On March 30th of 2015, the man that gravity forgot made his RAW debut. It was the night after WrestleMania 31 and Curtis Axel was in the ring cutting a promo. During that promo, we would hear Neville’s music hit. This was before NXT call-ups were the cool thing to do. While he was well received it wasn’t on the level of call-ups we see today. The proud Newcastle product would go on to easily defeat Curtis Axel and his main roster career was off and running.
Neville would go on to make the WWE universe’s collective jaws drop with his red arrow finisher. The closest he had come to really grabbing that brass ring was on May 11th of 2015 when he accepted John Cena’s United States championship open challenge. Despite Rusev interfering and costing Neville the championship, he had clearly taken Cena to the limit.
He would continue to wow the crowds until March 14th of 2016 when he injured his ankle during a match on RAW against Chris Jericho. It was an injury that would have Neville breaking two bones in his ankle. Like most injuries in WWE, the train keeps moving and the future king of cruiserweights would make his way to the back of our minds.
Suddenly the man that gravity had forgotten was now grounded
In his absence, we witnessed the creation of the cruiserweight classic. It was a refreshing tournament for the fans that ultimately blossomed into the cruiserweight division. In the fall of 2016, the cruiserweights would make RAW their new home with 205Live and the initial reaction was a positive one.
Its momentum would eventually plateau and the purple ropes began to border on boredom. Then came WWE Roadblock which saw Rich Swann defeat TJ Perkins and Brian Kendrick. After Swann was declared the winner, there was a cruiserweight Christmas miracle. Neville’s music would hit and he would make his way to the ring.
Neville would slide into the ring and as fast as he could give Swann a few claps of congratulations he would strike the newly crowned champion down. Neville didn’t just return, he turned! It was a heel turn that would have some of his most hardcore fans elated. His rise to the top of the cruiserweight division was immediate and in a little over a month he would win the championship.
Ever since his heel turn, Neville has been booked like an absolute force. Next to Braun Strowman, Neville truly has been the most unapologetic and menacing heels in the company. He walks to the ring with a purpose that is reminiscent of Triple H in the early 2000’s. Despite being relegated to the WrestleMania kickoff show and briefly dropping the title to Tozawa, Neville’s reign of terror was still a legitimate thing. All that being said, all great things must come to an end.
After carrying the cruiserweight division and wallowing in the despair of 205Live, Neville’s end as champion would have ended with a figurative and literal hit below the belt. Enzo Amore was probably one of the most unqualified number one contenders we have seen in years yet he was in the No Mercy title match against Neville. He was getting his clock cleaned until he delivered a low blow for the win.
After the win, Enzo closed out RAW with a promo that basically buried a cruiserweight division that laid down a body of work that Enzo seemingly dragged through the mud. To this writer, it is absolutely dumbfounding that Enzo can close out RAW. Maybe Neville should have sold more t-shirts but I’m not entirely sure what WWE is looking achieve here. This is a mockery of the cruiserweight division and just further proves that Neville needs to escape the confines of 205Live and join the main roster.
Simply put, Neville has outgrown the cruiserweight division.
This is the exact issue with the division. It has put a cap on a surging superstar. Neville’s rise has been stratospheric and there is no reason he wouldn’t be able to compete against the main roster. He could easily be inserted into an IC title program or maybe even a feud with Finn Balor. There isn’t a legitimate reason except for the fact that he is a ‘cruiserweight’. Let’s not forget that this is the same Neville was the NXT champion for 287 days.
Imagine the King of the cruiserweights visiting suplex city
This Neville strikes me as the type of guy that would walk into suplex city and spit on the welcome mat. It would be like David vs. Goliath with David having one hell of a chip on his shoulder. Does this incarnation of Neville really look like the timid type to you? That would be one bad ass game of cat and mouse. Imagine him eventually feuding with an AJ Styles or Nakamura. Those potential matches could be squared circle magic. Neville is that good. It is a lot easier to make this case than to make the case that he needs to stay a cruiserweight.
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It is this writer’s belief that Neville’s wave of aggression cannot and should not be limited any longer. It especially shouldn’t be limited by a guy like Enzo Amore. His ring work is as terrific as ever and his heel turn has served him better than any characters turn in a long while.
The hope from this writer is that the ending to RAW serves as Neville’s exit from 205Live and the Cruiserweight division. That this Monday will begin to lay the foundation to his ascent through the main roster of RAW. He is that good and should no longer have exceptional in-ring abilities be limited. It might just be what is best for business.