With The Draft just a few days away WWE has the task of making Raw and Smackdown feel like different shows. From rosters, commentary and production style Mondays and Tuesdays needs to look vastly different from one another. A lot of fans don’t believe in WWE is really capable of this given past experience. And true while they don’t do it on the main brands quite a bit, they do on the streaming WWE Network with NXT and The Cruiserweight Classic.

Let’s begin with the Cruiserweight Classic. The 10 weeks journey to find the best cruiserweight in the world premiered last night on WWE Network. I talked about last week during their bracket breakdown special how it was much more sports oriented in the style of ESPN SportsCenter. The show itself was definitely also in the tone.

From the ring, entrances, commentary and MMA style opening ceremonies, everything feels fresh and new. It even feel so much different than NXT. I overall like how everything is done. The opening episode itself did well to get over that we are going to see some different styles from these lightweight competitors. Brawlers, Lucha, technical prowess and hybrid styles are all on point. I do believe that the first episode probably wasn’t the strongest episode but an established the beginning of something really refreshing for the WWE brand.

I’m not going to ruin show if you haven’t seen it (click this post to see the videos from the first episode.). But my opinion the big names that were brought into the tournament were almost outshined by relatively unknown competitors in the ring. And if this week’s NXT  taping is any indication we will see the performers on other WWE programming throughout the next month.

As for the commentary team of Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan , the matches from the first taping showed the pair have solid chemistry. Bryan Danielson was not perfect on commentary but he pretty good. Each man clearly told the story of each competitor and broke down the matches from a athletic standpoint. Ranallo is perfect for this. This is how you get people to buy WWE network subscriptions.

A lot of people spend $9.99 on just NXT every week. This week’s episode was the big climax for Shinsuke Nakamura versus Finn Balor. WWE only had that match on the show. That was a blessing and a curse. I like the idea of building that one match in the hour. But there’s the downside of rehashing the same promo packages we’ve seen for the last few weeks. True there was a promo from Samoa Joe, but most of the hour was dedicated to the match. Overall, I think all the hype actually hurts match for the most part. Because there was no way they can live up to it. Now don’t get me wrong the match is great but it wasn’t as epic as WWE implied. But if we showed that they can present two different hours in two different ways.

Will this influence make its way to the WWE main brands? More than likely. However don’t expect sweeping changes. WWE is the Titanic and it takes a while to turn the ship. But Wednesday nights are quite a lot of fun so I don’t really care.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.