WWE Cruiserweight Classic (Quarterfinals) Review: “The Pinnacle Of The CWC Arrives..”
Published on: September 14, 2016
We Write Wrestling – @WeWriteWrestlin
Yes, I’m finally back once again to take a cold hard stare at the CWC and see if it stares back, and good lord how it does. After a few weeks of bad luck and even worse timing, I’m now here again full-time to review all of the wrestling goodness that is on the WWE Network.
This week we look at what must be the most underrated matches of the entire tournament! They were absolutely delightful, whether it be the technical masterclass that was Dar/ZSJ or the athletic display that was Swann/Perkins. Plus we still had the semifinals and finals to look at! Let’s not waste any time as we dive into this as we break the fatal eight! This one will be a doozy indeed. (I’ll go over the finals and the tournament in perspective in an entirely separate post later on)
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(Quarterfinal Match) Noam Dar vs Zack Sabre Jr.
The opening match of the quarterfinals saw lifelong friends Noam Dar face off against Zack Sabre Jr. in what can only be described as one of the clearest examples of modern technical cruiserweight wrestling, especially with these two leading that charge. As expected the match was a methodical grind at first, with bursts of speed and energy occasionally. Both men had awed with the expertise of their craft, as the “feeling-out” phase of the match felt as if I was watching a legitimate shoot wrestling/grappling contest. Dar shined through in the beginning actually, really showing off his unique technical offense and level of charisma unseen for his age. Credit given to ZSJ as well as he did his usual ZSJ stuff, working his technical wizardry in between those ropes.
They both at least in my opinion are very underrated sellers as they were several points after near falls and big moves where I thought there may have been a botch or an injury. I guess it was just fair play to the two of them. Good ‘ol Mauro and Daniel also made the emotion displays coming from the two competitors that much better. You can definitely tell that Daniel has come into his own again on WWE programming as he really improved his commentary skills over the ten weeks of this tournament. Having Mauro there to make every match feel big and important must help a lot as well.
This match was a really, really open match and I honestly couldn’t tell who they were going to have go over considering Dar is announced for Raw’s Cruiserweight Division and how ZSJ was one of the two biggest names coming into this, with Kota Ibushi as the other. They both got a majority of their stuff in, with some of the spots shocking me a little bit. There’s a spot where ZSJ rolls Dar and himself out of the ring while they’re both in a submission position respectively, and the bump they each took looked super stiff and nasty. Clearly this is not the normal WWE, shoehorned in-style where it’s very slow, little risk is taken and you can tell where the match is going. You obviously won’t be seeing matches like this every week on Raw or Smackdown Live, that’s a guarantee.
In the end, ZSJ wins with a double armbar using his legs to go over Dar, which is just nuts. The angle and way he had Dar’s arms bent was just insane and crazy, as it looked like he just threw his shoulders out of their sockets. Clearly they have great chemistry and the effect of being real life mates and having wrestled each other multiple times, this match was going to be great regardless. ZSJ goes over and moves into the semifinals, as Dar goes off onto Raw’s new Cruiserweight Division.
(Quarterfinal Match) Akira Tozawa vs Gran Metalik
In what was the first of the quarterfinal matches, we had Akira Tozawa versus Gran Metalik. In what was the less entertaining match of the quarterfinals, Tozawa again put on another great performances who feels like every match he’s had has been one that I’d watch again at least once more. Tozawa’s been really over with the Full Sail crowd, and it shined through in this match. He’s been one of the most consistent performers of the entire CWC and it’s good to see him garner that kind of praise.
