WWE Cruiserweight Classic – August 24th, 2016

Howdy!

Welcome to week 7 of the Cruiserweight Classic! Tonight, we finish up Round 2 and determine the rest of the Elite 8! Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

We’ve got 3 matches on tap this evening, with Rich Swann/Lince Dorado, Zack Sabre Jr/Drew Gulak, & Johnny Gargano/TJ Perkins!

Video airs, showing the trophy that was revealed over the weekend, recapping last week and telling us that tonight, we will fill the final 3 spots in the quarterfinals!

One White Ninja. One Purple Ninja. The circle of life continues in our credits.

Daniel and Mauro welcome us to the show, and Daniel can barely contain his glee that Kendrick advanced last week. I dunno, Daniel, I get the feeling that he’s in trouble against Ibushi. They waste zero time, throwing us to the video package for our first match, which will be Swann/Dorado. Swann’s whole ‘wrestling saved my life’ stuff is actually pretty touching.

Rich Swann vs Lince Dorado – Round 2

Mauro goes for his quote of the week early, saying that with “apologies to Cesaro, there ain’t no party like a Rich Swann party, and a Rich Swann party don’t stop!” Man, that standing 450 from Swann is absolutely sickening. Dorado is out next, and I’m all but trembling while I type as I anticipate the spots that we’re about to see. Highlights from Dorado and Mustafa Ali are shown, and I still maintain that they should sign Ali. His potential is through the roof, plus that reverse 450 is incredible. He and Swann can just do a 450 battle and I’ll watch.

Handshake is accepted. They trade wristlocks and Lince grabs a standing side headlock. Swann shoots him off, Dorado runs through him with a shoulder. They run the ropes and Swann does his front flip over Dorado on the mat, only for Lince to roll him up for two off that. Swann reverses that for two. Dorado off the ropes with a headscissors, but Swann does a handstand out of it. Swann tries it, but Dorado does a front flip out of it. Showoffs. Jesse Ventura would already be apoplectic over this. Swann looks for a test of strength, but Lince backs him off. Another try, backs him off again. Dorado….with the Alex Wright dance! Ole! Swann gives him his props with a handshake….and then immediately slaps on a side headlock, because only Swann dances here! Dorado shoots Swann off, but Rich comes back at him with a dropkick to send Lince outside. Rich gets a running start and charges, but Swann cuts him off with a kick from the apron. Dorado comes back in with a springboard missile dropkick to send Swann to the outside now. Dorado springs to the top rope, springboard plancha to Swann! GREAT air on that one by Dorado. Lince rolls him back in and gets two. Cross-corner whip by Dorado, but Swann moves out of the way of a corner dropkick. Hangman’s neckbreaker by Swann. He puts Dorado in a submission hold that almost looks like an upside down cross of an Octopus and a Stretch Muffler, putting Dorado’s head across his knee and Dorado’s leg behind his head, all while keeping the arms hammerlocked.

Dorado escapes with knees to the head of Rich, then does a nice rolling sequence into a crucifix for two. Swann with a discus punch, but Dorado responds in kind with a straight shot, and Rich Swann is angry. I repeat, Rich Swann is angry. He fires shots at Lince, but Dorado levels him with a palm strike to put a stop to that. Dorado sends him to the corner and follows him in with a forearm, but when he goes for it again, Swann follows and responds in kind. Back kick to the midsection by Rich and he puts Lince on the top; Rich goes for the top rope ‘rana, but Dorado held on and Swann hits the mat. Dorado somersaults off the top, he charges Swann and both guys hit bicycle kicks at the same time! They get to their knees and start slugging it out, continuing to trade shots as they make their way to their feet; finally, Lince gets a jumping knee to the face to gain some control. Cross corner whip is reversed by Swann, but Dorado leaps to the apron and Rich runs into the turnbuckle, then takes a kick to the face from Dorado. Huge crossbody by Dorado! 1,2, no! Dorado goes for a German, but Rich lands on his feet and somersaults into a leaping DDT! 1,2, NO! Swann goes to finish with the standing 450, but Lince gets the knees up! Rolls him over into a small package! 1,2, NO! Dorado suckers Rich into following him off the ropes and stops him with a back elbow, then a kick. Lince off the ropes for real, springboard off the second rope over Rich, but Swann catches him with a back kick, then a superkick! Swann goes for a reverse ‘rana, but Lince goes under him and gets one of his own! What is WITH that move in this tournament? It reminds me of Scott reviewing the Super Juniors when everyone was using the Fisherman’s Buster that one year. Anyway, 1,2, NO! Dorado goes up….Shooting Star Press misses! Rich goes up, Phoenix Splash by Swann! Holy S---, he landed on Lince’s f------ HEAD. Like, he might have gotten a legit pin off that. And that’ll do it here. 1,2,3. (Rich Swann over Lince Dorado, pinfall, 8:14)

