The SmarK Rant for the Cruiserweight Classic Finals – 09.14.16
Live from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo & Daniel Bryan
Semi-Finals: Gran Metalik v. Zack Sabre Jr.
Hot take: I haven’t been super-impressed with Zack in this tournament. Metalik immediately dumps him and follows with a dive, and back in with the springboard senton for two. He doesn’t work by the hour, as Gorilla would say! Zack catches him in the ropes and slows him down with a kick to the head and goes to work on the neck. Metalik manages to wrap him up in a wacky abdominal stretch to block a kick, but Sabre wraps him up in an equally wacky dragon sleeper. Back to the neck with a physics-defying surfboard stretch hold and throws forearms in the corner, but Metalik fires back with a high kick out of the corner and shooting star press for two. Zack counters a cradle for two, but Metalik rolls him over for two. Pinfall reversal sequence and Zack spins into a guillotine, but Metalik turns it into a boston crab, and cradles for two off that. They slug it out on the mat and Metalik wins with a lariat, and follows with a superkick into a springboard elbow for two. He goes up and lands on a forearm, and Zack punts him for two. They slug it out on the mat again and Zack wins that one, and gets two. Zack head-fakes him and locks in the Octopus hold, but Metalik makes the ropes. They head up and fight awkwardly for a superplex, which leads to Metalik bringing him down with a rana, but springboarding into a triangle choke. That one didn’t look good, either. Metalik Driver finishes at 13:12, however. They tried a lot, but missed a LOT of stuff. But it was a fun match with hard work and lots of wacky submission holds. ***1/2
Meanwhile, the generic interviewer chick talks to Ciampa & Gargano, who really really should be on Smackdown instead of all the bullshit tag teams they’ve got right now. But for now they’re coming after the Revival again, so that’s awesome.
Semi-Finals: Kota Ibushi v. TJ Perkins
The crowd is rather torn on this one and they slowly feel each other out until TJ grabs a kneebar out of nowhere and Ibushi escapes. TJ does a nice headscissors takedown into an armbar and goes to the headlock off that, but Ibushi puts him down with a kick. Missile dropkick puts TJ on the floor, but the followup dive misses as TJ kicks him mid-move. They do the countout tease and Perkins takes over with a dropkick for two. Ibushi comes back with his own dropkick and puts him on the floor with a rana and follows with the springboard moonsault. Back in, Ibushi tries another moonsault, but lands in a kneebar and Ibushi makes the ropes. Perkins comes back, but Ibushi with a german suplex for two. Ibushi kicks him to the apron and tries to bring him back in with the crazy german suplex from the apron, then settles for a Pele kick to the top rope instead. TJ reverse a powerbomb into a DDT and follows with a lungblower for two. Into the kneebar in the middle and the crowd is FREAKING OUT, but Ibushi rolls him over and they throw insane kicks at each other. Last Ride powerbomb gets two for Ibushi. The crowd is literally standing now watching this. To the top, but Ibushi misses the Phoenix splash. They slug it out and TJ tries a cradle off a wheelbarrow, but Ibushi drops him on his head for two. Ibushi destroys him with a kick and follows with another powerbomb, but TJ rolls him into the kneebar again, facing away from the ropes this time, and then wraps up the neck as well and Ibushi taps at 14:55 and the crowd is STUNNED. Well that was pretty great, and I had no idea who was winning and I was buying into all the drama, too. This was crisp and perfectly timed in all the ways that the previous match wasn’t. ****1/2
So I guess Ibushi didn’t sign then.
Meanwhile, Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander are teaming up for the first time tonight, but they’re pretty sure they don’t need a game plan.
Noam Dar & Cedric Alexander v. Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa
Big reaction for Cedric here, as you’d expect. Dar trades some gymnastic stuff with Johnny Wrestling to start until Gargano puts him down with a knee to the head and DIY takes over. Cedric comes in and cleans house with kicks, then hits Ciampa with a dive and snaps off a Flatliner on the way back into the ring for two. Gargano comes back in with an overhead suplex and then Noam Dar gets double-teamed, and Gargano slingshots in with a spear on Alexander for two. Cedric with a Michinoku driver for two. Back to Ciampa, but Dar dropkicks him in the corner for two. The guys all trade kicks and clotheslines in a crazy sequence, and Dar slugs it out with Gargano before grabbing an anklelock, but Ciampa saves. Dar manages to wrap up Ciampa in the ropes and gets rid of Gargano with a dive, and Alexander gets a brainbuster and a leg lariat on Ciampa for two, which looked like someone screwed up and the ref counted three by accident. Back to Gargano and he lawn-darts Dar into the corner, and the double superkicks to Dar finish at 9:50. This was all kinds of sloppy, although energetic. *** Just kind of indy-riffic craziness that didn’t really have a heat segment or storyline to it. That messed up near-fall at the end in particular was really glaring.
CWC Finals: TJ Perkins v. Gran Metalik
Hold on, HHH is out to raise the stakes.
Cruiserweight title: TJ Perkins v. Gran Metalik
So yeah, now there’s a belt and everything. It’s purple and styled kind of like the Taka light heavyweight belt, but new WWE style. Crowd is split here as well. TJ gets the spinning headscissor takedown and goes into a Boston crab and crucifix for two. They fight on the apron and TJ hits the floor, allowing Metalik to follow with the dive. Back in, a senton bomb gets two. Metalik with a surfboard on the mat, but TJ comes back with a headstand out of the corner to put Metalik on the floor, and he follows with a dive. Back in with a slingshot senton for two and he works Metalik into a stretch hold, but they’re in the ropes. Sideslam gets two. Perkins misses a charge and lands on the apron, and Metalik follows with a diving rana to the floor where I think Bryan was ready to scream WHAT THE FUCK before he thought better of it. Metalik with a dive for good measure, which unfortunately mostly misses. Back in the ring with a springboard elbow for two. Metalik misses a charge, but comes back with a missile dropkick, which Perkins then turns into the kneebar. Metalik quickly makes the ropes, however. They trade superkicks and Perkins dropkicks the knee, but Metalik superkicks him again and counters a fireman’s carry into a DDT for two. Moonsault hits knee and TJ hits the lungblower for two, into the kneebar right away in the middle of the ring, but Metalik reverses to a hard-fought cradle for two. Metalik driver, but he hurts the knee due to all the kneebarring and such, and only gets two. They trade hard slaps on the mat, but TJ counters the Metalik Driver into a dropkick and goes up. Metalik follows him up there for a try at the Driver from the top, but TJ brings him down into the kneebar in dramatic fashion and TJ Perkins wins the Cruiserweight title at 17:55. They couldn’t quite follow TJ v. Ibushi, but they sure tried. ****
Hey, it’s a four match show with two all-time classics and a new champion crowned. A great end to a great tournament, because TOURNAMENTS ARE AWESOME.
Now hopefully TJ doesn’t get squashed by Braun Strowman on Monday.