Athletic and innovative cruiserweights from around the world will take center stage in one of WWE’s most ambitious projects to date. The WWE Network’s Global Cruiserweight Series will premiere Wednesday, July 13 at 9/8CT. Viewers will look on as 32 participants test their skills against fellow emerging stars in a 10-week tournament from Full Sail University in Orlando.
Only one can lay claim to being called the best cruiserweight in the world.
The concept is yet another way Paul “Triple H” Levesque and the WWE is thinking outside the box — perhaps like never before. Levesque — the WWE’s executive vice president of talent, live events and creative — says logistics for the show began formulating officially in the past six to eight months. However, the idea itself is something Levesque has wanted to bring to fruition for a long time.
“I’ve always felt that there was this opportunity to do something special with cruiserweights,” he says.
“If you want to refer to us as a combat sport, I think the lighter, faster guys can sometimes be as — if not more — exciting than anything else you see. I wanted to exploit that in a bigger way. Sometimes when we get into cruiserweight talents on Raw or SmackDown or even NXT, the sizes vary so much with talent. Here, you put them in their own environment and against a similar style performer. It puts it them on a whole new playing field. I really wanted to go down the road of seeing what they can do in that environment.”
Even though Levesque wasn’t specific on who will be part of the Global Cruiserweight Series, he did confirm that staff is looking “everywhere” in their talent search. This includes grapplers outside the WWE Universe. The series could also be a real game-changer with other projects moving forward.
“A lot of times, in the past, we’ve operated on ‘you either work for WWE or you didn’t work for WWE,’” Levesque explains. “I think with something like this, we’re opening it up a bit more. We are going to allow these guys to come in. I’m not just trying to find the cruiserweights that are the obvious ones. I think those guys will be there, the top guys in the world. But I’m trying to find the undiscovered diamonds someplace else that will blow people’s minds; someone who maybe hasn’t gotten the opportunity yet to be seen.
“When we say 32, we’re looking at every corner of the world. I have [William] Regal out there in every corner of the globe trying to find not only the ones who people are aware are the best, but others who nobody is aware of quite yet. We want to put them in this and let’s see what they can do.”
Levesque isn’t leaving any stone unturned. He wants the best of the best.
“Obviously, if someone is under contract with, say, New Japan Pro Wrestling, I don’t think they are going to have the opportunity to perform in this type of tournament,” he said. “Though anybody that has the opportunity, freedom and availability to do something like this with us, we are looking at working with them. I’m open to working with other groups that are out there such as Progress, Evolve, Rev Pro and places like that. They have a lot of talent they work with, but those talents have that ability to do other things. It’s an opportunity to be on a platform to be seen by millions around the world and become much bigger stars in their own right.
“If we can use those promotions in a way that helps them as well, to me that’s great. I think helping that independent undercurrent is beneficial to everybody.”
Levesque believes there is the perception out there that Vince McMahon and the WWE in general are steadfast in the way things are done. However, the series is a prime example how the company is willing to evolve to fulfill the needs of their audience.
“We change how we do business,” Levesque said. “We change how we see things and look at things. WWE Network offers us a different platform and opportunity than we have ever had before. It totally changed the way we do things. It’s our platform — our pay-per-view platform — in which we can do what we want, when we want, in the time slot we want.
“It opens up a lot of avenues and doorways. That can include working with other people that, in the past, there wasn’t the opportunity available to do things with. It’s a case-by-case scenario. We sort of look at it that if it’s good for them and good for the business in general, then it’s good for WWE.”
Levesque is genuinely excited about the opportunity this business model provides for performers to impress and to get their name out there. He wants to use Global Cruiserweight Series as a vehicle to make global stars, as well as to potentially sign a few fresh faces to the roster.
“It would be crazy for me to say we are going to bring in 32 guys from around the globe and not look at what ones we want working for WWE,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to come in as one of the 32 guys selected in this tournament, you’re already on a platform that increases your visibility and value in the independent market across the board. So it’s a success for you already. If you wow us and get all the way through and wow us the whole time, the sky is the limit. People will say we are a ‘Big Man’ company, but then you see the success of a Rey Mysterio.
“We’re just looking for stars that can make people excited and be passionate about. Hopefully, it is a recruiting tool. But I also look at it as a platform for these guys. I put myself in that position going back to the beginning of my career, and if somebody offered me the opportunity to shine in a platform like that for five minutes. I would take that platform for five minutes and bring everything I could to it.”
The focus of the show may be on cruiserweights, but Levesque’s belief is that, in order to be considered a really good performer, you have to be more than a one-trick pony. Size doesn’t necessarily matter all the time. The truly successful are those who can bring a multitude of assets to the table.
“There are people who say, ‘Oh, this guy’s in-ring ability,’ or, ‘Oh, this guy’s is physically this, and that’s what they look for.’ We look for anything and everything,” Levesque said.
“I will say to talent all the time that being a superstar is like a big puzzle. The more pieces you have, the more complete you are and the better performer you are. Some guys will become huge stars based on one or two pieces of that puzzle. It’s really what people get into and gravitate towards, whether positively or negatively. Reaction is reaction. That’s the one thing. People criticize John Cena for the longest time when half the place is booing him. He is the most over guy we have. He gets the biggest reaction every night, for a long period of time, and that’s what this is about.
“Sometimes people look at Daniel Bryan as just the little guy who is really good in the ring,” Levesque continues. “However, he also has a ton of personality and an engaging character and a charisma. He had a lot of things. He wasn’t just a little guy who can go. People negate that. I think it’s not giving the talent the credit they deserve. To just say Rey Mysterio was just a little guy or Daniel was just a little guy who was really good in the ring is really taking away from them as this great performer all around they really were or are.”
- Look for more updates about WWE Network’s Global Cruiserweight Series on WWE.com and www.WWENetwork.com. Other new series and returning favorites are arriving on the network over the next few months. The Edge & Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness premieres Sunday, Feb. 21 after Fastlane. Camp WWE will debut on Monday, May 2. Swerved comes back with new episodes on Monday, June 6.
- The WWE Network now offers curated “collections” including Daniel Bryan’s Greatest Moments and Brock Lesnar: Road to the Undisputed Title. These and other programs make up the more than 4,300 hours of content available on demand.
- Watch WWE Raw Mondays at 8pm ET and SmackDown Thursdays at 8/7CT on USA Network.
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Photos Courtesy: WWE