WWE has been ramping up to their Cruiserweight Classic series, and the anticipation of the tournament has been hot and heavy since before it was even officially announced. Now, after qualifiers in indie promotions like EVOLVE, Progress Wrestling, and Revolution Pro Wrestling, WWE has announced their final roster and hooooooooly sh-t.
We’d love to say that we here at With Spandex aren’t biased at all, but wrestling is our job and we are so, so excited for some of these participants. It’s no secret that all of us are pretty much in love with WWE Superstar Apollo Crews’ BFF, Japanese import Akira Tozawa, and have been for a long time. Fellow Japanese performer Kota Ibushi is our Golden Star, and we can’t wait to see North American audiences get to know them better.
Canadian in-ring veteran Tyson Dux and Philadelphia wrestler Drew Gulak (that grumpy dude in the forefront of the promo pictures) are two highly underrated technical wrestlers everyone needs to get on board with, though we’d be lying if we said we’re not disappointed that their shared tag-team partner ‘Hot Sauce’ Tracy Williams isn’t there. Other U.S. indie stars include recent Ring of Honor-departee Cedric Alexander, and newest addition from EVOLVE Tony Nese, who can do as many moonsaults as he has abs.
Though there are a lot of seemingly random entrants who will probably head out in the first round, there’s no way this whole tournament isn’t going to be completely bananas. Audiences will also get to know a swath of new international talent, as well as some familiar faces, like Tajiri and Brian Kendrick.
Smart money is on someone like UK standout Zack Sabre, Jr. Though he was sidelined with an injury recently, Sabre is one of the hottest names on the independent scene right now, and we’re more than sure he’ll rise to the challenge. Current NXT performers Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, and Rich Swann should make it far as well, though we’re hoping this will be Swann’s much-deserved time to shine.
Check out the full rundown of contestants over at WWE.com, and let us know in the comments who YOU think will come out on top!