Lenny Lane: The Forgotten Cruiserweight Champion
Often times when people think about the WCW/WWE Cruiserweight Championship wrestlers such as Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Billy Kidman, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko Juventud Guerrera and Chavo Guerrero Jr. are likely to come to mind. Rightfully so as those guys continually put on incredible matches in the mid to late 1990s for World Championship Wrestling. The WCW Cruiserweight Championship became a championship match that fans were almost guaranteed a fantastic match.
Eventually, the repetitive championship switches started to annoy fans. How many times could we deal with seeing Rey Mysterio Jr. beating Juventud or Psychosis to win the championship before it was no longer interesting? WCW took notice and in the summer of 1999 they made a controversial decision.
By the summer of 1999, Rey Mysterio Jr. was once again the WCW Cruiserweight Champion and wasn’t regularly defending the title due to a feud with the West Texas Rednecks.
During the same period, WCW had debuted two new characters named Lenny and Lodi. A little backstory would be helpful, I’d imagine. Lodi had gotten some fame thanks to his run with Raven and the Flock but hardly ever won any matches. He was essentially the manager for Lenny, who was positioned as the star of the group.
Lenny Lane had been with the company since 1995 and for the first few years he mainly competed on WCW Saturday Night and WCW Worldwide where he was mostly used as enhancement talent. While Lane would win a few matches here and there, he wasn’t given a lot of momentum. However, many WCW fans saw him as a future star for the company.
There were moments where he shined but it wasn’t followed up on. For instance, in 1998 Chris Jericho used Lenny Lane as his lackey to help retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, but Lane wouldn’t be used in a prominent role afterward.
With no sense of direction and creative not looking to provide anything for Lenny, he formed a team with Lodi known as the West Hollywood Blondes. Apparently, the tag team was inspired by the Saturday Night Live cartoon The Ambiguously Gay Duo. As you might have guessed, their characters were that of two homosexuals, but WCW played it off as if they were “brothers.”
Anyway, the gimmick started to get traction as they often had backstage segments of giving each other a massage or the humorous segment of talking in a closet. Considering the time period, these two were becoming an entertaining heel duo that fans would often chant “faggot” at. Yes, it was insensitive, but at a time when WCW wasn’t providing much of anything, the controversial angle was at least interesting.
The act got so over with fans that on the August 19th edition of Thunder Lenny won his first and only championship by pinning WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. It was a shocking win and an even more shocking booking decision. It’s exactly what WCW needed to do.
Following the win, Lenny would work with Juventud, Kidman, and a young Evan Karagias. His only pay per view defense was against Kaz Hayashi, who was probably the least likely contender for the belt at the time, but more accurately the only cruiserweight that would be fine with losing to Lenny, I’d imagine. That match took place at WCW Fall Brawl 1999.
So, with a champion that fans loved to boo and was getting crowd reactions that wrestlers would only hope to receive, WCW ended the gimmick and awarded the championship to Psychosis in October. When I say awarded, I mean they literally gave him the title after claiming that Lenny had lost the belt at a house show when they had not actually happened.
The main issue that the company faces was the complaint from the GLADD organization claiming that the company was endorsing people to think it is acceptable to beat up homosexuals. I understand that professional wrestling fans aren’t the brightest, but come on. With that logic, literally everyone would be going out and slamming each other just because they can. But, it was GLADD’s responsibility I guess to make a scene about it.
That was another difference between the WWF and WCW. The WWF would stand by their controversial content that fans enjoyed while WCW would fold quickly.
Personally, the duo was really enjoyable and talented. They found a gimmick that worked for them and they were heavily featured on television. WCW just didn’t stand by their own product and a long lasting act was cut way too short.
What are your memories of Lenny Lane? Do you remember this gimmick and what was your opinion of it?
Leave your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading.