Welcome to week 4 of the Cruiserweight Classic! Tonight, we finish up the round of 32, so let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Tonight, we’ve got Rich Swann/Jason Lee, Gurv Sihra/Noam Dar, Jack Gallagher/Fabian Aichner, and Johnny Gargano/Tomasso Ciampa!
1 chance for victory! White and Purple ninjas fighting! Let’s do this!
Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo welcome us to the show and throw it to Corey in the control room with the brackets. Graves is excited and sends us to the video package for Swann/Lee.
Rich Swann is motivated by people who discount him for his size and weight, and he wants to show the WWE universe who he is! Jason Lee is from Hong Kong, and he wants to let us know that his style incorporates a lot of Kung Fu, and he wants to show what a wrestler from Hong Kong can do.
Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!
Swann is currently signed to NXT, but he’s wrestled all over the world. I’ve seen him before in a few Full Impact Pro matches, and I dig his work immensely. His first recorded match was on August 23rd, 2008, which gives him just shy of 8 years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=8347
Lee is from Hong Kong, and has also worked in Japan. His first recorded match was on October 23rd, 2011, giving him a bit less than 5 years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=14150
Rich Swann vs Jason Lee – Round 1
Lee shows off his nunchuck skills as he hits the ring, yet doesn’t show off his secret stink palming skills. Swann comes out and shows off some dance moves and I’m looking forward to this one, as I really dig Swann in the ring. Mauro lets us know that Full Sail is ‘en fuego!’ for Swann, although Lee looks nonplussed.
Handshake is accepted. Swann starts off with the armwringer as the crowd chants “All Night Long” to Rich. Nice little reversal by Lee into a side headlock takeover, broken by a headscissors from Swann. Lee escapes, kip-up by both, stalemate. Lee with a single-leg takedown and they run the ropes, leapfrogs into a somersault by Swann over Lee into a dropkick to put Jason down. Swann locks up the arm after a 1 count, Lee back to his feet and they exchange shots, Swann sends Lee to the corner. Lee goes over a charging Swann and starts wearing Rich out with shots to the body in the corner. Jumping enzuigiri by Lee for two. Jason goes to a front chinlock, Rich tries to fight out but Lee hits hims with a nasty shot. That fires Rich up, and he hits Lee with shots to the head, then a spinning backfist. To the corner, but Lee catches a charging Swann with a boot. Jason goes up, but Swann jumps from the mat to the second rope to take Lee down with a ‘rana, which was cool. Somersault splash by Swann gets two. The air he gets on that is really impressive. Clothesline attempt by Swann is turned into a Flatliner by Lee, who follows that with a back kick to the head of Rich. La Magistral by Lee gets two. Lee charges Rich, but Swann catches him in the head with a roundhouse kick, STANDING 450 BY SWANN! Man, I’ve seen him do that before but it never fails to impress me. And that’s good enough for the 1,2,3. (Rich Swann over Jason Lee, pinfall, 3:47)
WORTH WATCHING? This was like watching the highlights of a great Rich Swann match, but it wasn’t a great match by itself. It was alright for what it was, and if you’ve never seen Swann work before or want to see that 450, go for it, but the truth is that as a match I was less than inspired. It was just sort of there. I’m going with a NO on this one, but that’s more for the length than anything else – I just can’t get there with matches that go less than 4 minutes, and even then, this was just alright. Swann is better than this and will probably have the chance to stretch his legs a bit more in the next round. Lee was fine, not a huge fan of his shots outside of a few of the stiffer ones, and he didn’t really stand out otherwise.
Post-match, Swann does a split in the middle of the ring as the highlights play. Then he does the ALEX WRIGHT DANCE! I love you, Rich Swann! Rich will get Lince Dorado in the next round. Mauro doesn’t waste any time in tossing it to the next video package, this time for Sihra/Dar.
Gurv Sihra is from India and describes his in-ring style as descended from Bret Hart and Chris Jericho, a wrestling based approach. Noam Dar is from Scotland and is 22 years old, the youngest guy in the event; he’s here to set the bar high for future wrestlers from Scotland.
Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!
Sihra is one half of the Bollywood Boys, his brother already having lost in this tournament in the first round. His first recorded match was on November 5th, 2005, so he’s a little shy of having 11 years of experience in the ring. He currently holds the GFW (Global Force Wrestling) tag team titles with his brother Harv. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=6303
Dar works primarily in Europe, specifically in the United Kingdom. His first recorded match was on June 28th, 2008, so he’s got more than 8 years in the ring. He currently holds the PCW (Preston City Wrestling) Championship and the PWE (Pro Wrestling Elite) World Heavyweight Championship. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=7802&name=Noam+Dar
Gurv Sihra vs Noam Dar – Round 1
Man, Dar started wrestling when he was 15! Members of the crowd are doing a ‘dance’ when Sihra comes out, pretty much the Full Sail version of the Tomahawk Chop.
Handshake is accepted and here we go! They trade go-behinds for a few rounds as Daniel Bryan relates a sweet story about Sihra’s grandfather going around his city talking about his grandson being in the cruiserweight classic, but having to listen to the match because he was blind. If true, that’s kind of awesome. Dar takes Gurv down with a single-leg, Sihra shoots him off and tries for an uppercut when Dar comes off the ropes, but Noam hooks the top to stop himself, then dropkicks the knee of Gurv. Noam goes to the arm but gets tagged with a back elbow from Sihra, who then proceeds to ‘roll camera’ on Dar, causing Steve Austin to rush the ring and stun the s--- out of the little bastard. Naw, that’s not what happens, Dar just charges at Gurv and gets taken over in a side headlock. Back to their feet, Dar shoots him off and gets a dropkick on Sihra. Nice one, too. Whip to the corner is reversed and Dar gets sent to the buckles, and I’m not sure if he was supposed to take a Bret Hart bump or something there, but he just kind of….stops, and Gurv runs into his back with a forearm. Sihra takes him out of the corner with a sloppy backbreaker for one. Sihra with forearms, but Dar fights back. These two are having some issues with each other in there, it looks like. Sihra wins the battle of the forearms and tosses Noam to the buckles, cross-corner whip by Gurv is reversed by Noam and Sihra hits the buckles chest first. Gurv with the charge at Noam in the ropes, but Dar moves and sweeps the leg out from under Sihra after Gurv hits the ropes. Noam sends Gurv to the corner and follows with a running forearm. He comes off the ropes and ducks a lariat from Sihra, getting a dropkick. Gurv manages to get a double-leg on Noam and goes for a Sharpshooter, which makes no sense as there’s been almost no leg work from him in this match, but Noam escapes. Gurv ends up in the corner from Dar, who gets a few double thrusts and an uppercut, corner dropkick from Noam gets two. We’re all over the place here. Figure-four attempt by Noam is countered into a small package for two, and Gurv follows that with a spinning heel kick for two. Gurv goes up to the second rope and rolls camera again, elbowdrop misses. Leaping enzuigiri into a Fisherman’s Suplex gets two, and Noam grabs the leg off the kick out for the kneebar; that’s enough for Sihra, who taps out. (Noam Dar over Gurv Sihra, submission, 5:07)
WORTH WATCHING? Well, Bryan put over the hurt leg the whole match, but it sure didn’t seem to affect Sihra until the finish. There was a slight connecting thread, but these dudes were all over the place, they had a few noticeably awkward spots in there that seemed to be the result of them not communicating. NO, you can skip this one. Not a particularly sterling debut for either guy in this match.
Post-match, Bryan puts over the idea that Dar worked the leg ‘the whole match’; I’m not sure that I’m in agreement with Daniel’s detective work there. He dropkicked it once for sure, but Gurv wasn’t really selling much if that was supposed to be the focal point. Dar will go on to face HoHo Lun in the second round.
Let’s go to the video on our next match!
