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The WWE Cruiserweight Classic is down to eight men with only three episodes left.
There were highlights of the final eight competitors as we entered the quarterfinal round. If you have missed any of my reviews so far, here’s a link to my reviews of seven weeks of shows.
The CWC intro video aired.
These matches were taped last week at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan welcomed us to the show.
Graves was in the CWC control room to talk about the quarterfinals. There’s two matches this week, two matches next week and the finals on September 14 will have the semifinals and finals live in a two hour broadcast. I assume the rest of that broadcast will feature other CWC guys in tag matches and things like that.
A video package aired about Gran Metalik and Akira Tozawa to set up their match.
Akira Tozawa entered first. They showed highlights of his win over Jack Gallagher in the second round. Gran Metalik got a nice reaction for his entrance. He beat Tajiri in the second round.
Quarterfinals: Akira Tozawa (Japan) vs. Gran Metalik (Mexico)
It was an even matchup in the first few minutes during the feeling out process. Each guy hit arm drags followed by each of them hitting dropkicks at the same time. I like when Tozawa grabs a headlock and yells at the crowd. Metalik with a running dropkick as Tozawa was running the ropes – that was a cool spot. Metalik with a kick to the head and then a springboard dropkick sent Tozawa out of the ring. Metalik with a suicide dive took out Tozawa on the floor. Bryan put over how Metalik does that move different than others. It looked way better than what Dean Ambrose does, for example. Back in the ring, Metalik with a cross body off the top. Metalik with a hard kick to the head for a two count. Tozawa countered a handspring attack with a dropkick to the back and then a bicycle kick sent Metalik to the floor. Tozawa with a suicide dive took out Metalik on the floor. Tozawa went back in the ring and then did a suicide dive again. Senton splash by Tozawa gets two. They exchanged chops. Very loud from both guys, but then Tozawa punched him in the face to knock him down for a two count. It’s fun how the simple stuff works so well in these matches.
Basement dropkick by Tozawa in the corner. Metalik with a superkick, then he walked the ropes for a dropkick and a standing shooting star press gets two. Metalik with a springboard back elbow gets two. Sunset flip for Metalik doesn’t work as Tozawa came back with a kick to the head. Tozawa with a bicycle kick in the corner and then a back suplex gets a two count. Tozawa did his yelling routine with the crowd. Superkick by Metalik, hard chop to the chest, he held the hand of Tozawa and nailed a missile dropkick. Metalik did his incredible spot where he puts his foot on the middle rope, then jumps over the top with a somersault dive to take out Tozawa. Wow. That looked amazing! Even better on replay. Back in ring, Tozawa got his feet up to counter a moonsault. Metalik stunned Tozawa on the top rope and nailed a top rope hurricanrana for a two count. What an amazing spot! Damn that was so good. Standing ovation from the crowd. Tozawa nailed his snap German Suplex with Bryan noting that the speed of the German Suplex makes it so devastating. Tozawa nailed a bridging German Suplex, but Metalik kicked out at two. That’s the move that won Tozawa’s first two matches, so it means a lot for Metalik to kick out of it. Tozawa went for another German Suplex, but Metalik put Tozawa on his shoulders and hit the Metalik Driver for the win after 16 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Gran Metalik
Analysis: ***3/4 A really good match by two guys with different styles. Metalik is more of a traditional luchador flyer while Tozawa does have the aerial attack in his arsenal, but he’s more of a striker. Some of the moves that Metalik were unlike anything I have ever really seen before. He’s very unique with his offense and makes it look so easy. They also did a great job of having Tozawa counter some of the high risk moves. Big nearfall near the end with Tozawa hitting that delayed German Suplex, which is what Tozawa used to win the first two matches. That’s why the crowd reacted to it in such a big way. I loved that reaction. As for the winner, the belief is that Gran Metalik has a WWE deal or is close to having a deal. Tozawa may not have that, so they are going to put over the guy that is likely going to be on Raw later in September.
Metalik moves on to the semifinals to face the winner of Sabre Jr. vs. Dar.
After the match was over, the two competitors shook hands, hugged and raised their hands to the appreciative crowd.
A commercial aired for the WWE2K17 video game.
Ranallo and Bryan praised the two guys in the previous match. Then they set up Ibushi vs. Kendrick with Bryan saying he’s nervous for his friend Kendrick. Bryan said he’s rooting for Kendrick and isn’t afraid to show his favoritism in this match.
They aired a video to set up Kendrick vs. Ibushi. Kendrick said if he didn’t win this tournament then it could be his last chance with him saying that he needs to win this and that his desperation makes him a threat. He added that if he doesn’t win this then his dream is over. Ibushi spoke in Japanese (there were captions on screen) with him saying that he showed the audience something they had never seen before in the first two rounds. He said he’ll win the tournament because he loves professional wrestling more than anybody else.
Analysis: Kendrick did a great job of showing emotion there. I think it was genuine too. I don’t believe that he necessarily has to win because a lot of these guys are going to get WWE jobs after this, including him most likely.
Brian Kendrick made his entrance. Highlights aired of his round two victory of Tony Nese. Kota Ibushi made his entrance. They showed highlights of his win over Cedric Alexander in round two, which was the match of the tournament so far.
