Meet the Cruiserweight Classic alternates

Meet the Cruiserweight Classic alternates

Over the past month, the WWE Universe has become familiar with the 32 grapplers from around the world that will take part in the first-ever Cruiserweight Classic.

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Anything can happen, however, during the 10 weeks the CWC will play out. The mat game is grueling, and injuries are always a threat to competitors, especially those with high-risk styles. Plus, the strict 205-pound weight limit for the tournament means that the wrong meal could lead to an early exit.

So, what happens if one of the initial 32 competitors can’t continue in the tournament? WWE officials prepared for the worst and have five alternates ready to step in, should the need arise. The WWE Universe may have seen them in training at the WWE Performance Center on social media, but caught up with these elite competitors at the Cruiserweight Classic Combine to learn more about them and how they’re preparing in case their name gets called.

Aaron Solow

Meet the Cruiserweight Classic alternates

Height: 5’11”
Weight: 182 lbs.
Representing: United States of America
Style: Technical, high-flying

For independent-scene standout Aaron Solow, the opportunity to take part in the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic as an alternate was huge.

“To even be considered to be a part of this means a lot,” the hard-hitting California native told “There are thousands of guys that want to be in the CWC. Even though I’m not in the tournament, just to be around it and see how it’s put together, and how WWE is treating these outsiders with so much respect is very, very cool.”

After a week of training at the Cruiserweight Classic Combine, Solow sat back and reflected on what he’s taking away from the WWE Performance Center. “The whole experience has been great, but I’d be lying to you if I said I was glad I wasn’t in the tournament,” he said. “I really, really wish I was.”

Still, Solow is hopeful that he’ll get the opportunity to show off his devastating arsenal of strikes to the world in the future.

“I know I’m good enough for this,” Solow said. “I missed this one, but hopefully, there’s another Cruiserweight Classic that I’ll get to be a part of.”

Jesus Yurnet

Meet the Cruiserweight Classic alternates

Height: 5’8”
Weight: 182 lbs.
Representing: Puerto Rico
Style: Technical, high-flying, lucha libre

Being chosen as an alternate for the Cruiserweight Classic might seem slightly disappointing to some, but not to Jesus Yurnet. For the high-flying Puerto Rican, his invitation provided a measure of vindication.

“I started with a dream when I was 15-years-old,” he told “I moved to the United States when I was 20, with $20 in my pocket to pursue my dream. Just the fact that I’m here, with the top Cruiserweights in the world, it’s like all my years of hard work culminated in this. It feels amazing.”

Yurnet made the most of the opportunity. An aerial artist who has perfected the 450 Splash, he took to one part of the Performance Center like a duck to water.

“My personal favorite was the crash pad ring,” he said with a smile. “I spent so many hours in there, trying things I haven’t done in years. I was so happy. It’s like being a kid in a candy store.”

Though he remains an alternate for now, Yurnett will continue to press on in hopes of getting a future opportunity, while celebrating the accomplishments of his friends.

“I’m not saying I want somebody to break an ankle so I can fill in,” Yurnet said. “More than anything, I’m really happy for a lot of my friends, like Lince Dorado and Rich Swann. I’ve known them for years, and I know how hard they work and how much they sacrificed to get here. Just the fact that I was considered is a huge honor, but at the same time, it’s kind of bittersweet, because I want to be in there. There are a lot of emotions running through me, but the biggest one is gratefulness.”

Jessy Sorensen

Meet the Cruiserweight Classic alternates

Height: 5’9”
Weight: 184 lbs.
Representing: United States of America
Style: Technical

To Jessy Sorensen, being able to make it to the Cruiserweight Classic Combine is a blessing on its own.

“There was a time in my career where I didn’t think I would ever get to wrestle again,” Sorensen said. “I had a pretty serious neck injury, so to be considered is an honor.”

Sorensen battled every day to get back in the ring after suffering that injury, going on to make a name for himself on the independent scene and earning the opportunity to compete against some of NXT’s brightest stars, like Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews. Every day is a new opportunity for Sorensen, one that he won’t take for granted.

“I’ve been taking in the experience, but being an alternate just motivates me to be the guy who’s called up next and gets to be in the tournament next time,” he said. “Still, it’s an honor to be an alternate. There are millions of people who want this opportunity, and I’m one of the people who got it.”

Vandal Ortagun

Meet the Cruiserweight Classic alternates

Height: 5’9”
Weight: 155 lbs.
Representing: Turkey
Style: Technical, high-flying

Turkey isn’t a country famous for producing sports-entertainers. Vandal Ortagun is trying to change that. His first step toward bringing squared circle glory to Turkey is taking part in the Cruiserweight Classic as an alternate.

“It’s an honor, I’m grateful to be here,” Ortagun told “Millions of people want to be in the Cruiserweight Classic or at the Performance Center and working out with those guys.”

A lightning-quick high-flyer, Ortagun used the Cruiserweight Classic Combine as an opportunity to improve himself for his return to the independent scene.

“The knowledge I learned being here, in or out of the tournament, is invaluable,” he said. “Guys like Triple H are talking to you, Daniel Bryan is coming in and giving you pointers, William Regal … all of the coaches are amazing.”

Though he learned plenty during his time at the PC, the feeling of being an alternate is bittersweet. Ortagun is using that feeling as motivation for the rest of his career.

“I’m not going to lie and say I’m not disappointed that I didn’t make it in, but we’ll see what the future holds,” Ortagun said. “I’m just waiting for the right opportunity. I’ll keep knocking on the door and, hopefully one day, kick it down.”

Kai Katana

Meet the Cruiserweight Classic alternates

Height: 5’9”
Weight: 197 lbs.
Representing: United States of America
Style: Technical, high-flying

Normally a reserved but vicious warrior in the squared circle, Kai Katana is proud to be a part of the Cruiserweight Classic as an alternate.

“It means the world to be considered among the best in the entire world,” Katana told “It’s amazing and an honor for WWE to have me down here.”

The high-flying, hard-hitting competitor was in awe of the WWE Performance Center at first, but soon began to revel in the opportunity presented to him.

“It’s been great. I feel like part of the family,” he explained. “We had free reign at the Performance Center to work out, use the rings, use the crash pad ring and just be in the environment, around William Regal, Norman Smiley and all the amazing trainers.”

Though his direct involvement in the CWC came to a close with the end of the combine, Katana wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

“I wish no ill will on the 32 competitors,” he said. “I’ve met everyone over the past couple of days. They’re great, new friends I’ve made. I wish them the best.”

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