Fabian Aichner is from Italy, and he admits that the wrestling culture over in Italy isn’t as big as it is in the United States, so it’s harder to find training. He’s not going to let the opportunity slip through his fingers. Jack Gallagher has been a wrestler for almost 10 years, and he’ll keep things gentlemanly as long as his opponents do! He’s a scientific wrestler who can’t overwhelm you physically, but he will submit or pin you as quickly as possible.
Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!
Aichner is also known primarily as Adrian Severe, and he wrestles primarily in Europe, specifically mostly in the UK and in Germany. His first recorded match was on December 9th, 2011, giving him 4+ years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=11594
Gallagher, to the shock of no one, primarily competes in the UK. His first recorded match was on November 4th, 2006, which gives him almost a decade in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=7727
Fabian Aichner vs Jack Gallagher – Round 1
Ever since Bracketology, I’ve been waiting to see Gallagher wrestle – he came off as one of the stronger guys in the tournament, especially from a promo perspective. I’ve kind of been dying to see if he has the goods in the ring as well. Gallagher’s rainbow trunks paired with the black socks are tremendous.
Handshake is accepted. Lockup and Gallagher controls with the wristlock. Aichner rolls through it about 50 times before finally reversing it to send Jack crashing to the mat. Gallagher’s facial expressions there were priceless. Jack walks around looking to kick Fabian, but ends up doing a complicated reversal into a wristlock. Daniel Bryan thinks he might be the greatest ever, and wonders if it’s possible to fall in love with a man on television. I’m getting there, buddy. Aichner takes Gallagher over in a fireman’s carry and gets the armbar again. Fabian with a single-leg takedown as Mauro asks Daniel if he’s changing his pick from Kendrick to Jack, but Daniel’s not willing to quite go that far. Aichner wrenches on a toehold, but Jack spins on the mat into a trip and toehold of his own. Aichner tries to spin out of it, so Jack does a cartwheel to avoid being taken down, and this man is OVER. The crowd is totally behind him at this point, and so am I. Jack does a little moonwalk, thereby robbing Da Mack of the best thing he did in his first round match, and Fabian attacks with a kick. Snapmare and a shoulderblock by Aichner. Off the ropes, Fabian catches Gallagher when he jumps, so Jack goes down and powers him over with his legs into a monkey flip for two. Suplex attempt by Jack is blocked and Fabian gets a kneelift and a chop, then another one. They run the ropes and Aichner bounces off the second rope with a kick…..sort of. He didn’t get much of it and Jack kicks out at one. Chinlock by Fabian. Jack elbows out and gets a sunset flip off the ropes for two. They do a pinfall reversal sequence and Gallagher charges into a GIANT tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Fabian! 1,2, no! Fabian goes to the apron, jumps the top rope, then springs to the OPPOSITE rope into a moonsault! 1,2, NO! That was suh-weet. Aichner tries a suplex, but Jack goes over the top and gets a dropkick! Another! Gallagher off the ropes, crossbody! Jack comes off the ropes and hooks a guillotine choke! Fabian moves the arm off his throat to counter, then in one of the craziest reversals I’ve seen so far in the tournament, takes him from a suplex position and flips him forward into a huge sitout powerbomb! That was AWESOME. 1,2, NO! Oh, come on. That’s criminal. Fabian with the ground and pound, drawing boos from the crowd, and he heads to the top. Frog splash attempt, and I’ll let Mauro call this one: “Frog splash, but no H2O in the pool!” Gallagher back up, nasty headbutt sends Fabian to the corner. Gallagher gets a VICIOUS running dropkick in the corner and that’s going to get the 1,2,3. (Jack Gallagher over Fabian Aichner, pinfall, 6:46)
WORTH WATCHING? Jack Gallagher is a STAR. They should throw money at this dude until he puts his name on the dotted line. The match was really fun, with Aichner getting to show off as the more powerful wrestler and letting Jack get over his sheer force of personality. I’m going with a YES on this one, as they did a great job of letting both guys get their stuff in, and they played the big/little man story extremely well. Aichner looks fine in the loss as it looks like Jack just capitalized on the one mistake, and they should probably sign him too.
Post-match, crowd gives them both a standing O as Bryan says that might have been the best corner dropkick that he’s ever seen. Jack will get Akira Tozawa in the next round.
One match left to fill out the second round! Mauro sends us to Graves, as he says that the ‘bonds of brotherhood will be tested’ as he throws us to a video package for Gargano/Ciampa.
This one’s a little different, in that most of the fans know these guys, so they talk mostly about being put together as a tag team in NXT, and about how they’ve come to rely on each other. I’m pretty sure that this is a repeat of the video from the Bracketology package that aired.
Let’s go to the BOD Tale of the Tape!
Gargano is one of the more celebrated independent wrestlers in the US and has recently announced that he will be finishing all his independent dates this year and then will be working exclusively with NXT. He is the most well-known and popular wrestler in the history of EVOLVE. His first recorded match was on October 2nd, 2005, which puts him at just a shade under 11 years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=4129&gimmick=Johnny+Gargano
Ciampa has been working the Indies for years. The Psycho Killer is a former ROH World TV Champion amongst other titles. His first recorded match was on February 19th, 2005, which puts him at 11+ years in the ring. He currently holds no titles. His Cagematch database is here: http://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=3593&name=Tommaso+Ciampa
Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa – Round 1
Before they come out, we go to the back where Ciampa and Gargano are being interviewed jointly, and they tease a bit of tension as Gargano tells Tomasso that when he looks across the ring tonight, he’s not going to see his tag team partner, he’s going to just see another guy. Ciampa counters by telling him that he’s not going to be the guy who just put him out of the cruiserweight classic, he’s going to be the guy who hurt him. Gargano: “Do what you gotta do.”
Oh, we might be in for something special here.
Staredown before they finally shake hands, and here we go! Dueling ‘Johnny Wrestling/Psycho Killer’ chants from the crowd as they circle. Knuckelock to start, and Gargano gets the advantage off a single-leg takedown. Off the ropes and Ciampa tries a hiptoss, but Johnny does a really nice reversal sequence that ends in a crucifix for one. Armdrag by Johnny into a headscissors by Ciampa, Gargano breaks and gets another armdrag, this time into an armbar. Gargano goes to a wristlock as they get to their feet, and Ciampa hits Johnny with a back elbow that sends ropes of spit flying. Ciampa tosses Gargano to the apron and hits him with a running knee strike to send Johnny to the floor. Well, didn’t take very long for the gloves to come off, did it? Tomasso goes to the outside and chops Johnny against the barricade, then sets him on the apron and gets another running knee to the head. Back in, that gets a couple of two counts. Ciampa snapmares him and goes to the chinlock. To prove that indeed, they are the most awesome commentary team in the universe, Daniel and Mauro are putting over the idea that the chinlock is putting pressure on the jaw that got nailed with the elbow earlier, and they almost have me believing that a CHINLOCK is a devastating submission hold. Why in the holy F--- aren’t these guys calling every show???? Gargano mounts a comeback with strikes (noted for not being as strong by the commentary team because of the earlier punishment), but Ciampa cuts that off with a back elbow when Johnny goes to the apron. Tomasso tries to pull Johnny up to the top for a superplex, but Gargano pulls the legs out, crotching Ciampa and getting a kick to the face. Gargano slingshots back in over the top with a DDT for two. Chops by Johnny in the corner and he sets Ciampa on the top rope; Gargano goes for a running powerslam off the top rope, but Ciampa slips out and gets Gargano in a Fireman’s Carry. He heads for the top rope, looking for a top rope Air Raid Crash, but Gargano goes over the top and tries to sunset flip Ciampa off the top rope. Tomasso blocks that with punches, Gargano avoids one and yanks the arm forward, putting Ciampa’s head upside-down against the top turnbuckle, and delivers a superkick! He follows that up with a running sitout powerbomb to Tomasso! Ciampa rolls to the outside; Mauro, would you do us the honors? “Tope Suicida by Johnny Wrestling!” Gargano tosses Ciampa back in and gets ready to spring in with the shoulderblock. Here he goes, but Ciampa meets him with a stiff knee to the face! 1,2, NO! Crowd thinks this is awesome; crowd is very much correct. Ciampa looks for a powerbomb, Gargano slips out and gets a forearm. He goes for a discus, but Ciampa just kicks him in the face, then a running high knee to Johnny’s head! Ciampa looks for the powerbomb again, but Gargano flips out and gets an enzuigiri to put both guys down. Bryan and Ranallo are shocked by the stiffness being displayed by these two. Both guys roll to the apron and we have ourselves a chop battle, won by Johnny. Gargano charges Ciampa, but runs right into a big kick, and Ciampa gets Gargano up, Air Raid Crash on the apron! Ciampa tosses Gargano back in immediately, covers, 1,2…..NO! Gargano BARELY kicked out there. “LOOK AT HIS EYES!” sayeth Daniel Bryan, as we see that Gargano has some pretty glassy peepers. Ciampa pulls down his kneepad, but he thinks it over and can’t do it, pulling the pad back up. Gargano takes advantage with a superkick, but Ciampa fires right back with a lariat! Ciampa gets Gargano up, POWERBOMB INTO A LUNGBLOWER! 1,2, NO! Jesus Christ. Gargano crawls towards a disbelieving Ciampa, who chops at Johnny in a kneeling position. Ciampa pulls Gargano to a standing position by the jaw, and Johnny fires a slap and he tells Tomasso to bring it on! Ciampa does with overhand slaps to the chest of Gargano, then Ciampa pulls his elbow pad off. Roaring elbow attempt by Tomasso is countered into a backslide by Johnny, Ciampa tries to roll through into an armbar, but Gargano has the last counter as he rolls Tomasso over into a crucifix! 1…2…3!! (Johnny Gargano over Tomasso Ciampa, pinfall, 11:10)
WORTH WATCHING? Easily one of the top matches in the entire first round, if not the best, this one is a big time YES, you should watch it. Gargano took a BEATING out there from Ciampa, and he somehow managed to pull this one out. Gargano is one to watch in the overall future, as he’s got a real chance to make it huge in the company; he can talk, he can work, and he’s young. If guys like Balor and Bryan can make it, so can he. This was a strong style fest, and I kind of wish that Johnny hadn’t won it with a rollup like he did, but I can accept it, mostly because he put Ciampa over huge in taking the abuse he did in the match and not winning with a big move but instead keeping it clear that Tomasso could have easily won this thing. It also functions to put Johnny over as a huge babyface who can take a ton of punishement and still win. I think that the style of the match is not to everyone’s taste (A LOT of kickouts of what should have been finishers here), but if you’re a fan of strong style wrestling with stiff shots galore, you’ll be down for this one. Mauro and Daniel were amazing on commentary as well, really putting over the wrestlers and the story of the match. Excellent, excellent work.
Post-match, we see the highlights of the whuppin’ that Gargano received and the finish. He offers Tomasso the handshake, Ciampa teases the walkout; but he comes back in the ring and sits with Johnny on the mat and gives him a hug, rasing his arm. The two of them pose in the center of the ring as Gargano will get TJ Perkins next round.
We see highlights from the first round as Corey Graves tells us that next week, the 2nd round kicks off with Tajiri facing off against Gran Metalik and Cedric Alexander vs Kota Ibushi! Hoo boy, I love this s---. And we’re out.
FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: This one started slow for me, but man, did it pick up. Great debut for Gallagher in the 3rd match, with Aichner being no slouch either, and the main event was must see. Pretty much the closest we’re probably going to get in the first round to **** or more, but I’m torn between either it being the best match or last week’s Kendrick/Mendoza match, which also told an amazing story with a different style. Either way, we head to the second round…..next week!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter