WWE Cruiserweight Classic (Round 1) – Results and Review
We Write Wrestling – @WeWriteWrestlin
Whether it was the emotional contest between best friends Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, or global stars such as Cedric Alexander and Drew Gulak showcasing why they should have always been on this large of a stage, the first round of the CWC surely was everything we had hoped it was and much more. Let’s take a look back on the stellar first round of the CWC.
Results of the Left Bracket
Arguably the weaker of the two sides of the bracket, the left bracket held fan favourites such as the crafty veteran Tajiri, and held a majority of the notable cruiserweights like the savior of catch wrestling Drew Gulak, master of the bridging German suplex Akira Tozawa, the champagne supernova Noam Dar, and world-renowned technical wizard Zack Sabre Jr.
The top of the bracket was mostly as we expected. Tozawa/Johnson was a very underrated match. Earlier on, Johnson seems to be a bit lost but he gained his footing with the NOAH star. For someone of his size, Johnson was incredibly agile and with maybe a year in the performance center, he could be a valuable asset to NXT, as well with Tozawa, who instantly could go into Raw’s new Cruiserweight Division. Gallagher/Richner was also a very good 1st round match, with Gallagher going over in what was a surprisingly well-paced match, with its peak occurring when Richner hit a double springboard moonsault onto Gallagher, which is astounding as he is probably the largest competitor in the CWC. Going further down we had the always impressive “Japanese Buzzsaw” Tajiri take on “The Golden Boy” Damian Slater. A rather quick match, Tajiri made quick work of Slater, disposing of him with the signature Buzzsaw Kick, allowing him to advance to the 2nd round.
As we hit the heavy hitters now, the likes of Drew Gulak and Zack Sabre Jr showed they are far above a vast majority of the rest of the field. Gulak finished off Harv Shira (One half of the Bollywood Boys) with perhaps one of the most brutal Dragon Sleepers I’ve ever seen. It was one of many moments already that you must go out and see for yourself. To wrap up the left block here, we had the very talented Noam Dar face off against the other half of the Bollywood Boys, Gurv Shira. In what was nothing too special, Noam Dar causes Gurv Shira to tap with his Champegne Super Kneebar. Dar is another one of the younger cruiserweight here and his recent string matches with Jay Lethal at WCPW, and now with him here in the CWC, bright things are due ahead for Dar. The left bracket concluded with Hoho Lun versus the brother of WWE’s very own Daivari, Ariya Daivari. In a somewhat strange match, we had Lun go over Daivari using a German suplex similar to those of a few NJPW greats, although he looked very nervous and it seemed like he was being carried by Ariya throughout the match.
Overall, this could be seen as the lesser of the two brackets. There would a lot of lesser known guys on this side which could explain the lesser crowd reactions in some of these matches. The matches were still of a decent quality no doubt but because of this quality, i think it leans for it to be critiqued more heavily. Let’s move to on the right side of the bracket, where almost every match had me on my feet.
Results of the Right Bracket
Starting right away, we had the returning,and what seen like more fierce Brain Kendrick going against the flashy Raul Medoza. A quite decent match, with a few good spots, peaking with a coast-to-coast from Medoza. Kendrick advanced onto the second round with the Bully Choke, which is a reverse takeover into a crossface for the win. Both men showing that they easily could go into the new Cruiserweight Division on the main roster if they were given the chance as they are very, very talented. Next there was a very uneventful match between Tony Nese and Anthony Bennett. A scary moment during this match, as the ref had to stop the match to check on Bennett’s knee. He then allowed the match to go on, and shortly after, Tony Nese hits a 450 splash for the 3 count.
The next match most likely had the most eyes on it of all the first rounds matchups, we saw Japanese sensation Kota Ibushi faces off against “The Master of the Savate Kick”Sean Maluta. Right out of the gate, Ibushi’s kicks were being pushed as extremely stiff and effective, and for good reason. Some of the matches he’s had in Pro Wrestling NOAH and NJPW have been brutal. The match was a good back and forth affair involving a lot of strikes and kicks. As always. there was tons and tons of fan support for Ibushi, as he’s a global star . There also seemed to be a section of fans rooting for Maluta as well. One spot that took some of the energy out of the match was when Maluta went for a Springboard Tope Con Hilo but ended up botching the move in the end, but luckily both men were okay and the match went on. Obviously, Kota wins this match with an insane Gold Star Bomb for the win. As well, and I’m saying it now, we will Kota use that move many more times in a WWE ring. Even in defeat, Maluta still looked great and should be considered for a tryout by the WWE, as he and Ibushi had some decent chemistry during the contest.
At this point in the bracket, we really got to see some stellar matches going on. To begin with, we had former ROH star Cedric Alexander beat Clement Petiot with his Lumbar Check finishing maneuver. The match was very intense, and very smooth that at. There’s a spot in the match where Cedric goes for a springboard lariat and it absolutely soars in the air, well past the top rope. All in all, both men looked strong but Cedric went over, which is good as his performances of that have been amazing and the combo of the weight cut while leaving ROH is doing wonders for his career. Hopefully WWE picks up on quickly. The second match of the two that started to slow for me, we had former TNA star otherwise known as Manik, TJ Perkins facing off against a relatively unknown guy in Da Mack, who for me, was not that impressive. He felt very bland and boring as TJ Perkins beat him easily, causing to submit with a victory roll into a kneebar, as TJP rolls on to the second round.
In what was easily the match of the first round, “Psycho Killer” Tommaso Ciampa battled his tag team partner and best friend “Johnny Wrestling” Johnny Gargano. All of the hype coming into this match was met and then some, as with the very first strike of the match being an almost ruthless elbow from Ciampa to Gargano, which set the tone for this match right away. Stiff strikes, great selling, a very painful apron spot and some near-falls made this match a classic. This match was the perfect example of in-ring storytelling, and if you have not seen it yet, I’d recommend you exit this article right now and watch it as it is that damn good.
Another decent match, which was the 2nd to last match of the first round, we had a clash of high-flyers with Lince Dorado versus Mustafa Ali. A very, very thrilling and entertaining bout that even had a failed imploding 450 splash spot in it as both wrestlers really showed off what they had to offer, but Dorado advanced after a picture-perfect SSP to Ali for the 3 count. Following this, we have hit the end of the first round with NXT star and athletic freak Rich Swann versus swift striker and Bruce Lee megafan, Jason Lee. Althought not the best match of the first round, I felt like this match personifies what Cruiserweights are all about. Very agile and quick offense, mixing styles from all over the world, and this match clearly showcases that. In the end of the match, we got to witness Rich Swann hit his crazy standing 450 splash, who won this match. As the first round concludes, we were able to see many men that would have never gained a chance to wrestle on such a stage without something like this platform being there to allow them to show us their talents, which is why the CWC is such landmark event in the first place.
With round 1 over, it will be an interesting dyanmic whether they are any major upsets or not. Guys like Ibushi, and ZSJ are clearly going to go deep into the tournament and it’s most likely that they will go far in the CWC. Other guys such as Alexander, and Metalik may fly under the radar so long as they get past their next matchups, mores epcfically with Alexander facing off against Ibushi, which is a dream match in itself. With rumors a large amount of CWC competitors being signed to the WWE and the winner of the tournament being presented with the new Cruiserweight title at the live finale, the plot seemed thickened more and more with every episode.
Clearly the CWC is the best thing going for the WWE network and perhaps wrestling in general. More and more eyes float over to it as the mainstream media picks up on it. With the popularity of the CWC while RAW and Smackdown slowly make changes for the better, the rise of indie wrestling promotions, and wrestling being more available than ever, it is indeed a very good time to be a wrestling fan.