Finally! After months of speculation, the full list of the thirty-two men taking part in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic have been announced. My body has been ready for this for months and now all of the names are out there for us to read and speculate. Needless to say, this is going to be an impressive tournament. While it doesn’t include the likes of Ricochet, Will Ospreay, Fenix, and so forth, it is certainly a collection of some of the finest talent the world has to offer. SO! The big question on everyone’s mind is thus: “Who is going to walk away with the championship?” Well that is what I am about to assess in this article. This list is all the wrestlers taking part in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic ranked from those least likely to win to those most likely to win.
NOW! I am going to put forth some criteria. I should STRESS that this list is who is most likely to win the championship. It is NOT how well they will do in the tournament. It is reasons like this that Tajiri will be low on my list. This is due to the fact that this tournament that is, most likely, going to propel a wrestler that WWE want to push or sign to a contract and people like Tajiri are there to propel those guys forward. Tajiri may do well in the tournament. But win? Eh, I don’t think so. So just keep that in mind when reading this. Also, for the sake of this not being a book, I will try to keep the descriptions short and link everyone to a page where you can read more material. With that said, let’s get started.
32. Alejandro Saez (Chile)
Tragically Alejandro Saez of Chile finds himself at the bottom of the list. Saez may be technically gifted, but he does not have a good look to him. His appearance can be described as undefined and a little creepy at best. He tragically does not look like a person that WWE would push as one of their potential prospects and will most likely be fodder to push someone forward.
31 The Brian Kendrick (USA)
Along with Tajiri, Brian Kendrick is one of the WWE alumni to be taking part in the Cruiserweight Classic. He is a talented and reliable in the ring which is most likely why WWE told him to put on the tights and get in the ring as apart of the thirty-two man field. He, like Tajiri, are legacies. They are past their prime to win the tournament. But a win over them certainly will push someone forward.
30 Yoshihiro Tajiri (Japan)
Seeing the Japanese Buzzsaw on the list of thirty-two made me absolutely giddy. Ever since I was a kid, I loved watching Tajiri. From his time to ECW to his stint with WWE, the man is an absolute gem in the ring. Also, being a legacy, he will certainly do an excellent job of putting over rising stars. He takes one step higher than Kendrick due to the fact that being Japanese adds to the charm of the global tournament and the fact that a win over him does carry slightly more prestige due to his international legacy, ECW legacy, and WWE legacy.
29 Harv Sihra (Canada)
Harv Sihra, along with his brother Gurv, make up the Bollywood Boyz. They are currently working for Jeff Jarrett’s promotion, Global Force Wrestling, and are the inaugural Tag Team champions there. Tragically, Harv and Gurv come as a sort of matched set. They are barely inseparable and I highly doubt one of them will win the tournament. There may be an excellent match between the two, but expect them to be bumped off after that.
28 Gurv Sihra (Canada)
(Insert the aforewritten paragraph about Harv and Gurv here.)
27 Kenneth Johnson (USA)
Kenneth Johnson is a relative nobody when it comes to this tournament. While I’m certain that his skills are great, I highly doubt that the man from Detroit will go far in the tournament. He will put forth a decent match before bowing out relatively early.
26 Anthony Bennett (USA)
When the first thing that your bio on WWE mentions is your hair and beyond that the best thing they can say is that you are “good” the odds do not bode well for you. Looking more like the poor man’s Darren Young, things do not look good for Anthony Bennett. While he might make a surprise run, his chances of winning are quite slim.
25 Jason Lee (Hong Kong)
Similar to Alejandro Saez, Jason Lee does not exactly have the body for the WWE. He is a little to undefined to be pushed to win a thirty-two man tournament. Not to mention, he does not seem to be oozing charisma like some of the other wrestlers. He certainly will put on quite a match, I have no doubt. But beyond that… I expect him to fall out in the early stages.
24 Fabian Aichner (Italy)
Fabian Aichner, from the ethnically Austrian area of of Italy known as South Tyrol, is quite the physical speciman. Aichner is one of the more imposing wrestlers in the tournament which will give him points for the WWE as well as giving more European flavor to the field. But beyond that, he will more than likely be a victory for an unlikely underdog to push forward.
23 Da Mack (Germany)
THE Mack from Lucha Underground should call Da Mack for name infringement. But beyond that, I do not know much about Da Mack. For all intents and purposes, the guy could be a diamond in the rough. However, with no build up or announcement of his participation, I doubt he will win the tournament… He may surprise some people though.
