WWE Cruiserweight Classic – July 27th, 2016

Howdy!

Welcome to week 3 of the Cruiserweight Classic! We’ve got two more weeks of round of 32 action, so let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Tonight, we’ve got Zack Sabre Jr/Tyson Dux, Harv Sihra/Drew Gulak (Yay! I dig him!), Tony Nese/Anthony Bennett, and Raul Mendoza/Brian Kendrick!

Quick sidenote – if you’re enjoying the CWC, well, you’re a wrestling fan. But you should probably also be checking out EVOLVE, which has featured a ton of these guys and continues to be one of the best North American promotions going. (My homerism for Ring of Honor prevents me from calling it the best) Also, they have Marty Scurll, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite wrestlers on the planet; I literally cannot understand why the WWE hasn’t thrown money at that man to get him to come in. Brian Bayless has been doing a stellar job covering EVOLVE right here, at the BOD! Check out his latest recap, it’s very worth your time – here’s a handy link: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/07/27/evolve-64/#more-23437

Alright, cheap plug over.

White and Purple ninja intro! Props to the white ninja for finishing that powerbomb in the intro. The purple one was really fighting it.

Mauro voiceover gets us right to the intro packages for our first match! Tyson Dux had been working for the WWE already for two years when he injured his ACL; he heard something pop, and it’s been a long, hard road back. Zack Sabre Jr is from England, of course, and is one of the most well-known workers in the tournament. He’s a technical mastermind who can escape almost any hold, and hits his usual line about Harry Potter not being the only wizard in Britain.

Let’s go to the BOD tale of the tape!

Tyson Dux

Dux is from Canada, and wrestles most frequently in Ontario. His first recorded match was July 15th, 2000, which gives him 16 years of experience in the squared circle. He currently holds the MPW (Maximum Pro Wrestling) Triple Crown Championship and is one half of the AIW (Absolute Intense Wrestling) tag team champs with Tracy Williams as Hot Sauce Entertainment. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=1331&name=Tyson+Dux

Zack Sabre Jr

Sabre is from England and is one of the most renowned light heavyweights in the world, and is one of the heavy favorites to win this whole thing. His first recorded match was on June 19th, 2004, giving him a little more than 12 years in the ring. He currently holds RevPro (Revolution Pro) British Heavyweight Championship and the PWG (Pro Wrestling Guerilla) World Championship. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=4505

Zack Sabre Jr vs Tyson Dux – Round 1

Mauro talks about Bryan having faced off against Sabre Jr in the past, and Bryan calls him one of the best technical wrestlers in the world, regardless of weight class. Mauro tells us that Dux’s nickname is textbook for his knowledge of wrestling holds, and that this may be his last chance to make it big. Good luck, Tyson. I suspect you may be in trouble here.

Handshake is accepted, and here we go! They lockup and jockey, and Sabre gets things going with a single-leg takedown into some work on the ankle, but Dux reverses and takes Zack down, grapevining the leg. I think we’re going to see a lot of holds in this match, and I’m all for that. Sabre tries for the ropes, but Tyson pulls him back to the center and keeps working the ankle. Sabre turns over on his belly and stretches out, suckering Tyson forward to grab a side headlock and a takeover as Daniel Bryan sounds like he’s in heaven calling this match. Dux counters into a headscissors on the mat. Sabre bridges out to his feet and goes to a wristlock. Stepover by Sabre into a cravat, Dux reverses that into a wristlock but Zack is ready and reverses right back into the cravat. Tyson finally breaks with a fireman’s carry takeover. Dux applauds himself to taunt the crowd on that one. Now Tyson gets a cravat, but Zack just calmly gets out of it into a wristlock. Snapmare by Dux, Sabre grabs the arm off a chinlock attempt into a wristlock, then a hammerlock on the apron while standing, and finishing by snapping his legs to snap the arm. Awesome. Tyson counters another wristlock with a slam. Kick, chop by Tyson, whip to the corner, chop, whip the other corner, Zack fakes going over the top and just elbows Dux coming in. Zack goes up, flying European uppercut off the second rope. Dux gets to his feet in the corner just in time for Sabre to come flying at him with another European uppercut. Zack wrenches the arm of Tyson and hits a Pele onto it, then kicks it again. Target acquired. Another one, but a kick to the other side is caught and turned into a quick Fisherman’s Buster by Dux after Sabre slaps him! 1,2, no! Suplex attempt by Tyson, Zack goes over the top but Dux just drops down into a Fujiwara armbar! He hangs on as Zack rolls through twice to try to escape, but that leaves him open to Sabre switching momentum and getting a crucifix for two. Dux comes off the ropes with a seated elbow for two. More elbows now by Dux, he comes off the ropes but Zack isn’t there; he went to the other corner and comes out, applying an Octopus! He even pulls back on the fingers and wrist, but Dux guts it out and makes the ropes. Kick by Sabre, Dux avoids the second one but gets hit with the legsweep. Shining Wizard by Sabre! 1,2, NO! Sabre charges right into an inverted atomic drop and a DDT by Dux for two. Dux goes for a Texas Cloverleaf now, but Zack reaches back and rolls him up with a bridge for two. Sabre charges, but Dux knocks him down with a lariat. Fireman’s carry by Dux, Sabre slips to the front and puts on a combination Body scissors/Hammerlock! He transitions that into another wristlock variation to put Dux on the mat, then into an Omoplata. Dux tries for the ropes, but Zack grabs the other arm and bends it back, Rings of Saturn style, and that’s enough for Dux, who verbally submits. (Zack Sabre Jr over Tyson Dux, submission, 8:28)

WORTH WATCHING? A fun little technical wrestling match. Dux did his best, but the outcome here was never in doubt (although that Fisherman’s Buster was nice). I’ll give it a YES because I really like Sabre Jr, but there wasn’t much drama, as this was a way for Sabre Jr to show off for the crowd. That’s been true of a lot of these first round matches, so that’s fine. Zack’s work is, as usual, beyond reproach. He’s truly one of the top 5 technical workers in the business, and I’m a complete sucker for this style. Zack felt like he had to slow down a bit to give Tyson some offense here and there, but that’s minor. Decent match.

Post-match, they share a handshake and a hug. Sportsmanship! Zack will get the winner of Gulak/Sihra. Back to Daniel and Mauro in the booth, and they put over Sabre Jr a little more, then they throw it to Corey, who goes over Gulak/Sihra.

Video package time! Gulak is from Philly, and puts over his skill and calls the experience in the CWC ‘surreal’. Sihra talks about Eddie Guerrero being one of his favorite wrestlers, a relatively common theme in this tournament, and that he knows he’s an underdog, but he’ll prove his detractors wrong.

Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!

Drew Gulak

Gulak works primarily for EVOLVE in the US. His first recorded match was on April 16th, 2005, giving him 11+ years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=2921

Harv Sihra

Sihra is one half of the Bollywood Boys, with his brother Gurv also competing in this tournament. His first recorded match was on May 27th, 2006, which puts him at a little more than 10 years of experience. He currently holds the GFW (Global Force Wrestling) tag team titles with his brother, Gurv. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=6304

Drew Gulak vs Harv Sihra – Round 1

Mauro talks about Sihra being a mainstay of ECCW, and that was the promotion that he and Daniel Bryan met in! Bryan doesn’t remember meeting Mauro, which causes Ranallo to laugh….to mask his pain. I feel you, Mauro! But Daniel DOES remember meeting Sihra and his brother! Man, this guy better be good, or Mauro might commit honorable seppuku on the air.

Handshake is accepted. They trade go-behinds and Gulak small packages Harv for a quick two count. Daniel Bryan is being hilarious on commentary, as Mauro talks about Gulak enjoying the screams of his opponent and Daniel agrees, saying that he loves hearing the gutteral ‘Grrrrr’ of his opponents when he has a submission hold on them. Greco-Roman knucklelock and Harv takes him to the mat with a trip. Monkey flip by Harv, Gulak turns that into a bodyscissors. Harv crosses Gulak’s feet into a figure-four position while in the bodyscissors, which is pretty cool, and Drew has to make the ropes. Gulak is impressed enough to offer a second handshake, but Sihra won’t let go, so Drew takes him over in a side headlock for his insolence. Running shoulderblock by Drew, but he takes too long to cover and Harv escapes. Sihra tries a crossbody, but Gulak catches him, Fireman’s carry is escaped by Harv into a sunset flip. Clothesline by Gulak is countered into a crucifix for one, then a small package by Harv for one. Gulak catches Harv with a back elbow, then comes off the second rope with a clothesline. That gets two. Armwringer by Gulak and he sends Harv to the buckles for a two count. They exchange strikes and Drew gets the better of that, slamming Harv off the top rope. Sihra goes out to take a breather then comes back to the apron, Gulak comes over but Harv backdrops him to the floor! Sihra with a springboard crossbody to Gulak on the floor. He tosses Drew back in for one, then mounts him for some punches. Swinging neckbreaker by Harv gets two. Gulak gets a shot to the gut and goes up, but Harv meets him at the top. Superplex by Harv! Harv seems to want a Sharpshooter, but Gulak escapes and just runs over to him and applies the Dragon Sleeper! Harv isn’t out of tricks, though, as he applies the ankelock while in the Dragon! Drew just quickly breaks it and reapplies the sleeper, getting the tap out very quickly. (Drew Gulak over Harv Sihra, submission, 5:19)

WORTH WATCHING? Something was missing from this match, and I don’t know what it was. Sihra acquitted himself fine, Drew seemed a little…off, I guess. I don’t really know. The story of the match, with Gulak being the bigger guy and Harv getting the quick hope spots when Gulak didn’t use his size correctly was pretty good; I’ll go with a mild YES on this one, but it wasn’t much. It was alright. I’ve definitely seen Gulak look better, though that Dragon Sleeper is bitchin’.

Post-match, the bracket shows us that Gulak will indeed face off against Zack Sabre Jr in the next round, and I am wholeheartedly in favor of this product and/or service.

No time to waste, though, as we’re onto the video package for Anthony Bennett and Tony Nese. Tony calls himself the ‘Premier Athlete’ because he’s both one of the strongest guys and one of the quickest guys in the tournament. Anthony Bennett is rocking the Kid ‘n Play hair, and he’s coming in as one of the smallest guys (they show his weigh in at 147), but although he’s an underdog, he’s here to show the world that this kid don’t play.

Don’t step on my lines, Anthony. Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!

Tony Nese

Nese works for EVOLVE primarily up in the Northeast US. His first recorded match was on September 23rd, 2005, which puts him just under 11 years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=5741

Anthony Bennett

There’s not much out there on Bennett. He was trained at the Monster Factory and still works shows there, apparently. He has no Cagematch database.

Tony Nese vs Anthony Bennett – Round 1

Bennett has glasses on his face and on his hair. Cute. Daniel Bryan wonders if he was even old enough to have ever watched Kid ‘n Play, while Mauro says that he wants to turn this tournament into a ‘House Party’! Bring the funny, Mauro! Tony comes out, and he’s only 196 and looks HUGE compared to Anthony.

