Welcome to Night 1 of the Cruiserweight Classic!
I’m obviously excited beyond all belief for this. Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Opening video shows Kidman, Malenko, Guerrero, Bryan as a voiceover talks about Cruiserweights and their accomplishments being overshadowed, then it switches to footage of the competitors from this tournament; tonight, the first round of this ground-breaking tournament begins! 32 men, 16 countries….1 prize.
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo & Daniel Bryan. They’re jacked. They send us to Corey Graves in the CWC Control center to check out the bracket and go over our matches for this evening. He gives us our matches for the night, and up first is Alejandro Saez vs Gran Metalik.
Video package on Metalik is in Spanish with subtitles, as is Saez’s; they both want to win, in a shocker.
Here’s your BOD Tale of the tape on these guys! This is just a small bit of information about both guys, with links to their Cagematch database so if you like what you see, go check out other places and opponents they’ve wrestled and maybe see more of their work!
Alejandro is also known as Xtra Large. He works primarily in Chile. First match recorded was on April 30th, 2006, so he’s a 10 year plus veteran. He currently holds the XNL (Xplosion Nacional de Lucha Libre) World Title. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=7045&name=
Gran Metalik is a Lucha Libre star who works primarily in Mexico. First match recorded was on February 10th, 2005, so he’s got more than 11 years in the ring, with over 1,000 matches to his credit. He does not currently hold any titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=7764&gimmick=Gran+Metalik
As Gran makes his entrance, Mauro and Daniel discuss the meaning of the term Lucha Libre and the fact that Gran was trained by his dad. Saez comes out and the fact that he dropped 30 pounds to make weight in the tournament is discussed, along with him having to go to Mexico to train due to there being not a lot of pro wrestling in Chile.
The vibe to start the match is extremely similar to UFC: Charles Robinson is mic’d up, and he brings them together in the center of the ring, gives brief instructions and backs them up after they shake hands. Awesome.
Gran Metalik vs Alejandro Saez – Round 1
Circle and Saez grabs a wristlock, Gran flips over, but Alejandro controls with a kick and an axehandle. Side headlock by Saez, Metalik shoots him off and Saez runs through with a shoulder. Saez’s bug-eyed selling is fun. They run the ropes and Saez gets a seated dropkick as Ranallo is already just spouting information left and right about Saez training at the NOAH dojo and with Super Crazy. I love it. Saez is playing heel here for sure. Whip by Saez, reversal by Gran, Saez flips over the top rope and catches a charging Metalik through the ropes with a shoulder, then springs back in with a dropkick for two. Saez sends Gran into the ropes, Metalik flips off of them and catches Alejandro with a kick. Metalik goes to the corner and does a crazy ropewalk from one side to the other on the middle, springing off with a dropkick of his own and that sends Saez to the outside, and Daniel Bryan already knows what’s coming, springboard Tope Con Hilo from Gran! I swear, Mauro was put on earth to call that move. Gran sends Saez back in and goes up to the top and walks to the center of the ropes, splash by Gran! 1,2, NO! Gran charges, but gets alley-ooped to the apron and Saez kicks him to the floor. Saez to the apron, Shooting Star Press by Saez to Metalik on the floor! Gran back in Saez goes up, twisting press off the top rope misses! Corner clothesline by Metalik, and he puts Saez in a fireman’s carry, Fisherman’s Driver! 1,2,3! (Gran Metalik over Alejandro Saez, pinfall, 4:18)
WORTH WATCHING? Saez was awesome here, especially his big-eyed selling, arguing with the official about the 1 count being a 3, and stumbling around the ring. He may have earned himself a job. Not a 4-star classic or anything, but I’d assume that’s going to be the norm for the first round. Either way, YES, this was fun Lucha Libre to watch. Saez was the real star of the show. Good start.
Post-match, both guys are brought to the center of the ring and Gran’s name is announced as the winner while Robinson raises his hand; again, think very UFC-esque. Behind Metalik, his flag displays on the video board. Saez is still doing an awesome sell-job.
Up next, we’ve got Ho Ho Lun against Ariya Daivari!
Video package shows a little bit of Daivari, who talks about his brother being a wrestler here in the WWE, some footage is shown of Shawn. Ho Ho talks about him being against the grain in Hong Kong, and has perfect English in doing so.
Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!
Ariya is the brother of Shawn Daivari, formerly from the WWE. First match recorded was on September 26th, 2006, so he’s got almost ten years as a wrestler in the can. He currently holds the F1RST Wrestling Wrestlepalooza Title. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=4836&name=
Ho Ho Lun
Ho Ho Lun is the founder of the Hong Kong Pro-Wrestling Federation. First match recorded was on January 8th, 2011, so he’s got about 5 and ½ years in the ring. He is the current Hong Kong Pro-Wrestling Federation Junior Heavyweight Champion. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=16983&name=Ho+Ho+Lun
Ariya is booed when he comes out; ain’t xenophobia grand? He declines the handshake when the ref brings them together, and I almost typed ‘Code of Honor’ there. I can’t state ENOUGH how awesomely realistic they’re playing this. Daivari stares a hole in Lun while refusing the handshake.
Ariya Daivari vs Ho Ho Lun – Round 1
Lockup and Daivari controls with a side headlock. Lun shoots him off, but Daivari knocks him down with a shoulder. Off the ropes, Daivari cartwheels over Lun, but Lun catches him with a dropkick. Running forearm in the corner and dropkick to the back of Daivari’s head gets two. Daivari reverses a whip attempt and gets a jumping neckbreaker to Lun for 1. To the corner, and Ariya controls with kicks, then a cross-corner whip. He goes for a big splash in the corner, but Lun moves out of the way and Daivari crashes and burns pretty spectacularly. Lun off the ropes, but Daivari catches him with a jumping knee for two. Daivari comes off the ropes with a knee to the back of a seated Ho Ho, then a chinlock while the fans chant “Ho Ho Ho Ho” in tune with Zayn’s “Ole!” chants. Lun fights back up, but Daivari takes him back down by the hair. 1,2, no. Back to the chinlock. Ranallo namedrops Kawada and KENTA in talking about Lun, and Lun fights up. Lun ducks a kick from Daivari, but doesn’t duck the second one, and that gets two. Paintbrush slaps by Daivari, but he gets caught with a heel kick from Lun. Lun is firing up now, and goes up to the second rope, missile dropkick by Lun! German suplex attempt, but Daivari reverses and gets a Roaring Elbow. Daivari goes up, frog splash misses! Lun with a knee to the back of Daivari’s head, then a superkick! 1,2, NO! Lun in undeterred, however, and hits the German this time to put Daivari away. (Ho Ho Lun over Ariya Daivari, pinfall, 5:02)
WORTH WATCHING? Not quite as high on this one. First off, the wrong guy went over, as Daivari clearly ran circles around Lun on the charisma front. He played the heel to perfection. They didn’t mesh very well, which I’ll chalk up to a chemistry thing, but I’d say NO, you can skip this one. It was a very indy style match without a lot between the moves that wasn’t Daivari trying to get himself over. He should have won, he’d have been a better choice going forward. Lun struck me as ultra-dull here.
Bryan puts over Lun winning while still suffering from jetlag, as Lun looks shocked he won. Up next, we’ve got Petiot against Alexander! No filler, just have the match, do the video for the next one, have the next one.
Right as I type that, we throw to a commercial for the Draft. Oh well. It was quick.
Video package for Clement Petiot. He was trained by Lance Storm, and he’s not a high-flyer, he doesn’t do flips, etc. He’s just bigger than the other guys. Cedric Alexander is from Charlotte, North Carolina and wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Ric Flair. On a personal note, I’m beyond happy that he made it into this thing, as I loved him in ROH and was sad to see him go. He deserves all the best, he’s excellent.
To the BOD Tale of the Tape!
Clement Petiot – AKA Tristan Archer
Works primarily in Europe. First match recorded was a battle royale on January 16th 2010, so he’s got six years as a pro. He currently holds the ICWA (International Catch Weight Association) Title and the PWS (Pro Wrestling Showdown) Heavyweight Title. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=10156&page=4
Cedric is formerly of Ring of Honor, and, in my opinion, one of the biggest wastes of talent that the company ever had; he left the company and has recently appeared for Evolve. First match recorded was on January 15th, 2010, so he’s also got six years as a pro. He currently holds the AML (America’s Most Like Wrestling) Title and PWI J (Pro Wrestling International Junior) Title. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=11151&name=Cedric+Alexander
As Petiot makes his entrance, the announcers talk about him being willing to do anything to win. Cedric gets a nice ovation; his pastor told him he would never make it as a wrestler. Alexander cut 25 pounds to get into the tournament.