22 Ariya Daivari (USA)
Ariya Daviari, brother of the former WWE employee Shawn Daivari, is one of the two entrants to have family ties to the WWE business. WWE loves them some family ties and the fact that he is related to Muhammad Hassan/The Great Khali’s manager is going to push him far in this tournament. However, him winning the tournament is something of a long shot.
21 Clement Petiot (France)
This man is a physical speciman and could be the second coming of Rene Dupree in potential talent, but with a much better attitude instead of the one he was packing. Petiot has the build and the charisma to be a potential dark horse in this tournament. However, with no build backing him up… I do have my doubts that he he will take home the whole thing.
20 Damian Slater (Australia)
His WWE bio says it best, the Australian native is smooth as silk in the ring. While I can’t help shake the feeling that WWE was gunning for AAA’s Australian Suicide but had to settle Slater, having him in the mix certainly doesn’t hurt. While I doubt Slater will win the tournament, he certainly will impress.
19 Rich Swann (USA)
If this article had been written a few days ago, Rich Swann would have been a dark horse to win the whole damn thing. But… After reports of a potential shoulder injury that could sideline him, I am starting to have my doubts. If the shoulder injury requires surgery, WWE might ask him to put it off long enough to eat a quick pin from one of the other wrestlers before getting it taken care of. He still has potential… But the potential is vastly damaged.
18 Raul Mendoza (Mexico)
Raul Mendoza, one of the two wrestlers from Mexico, could potentially be a dark horse to win it all. He is talented, wrestled for Mexico’s best promotions, and has the build to be a potential star. If WWE sees enough value in him and if Mendoza is willing to play ball, he may find himself holding on until the end. Keep in mind it is still quite a long shot considering the competitors, but anything is possible.
17 Tyson Dux (Canada)
This one could potentially go far. Tyson Dux is an excellent technical wrestler and the kind of guy that smarks on the internet love to eat up for days. He is athletic, technically skilled, and could carry a match with a sack of flour if need be. While his lack of announcement is cause for concern, Dux could very well be a top contender.
16 Drew Gulak (USA)
After winning a qualifying match earlier in the year, Drew Gulak is primed for a run in the tournament. I do have to admit that out of all those pre-announced to today, Gulak seems to be the weak link in my opinion, the man is definitely talented and could turn some heads. Also, the fact that WWE does not have a bio of him up yet could be troubling for the young man.
15 Ho Ho Lun (Hong Kong)
Ho Ho Lun is one of the most gifted wrestlers on this list and also pulls double duty as founder of Hong Kong Pro Wrestling that brought the sport to the small country. It is due to this fact that I doubt Ho Ho Lun will go far in this tournament. This is clearly more of a way for Lun to get information out about HKPW instead of joining WWE. But taking part in the tournament will certainly help with that and expect him to go far.
14 TJ Perkins (USA)
TJ Perkins may be troubled by his past. After all, he was apart of the evil and laughable TNA promotion which cannot sit well with WWE. Perkins is certainly a talented wrestler who could go far… But tragically I doubt he will be eliminated early on in the tournament after a decent showing.
13 Cedric Alexander (USA)
Fresh off of an impressive run with Ring of Honor, Cedric Alexander is a wrestler that internet smarks have been going on about for weeks. Will he, won’t he? Well the talk is done and Alexander will be taking part in the Cruiserweight Classic. While I doubt that Alexander will win the tournament, he certainly will have an impressive showing.
12 Zumbi (Brazil)
I’ll be serious, if there is a #1 dark horse to take this entire tournament, it is Zumbi. The Brazilian native has everything that WWE and American wrestling fans love. He is a masked wrestler, he is talented, a high-flyer, and well adverse in the art of capoeira. Zumbi is the first wrestler out of the list that I can picture winning the tournament. While my faith is certainly low, he certainly has the tools and the potential to be someone WWE wants to push to the top.
11 Sean Maluta (USA)
Son of former WWE legend, Afa, Sean Maluta is the second of the family superstars in this tournament. Unlike Daivari, who the majority of his career is best left forgotten to the sands of time, Maluta is the type of guy WWE likes. He is big, he has a legacy of wrestling, he is Samoan, and he could have his family support him for a massive push. While he is still an outside shot, things look better for Maluta than the majority of the wrestlers on this list.
10 Tony Nese (England)
Tony Nese looks like the guy that WWE wished Damian Sandow would be (no offense Sandow; much love). He is big, he is talented, and he is British. It is almost like WWE got rid of Sandow and Barrett and fused them together into one entity. (By the way, I know Barrett let his contract expire before you take to the keyboard.) But enough about them, Nese made an impact at the most recent EVOLVE taping and looks to have strong momentum moving forward. While that momentum is classic WWE booking for the big guy who falls during the big show, he could certainly be a potential winner.
09 Jack Gallagher (England)
This dapper mother fucker with the nice looking mustache could very well be the missing member of the Vaudevillains. Who knows? If he signs with WWE, they might come together and make classic comedy movies. Being one of the first to be pushed in a qualifying match, Gallagher certainly fits the bill as a potential star and being a well toned technician could mean he could go far in the tournament. I do feel that ultimately he will be eliminated late in the tournament, but we will see.
08 Lince Dorado (Puerto Rico)
Lince Dorado is kind of cute. From the interviews he has given, the man is clearly nervous about the impact that this tournament will have on his career and he wants to make an impression. This may be a hint that the young man will not win the tournament… But Dorado is a young Puerto Rican star who could very well come across as the “underdog champion.”
07 Akira Tozawa (Japan)
One of the first wrestlers announced for the tournament, Akira Tozawa has been an indie darling, wrestling in the United States for a number of years. Tozawa’s stock certainly took a hit when Kota Ibushi was officially announced as taking part in the tournament, but do not let that fool you. Tozawa still has a chance of taking home this prize. He has talent and WWE interest pushing him forward.
06 Noam Dar (Scotland)
The Scotland-Israeli wrestler who is about to wrestle Jay Lethal for the ROH Championship at What Culture Pro Wrestling’s inaugural show is, by every defintion, a diamond in the rough. The young man is prodigiously talented and has a bright future ahead of him being only 22 years old. Dar could very well take home the gold in this tournament. If WWE see a future in him, he could be pushed from a late round elimination to champion in the blink of an eye.
05 Tommaso Ciampa (USA)
I debated for several minutes on who should go ahead of whom, Ciampa or Gargano. Ultimately I chose Gargano over Ciampa. That shouldn’t take away from the fact that Ciampa is one of the signed and true NXT talents in this tournament and could very well take home the gold that builds a feud with his buddy Gargano. I just put my stock in Johnny Wrestling over Ciampa when it comes to the betting boards.
04 Johnny Gargano (USA)
Johnny Wrestling could very well be one of the next big things in WWE. In the same way that Ciampa could be the next big thing. The two have tremendous talent and have worked together quite well for years. Ultimately, I do put slightly more stock in Gargano. He has the best look of the two wrestlers and has more charisma then the hard hitting Ciampa. It is because of this that I think that Gargano and Ciampa will fight in the tournament and ultimately Gargano will take the victory.
03 Gran Metalik (Mexico)
Now we are into the Big 3! The other 29 competitors each have a shot at winning the big tournament in their own right. But these are the three that truly have the lineage and zeitgeist going into the tournament and are the clear front runners to win the whole show. Gran Metalik, or as he wrestled in CMLL Mascara Dorada, is the Lucha Libre wrestler who is going to be the flag ship for Mexican style wrestling in this tournament. The man is world renowned and at 27 could fit perfectly for WWE’s NXT. This man could very well win the whole tournament.
02 Zack Sabre Jr (England)
When the tournament was first announced, two men were called upon by everyone to be apart of it. The first was Will Ospreay who decided to go to New Japan Pro Wrestling instead of sign with WWE. The other was Zack Sabre Jr. Heralded as the next Daniel Bryan, Zack Sabre Jr has been wrestling for the independent circuit for a number of years. Seen as a blue chip prospect wherever he goes, he is a wrestler who is text book WWE. This could very well be the coming out party for Sabre as he takes the WWE and NXT by storm.
01 Kota Ibushi (Japan)
I debated for some time on whether or not to put Zack Sabre Jr or Kota Ibushi at the number one spot. Ultimately Ibushi won out due to the impressive lineage that he brings with him to the tournament. The man was teased in front of all of us at NXT Dallas and WWE being the naughty little teases that they are waited until today to officially announce that he would be taking part in the tournament. With wrestlers like Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka, and Hideo Itami working for WWE, expect Kota Ibushi to potentially add himself to that list as an NXT sign on.
Thank you for reading and if you liked this list, please like and subscribe for more! I hope my other wrestling fans out there is as excited as I am for the tournament!