WWE Cruiserweight Classic – Bracketology!

Howdy!

Name’s Rick and I’ll be your recapper for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic!

Some of you know me from my ROH recaps; as I’m also a pretty big fan of the light heavyweights, NJPW in particular, I asked for this one. I very much enjoy this type of wrestling, and I’m looking forward to the coming weeks.

Tonight, it’s Bracketology!

We’re going to break down each bracket of the CWC, much like the NCAA tourney. Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan, with others popping up along the way.

Show opens with HHH addressing the assembled cruiserweights at the Performance Center. He emphasizes that there is opportunity for everyone in the room, and they think they’ve found the best cruiserweights in the world for this event.

Mauro and Bryan welcome us, and Bryan is happy to be back; he thought it would be difficult to be back, but it turns out that he’s excited to be a part of it. We see the whole bracket briefly as Bryan talks about the diverse set of countries that will be represented in the CWC. Bryan talks about guys like Ibushi wrestling in front of 40K in the Tokyo Dome, while some guys haven’t wrestled in front of more than 200 people. Bryan sets the tone early by pointing out that the cruiserweights don’t have a ‘style’, but rather a weight limit that they have to work with; Bryan points out that the WCW limit was 225 pounds, but the WWE cut it down to 205.

Up first, we talk about Alejandro Saez, who weighed 230 but managed to cut weight down to 205 exactly to make it into the tournament. He apparently cut 25 pounds in two weeks, which is Machinist Christian Bale territory. Bryan wonders if he’ll be too tired to make it through the event.

Up next, Zack Sabre, Jr. One of the more famous wrestlers in the event, he’s the current PWG World Champion. We cut to a video package/interview with Sabre, who talks about his history with wrestling and admiring Jericho and Guerrero. Tons of footage of Sabre, as he states that ‘Harry Potter isn’t the only wizard from Great Britain.’ Back to Mauro and Bryan, who are joined by Canyon Ceman, VP of development. Ceman talks about it taking 4 years to put the tournament together, going all over the world to find the talent. He puts over Bryan for changing the typical look of a WWE superstar, and says that they’re doing this to try to satisfy everyone they can with something that they haven’t seen before.

Jack Gallagher is up now, and we take a look at young Mr. Gallagher, who looks like the long-lost son of one of the Vaudevillains. He talks about North American style, Japanese style, Lucha Libre, all of them having their place, but he likes his style the most, which is technical and scientific. He isn’t the biggest guy, so he has to use his mind to beat his opponents; he’ll keep it gentlemanly, so long as the opponent does. After all, he considers himself a classic English gentleman.

Mauro and Bryan think he’s phenomenal.

Over to two brothers now, Gurv Sihra and Harv Sihra, both from India. They’re the Bollywood boys! They cite Guerrero as an inspiration to their work, including their Bollywood influences. They’re happy to be in America, it’s a dream come true. They both think that they’re better than the other one.

Mauro asks Daniel, who thinks that these guys are underdogs. They don’t have the experience that guys like Ibushi, or Kendrick, or Sabre Jr have, but they’re brothers, and tournaments like this could use that support.

Rich Swann is our next wrestler, and he’s already a part of NXT. He’s GREAT, by the way, tons of charisma and a great worker. I’ve got him going far in this thing. Wrestling saved his life, with both his mother and father passing away at an early age. He went to some dark places, but he made it anyway as we see video of him working the Indies and in NXT. His perfect ending? Winning this tournament.

Bryan roots for Swann because of his back story; he’s impressed by Rich’s work on the Indy scene and in Japan. Ranallo throws it to Corey Graves in the CWC Control Center, who’s going to run down the left side of the bracket.

The matchups look like something out of a video game, with a giant ‘VS’ scrawled across the middle. Your first round matchups on the left side of the bracket are:

Kenneth Johnson (US) vs Akira Tozawa (Japan)
Jack Gallagher (featured earlier) (Great Britain) vs Fabian Richner (Italy)
Tajiri (Japan) vs Damian Slater (Australia)
Alejandro Saez (featured earlier) (Chile) vs Gran Metalik (Mexico)
Zack Sabre, Jr (Great Britain) vs Tyson Dux (Canada)
Noam Dar (Israel) vs Gurv Sihra (featured earlier) (India)

Graves doesn’t cover them, but your other two first-round matchups are Harv Sihra (India) vs Drew Gulak (US) & Ariya Daivari (Iran) vs Ho Ho Lun (Hong Kong).

Back to Mauro and Bryan, and they talk about one of the most intriguing first round matchups, that being Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa, who are tag partners in NXT. To the video package, as they talk about being put together as a tag team as singles wrestlers, and how they clicked. But at the end of the day, they both want to be the best, and they’re going to see who comes out on top in the first round. Ciampa has a great line in here about how he doesn’t hit with the intent to injure, but he does hit with the intent to hurt; he doesn’t want to see John get injured, but he doesn’t want to lose.

Bryan thinks that this match depends on their long-term goals; if their intent is to win a bunch of tag titles, to be the greatest tag team ever, they might hold back. He doesn’t think that’s the case, though. He talks about Gargano being the Dragon’s Gate champion for more than 800 days, that he likes being a singles champion. Ciampa is the same way; he was the TV Champ in ROH, but that isn’t mentioned here.

TJ Perkins is up next, and Mauro calls his story one of the most inspiring in the tournament. TJ has been working since 13 years old, 18 years in the ring. Turns out that Lucha Libre promotions don’t check your age when you work for them. He was homeless for awhile, it turns out, and wrestling was how he got out of the hole. He wants to inspire people, because others can do the same things he can, and he wants to spread that inspiration.

And we’re back as TJ has joined Mauro and Bryan at the desk. He talks about being younger and lacking mental toughness, as Bryan laughingly points out that Perkins has been wrestling longer than he has! Mauro asks if he could legally wrestle at 13 years old while Bryan sort of yanks on his collar to shush him, but TJ basically says that he hid under a mask to look older in the Lucha Libre promotions. A lot of stuff went wrong in his life, but he’s here now. Bryan asks how confident he is about being a better technical wrestler than the other competitors, and his answer is that he’s ‘supremely confident.’ Bryan points out that Perkins is the youngest American to ever wrestle for NJPW, and asks what he hopes will come of this tournament for him? Perkins gives a pretty politically correct answer, invoking the Super J Cup in saying that this tournament will make history. He’s happy to represent himself as a Filipino, and he’s happy to be here.

Perkins came off like kind of a dick here. Just saying. Mauro throws it back to Graves in the CWC Control Center to check out the right side of the bracket.

Your right side of the first round looks like this:

Raul Mendoza (Mexico) vs Brian Kendrick (US)
Kota Ibushi (Japan) vs Sean Maluta (American Samoa)
TJ Perkins (featured earlier) (Phillipines) vs Da Mack (Germany)
Johnny Gargano (US) vs Tomasso Ciampa (US) (Both featured earlier)
Jason Lee (Hong Kong) vs Rich Swann (US)

Matches not covered include Anthony Bennett (US) vs Tony Nese (US), Cedric Alexander (US) vs Clement Petiot (France), & Mustafa Ali (Pakistan) vs Lince Dorado (Puerto Rico). Graves is done and throws us back to Bryan and Mauro.

They talk about Tajiri and Brian Kendrick (“THE” Brian Kendrick, thanks for the correction, Daniel), and we go the video package. Short bit about Tajiri first, then the meat of it is given to Kendrick, who’s sporting quite the Jesus look for this thing. He’s 37 years old, and this is a chance at redemption for him, both according to the Graves voiceover and Kendrick himself. He talks about being released because he was an ‘animal’ and that he deserved it; he almost tears up when talking about getting a second chance. That was actually an honest bit of emotion there, almost got me.

Back to the desk, and Kendrick has joined us with Bryan and Mauro. Bryan talks about having his very first match ever against Kendrick, and it turns out that match was also Kendrick’s first match ever! Brian came out to “Genie in a Bottle”, while Daniel came out to “Born in the USA”, which is pretty awesome. Kendrick thinks his worked better. He’s excited and grateful for the opportunity, and he’s pretty sincere here, it seems like. He calls Daniel “Dragon”, and calls him his biggest competition, and without him, he wouldn’t be the wrestler that he is now. Bryan admits that he wants Kendrick to win the tournament, but he’s worried about the age factor. Kendrick says that he’s smarter now, and this may be his last opportunity. They bring up both being trained by Shawn, and they relate a story about Shawn teaching them back body drops when he wasn’t supposed to because of his back surgery, and Shawn getting busted by his mother. Hee! They ask Kendrick who he’s like to face, and he says that he wants to beat them all.

Last guy for the night: Kota Ibushi. Well, of course. He and Sabre Jr are clearly the biggest stars in the whole tournament. Video package now, with translations being provided from Kota’s Japanese. He wants to show how good Japanese wrestling is, and he thinks that more people will watch him and enjoy his style. He talks about wrestling Balor, Zayn, and Nakamura in the past, and how that experience gives him an advantage in this tournament. He’ll win because he loves pro wrestling the most amongst all the competitors.

Back at the desk, Ranallo talks about calling Ibushi’s matches in NJPW and how Daniel wrestled Ibushi in NOAH. Daniel talks about Isbushi being able to do anything in the ring, and how Ibushi kicked him harder than anyone else besides Hideo Itami. Bryan talks about Ibushi’s herniated disc in his neck, and how he may not be able to do all the same things that he could do before, and that launches into a discussion of Strong Style vs Escapeology, and this whole thing is just fascinating on a lot of levels.

HHH joins us at the desk now for the final segment, and it’s just funny to me to see HHH and Bryan sitting next to each other at the desk. HHH talks about how there are a ton of guys in the business that don’t have a platform to show off what they can do, so this is their way of giving those guys a platform. Ranallo asks if this is going to be a shift in WWE philosophy, with WWE always being known as the “Land of the Giants”, is this where the future of the company lies? Man, this is surreal. HHH puts over Daniel Bryan as being a game-changer in that regard, and that you don’t need to be a 300 pound giant to succeed in the industry. He’s happy to provide the platform for these guys to shine, and the different style is what’s exciting about it. Ranallo talks about ‘cruiserweight’ not meaning high-flyer, and HHH agrees, saying that you’re going to see some amazing technical wrestling over the course of this tournament. He talks about looking for diverse styles that would match up well in the ring, whether it be mat-based, striking, or high-flying, he wanted matches that would work well together. All of them agree that this is going to be a success, and HHH laughingly says that he knew this would be a success once they found wrestlers that even Daniel Bryan hadn’t heard of.

Ranallo asks if this is going to be a ‘one and done’ or if it’s going to be a yearly thing, and HHH states unequivocally that this will NOT be a one and done tournament, that we’re only scratching the surface here. He’s not sure what the opportunity will be going forward, but it’s not going away. Bryan would have killed for this opportunity when he was sleeping on floors. HHH loves being in the Performance Center, but even he was blown away by the energy level in the PC during the week of the CWC. Mauro thanks HHH and shakes his hand, okay, enough with the HHH blowjobs here. Yes, he deserves the credit, but tone it down just a bit, alright? They banter a bit more, Mauro reminds us that we start up next week, and we’re done.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was just so weird to watch, as they treated the whole thing like a legitimate athletic competition the entire time. Now, I’m probably in a minority here, but I enjoyed that quite a bit; yes, it was mostly fluff, but the way that they approached it was respectful and hopefully indicates that they’re going to treat this thing the same way. I cannot wait. Do you need to watch it? Not really, as I’m sure that they’re going to cover all of this during the matches on commentary.

Okay, next thing: THE BRACKET CHALLENGE!!!!!

Let’s be up front here: Obviously, the WWE has already taped the entire first round, so there are spoilers out there.

Regardless, that leaves us with the rest of the bracket to work with. Said bracket is posted below. While I can’t make you look at spoilers, I won’t stop you either. Frankly, it’d be kind of silly not to check the spoilers out, but on the other hand, we’re really not playing for anything here. If you want a prize, I’ll do a review on the show of your choice or something, I really don’t care. It’s just fun to play.

SO, with that in mind, email me your completed bracket no later than next TUESDAY, JULY 12TH. I’ll update the standings each week. We’re just doing this for fun and bragging rights. If you can’t find a fill-in bracket, no prob – just send in your round by round picks and I’ll fill them in for you. You must also send along a tiebreaker, which will be: “What is the bell-to-bell time for the Finals?”

Email me at [email protected] Subject line: CWC BRACKET.

CWCbracket

Thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter