in the business now, and he certainly has all the tools to do it. I think Japan is where the Spankster is destined to become a huge star now.

Spanky’s resignation from the WWE did more than just make my Ones To Watch choices look dumb right from the word go, it spotlighted a problem in the WWE right now – that being, the misuse of the Cruiserweight Division.

It goes to show how much the WWE really do care about their cruiserweight division though. In Spanky, there was one of the top workers in the world, and someone that would only get better forced to leave due to the general apathy displayed towards his division. Take it a step further – one of the true legends in this sport we love so much, Ultimo Dragon, is used only on House shows, dark matches and Velocity squash matches.

Here’s a guy that has a reputation and history as long as your arm, and he can’t make it on to Smackdown ahead of Matt Morgan, A-Train, Big Show, Chuck Palumbo, Johnny The Bull… the list of talent nowhere near his level is seemingly endless. And why is Ultimo being put through this indignity? Apparently because Vince thinks he’s too cartoonish…. Sometimes, I wonder why I watch anymore.

The Cruiserweights may not be the biggest draw in the company, they may not draw the attention that the Angle’s, Lesnar’s, Benoit’s and Cena’s do, but what they DO is put on great WRESTLING matches, and get a crowd hot for the rest of the card. WCW in the 90s was a prime example of this – they threw out a couple of Cruiser matches to spike the crowd for the rest of the show.

Cruiserweights can’t make it to WWE Pay-Per-Views. Cruiserweights get demoted to Heat and a 5 minute match, so that some basketball team owner can get 10-15 minutes of PPV time to waste with Eric Bischoff. Cruiserweights get told to tone their style down so as not to show up the main eventers.

Something just ain’t right, and something has to be done. The WWE is overloaded with cruiserweight talent, and has arguably the best cruiser roster ever assembled, and in Dean Malenko on the backstage staff, they have the guy that could put matches together and do a decent job of coherent booking for the division.

Nunzio, Ultimo Dragon, Tajiri, Jamie Noble, Jimmy Yang (Akio), Scott Taylor, Rey Mysterio, Paul London, Chavo Guerrero Jr, Funaki, Kidman, Shannon Moore, and The Hurricane on the Raw brand. Spanky was on that list until last week, and they’ve used guys like American Dragon and Low Ki in dark matches in the past. OK, Kidman and Scotty aren’t really on my list of favourites, but on their day, they know how to work a match – Kidman has the charisma of a wet kipper, and Scotty has The Worm, but those things aside, they can get the job done.

Now, you’re not trying to tell me that they couldn’t come up with some angles to use any of these guys that would get the casual fans interested? If they can keep giving A-Train and Billy Gunn push after push, despite repeated failures, then surely allotting 10-15 minutes of Smackdown every week to the cruisers wouldn’t kill them? Better still, turn Velocity over to Cruiserweight action only.

I remember when the Brand Extension started, and there used to be a big deal made of the Cruiserweight division, “right here only on Smackdown” – what happened to that? That was a step in the right direction at least. Now you have Brock Lesnar and The Big Show stomping all over Rey and making a mockery of things.

Let’s get things straight – with the odd exception, there should never be a Cruiserweight in the ring with someone like The Big Show – there’s no point – someone is going to end up losing face. If the Show loses, it’s a case of “ha! You got beat by the little guy” – if the cruiser loses it’s “ha! Look at the size of you – you’re teeny!”.

Just let cruisers face cruisers, and leave the big guys to their Land Of The Giants stuff. Take a look at Rey Mysterio – he’s probably never been as popular with the fans as he is in the WWE right now, and he’s deservedly the Cruiserweight champion. Ask pretty much any fan who’s got a bit of ‘smart’ in him who you’d like to see Rey square off with, and the Big Show would not be in the top 10 – but Ultimo Dragon would…

The WWE are currently advertising for talent on an Internet employment site – why? They don’t know how to use what talent they HAVE and they want more? Even just forgetting for a moment the embarrassment that is a Cruiserweight division right now, on Smackdown you have Kanyon, Rhyno, Sean O’Haire and Doug Basham all either not being used or being wasted in dumb angles. Rhyno’s use as Heyman’s ‘enforcer’ looks like it could be a nice role for The Man Beast, but we’ll see if it’s more than a one week deal soon.

On Raw, Lance Storm, Val Venis, Matt Hardy, Rico and even the ‘mighty’ Goldberg all careering about with no real direction or sense of purpose. Does this prove anything? Well, to be honest, no – not really. It doesn’t help the poor put upon 225lb or under peeps on Smackdown either – all it does is make them feel a little bit easier knowing there other people in their predicament as well.

Spanky had enough of the situation – he got out with his dignity. Ultimo Dragon is rumoured to be on the verge of doing the same anytime soon. Will they be the last of the cruisers to up and walk out? I wouldn’t have thought so. The WWE may be preparing themselves for a talent cut, but there could well be a mutiny on the cards within their own ranks…

Until then, have fun, go mad.

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Tony Cottam

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