It’s been some pro wrestling journey for TJ Perkins, leading to winning the inaugural WWE Cruiserweight Classic Tournament.
Once homeless, Perkins stepped into the ring twice on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park (near Orlando) and won both matches to become the first WWE Cruiserweight Classic champion.
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Representing the Philippines, the 5-10, 167-pound Perkins beat Japanese sensation Kota Ibushi in the semifinals, and later he defeated Mexico’s Gran Metalik in the finals. Your referee Eddie Orengo.
Metalik beat England’s Zack Sabre Jr. in the other semifinal to reach the finals. Perkins received a grand trophy and the debuting CWC belt, which he will proudly wear and defend for the WWE Raw brand.
Wrestling since he was 14 in Southern California...he actually started training when he was 13...Perkins is an 18-year veteran in the business, competing worldwide.
Archive interview with Perkins
WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul Triple H Levesque, the father of NXT, took the reigns of the CWC, leading a successful charge. Levesque and Sir William Regal presented an appreciative Perkins the belt in the ring after the finals.
Perkins beat Da Mack, Johnny Gargano and Rich Swann en route to the semifinals.
CWC qualifying matches were in various promotions on the independent circuit, including Revolution Pro Wrestling, Progress Wrestling and Evolve. Cruiserweight wrestlers, 205 pounds or less, from around the world attempted to qualify for the 32-man field.
The CWC occurred over four dates: June 23, July 13, Aug. 26, Sept. 14 at Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando. The first three dates were taped for the WWE Network with the finale on Sept. 14 as a live special on WWE Network.
The crowd-pleasing tournament finished strong on Sept. 14, and now select cruiserweights will be featured weekly on WWE Raw (8 p.m. Mondays, USA Network).
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