Crowd chants for Cedric as they shake hands, and Petiot pulls him in nose to nose and they exchange words.
Cedric Alexander vs Clement Petiot – Round 1
Waistlock takedown by Petiot is reversed by Alexander into a hammerlock, reversed by Petiot. Alexander gets out and trips him down, somersaults over a run of the ropes, and catches Clement with consecutive deep armdrags, sending Petiot outside. Alexander runs the ropes and does a backflip off the second rope instead of a dive after Clement moves. Back in now, off the ropes and Alexander with a headscissors takeover and a picture perfect dropkick. That gets two. Alexander charges Petiot in the corner, but gets alley-ooped over the top and kneed in the face through the second rope. Headbutt by Petiot and he fires shoulders at Cedric in the corner. Cedric tries to fight back, but Petiot puts him back down with some stiff shots and covers for a quick one count. Suplex gets one for Petiot. Gutwrench suplex gets two, and he slaps on a chinlock. Bryan is right on, talking about Petiot wearing Alexander down after enduring the high-flying stuff early. Cedric fights back up, but Petiot with a big elbow puts him back down. Cedric hits the buckles in the corner on a missed charge, and Petiot follows that with a kick to the back of Cedric’s head, then he shoulders Alexander into the corner, following with a running knee to the side of the head for two. Petiot rains strikes down on Cedric, who rolls out to the apron. Petiot tries another running knee, but Cedric moves and snaps him back against the ropes. Alexander springs back in with an HUGE leaping clothesline. Great hangtime there. Two big running forearms in the corner and Alexander goes for the Lumbar Check, but can’t get him up. Belly-to-Back suplex is rolled through and Cedric runs right into a Discus clothesline by Petiot, with a full somersault sell job. 1,2, NO! Petiot goes for one more Discus, but Cedric ducks it and this time, he gets the Lumbar Check for the 1,2,3. (Cedric Alexander over Clement Petiot, pinfall, 6:44)
WORTH WATCHING? I always say that Cedric is worth it. I would have liked to see a little more from these guys, as Petiot has really good presence in the ring. YES, this one is worth checking out, especially if you’ve never seen Cedric work before. Besides, the story was about as decent as we’re going to be getting from a six minute match, with Petiot doing a good heel control job in the middle and looking like he could have won if Cedric hadn’t caught him with his finisher out of nowhere.
We see the bracked shows us that Cedric has now earned the right to job to Kota Ibushi in the second round! Yay!
We see Kota Ibushi in the back as we get ready for our last match of the night.
Video package has Ibushi talking in Japanese with subtitles; he wants to make the crowd happy, and he thinks his skills will do that, even though he’s new to the WWE. Maluta got his start at the Wild Samoan Training Center, and his uncle is Afa.
Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!
Sean Maluta – AKA Samoan Dragon
Maluta has spent most of his career in WXW, where he’s held multiple titles in the past. His first recorded match was May 3rd, 2008, giving him a little more than eight years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=9684&name=
Oh, come on. If you’re reading this recap, you know who Ibushi is. But still, he’s worked primarily for NJPW. His first recorded match was on July 18th, 2004, so he’s got almost twelve years as a pro in the can. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=4588&name=
Maluta makes his entrance as Mauro talks about his cousins including Roman Reigns and the Usos. Well, he’s boned. Crowd roars when Ibushi comes out, because he’s the star. Mauro calls him one of the elite cruiserweights on the planet. I get the feeling that betting against Ibushi here would be like betting against the Harlem Globetrotters. Crowd is completely behind Ibushi before the match starts as they shake hands.
