For a third straight week, there was a major cruiserweight segment on Monday Night Raw, signs that the division has gained a bit of momentum following the addition of Enzo Amore. This week, that segment featured Kalisto winning the Cruiserweight title from Amore in a lumberjack match that, as most lumberjack matches tend to do, broke down into chaos.
After 15 days as cruiserweight champion, sending the division down an entirely different road, Amore will now enter TLC as a challenger once again.
The title change accomplished a few things:
Much like with Akira Tozawa, it legitimized Kalisto, as he was going against a challenger that seemed like he was in a different class.
It created buzz around the title picture. It might not have been needed, with the cruiserweight division now consistently around the Monday Night Raw main event spot, but it still provided a jolt of energy.
It allowed the clause that nobody could touch Enzo while he was the champion to be lifted.
But with only two weeks to go before the rematch, 205 Live launched right into the standard pre-match routine. This week, it was the tag match featuring the champion and his buddy against the challenger and his closest ally. This week, Mustafa Ali (with Kalisto) and Ariya Daivari (with Amore) played the secondary roles.
The match lacked the back-and-forth action and storytelling that the Rich Swann-TJ Perkins two out of three falls match held earlier in the night, but did play a role in helping Ali and Daivari cement their roles in this feud.
Ali started down this road on Monday Night, being singled out among the lumberjacks to have the biggest role outside the ring. Ali pulled Amore out of the ring when it looked like Amore had the match wrapped up, and Amore singled him out as the sole reason he wasn't champion. Ali also showed off his in-ring chops, and at one notable moment early in the match, shouted to Amore, "I'll show you how to work."
Ali's work in the ring is unquestioned, but his bumping ability might even one-up what Enzo can do. As the match drew to a close, Ali took a shot off the ringpost that made me run to the freezer and grab an icepack.
Daivari, on the other hand, remained as Amore's spineless sidekick. Amore verbally berated him during the match, telling Daivari to let him show him how it's done (of course, Amore ate a big spinning kick shortly thereafter). Daivari entered to Amore's music, stood by him and backed up all his statements.
The match ended, predictably if you're familiar with how these pre-title match tag matches tend to go, with one of the title match participants, Kalisto, getting the pin over one of those not involved (Daivari). But the match also cemented Ali's role in this feud, making him the next logical choice to get a title shot should Enzo follow the same script as Neville (when Akira Tozawa won the title off him on a Raw, but won it back several days later at the pay per view).
Hits and Misses
Few things are more shocking than when a two out of three falls match ends in a clean sweep, but the narrative after the match was "What's next for T.J. Perkins?" Instead of Rich Swann, the victor, getting the push, it seems like the next storyline will follow TJP in his downward spiral.
I don't think Cedric Alexander's transition to a face who's willing to "get his hands dirty" against Gentleman Jack Gallagher and The Brian Kendrick serves him as well as if he were to stay as a straight clean babyface.
Kalisto's Lucha chants violates Drew Gulak's strict "no chanting" rule (no powerpoint slides this week?) and that's apparently enough for Gulak to align with him against Kalisto, despite Amore's calling him Captain Underpants. At least they acknowledged the tension between the two, but the wrestlers aligning with Amore ruins what was an interesting storylines of "the entire division versus Amore."
Kalisto won the cruiserweight title on what would've been Eddie Guerrero's 50th birthday. That, combined with him being the first luchador to win the title since its relaunch could finally give WWE the Hispanic star the division needs, where Lince Dorado and Gran Metallik couldn't capture the magic.
Superlatives of the Night
Move: Rich Swann's aerials get the attention, but his kicks and strikes are also top-notch. His reverse thrust kick on Perkins' springboard was fierce.
Line: "I am the godfather of this cruiserweight division. And all of these loserweights are my sons. Some disappointing ones at that." - Amore, continuing his self-aggrandizing rhetoric.
Match: Swann and Perkins in the two out of three falls match seems like the blowoff to their feud, and it was a great match that probably deserved the main event slot.