In professional wrestling, a cruiserweight is a wrestler weighing below 220 lb (100 kg), sometimes 215. The older term junior heavyweight, which was used to describe the division, is more favored in Japan, where many titles for lighter-weight competitors are called junior heavyweight titles. Prominent titles include New Japan Pro Wrestling's IWGP, Pro Wrestling NOAH's GHC, and All Japan Pro Wrestling's World/PWF titles. The weight limit utilized by WCW and Japanese promotions is "up to 220 lbs" (100 kg). New Japan and NOAH also have junior heavyweight tag team titles, for teams composed of junior heavyweights. WCW tested such a format with their own Cruiserweight Tag Team Title shortly before the company was sold.
Cruiserweight wrestlers are generally shorter and possess less muscle bulk than heavyweights, a build which lends itself to a high-flying wrestling style. While there are many cruiserweights who specialise in alternate wrestling styles, cruiserweights are strongly associated with moves performed from the top rope and moves requiring a degree of speed, agility, balance and torque. Cruiserweight wrestling is often associated with lucha libre, where similar moves and match pacing are used, but Mexico uses a different weight class system and the actual term "cruiserweight" (crucero, in Spanish) is rarely used in favor of Light-Heavyweight (peso semicompleto in Spanish). Cruiserweight wrestlers tend to be wrestlers of average human height and weight.
The high spots performed by cruiserweights are normally visually impressive but carry a varying degree of risk. A cruiserweight match with no transition holds and little psychology is known as a spotfest (heavyweight spotfests do exist, however).
Championships contested by cruiserweights cannot be held by wrestlers who are not cruiserweights, but cruiserweights are normally eligible to compete for heavyweight championships (theoretically at their own peril).
World Championship Wrestling
The term was popularized in World Championship Wrestling
, when WCW President Eric Bischoff
re-established the light-heavyweight division as the cruiserweight division and reactivated the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship
as the WCW Cruiserweight Championship
. Bischoff renamed the division because he felt that "light-heavyweight" was a pejorative term, and made the smaller wrestlers seem less important. After the World Wrestling Federation
acquired the intellectual property of WCW in 2001
, the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship
was abandoned in favor of the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, and the title was renamed the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
. However it is no longer contested, Hornswoggle
being the last champion before being stripped of the title for his own safety, when the title was also discontinued.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
In 2002, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling created the X Division Championship, a title with no upper or lower weight limits but which is epitomized as "wrestling reinvented" and views its contenders as those who compete on the innovative side of professional wrestling. Almost all of the X Division champions have been high-flyers, with Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe being a notable exceptions.
The following is a list of all titles equivalent to a cruiser weight championship. Title names vary, but include cruiserweight, lightweight, midweight, middleweight, flyweight, welterweight, featherweight, X Division
, and junior heavyweight in their name. It is worth noting that each of these class listings are separate in boxing and amateur wrestling, but are almost interchangeable in professional wrestling.
Cruiser/Light/Mid/Fly/Welter/Feather-weight X Division and Junior Heavyweight championships
- wXw Lightweight Championship (Germany)
- FWA Flyweight Championship (United Kingdom)
- RQW Crusierweight Championship (United Kingdom)
- NWA United Kingdom Junior Heavyweight Championship
- British Commonwealth Junior Heawyweight Championship
- British Empire Mid-Heavyweight Title
- British Empire Light Heavyweight Title
- British Empire Middleweight Title
- British Empire Welterweight Title
- British Empire Lightweight Title
- British Mid-Heavyweight Title
- British Light Heavyweight Title
- British Heavy Middleweight Title
- British Middleweight Title
- British Welterweight Title
- British Lightweight Title
- Ireland Junior Heavyweight Title
- European Mid-Heavyweight Title
- European Light Heavyweight Title
- European Middleweight Title
- European Welterweight Title
- Spanish Light Heavyweight Title
- Spanish Middleweight Title
- Spanish Welterweight Title
- Spanish Lightweight Title
- French Middleweight Title
- CWA World Junior Heavyweight Title
- CWA World Middleweight Title
- EWA World Heavyweight Title
- EWA World Middleweight Title
- Australian Junior Heavyweight Title
- Australian Light Heavyweight Title
- Australian Middleweight Title
- Australian Welterweight Title