Now, we have the curious case of Gran Metalik. An unpopular opinion but to me, every match Metalik has had very similar in the way that you can tell when certain spots are coming or when he’s going to mount some offense, etc. I honestly don’t think this is the fault of Metalik as looking at his indie work, he can go and brings tons of innovative stuff to the table with his lucha libre background but if he would have had some opponents who had wrestled with more luchadors, I think he would have been allowed to bring more of his stuff out of the bag. Luckily, Tozawa has had this experience working with Dragon Gate and DG USA so this match-up worked well for Metalik in that fashion. He’s a very smooth worker and clearly knows what he’s doing, but all I’m saying is that it seems like he’s limited a little bit. Another very back and forth match was this as Tozawa could not keep Metalik down, who kept up with his agile, high-flying offense. I can’t help but go back to the point of how over Tozawa is but if he were to sign to NXT, he could do big, big things with Nakamura, Joe or even Itami.
Towards the big finish, this match really kicked it into gear for me. They really put the match into overdrive, pulling out all of the big spots and near falls they had saved up. The finish sort of came out of nowhere with Metalik going full Cena mode, reversing a German suplex and just hitting his fisherman driver for the 1,2, and 3, as he advances into the semis.
(Quarterfinal Match) Kota Ibushi vs Brian Kendrick
This match can be summed up perfectly with this next sentence. There are feels, many, many feels.
Kendrick really won me over with the pre-match promo package, and I feel like it’s that way for most of the audience as well. He’s been heel for most of the tournament but going into this match, it felt like he had become more of an anti-hero more than anything else. Ibushi as well had a place for me as I have been a fan of his since his first matches in DDT. At least to me, this match also lived up to all the hype.
Two veterans of the ring, facing off for a spot with the final four. Throughout this match, it was all about Kendrick having to work around the lack of hard-hitting ability and talent when compared to Ibushi. In what was two of the best heel spots of the tournament, Kendrick trapped Ibushi in the side guardrail to try and get a count-out win and then later, hit a neckbreaker over the turnbuckle rope in the corner, which was so creative and very painful looking all at once.
Kendrick brought every and all stops for this match. The storytelling of this match was so damn great. Brian’s struggle to use any and all ways to win so he has another chance was a very simple and well-planned subplot for the tournament. Whether it was him selling every move like it was his last or him even breaking out Sliced Bread No. 2, he held his own and more here.
Ibushi…well was Ibushi. He’s the best, simple as that. He once again set a standard that most guys only dream of. The nickname “Golden Star” is as serious as his in-ring work, he’s the most hyped guy coming in the CWC for a reason.
Kendrick, and no joke here, hit a BURNING HAMMER on Ibushi. Before you say anything, yes that burning hammer. And Kota Ibushi kicked out of it. Is there no continuity in wrestling? This is a uber finisher in Japan, nobody ever kicks out of this ever. It’s been only used seven times, and for good reason. Just, come on WWE, be a little kind when it comes to stuff like this.
The match did come to a big bang finally with Kota hitting the Golden Star powerbomb to put Kendrick out of the tournament.
Rich Swann vs TJ Perkins
For the last of the quarterfinal matches, we had a full-on dance off with dab king himself TJ Perkins battling off against the dancing machine of NXT, Rich Swann. In a match full of dabbing and really really stiff strikes, it was a highly contested match, that was just complete and utter organized chaos and action. Perkins’ technical mastery versus Swann’s speed.
From the onset, the two put on a very, very fast workrate, going from big spot to spot, going tick to tack with each other. In a match that went just over 17 minutes, TJ Perkins finally took down Swann with a well-executed kneebar, causing his opponent to tap out. A running storyline through the match is that Swann had damaged his knee on an apron moonsault, where he buckled as he landed on the fall. Whether or not it was a work is beyond me but either way, he played into the match very well and had me believing he had ruined his knee. Both men were super over and the comedy segment involving a “battle of the dab” was one of the highlights of the day.
As there we have it, the finals have been set and decided on(which my review of it and the entire tournament will be up some time tomorrow). We are hitting the pinnacle of the CWC, and ten weeks ago if you were to have told me this would be the highlight of the wrestling year, I would have shrugged and agreed very casually. We have seen multiple MOTY candidates, breakout stars, and memorable moments that we won’t soon forget.
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