Since its inception in September, the WWE Cruiserweight division has received its fair share of criticism. Some of it has been fully justifiable (no storylines, same handful of guys wrestling weekly) and some not so much (the little guys just aren’t entertaining). However, all of that changed at the Roadblock End of the Line PPV when Britain’s own Neville made his dramatic return.
Having spent the portion of his days on the main roster being used in ad hoc tag matches and meaningless feuds, its fair to say that Neville had gone completely stale. A heel turn at Roadblock however didn’t only reinvigorate the man, but also the entire Cruiserweight division.
So just who is Neville and why should we be buying into him as the man to really drive the Cruiserweight division into 2017 and beyond?
Neville cut his teeth on the independent scene wrestling under the name of Pac and after spending the first two years in Europe made his way across the pond. With solid runs in PWG, TNA, Ring Of Honor, Chikara, NJPW and Dragon Gate the world started to take note of the man from Newcastle.
During his overseas independent bookings, Pac put in some of his very best work. In particular a match that really stands out was his incredible tussle with Prince Devitt (Finn Balor) at the NJPW Best of Super Juniors in June 2012 which led to both men being signed to the WWE.
Neville spent his early NXT days competing with some of the best talent on the current WWE main roster including Luke Harper, Cesaro, Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn. A real valuable time for him which not only helped him adapt to the WWE way of things but also enabled him to show off his wide arsenal of aerial offence against some of the best workers in the world at that time.
With his in-ring talent and athletic ability shining through, it wasn’t long before he was competing for the top honours in NXT. He was given the nod to drive the NXT brand forward at NXT Arrival, defeating Bo Dallas in a Ladder match and becoming the main man.
The promotion clearly saw something in Neville who went on to hold the NXT Title for a total of 287 days, a record at the time which was only surpassed by a familiar face in Finn Balor who held the belt for 292 days. Sami Zayn was the man who took the Title from Neville at NXT R Evolution in a match which has to be seen to be believed. A superb tale of pure hatred between the Heel Champion and the Babyface Challenger in a Career Vs Title match.
Shortly after dropping the NXT Title, Neville was elevated to the main WWE roster and made his debut on RAW. Jumping between feuds with Bo Dallas, Stardust & Wade Barrett it never seemed as though the company had a clear direction for exactly how they wanted to use him. In March 2016 he suffered a fractured ankle (video below) in a match with Chris Jericho which left him on the sidelines for four months.
After returning from injury he was drafted to the RAW roster and teased us with the possibility of working with Seth Rollins and Finn Balor, albeit somewhat disappointingly it never come to fruition. After a few tag matches with Sami Zayn and involvement in a Battle Royal to determine a spot on the Survivor Series team, Neville went off the radar ahead of his big return at Roadblock.
With his recent heel turn clearly making waves on the 205 division, Neville now has the chance to be something special in the WWE, a quality he showed when gracing the NXT ring a few years back.
Whilst he may have had a very stale 2016 (bar the last few weeks) it surely has to be only a matter of time in 2017 before Neville adds Cruiserweight Champion to his accolades.