WORTH WATCHING? – Total spotfest here, as you might expect. Call me crazy, but I’d kind of like to see Rich Swann do MORE. I admit that I’m not an expert on his work, but plenty of people I trust about wrestling have told me that he’s more than capable of more than just flips, yet he really hasn’t had the chance to show off much else. He’s charismatic as hell, and he’s going to have a future for sure; I just want to see more from him though. I’ll give this one a pass and say YES in the context of a spotfest, but there has to be more to Rich than just the flips. The match sure as hell wasn’t boring, and the story of them knowing each other enough to counter each other’s signature moves was well-done. I just can’t help but feel that Swann needs someone to work with that can allow him to show what he can do on the mat. Dorado was fine here and probably should get a deal, as he and guys like Kalisto can tear the house down and sell masks and s---.

“He landed right on Lince Dorado’s FACE with that Phoenix Splash!” Yes he did, Daniel. Yes he did. Swann does a dance to celebrate; I dig the wings on his tights. He’ll face the winner of Johnny Gargano and TJ Perkins, our main event of the evening.

Speaking of Johnny, he had the chance of a lifetime this last weekend at NXT Takeover, as they show the Revival retaining the tag belts at the expense of Gargano’s knee as Johnny submitted to the kneebar.

In the back now, Gargano is getting his knee taped up with Ciampa standing by his side, looking down at Johnny with a mixture of complex emotions; namely, ‘I feel terrible for you and will do anything to help, my friend’, and ‘you cost us the tag belts AND you beat me in the first round of this tournament, so if you lose I’m going to tear your heart out and eat it in front of you’. Like I said, complex emotions. Gargano says that he’s heard the hype and that he’s a lot of people’s pick to win this tournament, and honestly, he doesn’t want to let anyone down! I swear, I was only joking about Ciampa, but his facials are just INCREDIBLE during this interview, betraying nothing but still giving off a ton of possible avenues that this thing could go. These two are gonna have one hell of a feud when we get there.

But that’s later tonight; up next, it’s Sabre Jr vs Drew Gulak! Now, a few words about Zack. I saw some chatter in the threads about Sabre having a less than stellar debut, and I can agree with that. But I have seen him wrestle in PWG, and the man can GO. I really hope that he shows off what he can do in there with more time, because I hate that his first impression wasn’t the greatest. We’ll have to see.

Video package for Gulak/Sabre Jr.

Drew Gulak vs Zack Sabre Jr – Round 2

Sabre offers the handshake, but Gulak slaps it away! Attaboy, sportsmanship sucks. Nice wrestling sequence starts us off, with Zack being slippery as an eel. Sabre tries for a quick armbar, but Gulak rolls him over for a pin to force a break. Crowd is solidly behind Sabre Jr. He goes for Gulak’s arm again, maneuvering it around to Gulak’s front and grabbing the other arm for a straightjacket choke. Gulak flips him forward to try a break, but Zack held onto the hold and flips him back to counter, so Drew uses his strength to turn it instead, reversing the hold. Gulak’s story is that he’s on a mission to prove that he’s a better technical wrestler than Zack. Sabre wiggles out of the hold, moving the arms down and stepping Drew’s fingers, then bending the other arm back and getting the arms of Gulak crossed behind him, stepping over his head to apply more pressure. Gulak gets back to his feet and monkeyflips forward, then does a wheelbarrow kick to Sabre to break the hold. Drew springboards off the bottom rope with a stomp, then another. Chop in the corner by Drew, then a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Mauro just casually drops in that Hiroshi Hase invented the Northern Lights Suplex while competing for Stampede Wrestling, and I continue to just love this commentary team for being awesome. Drew puts Zack in a seated abdominal stretch as he continues to try to show Sabre that he can wrestle with him. Zack tells him to ‘Come on!’, so Gulak slaps him in the face! Oy. Zack frees himself with kicks, but eats a straight shot to the head from Drew. Cross-corner whip by Gulak is reversed, and Drew goes upside-down in the corner and to the apron. Sabre charges right into an elbow from Gulak, who goes up, flying clothesline by Gulak is caught by Sabre into a Fujiwara armbar! Gulak rolls through and puts Zack in a powerbomb position, then puts him on his back for a Gory special! NICE one, too, as Zack is incredibly flexible and Gulak just bends the shoulders forward. He transitions the move by chinlocking Sabre and bending forward, putting Zack’s shoulders on the mat, and that gets two. Sabre doesn’t free himself off the kickout as Gulak holds on and turns it over into a Boston Crab. Nice stuff. Sabre manages to use Gulak’s forward momentum to roll him over for two. Shots in the corner by Drew as Bryan points out that Gulak is ‘out-techniquing’ Zack in this match. Not sure if that’s a word, but if Bryan says it, I’m going with it.

Fireman’s carry takeover by Drew, he pins Zack’s arm and wrenches the neck of Sabre. Zack gets back to his feet and avoids a shot from Drew, then wraps Gulak up in an Octopus. Gulak frees one of his arms and turns it into an anklelock! Zack rolls Drew forward into a headlock, but Drew is ready and immediately drops Zack with a belly-to-back suplex. Gulak puts Zack on his shoulders for an Electric Chair, but Zack slips out and gets the Kimura! He wrenches it in, but Drew muscles out of it and slams Zack against the ropes. Shots from Gulak, but Sabre trips him and hits the Penalty Kick! 1,2, NO! “Shades of Katsuyori Shibata!” sayeth Mauro! I LOVE THIS MAN. Sabre charges Gulak in the corner, Drew gets his boot up, but Zack catches it and throws him over, then turns him into a pinning combo with a bridge! 1,2, NO! Back to their feet now, and they start throwing slaps at each other! Two slaps from Sabre, but Drew answers with one of his own that buckles Sabre! Gulak off the ropes, Sabre leapfrogs him but Gulak rolled underneath and gets a sunset flip for two. Drew charges Zack with the Dragon Sleeper, but Sabre is ready and grabs the arms, then rolls Gulak back with a bridge! 1,2,3! (Zack Sabre Jr over Drew Gulak, pinfall, 8:28)

WORTH WATCHING? – You could not have had a bigger contrast between the first two matches, as this one was almost completely ground based with nothing in the way of highspots; both guys were tremendous on the mat. An unqualified YES here, as this is the type of wrestling that I love to watch. Now, I don’t expect that this will change anyone’s mind about Sabre Jr, as it was more of the same from the first round, albeit with a more talented opponent, but I really enjoyed the story in this one, as Gulak kept up with and surpassed Zack throughout the match, and Sabre had to pull a pin out of his ass to win. Keeps Gulak strong while Sabre moves on.

Post-match, Sabre Jr offers the handshake, and Gulak thinks about it, then gives it reluctantly. Boo! Sportsmanship sucks. He should have just clobbered him. Gulak impressed me a bunch in this one, as I’ve only seen limited work of his in Evolve. Sabre Jr will go on to face Noam Dar in the next round.

We’re with Corey Graves in the cruiserweight classic control center. He’s wearing another floral shirt that looks like it was sewed with nursing room drapes, and he notes that Twitter seems to love the floral prints so he dug another one out. He wonders if it’s possible for Gargano to win just ‘four days’ after his match at Takeover, but he tells us that if we’ve learned anything, it’s to never count out Johnny Wrestling.

Video package for TJ Perkins and Gargano. Extensive highlights from Gargano/Ciampa are shown, as Johnny cuts a babyface promo about being the top cruiserweight in the world. Gargano is gonna be a STAR; he’s got all the credentials as a top babyface if they play it right.

TJ Perkins vs Johnny Gargano – Round 2

Handshake is accepted. Greco-Roman knucklelock to start, and Perkins takes Gargano down with a legscissors. He keeps the knucklelock in place and presses him to the mat for a quick two. Again for two. Gargano monkeyflips Perkins over, maintaining the hold. TJ does the same and tries to roll it over, but Gargano catches an armbar with a bodyscissors, so TJ walks it over into the Mutalock. Gargano makes the ropes for a break, and he’s already shaking out the knee. European uppercut against the ropes by Perkins, Irish whip is reversed by Gargano, Perkins catches himself in the ropes. So Gargano just dropkicks him to the floor. Good. Gargano runs the ropes; Mauro, would you care to do the honors?

“Tope Suicida by Johnny Wrestling!”

Thank you, sir. Gargano takes a minute to shake out the knee again, then chops TJ, tossing him back in. Gargano to the apron and he avoids a clothesline from Perkins, getting a go-behind as he gets back in the ring, then rolling up TJ for 1. He keeps hold of the legs after TJ kicks out and rolls over into a surfboard on Perkins. Perkins manages to free his arms and rolls Johnny into a Billy-Goat’s Curse, grabbing the arms to torque back further. He steps on Johnny’s knees and transitions into a Romero special. He lets Gargano fall backwards and the ref counts, but both guys are forced to kick out as TJ had his shoulders on the mat as well. Cross-corner whip by TJ, but he eats the boot of Gargano on a blind charge. Gargano charges, but TJ leapfrogs him into a sunset flip and a headscissors takeover, adding on a little dab at the end. I hate this man, but he’s good in there. Johnny gets back to his feet and shoves Perkins off, then rolls him up and follows with a kick to stun TJ. Johnny charges and gets alley-ooped to the apron, but sets himself and spears Perkins through the ropes when TJ charges. Gargano massages the knee again, then chops Perkins in the corner. Bryan wonders how much these moves are doing to Johnny’s knee. Another chop! A third! He sets Perkins on the top rope, but TJ escapes; they run the ropes, and Perkins pops Johnny up, then drops down and delivers a double boot to Gargano’s face! Spin kick by TJ causes the spit to fly from Gargano! Johnny answers with an enzuigiri! They do the simultaneous double kick spot from the earlier match, Perkins catches a Gargano kick and lifts him up, sitout powerbomb from Perkins! Both guys’ shoulders are on the mat, 1,2, both get them up! Gargano whips Perkins, but this time Perkins flips to the apron, then slides under a charging Johnny and gets a dropkick to the back of Johnny. Perkins springs to the apron….right into a superkick by Johnny, sending Perkins to the floor!