Kota Ibushi vs Sean Maluta – Round 1
Nice kick from Ibushi to start as Bryan starts laughing, talking about how quickly Maluta’s leg will go numb if that keeps up. Ibushi controls with a wristlock. Maluta rolls through it as some fans try to start a chant for Maluta that is quickly drowned out with chants for Ibushi. Ibushi finally reverses the wristlock to a hammerlock, but Maluta gets a drop toehold and a front facelock to put a stop to that. Reversals lead to a side headlock by Maluta, Ibushi shoots him off, shoulderblock by Maluta puts him down. They run the ropes and Maluta gets FLATTENED by a roundhouse kick from Ibushi as the crowd chants “Kota’s gonna kill you”. Cross-corner whip by Ibushi, but Maluta goes over the charge and drops him with a forearm, then goes up. Frog splash from Maluta misses! Ibushi springs in with a missile dropkick, then catches Sean coming out of the corner with an Exploder. Ibushi charges but eats some boot from Sean, Maluta goes up, Codebreaker from the second rope! Ibushi rolls out to the floor to catch his breath. Maluta runs from the other corner and tries a somersault flip over the top rope, but catches his legs and damn near breaks his neck. Yikes. That was indyish as FUCK. Bryan and Mauro cover for him well, talking about having to take chances because of how good Ibushi is. Maluta rolls Ibushi back in and gets two. Maluta goes to a stretch on the mat, then a chinlock. Ibushi fights out, but gets caught with a kick to the head and a neckbreaker from Maluta for two. Maluta fires kicks at a kneeling Ibushi, but he’s KOTA’ING UP! He hits a running Maluta with a GORGEOUS dropkick, one of the best I’ve seen this side of Jason Jordan, and both guys are down. Mauro namedrops Okada on WWE television as I wonder if I’ve fallen into the Twilight Zone at this point. Sean tries to slug it out with Kota, but he gets slapped silly and kicked down to his knees, then Ibushi just absolutely levels him with a kick. Ibushi with a standing moonsault! 1,2, NO! Ibushi puts Maluta on the top and goes for the superplex, but Maluta drops him down to the mat with forearms. Maluta tries to steady himself on the top, but that just gives Kota time to hit him with a RIDICULOUS Pele kick, sending Maluta to the floor. “You can see why people are calling him one of the greatest wrestlers in the world at any weight class!” sayeth Daniel. And Daniel is very correct. Ibushi runs across the ring, then leaps over the top to the 2nd turnbuckle and moonsaults Maluta on the floor! Ibushi tosses Maluta back in at 8 and covers for two. Ibushi goes for the Dragon Suplex to finish, but Maluta elbows out and catches Ibushi with a savate kick! 1,2, NO! Man, Mauro and Bryan sold it like that could have ended it. Kawada kicks by Maluta, but Ibushi ducks out and nails him with a roundhouse kick to the face. Ibushi hoists him up and hits a beautiful Ligerbomb to put this thing away. (Kota Ibushi over Sean Maluta, pinfall, 9:45)
WORTH WATCHING? Ibushi was showing off why he’s one of the best in the world, and they gave Maluta a surprising amount of offense as well. They had a few problems, most notably that slight botch in the middle by Sean, but they covered it well and announcers DID THEIR JOB and came up with reasons why he went for the move, how it missed, and why it was a good idea. You know, instead of making fun of him for it, they tried to put the guy over instead. Will wonders never cease. YES, this one is worth your time. Check it out.
Post-match, Ibushi celebrates while I’m sure that Cedric Alexander is just saying “fuck” in the back. On the other hand, I get Cedric vs Ibushi in the second round. I love this tournament! Ibushi extends the hand, and Sean shakes it, then raises Kota’s hand in victory as Mauro thanks us for watching. Previews for next week include Taijiri/Damien Slater, TJ Perkins/Da Mack, Mustafa Ali/Lince Dorado, and Akira Tozawa/Kenneth Johnson. And we’re out.
FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Yeah, I’m gonna enjoy this. First week was all about short matches to put guys over, and I suspect that most of the first round weeks are going to be the same, which is fine; I suspect that we’re going to get the really, really good stuff later in the tournament. Still, for setting the mood and showing us what we’re in for, this was a tremendous start to this thing. Thumbs up.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter
BRACKET CHALLENGE UPDATE: I only got 3 brackets, so I’m keeping the contest still open until tomorrow at noon. As they didn’t announce the brackets until the first round had already been taped, I’m just not going to score out the first round. But they tape the second round tomorrow night, so that’s it. Therefore, if you want to still get in on this thing, get them done ASAP and send them into me. Email them to [email protected] Subject line: CWC BRACKET
Last thing – NO SPOILERS IN THIS THREAD. Please. I beg of you. I’m unspoiled as are a lot of people, please respect that. Thanks.