by Daniel Johnson
Cruiserweight wrestling and WWE have never quite mixed. The folks who run the company have been aware of it’s potential since at least the Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid series back in the early 1980s, but for whatever reason have rarely ever spotlighted this kind of wrestling. Not surprisingly WWE’s second biggest spectacle of the year, SummerSlam has rarely showcased cruiserweights despite how many talented crusierweight wrestlers there may have been on WWE’s roster at any given time. From the first SummerSlam in 1988 to 1994 one would be hard pressed to find a match solely involving cruiserweights. The closest you will probably come is Rick Martel and The Fabulous Rougeaus vs. Tito Santana and The Rockers from 1989, but given the style of each wrestler it is tough to think of it as just a cruiserweight match. Likewise, after Vince McMahon and friends decided to feature a cruiserweight match in 1995’s opener another true cruiserweight bout was not seen at SummerSlam again until 2001! Unless you count guys like Barry Horowitz as a cruiserweight. However, when one talks about great curiserweights in history the name Barry Horowitz rarely comes up.
Something always got in WWE’s way of presenting pure crusierweight action at SummerSlam. For instance, in 2004 Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman and Paul London all hit some great high flying spots on the show, but this was in a match against the Dudley Boyz, whom barring Spike Dudley no one considers to be cruiserweights. There have been a few high profile matches featuring wrestlers who were technically cruiserweights like Jeff Hardy/Rob Van Dam from 2001, Jeff Hardy/CM Punk from 2009 and to a lesser extent the highly disappointing CM Punk/John Morrison from 2007. Despite it all though a few great cruiserweight encounters have slipped through the cracks. To be clear this list could be more accurately be called, “4 Great SummerSlam Cruiserweight Matches You Forgot About and 1 That Was Kind of Okay,” but that is not nearly as catchy a title.
1. Hakushi vs.1-2-3 Kid (1995)
An old adage is, “necessity is the mother of invention” and this was never more true then during The Monday Night Wars. The WWF and WCW started going head to head with each other less than a month after SummerSlam 1995. WCW had notable high flyers like Brian Pillman, Johnny B. Badd and the underrated Alex Wright already on their roster and in the month of August alone added Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Jerry Lynn (in the horrible Mr. JL gimmick, but still, Jerry Lynn!). The WWF could not afford to lose fans of cruiserweight wrestling so they presented this whopper of a match. Despite the new school moves this match had an old school aura to it with the match speaking for itself rather than paying any attention to any storylines going on. The two trade incredible spots including Hakushi hitting a handspring flip over the ropes to the floor, 1-2-3 Kid bouncing off the second rope to the floor and more high speeds kicks than can possibly be counted.
2. X-Pac vs. Yoshihiro Taijiri (2001)
In the six years since there had been a pure cruiserweight match at SummerSlam 1-2-3 Kid had transformed from a phenomenal and energetic performer to the significantly lazier X-Pac, who we all know and loathe today. This match also took place during the fiasco that was the WWF InVasion angle and as such was a title unification match between WCW Cruiserweight Champion X-Pac and WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Tajiri. Despite not being quite at 1-2-3 Kid levels and perhaps being the most hated man on the roster at the time, X-Pac still surprisingly puts on a damn good show. At way under 10 minutes this bout doesn’t go long enough for either guy to really get lazy and both perform with break neck speed for about seven and a half minutes. The only downside is this encounter ends with shenanigans as Albert comes out to distract Tajiri, which leads to Albert getting a face full of mist, but also to X-Pax hitting the X factor for a victory.
3. Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (2005)
A lot of people actually remember this match, but more so because of the lame storyline it involved. For those unfamiliar with this atrocious storyline, it saw Eddie Guerrero claiming to be the father of Rey Mysterio’s son Dominic. So how do they decide who has custody of Dominic? By having a ladder match of course! It was even stupider than it sounds and was well below the quality of storyline you’d expect for Eddie Guerrero or Rey Mysterio. The match on the other hand was stupendous! Some spots are botched including the ending, but there are some sick happenings like Rey Mysterio hitting Guerrero with a big back body drop from one ladder onto another! Also, Mysterio hits a powerbomb in this match!
4. Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero (2006)
This match took place in the wake of Eddie Guerrero’s death. Despite happening months and months after Eddie died by the way he was brought up on WWE television you’d think he was still a member of the active roster. By this point the crowd was seriously sick of it and this match got a ton of boos. Furthermore, the match just isn’t SummerSlam quality. Yet, looking at this match objectively it is far from bad. At points it seems reminiscent of the kind of high flying action Mysterio and Chavo were doing ten years earlier in WCW. Still, though it was meant as a tribute, the Eddie Guerrero name dropping and use of his signature moves were just getting sickening by this time. It also doesn’t help that Chavo Guerrero wins the match after Eddie’s widow, Vickie Guerrero crotches Rey on the ropes. Also, Chavo wins with Eddie’s signature brainbuster and frogsplash combo.
5. Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero (2007)
This match was actually miles ahead of Mysterio and Chavo’s encounter from the previous year. Still, one has to wonder how this match was booked. I could just imagine a WWE writer saying, “Vince we need a cruiserweight match for SummerSlam.” Vince of course would answer, “What? Why? Okay, how about we throw Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero in there?” The writer would then point out that this match had already been done just a year earlier leading Vince to say, “Okay how about Hakushi/1-2-3 Kid then?” to which his writers would reply with blank stares. Rey Mysterio wears a ridiculous outfit in this match reminiscent of a silver painted street performer and was also coming back from injury. This was about the time rumors first began to circulate that his legs were being held together by model airplane glue and sticky maple syrup. Yet, Mysterio’s bad legs only add to this match as his past injuries are played up. Also, before falling victim to a 619 and big splash combo, Chavo whips out a freaking Gory bomb (named after the famed Gory Guerrero). You can tell how much these two put into this bout as by the end of it Rey has sweated off nearly all of the silver paint of his ridiculous outfit.
Photos 1-6: en.wikipedia.org
Categories: Wrestling Lists