Quarterfinals: Brian Kendrick (United States) vs. Kota Ibushi (Japan)
They shook hands before the match. Kendrick tried some mind games early, but then Ibushi nailed a hard kick that sent Kendrick to the floor. Golden triangle moonsault by Ibushi, which is when he runs to the top rope and hits a moonsault off the top to the floor. Kendrick was outside the ring, Ibushi went after him, so Kendrick put Ibushi’s foot against the guard rail to try to trap him. Ibushi came back with a springboard dropkick for two. Several hard kicks in a row by Ibushi knocked Kendrick down. Kendrick came back with a neckbreaker against the top turnbuckle. That was unique. Kendrick worked on the neck as Bryan noted that Ibushi had a surgically repaired neck. When they got back to their feet, Ibushi nailed a dropkick to knock him down. Kendrick with a boot to the face, but Ibushi came back with a powerslam plus a moonsault off the middle rope for two. Very impressive speed by Ibushi. Kendrick got his knees up to block a moonsault and then Kendrick with a superkick knocked Ibushi down.
They exchanged forearm shots. Kendrick with a boot to the face and hit his Sliced Bread #2 move out of the corner for a two count. That used to be Kendrick’s finisher. Bryan was excited about it, but it was only good for two. They battled on the top rope leading to Ibushi hitting a Pele Kick to knock Kendrick down. Ibushi picked up Kendrick on the apron, they climbed up the ropes and Ibushi did a German Suplex over the top rope back into the ring! Holy crap that was awesome! Wow. There’s a move you don’t see in a WWE ring. Loved it. Kendrick landed on his feet to get out of a Powerbomb. Kendrick was able to turn it into the Bully Choke submission he’s used to win in the first two rounds, but Ibushi got out of it. Kendrick put Ibushi on his shoulders and Kendrick hit the Burning Hammer for a two count! Wow that was sweet. Ranallo referenced the great Kenta Kobashi popularizing that move. It’s a big move in Japan, but you don’t see it in WWE. It’s a nasty bump to take. Kendrick pounded Ibushi, but then Ibushi kicked him hard in the head. Ibushi stopped an attack by Kendrick, held him in his arms and Ibushi sat on top of him for a two count. Loud “this is awesome” chant from the crowd. Ibushi went for the Phoenix Splash off the top. Kendrick moved and put on the Bully Choke submission. Crowd is going wild for this! Wow! What a reaction. Ibushi fought out of it and hit a kick to the head. Ibushi hit the Golden Star Powerbomb for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kota Ibushi
They replayed some of the key spots in the match. There were some nasty head/neck bumps by both guys. It added to the story so well.
With the win, Ibushi goes on to face TJ Perkins or Rich Swann in the semifinals.
Analysis: ****1/4 Wow that was so good. I loved that match. Kendrick did a phenomenal job of using psychology in the match as he was creative some of his attacks during the match. He focused on the neck of Ibushi for the entire match, which is why moves like the Burning Hammer worked as a believable nearfall. When Kendrick slapped on that Bully Choke and the crowd went wild it shows that the story they were telling really worked because they bought into that as a finish due to all of the work on the neck of Ibushi. Storytelling within a match is so important. These guys did a tremendous job of that. I had seen a fair bit of Ibushi from NJPW and had high expectations of him in this tournament, but it’s fair to say he may have exceeded those expectations. He’s such a skilled wrestler with a mix of aerial moves as well as the strong style. Kendrick was very impressive too. He didn’t work like a traditional face, but he was the underdog in the match and by the end of it people wanted to see him win. I think Ibushi winning is the right call, but Kendrick won over a lot of people with this performance.
Post match, Bryan said that he didn’t care if he won or lost this match, he was so proud of his friend Brian Kendrick. Ibushi and Kendrick shook hands, bowed and hugged in the ring. The crowd was chanting “Brian Kendrick” for him as Kendrick was in tears.
Analysis: Very cool post match moment by them.
Corey Graves reminded us of the matches next week: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Noam Dar and Rich Swann vs. TJ Perkins.
Back to the arena, the crowd was chanting “thank you Brian” for Kendrick. He was in tears. His good friend Daniel Bryan went into the ring as the crowd chanted “yes” for him. The two very good friends that trained together embraced in the ring. What a great moment. They were both in tears. Bryan raised Kendrick’s hand in the ring as the crowd chanted “thank you Brian” as the show went off the air.
Analysis: That was so awesome. They are legitimate very good friends that trained together 17 years ago, so to see them in the ring like that having a special moment was cool. I doubt that Kendrick is going to be gone after this. He won over the crowd and had to have impressed officials. I assume he has to be part of the Cruiserweight Division on Raw in a few weeks. It would make sense.
There were only two matches this week. Both of them were around the same time and hitting that four star level. This show is awesome because it’s all about the work in the ring. It allows these talented performers a chance to show what they can do at a high level.
Ibushi vs. Kendrick was my second favorite match of the tournament after Ibushi vs. Alexander. That’s why the hype for Ibushi is real. He’s an incredible performer and WWE has to lock him up with a long term deal. I know there are reports that he may not want to work for WWE full time, but I hope he does. He’s a special talent.
I’m pumped about next week’s matches. Only two more episodes of this show makes me sad, though.
Next week will feature the two other quarterfinals with a two-hour live finale on Wednesday September 14. That night will feature the semifinals to start and then the finals to end the night. Winner gets a trophy. Then on September 19, the Cruiserweight division starts on Raw.
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org