The light history of the WWE Light Heavyweight Championship

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November 30, 2012

Later that year, WWE announced the formation of the new Light Heavyweight Championship, with the winner to be crowned via an eight-man tournament to be held on Raw through the course of five weeks. The action featured young competitors not often seen on WWE programming — some of whom later experienced greater sports-entertainment prominence. Taka, Aguila, Super Loco, Devon Storm, Eric Shelley, Scott Taylor, Brian Christopher and Flash Flanagan all threw their hats (or masks) into the ring. Aguila later re-emerged as Essa Rios, Super Loco gained fame in ECW as the now-translated Super Crazy and Devon Storm formed unique tandems with both David Flair and Daffney as Crowbar in WCW. Christopher and Taylor became a wildly popular pairing when they evolved into the dancing duo Too Cool. (WATCH THE FULL TOURNAMENT)

Christopher, the cocky and brash son of Jerry Lawler, faced off with Taka in the final at D-Generation X: In Your House. The young Japanese competitor emerged victorious and was crowned the first Light Heavyweight Champion. A rivalry developed between Taka and the Superstar who dubbed himself “Too Sexy,” but the champion consistently came out on top. A change of heart led Taka to betray his fans and join the villainous Kaientai while holding the title, but he remained champion for nearly a full year.

In what would become something of a pattern for the Light Heavyweight Championship, Taka’s very long reign was ended with a WWE debut. At Judgment Day 1998, Taka finally lost the title to Christian in the future World Heavyweight Champion’s first-ever televised WWE match. The man Christian eventually lost it to, Duane Gill, held the title even longer than Taka.

Gill morphed into the absurd Gillberg, a parody of WCW heavyweight Goldberg (WATCH GILLBERG'S DEBUT), and remained Light Heavyweight Champion for 15 months before losing the title to another debuting competitor, Essa Rios. The impressive luchador had previously competed as both Aguila and Papi Chulo, but took on a new persona and new valet in the form of the moonsaulting Lita. If nothing else, the Light Heavyweight Championship is responsible for bringing Lita into WWE fans’ lives.

Jerry Lynn, a former ECW Champion, also won the title in his debut match. And while not their WWE debuts, Dean Malenko and Tajiri captured the championship soon after their first WWE appearances. Malenko, considered by many to be one of the ring’s most underrated greats, once held the title for a nearly a full year. In an era where frequent changes were the norm, the Light Heavyweight Championship owned three reigns of more than 300 days each in only four years of activity.

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