Handshake is accepted. Waistlock takedown by Nese is reversed to a hammerlock by Anthony. Nese goes to a side headlock to escape, but Bennett goes right back to the hammerlock. Side headlock by Bennett now, and Nese just picks him up and throws him off. Leapfrog by Nese on a Bennett charge, then a Matrix dodge of a Bennett clothesline, followed by kicks and a legsweep. They trade shots and Nese tosses Bennett to the apron, then legsweeps him to the floor. Nese springboards to the apron and cartwheels to the floor when Bennett tries to pull him off, followed by a superkick to Anthony. Powerbomb attempt on the floor by Nese, but Bennett grabs the ropes to get back to the apron, hits a few kicks, then cannonballs onto Nese from the apron. He tosses Nese back in while Bryan talks about how he should have gone for the countout there and gets one. Double underhook by Bennett, but Neese escapes and stunguns him on the top rope, then slides to the outside taking the feet out from under Anthony. Nese springs in off the second rope, moonsault! Nice one, too. That gets two. Nese gets him up for a suplex, Bennett knees him a few times, but that’s not enough as Tony completes the move for two. Nese goes to a bodyscissors on the mat, Anthony gets back to his feet and armdrags out of the move. Bennett with a few shots, then a jumping clothesline off the ropes, then another. Kind of weak there. Irish whip is reversed by Nese, Bennett counters the pop-up with a dropkick. Tornado DDT attempt is blocked by Nese, he puts Bennett on the top and tries a kick, but Bennett blocks that and leaps off with the Tornado DDT this time, hitting it. 1,2, NO! They slug it out and Nese gets the advantage, they fuck up a bit on a caught kick but recover it well enough, trading go-behinds. Nese does a really nice slide through the legs into a pumphandle slam and goes up. The ref briefly stops him as Bennett might have been knocked loopy, but he’s apparently okay enough to take a MONSTER 450 splash and get pinned, because that’s what happens. (Tony Nese over Anthony Bennett, pinfall, 6:36)

WORTH WATCHING? I was not a fan of this match. Nese has the goods, but they didn’t mesh very well together for me. It felt very indyish, hit a move, hit a move, etc. Bennett may indeed have a future, as he plays to the crowd really well, but he seemed awkward out there. I’m going with a NO on this one. Nese looked pretty good in the end, though, and may have something to look forward to.

Post-match, Bennett does have a pretty far away look in his eyes as they replay the pumphandle powerslam that knocked him for a loop. Bryan speculates that he might have separated his shoulder on the move. Bennett is still in the corner when Nese gets his hand raised, and he’ll face off against the winner of Kendrick and Mendoza, our last match of the evening.

Corey Graves is back in the Control Center, and he tells us that it’s time for our main event and throws it to the video package for Kendrick/Mendoza. Mendoza gives his promo in Spanish, and he also admires Eddie Guerrero, and at this point, why not rename this tournament the Eddie Guerrero Classic? Not a joke, I’m dead serious. Tons of these guys have cited him as an inspiration, why not go all the way with it? Kendrick, of course, has been in the WWE before, and he talks about letting the world slip through his fingers while he patted himself on the back. “Without wrestling…I’m just living” is the quote that he halts a bit on, and damned if he isn’t selling some emotion here.

Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!

Brian Kendrick

“The” Brian Kendrick is probably most famous for his time in the WWE, both as a tag partner of Paul London and on his own. His first recorded match was on February 8th, 2000, which puts him at more than 16 years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=106

Raul Mendoza

Mendoza works primarily out of Mexico, but also had a nice run in NOAH over in Japan. His first recorded match was on May 19th, 2009, which gives him a little over 7 years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=10154

Brian Kendrick vs Raul Mendoza – Round 1

Bryan is all over Kendrick, immediately recalling that they had their first match together with the exact date and location. He’s the guy that Daniel would want to win the tournament if he had the choice.

