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Let’s talk about who will be in WWE’s Cruiserweight title tournament

Almost everybody loves a tournament (after years of allegedly being against the concept, even Vince McMahon seems okay with them these days!), and many fans have been clamoring for 205 Live to get back to its competition-based, workrate-first roots. So when DRAKE MAVERICK announced a 16 man, single elimination tournament to crown the next Cruiserweight champion in his first act as General Manager of the purple brand, folks got excited.

One thing we love about tournaments are the brackets. But for this, we haven’t gotten one yet, despite knowing half the first round match-ups.

There are two possible reasons for that... and really, both could be in play. For one thing, WWE might not know or still be discussing internally with whom they’re going to fill the field. For another, they may have a name or two up their sleeve they don’t want us to know about yet.

To help us consider the possibilities, let’s look at the current 205 Live roster, per (asterisks indicate those who’ve already competed in or been announced/declared for the tournamet):

Akira Tozawa*
Ariya Daivari
Cedric Alexander*
Drew Gulak
Gentleman Jack Gallagher*
Gran Metalik*
Hideo Itami*
Lince Dorado*
Mustafa Ali*
Noam Dar
Rich Swann
The Brian Kendrick
Tony Nese

16 exactly! Perfect! Wait a minute... two of those guys are injured (Dar, Kendrick). One is suspended (Swann) and another is waiting out the end date of his contract at home in Newcastle, as far as we know (Neville).

Swann is technically eligible to return, but WWE may want to wait for a quieter opportunity to bring him back into the fold considering many in 205 Live’s target audience probably read the police reports from his arrest and will voice their opinion about those in the arena or online despite charges being dropped.

Kendrick is probably out two months after what might have been Itami’s last WWE GTS broke his nose and orbital bone at Christmas, making him unlikely for the first round. And Dar had knee surgery in December and isn’t expected back until the Summer.

There have been no signs of a thaw in negotiations with the King in exile. But after Enzo Amore’s release, it feels slightly more likely he could return. Sadly, I still wouldn’t count on it, though.

From the four matches we know of already, WWE has already brought in two talents from other divisions/brands - Tyler Bate from the United Kingdom to lose to TJP on the first show of the MAVERICK era, and Roderick Strong from NXT as an opponent for Hideo next Tuesday.

Assuming they’re not going to slight any of the healthy guys in good standing with the company who’ve been toiling away for 205 Live the past year and a half, I still think they still need one or two people to fill out the field.

That’s where it gets interesting. The splashiest possibilities would be Neville, new signee Trevor “Ricochet” Mann or Rey Mysterio.

Bringing back the former champ would signal whatever problems he had with the roster or the booking have been addressed, and might convince fans alienated by what the division became with Enzo as the focal point it’s okay to give it another chance.

There would be backlash to putting either of the other two on 205 Live from fans who label it a “graveyard”, but they might be the only ones capable of helping the show shed that label. Mysterio especially could be the perfect fit, as not only would he be a name that would attract Network viewers and pack houses, but being an elder stateman in the Cruiserweight scene could give him the reduced schedule he’s rumored to want.

Another option, and one that might most benefit the brand long term, would be to bring in performers from the main roster, with the understanding that competing on 205 Live doesn’t mean you can’t compete elsewhere. Shifting a Tyler Breeze or Xavier Woods over for a run while they’re still shown performing as part of their tag teams on SmackDown might remove the stigma that being a WWE Cruiserweight is a punishment of some kind.

My guess? Probably Swann or Kendrick makes it back, and more NXT-types like Oney Lorcan are pulled up. Which will be entertaining, but fail to change many people’s minds about the show (and get the final match of a months long championship tournament off the WrestleMania 34 Kickoff show).

WWE has been stubbornly insistent that 205 Live become a thing without being willing to do anything radical or exciting to make that happen.

Hopefully I’m wrong, and in April lots of folks are talking about how much they’ve grown to love WWE’s Cruiserweights. But I’m willing to bet we’re still talking about how to fix the show, or wondering when the company is going to pull the plug.

What do you think, Cagesiders?

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