For fans of WWE who got a chance to see TJ Perkins work in the Cruiserweight Classic, it was evident very early on that he was a treat to watch every single time he stepped into a ring. This was the case for just about every wrestler that competed at the Cruiserweight Classic, but only one competitor could win the tournament and kick-start the rejuvenated cruiserweight division in WWE.
That wrestler, of course, was TJP.
While 205 Live and the cruiserweights are slowly gaining traction and getting people interested in their matches again as of late, there’s still no denying that the entire division has been sorely underused and under-marketed in a way that’s nearly killed the product while also leading to stars like Pac (known as Neville in WWE) and Austin Aries leaving the company due to their spot on 205 Live feeling like a demotion rather than an opportunity.
Perkins, like his peers within the division, was forced to work with what they were given. They were ultimately set up to fail despite the wrestling world calling for more technical and high-flying wrestling in just about every single promotion on the planet. Still, for those who watched the Cruiserweight Classic, it was clear that there was a lot more for Perkins to give than what was being presented on WWE Television as they’d already seen it with their own eyes.
This is why Perkins return to the independent scene in 2019 following his release from WWE was a blessing in disguise.
Since leaving WWE, Perkins has worked dates for various promotions, including Empire Wrestling Federation, AAW Wrestling, The Wrestling Revolver (Sami Callihan’s promotion) and even a shocking return to Impact Wrestling.
While TJP hasn’t signed a contract with Impact Wrestling and still has a full schedule of independent dates that he’s set to fulfill, seeing him return to Impact Wrestling where he worked sporadically for nine years before getting a serious push from 2013 to 2016 under the Manik gimmick was a cool throwback for fans of the promotion.
TJP Building a Legacy
In general, it’s hard to fault Perkins for how he was used on WWE television. While his character work isn’t as good as the top stars in the industry, it’s impossible to ignore his talent between the ropes. He’s unlikely to ever be the biggest name in any promotion he works for, but that doesn’t mean he can’t steal a show on any given night.
In the wrestling world, it may feel like the main event is the only place to shine, but that simply isn’t true. On any card, any match can steal the show. Any match has the potential to be rated five-stars and more than anything, any match has a chance to resonate with the fans in a way that they can’t put into words.
For TJP, the ability to keep fans guessing as to where he’ll appear next while also keeping them entertained despite the fact that was so underused in WWE following his Cruiserweight Championship stint is a testament to his talent. He may not be a household name, but the hardcore fans in the scene know what they’re in store for whenever he’s on a card.
Related: TJ Perkins Talks WWE Contract & More
As time goes on, Perkins will continue to build his name in the wrestling world. He’ll continue to grow and be known by more and more fans within the industry.
His stop in WWE may have seemed counter-intuitive to his legacy, but it really only helped cement himself among the eyes of the more casual fans who may not have known about him previously. That’s the latent function of working for WWE, regardless of whether or not the run was deemed successful.
In addition to the exposure he got, Perkins also earned a healthy share of money during his time in WWE relative to what he was making earlier in his career. While his current independent booking fee is unknown, it’s fair to say that his stop in WWE and run as a champion only made that fee increase in price.
In the end, everything is part of a bigger picture that isn’t always clear from every angle as it’s unfolding. For TJP, his stop in WWE was far from a failure. In fact, it was just the beginning of the rest of his career.