Gargano off the apron, flipping suicide dive hits TJ….holy s---, he hit the bell table with his legs! Man, if that spot was planned, Gargano is NUTS. He hit the table HARD. Gargano can barely stand, but he tries to fire himself up and tosses TJ back in. He tries to jump back in with a DDT, but Perkins catches him and hits a Benadryller! He puts Gargano in a position for a Tiger Suplex, but instead just picks him up and drops down, drilling him in the face with his knees! 1,2, NO! The slug it out in the middle of the ring, TJ catches Gargano with a drop toehold into the second rope, springboard dropkick to Johnny by TJ! TJ goes up, but Johnny stops him on the top with a kick to the head. He picks Perkins up and runs across the ring, but the leg gives out on him midway through. Perkins sees it and immediately goes for the kneebar, but Johnny sees it coming and goes for the Gargano Escape. TJ manages to roll out of that and goes for La Magistral, but Gargano shifts his weight for two. Gargano charges Perkins in the corner, TJ leaps over him and gets a neckbreaker. He puts Gargano on the top and goes for a top rope ‘rana, but Johnny catches him and drops him headfirst on the top buckle! Gargano picks Perkins up and gets a running start, then LAUNCHES PERKINS HEADFIRST TO THE OPPOSITE CORNER BUCKLE! Holy S---, that was a crazy bump by TJ. 1,2, NO! Gargano can’t believe it! Replays show that TJ got his arms up, and replay also shows that it was still terrifying. Gargano pulls himself up by the ropes and goes for a superkick, but Perkins dodges it and gets a kick of his own, then rolls Gargano up. Johnny rolls through and tries for the kick again, but Perkins avoids it and dropkicks the knee! Perkins goes for a roundhouse kick on a kneeling Gargano, but Johnny avoids it and hits the superkick! He takes a few seconds to stand up, knee really bothering him now, and gets a full-nelson that TJ rolls through into the kneebar! Gargano literally scratches and claws for the ropes, but TJ crosses the other leg over the knee and now there’s no escape, as Gargano is forced to tap. (TJ Perkins over Johnny Gargano, submission, 12:21)

WORTH WATCHING? – I’m of two minds here; the finishing sequence was tremendous and dramatic, but Gargano’s selling of the leg was driving me a little nuts. I get that you can fight through the pain with adrenaline, but he did that a few too many times for my taste; after his legs hit the table on that suicide dive, he had a lot of comebacks that probably shouldn’t have happened, including charges and kicks. Still, the kneebar ending it was the right call and the last 5 or so minutes of the match was great, so I’m giving this one a YES, check it out. Perkins was great, but you’d have to classify this as an upset, as I had Gargano going all the way to the Final 4, to be honest. Bit of a shocker he went down here, but I get the feeling that this is going to lead somewhere on NXT programming, so that’s fine.

Post-match, Bryan says that the crowd is in shock, and he’s right. Gargano falls to his knees after Perkins’ hand is raised. TJ will face Rich Swann in the next round. Perkins helps Gargano to his feet and gives him a hug before leaving, as Gargano is heartbroken.

Next week, the quarterfinals begin! Video package shows the Elite 8, and we’re done for the week.

Here are your Elite Eight matchups:

Akira Tozawa vs Gran Metalik
Zack Sabre Jr vs Noam Dar
Brian Kendrick vs Kota Ibushi
Rich Swann vs TJ Perkins

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: This was a pretty decent way to send the tournament to the quarters, with two drastically different styles in the first two matches, and a hell of a match in the main. I’m shocked that Gargano lost, to be honest; I bet Ciampa is too. Whatever the case may be, as usual the show is very much worth checking out this week.

BOD BRACKET CHALLENGE:

As of last week, we remained tied at 12 points each; not so much anymore. While everyone predicted Swann and Sabre Jr, Ioan Morris was the only one to predict that Perkins would upset Gargano, which leaves us at:

Ioan Morris – 21 Points
Cultstatus – 18 Points
Ripner Cabbit – 18 Points

Next week, point totals double! Good luck, guys.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter