The Professional 3 2.24.13: The WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championships
Welcome to the column that might change your lives…or at the very least, be an enjoyable read for you.
This is the Professional 3 and I’m Jon Harder. It’s an honor to write on 411mania.com, as this is a website I’ve followed ever since the days of Scott Keith and followed through onto today with the Fact or Fiction series and all DVD reviews. This is indeed an honor and it is my privilege to have a column on 411.
For a brief history on myself, I have been involved in wrestling since 2007, doing camera, commentary, and managing my charge Leon St. Giovanni, most notably for Beyond Wrestling. For humility purposes, to read the long version (s) of the story, click HERE and HERE. Yeah, it’s quite the read. #Sarcasm.
Also, I am the host of The Hardway Podcast, a podcast dedicated to the true of independent wrestling. I’ve interviewed all walks of life, from Indy legends like Gabe Sapolsky, Sugar Dunkerton, and Jay Lethal, to dream guests, such as WCW’s Alex Wright. I’ve even had a one-on-one with 2012 Super Bowl champion New York Giant Dwayne Hendricks! Definitely a unique cast of characters I’ve had on the Hardway, but Good News Hughes and I take podcasting to another level each and every Wednesday on TheJonHarder.com.
However, this is the Professional 3. My goal with the P3 is simple: to infuse modern-day mainstream wrestling topics and combine it with some sort of the weird, insane wrestling knowledge I utilize. I guarantee in due time, there will be some sort of column based Giant Gonzalez, so stay tuned for that. This week, however, for the first ever Professional 3, it is based around championship. What was the inspiration behind it? Simple: the debut of the brand new WWE championship belt.
After months of rumors and stories revolving around a new WWE championship in the works, the Rock on Monday Night Raw this week, unveiled the newly designed belt, signifying the dawn of a new era in championships, replacing the John Cena Spinner belt, which was in place for almost 8 years. With a giant WWE in the front, combined with unique buckles on the sides, the belt was simple, yet impressive. Despite all the trolls on the internet bashing the holy Hell out of the new title, this writer’s belief is simple: it’s an upgrade and will get more respect as time goes on. Combined with the lineage and history of the WWE’s #1 prize, the WWE scene has never been more hip.
If only other championship for mainstream wrestling only had that prestige and luck…
This first edition of the Professional 3 will discuss a championship that technically was only around for 8 days, yet made an impact in its short span. If given more time, it could have changed a generation of wrestling and perhaps changed the in-ring action of the scene a year earlier. Instead, it’s a weird footnote in wrestling history. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…
The Magnificent Seven were formed in January 2001 under the leader of WCW “CEO” Ric Flair, and were retiring different main-event stars at a rapid clip. Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo were breaking away from the Natural Born Thrillers and started to dominate the Tag Team division. Team Canada and the Filthy Animals were embroiled in the feud that entered into the Penalty Box levels. And MI Smooth was a muscular limo driver that started to get involved within the realm of pro wrestling. However, the biggest creative decision that started to get rejuvenated was all but dead Cruiserweight division.
Once Vince Russo left WCW’s creative process in November 2001, there was an immediate re-dedication to what made WCW stand out in the Monday Night Wars. Chavo Guerrero won the Cruiserweight championship and began his role as the flag bearer of the division. Shane Helms, Shannon Moore, Jamie Noble, Evan Karagias, the Jung Dragons firmly got entrenched into the main swing of the division. Jason Jett made his debut and got pushed off the bat. Immediately matches started to pick up and even though WCW was near death, the Cruiserweights were being talked about. However, by February 2001, Bischoff and Fusient embarked on a new venture within the division. Stealing a page from New Japan with their Junior Heavyweights, WCW embarked on the Cruiserweight Tag Team Championships.
The tournament was scheduled to culminate at Greed on March 18, 2001. In the finals, Team Canada’s Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo upset former WCW WORLD Tag Team champions Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Kidman to win and what this writer maintains to be an awesome contest, Check it out HERE:
But here in the Professional 3, I, the wrestling nerd, have pondered long and hard about what could have been. My personal opinion is this: If WCW had started the Cruiserweight Tag Team Division earlier then 1 1/2 months before the death of the company, WCW would have picked back up to where it needed to. The Cruiserweights, under Bischoff’s regime, would have thrived. There was a mass exodus of talent that had started to come in. The rise of the internet fan base combined with the high intense state-of-the-art wrestling would have preceded TNA’s X-Division and the ROH style a year later in 2002. The supposed Big Bang that would have taken place on May 6, 2001, might have set off the platform for WCW to come back after the slow decline of WWE after the mother of all shows, WrestleMania X-Seven.
Yes, that’s right. Before AJ Styles wrestled in the first ever TNA match in 2002, he was a part of the Cruiserweight Tag Team scene with Air Paris, his teammate in NWA Wildside, in Air Raid. Air Raid was starting to get a little notoriety for themselves, wrestling the Jung Dragons, Noble and Karagias, and the Boogie Knights. With AJ starting to get regular TV exposure, Air Raid could have been the first homegrown team WCW has built in quite some time and had them be champions. From there, both men could have gone their separate ways and possibly, quite possibly, AJ could have been “phenomenal” in WCW. Bottom line, I could fantasy book all I want, but the Cruiserweight Tag Team division was AJ Styles’ first TV exposure, and he made the most of what he was given.