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Raw's new cruiserweight division set to steal the show

Building off of the tremendous momentum of the Cruiserweight Classic makes all the sense in the world for the WWE, especially on Raw, which boasts a format that occasionally lends itself to some lulls in the middle of the show. Monday night's Raw will feature the debut of the cruiserweight division, led by inaugural CWC winner and new cruiserweight champion T.J. Perkins.

Six other superstars, all of whom were also in the 32-man field of the CWC, have officially been announced to be joining Perkins on Monday night. While there are a number of other wrestlers who are rumored to join them in the coming weeks and months, these are the six cruiserweights who will make their debuts (and a seventh making his return) to Monday Night Raw.

If you haven't been keeping up with the CWC, or if you're simply looking to learn more about these seven competitors, look no further. From measurables, to career highlights, to thoughts from the new cruiserweight champion himself, here's a full guide to Raw's new cruiserweight division.


T.J. Perkins

Birthdate: Sept. 3, 1984

Billed from: Los Angeles

Billed height: 5-foot-10

Billed weight: 167 pounds

Signature move: Knee bar

Perkins has been positioned as the centerpiece of the new division on Raw after his win in the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic that crowned him cruiserweight champion. He's a seasoned ring veteran at 32 years old, having first gotten into the ring at the age of 14 under a mask, and before coming to the WWE he wrestled for almost every major wrestling company in the world. Perkins was the youngest non-Japanese wrestler ever to compete in New Japan Pro Wrestling when he debuted just three weeks after his 18th birthday, and competed in legendary Mexican promotion CMLL, Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. His highest-profile tenure pre-WWE came with TNA, where he was a onetime X-Division champion.

Thoughts from the champ: "It's really exciting to be able to represent the cruiserweights on Monday Night Raw," Perkins told ESPN.com. "I grew up watching Monday Night Raw, and it's really a big dream of mine to perform on that stage -- the talent there is so incredible, so I'm in good company and I'm excited for it.

"I think about it a little bit, but I try to stay in the moment. At the Cruiserweight Classic finale I had said ... I don't know if people had looked it up, or if they had heard it before, but it's an old Zen proverb. 'Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment you chop wood, carry water'. It can be interpreted a lot of ways but for the most part it's about staying in the moment.

"Things will come and go and your life will go on, but you don't want to get too ahead of yourself. I used that as a way to view each round of the Cruiserweight Classic so I didn't get ahead of myself and stayed in the moment. I see the same way in terms of the opportunity to go to Monday Night Raw -- I'll take each moment as it comes and I'll wait for that bridge before I have to cross it."


Gran Metalik

Birthdate: Nov. 3, 1988

Billed from: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Billed height: 5-foot-9

Billed weight: 175 pounds

Signature moves: Metalik Driver (fireman's carry fisherman driver)

Gran Metalik, or Mascara Dorada as he was previously known on the independent circuit, has been wrestling professionally since he was 16 years old. He spent the vast majority of his career wrestling for CMLL in Mexico, and through their relationship with NJPW, also made a significant amount of trips to wrestle in Japan. During Metalik's run in CMLL, he was a world super lightweight champion, world welterweight champion and world trios champion, along with wins in several major tournaments. He joins the cruiserweight division after finishing runner-up to Perkins in the CWC.

Perkins' thoughts: "Gran Metalik was a student in CMLL when I was there as a teenager and I was in main events and big time matches, so I used to see him in the gym all the time. He was trying to come up, and I was kind of in the spot he wanted to be in. We also shared locker rooms in Japan while he was becoming a superstar at that time, so I'd sort of seen him get up to this point and, likewise, he's kind of watched me and caught up to me.

"Because of the style similarities and because of that [history], [the finals] was really an interesting match and for me, selfishly, I really loved that aspect of it. I think it showed too, in a lot of the action, because we didn't deter too much away from some of the authentic Lucha Libre style, and it really didn't get away from that until the end when it got a little bit more intense."

Brian Kendrick

Birthdate: May 29, 1979

Billed from: Venice, California

Billed height: 5-foot-8

Billed weight: 157 pounds

Signature moves: Bully choke, Sliced Bread No. 2

Kendrick occupies a unique role in the new WWE cruiserweight division, having made his debut with the company more than 13 years ago. He's a two-time tag team champion in the WWE (one reign each with the world and WWE tag team championships, both of which came with Paul London) and was even a "current" WWE champion during a championship scramble match held in 2008, though he didn't end the match as champion and is not recognized as such in the record books. At 37 years old, Kendrick is the oldest member of the new cruiserweight division, and to put the length of his wrestling tenure into context, one only needs to know the history behind the emotional moment that Kendrick and Daniel Bryan had after Kendrick was eliminated from the CWC; they each had their first professional wrestling match against one another in October 1999.


Cedric Alexander

Birthdate: Aug. 16, 1989

Billed from: Charlotte, North Carolina

Billed height: 5-foot-10

Billed weight: 200 pounds

Signature move: Lumbar Check

Cedric Alexander didn't have to wait very long in his career to taste the upper echelons of the independent wrestling world. After making his debut in 2009, Alexander was already wrestling dark matches for Ring of Honor by 2010 and became a full time member of the roster by 2011. His high-flying style and natural charisma led him to work for a wide variety of independent companies including Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Evolve, among many others, over the next five years. During his run in the CWC, Alexander fell to Kota Ibushi in the second round, but in defeat garnered some of the most attention of any competitor in the tournament. The 15-minute match between Alexander and Ibushi received high profile praise from throughout wrestling, including a 4 1/2-star rating from veteran wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, and chants of "please sign Cedric" rang throughout the Full Sail Arena -- and garnered the attention of Triple H.

Perkins' thoughts: "Cedric I think was really the breakout performer of our bunch. He's young, extremely talented, and this is his first crack at a big stage for him so I think if there's anybody that's going to put as much risk on the line, it's going to be him because he's really excited to have this opportunity and he's maybe one of the best raw athletes I've ever seen.


Rich Swann

Birthdate: Feb. 15, 1991

Billed from: Baltimore

Billed height: 5-foot-8

Billed weight: 168 pounds

Signature moves: Standing 450 splash, Phoenix splash

As you may have heard through fan reactions at times during Swann's entrances to the CWC, he often entered the ring to "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie in his time on the independent circuit. While his CWC and, likely, his WWE theme isn't quite Lionel Richie, "Can You Handle This" is an equally worthy reflection of Swann's fun-loving, charismatic personality. His high-flying style and propensity to bust out Michael Jackson dance moves thrilled the Full Sail crowd in a very similar manner to how fans have been reacting to Swann for a long time. He made his first real impact as part of the Combat Zone Wrestling roster in 2009, where he trained under fellow CWC competitor Drew Gulak, among others. Before joining the CWC field, Swann also spent significant time in Evolve, Dragon Gate USA and Pro Wrestling Guerilla.

Perkins' thoughts: "Rich Swann is probably the only guy who's more charismatic among this whole bunch than me, and I think it showed in our match," said Perkins. "If it tells you anything, while Rich was entering the ring I was dancing to his music behind the curtain waiting for my entrance when I had to wrestle this guy. If that tells you how enamored people can become with him, [even] I couldn't help but dance.

"He's my good friend, but people are going to love him. It's like listening to the Jackson 5 or the Beatles, man -- you just cannot help but feel happy [when you're watching] Rich perform. You get sucked right into it."

Noam Dar

Birthdate: July 28, 1993

Billed from: Ayr, Scotland

Billed height: 5-foot-9

Billed weight: 178 pounds

Signature move: Knee bar

Similarly to Perkins, Metalik and a number of other CWC competitors, Dar got his start in the wrestling business at a very early age. His first independent appearance came at age 15 in his native Scotland, but he'd soon travel throughout Europe to ply his trade. Over the last decade he rose to prominence with the biggest independent companies in the United Kingdom, including Progress Wrestling, Preston City Wrestling and Insane Championship Wrestling, but he rarely made his way over to the United States during that time. His lone recorded trip to wrestle stateside was as part of TNA's British Boot Camp, in which he was a finalist, and he wrestled a few dark matches including one against now-NXT star Austin Aries. At 23 years old, Dar was the youngest competitor in the inaugural CWC.


Lince Dorado

Birthdate: May 11, 1987

Billed from: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Billed height: 5-foot-7

Billed weight: 168 pounds

Signature move: Shooting star press

Lince Dorado was the lone representative from Puerto Rico in the CWC, and his path to the WWE was unlike the majority of his fellow competitors in that tournament. His earliest wrestling and training took place in Mexico, but early in his career he began to compete for a unique wrestling brand called Chikara, based out of eastern Pennsylvania. Lince Dorada worked for the company and trained under the likes of Chikara founder Mike Quackenbush, former NXT superstar Chris Hero and current WWE superstar Cesaro at their training facility. Chikara essentially mixes the tradition of lucha libre wrestling with an almost cartoon or anime-like style of performance and stories. Lince Dorado spent much of the last few years touring throughout North America with smaller independent companies like Dreamwave, but has been primarily based in Florida. He defeated Mustafa Ali in the first round of the CWC before falling to Swann in Round 2.