The Cruiserweight division in WCW shined a spotlight on future main event talents in the industry such as Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio. However, back in those days, they were not utilized as Main Event players rather, they were seen as strong opening acts or middle of the acts.
Speaking about his booking philosophy concerning the WCW Cruiserweights on a recent episode of his 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff explained that he wanted to have a strong crossover act on WCW Monday Nitro. He would admit that he understands that this made some of the stronger characters in the Cruiserweight division, namely Jericho, upset with their position.
"My biggest struggle and this was a challenge and probably to a degree one of the things that made my relationship [difficult] with not only Chris Jericho, but Eddie and Rey to a degree and some of the other Cruiserweight guys, they didn't want to be Cruiserweight guys. They wanted to main event," Eric began. "And I understand that as a performer, you want as much attention as you can get. You want to be at the top of the card. Not in the middle of the card. You want to be the main event of a television show not in the crossover, even though the crossover is just as important as the main event in terms of, you know, a television format. By crossover, I mean, if your show starts at 8:00 and goes to 10:00, the crossover match would be the one that was occurring at 9 o'clock. You want to start as strong as you can at the beginning of that episode. You want to be as hot as you can in the middle of an episode and you want to be even more interesting at the end of the episode, whether it's a cliffhanger, action, or whatever it may be. So when I say crossover, that's what I'm talking about in terms of the television format. For me, the reason I created the Cruiserweight division is so that I had a powerful crossover. That was my goal. That was a format element that we created with Nitro that still exists in two and three-hour formats to this day, because they didn't before Nitro. But at this point, the guys who were getting all the attention in the Cruiserweight division, they were kind of saying to themselves, 'hey, why can't I wrestle in the main event?' I know that was one of the biggest issues that I had with Jericho because we talked about it."
Of course, in more recent times, the Cruiserweight style that was once seen as only for a certain position on the card has overtaken the majority of pro wrestling and the Cruiserweight pioneers such as Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio would eventually get their opportunities to compete in World Championship bouts on the grand stage of WWE WrestleMania.
For Jericho, he would defend the World Championship at WrestleMania 18 and WrestleMania 26. While Mysterio would win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 22, dedicating his victory to his fellow Cruiserweight pioneer, the late, great Eddie Guerrero, who also got a chance to defend a World Championship at WrestleMania 20.
If you use any of these quotes, please credit the 83 Weeks podcast and leave a link back to Fightful for the transcription.