Handshake is accepted. Crowd chants for Kendrick, who controls early with a wristlock. Mendoza trips Brian out of it, then snapmares him over and goes to a chinlock. Kendrick out with a few shots to the midsection and Kendrick goes to the side headlock. Off the ropes, Kendrick runs through Mendoza with a shoulder, Raul kips right up, so Kendrick just kicks him. Off the ropes now and they exchange leapfrogs, Mendoza goes over the top of Kendrick with a somersault and snaps off a ‘rana. Mendoza looks to fly, but Kendrick moves so Raul just does a handspring backflip to show off. Kendrick slowly gets back in, then goes for a sucker punch to Mendoza, who blocks it and fires shots of his own. It’s funny because Kendrick is clearly playing a heel here, but the crowd isn’t going for that. Irish whip by Mendoza is reversed, Kendrick goes for a dropkick but Raul hooks the top rope and Kendrick crashes to the mat. Raul ties up Brian’s legs in a cloverleaf position and does a swing, dropping Kendrick onto his face into the submission hold. Kendrick hides in the ropes until Raul backs off, then he kicks Mendoza in the head, drawing a few boos from the crowd. Then, Kendrick just goes all the way, forcing Mendoza’s MOUTH open against the ropes and then kicking said ropes. OUCH. Kendrick goes to a double underhook on the mat, head between the shoulders of Mendoza, whose mouth is busted open. Raul makes the ropes to break, so Kendrick gives a shot to the back as he breaks. Mendoza catches Kendrick with a rollup for two, but Brian responds with a back elbow to put Raul down again. Ref checks on Mendoza in the corner, who says he’s okay; as soon as Robinson backs off, Kendrick charges in with a corner clothesline. Kendrick sends Mendoza to the other corner, but Raul goes through the middle rope to the apron to avoid a charge, so Brian eats the buckle. That was slick. Springboard dropkick by Mendoza sends Kendrick to the outside. Is it wrong that I’m more waiting for the inevitable awesome Mauro call than the move? Regardless, here it is: “Mama Mia! Corkscrew Plancha by Mendoza!” I love Ranallo so much; he just seems genuinely excited to call wrestling. Mendoza tosses Kendrick back in and looks to spring in with a 450, Kendrick moves, Raul lands on his feet. Mendoza avoids a clothesline and gets a spin kick to the back of Brian’s head! 1,2, NO! Dueling chants for Kendrick and Mendoza, with Raul getting more volume. Mendoza charges Kendrick in the corner but eats boot, then eats another one from Brian. Kendrick goes up but Mendoza kicks him in the leg, crotching him on the top and putting him in the Tree of Woe! Kicks by Mendoza! Raul goes to other side of the ring to the top, springboard Coast to Coast dropkick by Raul to Kendrick! That was SWEET. Raul gets Kendrick up, Lumbar Check! Crowd is SOLIDLY behind Raul now. 1,2, Kendrick gets his foot on the ropes! Bryan cheering unabashedly for Kendrick is really cool, considering what Kendrick has done in this match. Shots by Raul now, big kick, he comes off the ropes and Kendrick just drops to the mat, feigning an injury; because Raul is now the babyface and therefore an IDIOT, he pauses just long enough for Kendrick to snap him on the second rope, then apply the Bully choke for the tapout. Tremendous. (Brian Kendrick over Raul Mendoza, submission, 7:36)

WORTH WATCHING? Oh man, this was just so much FUN. Yes, Kendrick looked like he had lost a step, but this match was about the story. Kendrick, the veteran who tugged on the heartstrings with his promos goes out and does ANYTHING to win, taking cheap shots, faking injuries; that’s perfectly in character with a guy who thinks this might be his last shot. As a result, Mendoza got all the big babyface spots and got over like nuts hitting the big moves of the match. You could feel that crowd turn and it was due to how well they structured the match. This is a big old YES, watch it. The match told a story and told it well. Bryan cheering like nuts for his friend while he was being an asshole was tremendous as well, because it’s human to want your friends to win and succeed, and you’re more likely to excuse their bullshit while they do so.

Post-match, Bryan admits that he’s not the biggest fan of Kendrick’s methods, but he’s happy that Brian is moving on. See what I mean? That’s a completely human reaction to this. Kendrick gets pissed off at the crowd for chanting for Mendoza while his hand is raised, and he’ll face off against Tony Nese in the second round.

Next week, Rich Swann/ Jason Lee, Noam Dar/Gurv Sihra, Jack Gallagher/Fabian Aichner, and Johnny Gargano/Tomasso Ciampa will finish off the first round for us!

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Good stuff at the top and at the end, with decent action in the middle. That’s all I want. Big thumbs up this week, and I know that after next week, we’ll be getting to the good stuff; still, I could live with this type of action continuing. Sabre Jr’s technical exhibition was pretty fun to watch, but I’d still go with Kendrick/Mendoza as the match of the week, as it told the best story.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter