WWE Cruiserweight Classic – August 31st, 2016

Howdy!

Welcome to week 8 of the Cruiserweight Classic! We’re down to 8 guys left and only 3 shows, as the finale will air on September 14th. Tonight, we’ve only got two matches on tap, as Gran Metalik will take on Akira Tozawa, & Kota Ibushi will face off against ‘The’ Brian Kendrick! Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

“It started with 32 men. 32 dreams.” Video package takes us through the final 8 as we begin tonight’s festivities. The quarterfinals begin tonight!

White and Purple ninjas just can’t get along once more! What will it take for peace amongst these warring clans in the credits?

Mauro and Bryan welcome us to the show, and Bryan is already unabashedly rooting for Kendrick before the night even starts. They talk briefly about the second round and throw it to Corey Graves in the CWC control center, and he’s just wearing a PLAIN BLACK SHIRT! I honestly wouldn’t have guessed he owned one of those. He tells us that tonight, our main event will be Brian Kendrick taking on Kota Ibushi, but we’re going to get things started with Gran Metalik taking on Akira Tozawa.

Video package for Metalik/Tozawa airs. Man, I bet when Vince heard two different languages that weren’t English being spoken in the same video package, he flipped s---…..ah, who am I kidding? He doesn’t watch this show.

Akira Tozawa vs Gran Metalik – Quarterfinal match

Tozawa comes out to highlights of his victory over Jack Gallagher, which I still think should have probably been Jack going over, to be honest. Ranallo namedrops CMLL during the Metalik entrance as highlights of his victory over Tajiri are shown.

Handshake is accepted. Greco-Roman knucklelock to start, but Akira immediately goes underneath and gets a go-behind. From that to a front facelock, but Gran turns that over into a wristlock, then an armwringer. Akira escapes with a single-leg and gets a leglock to ground Metalik. Anklelock is turned by Tozawa into a standing side headlock. Side headlock takeover by Akira is countered into a headscissors by Gran. Stalemate. Lockup goes to the ropes, clean break….but Akira kicks Gran in the gut instead. Irish whip is reversed by Gran, they run the ropes, big overhead armdrag by Akira! He comes off the ropes, big overhead armdrag by Metalik! Simultaneous dropkicks and we now have our second stalemate of the match.

Standing side headlock by Akira again off the next lockup, Metalik shoots him off and stands firm when Tozawa attempts a shoulder. Tozawa tells Metalik to try, and sure enough, Metalik can’t bring Akira down either. They trade forearms and Akira looks to come off the ropes, but Gran followed him in and hit a dropkick. Metalik with the cross-corner whip, Akira alley-oops a charging Gran to the apron, Metalik with a kick from said apron. Gran springs in, missile dropkick to Akira to send him to the floor. Metalik gets a head of steam….tope suicida through the ropes to Tozawa! Nice one, he NAILED Akira. Nailed him so well, in fact, that he needs a few seconds to compose himself. Dean Ambrose, take some notes. Metalik barely gets Tozawa back in the ring at 9, then follows with a springboard crossbody for two. Metalik steps through into a figure-four variant as Daniel Bryan namedrops El Satanico. Gran kicks Akira in the chest to work the ribs while in the hold. Tozawa struggles, but makes the ropes. Gran hits a vicious roundhouse kick to a seated Akira for two. Metalik with the Irish whip, reversed by Akira, handspring attempt by Metalik is met with a dropkick to the back from Akira! Metalik rolls to the apron, and Akira hits a bicycle kick to send Gran to the floor! Tozawa runs the ropes, tope suicide to Metalik! Eh, that was about a 6.0 on the now established Metalik scale.

Tozawa tries to toss Gran back in, but Metalik fights him, so Akira kicks him back to the floor, another tope by Akira! Better; I give that one an 8.0 on the Metalik scale. Tozawa tosses him back in and gets two. Slam by Akira, jumping senton! 1,2, no! Chops by Akira, who then asks for Metalik’s best shot – big overhead strike from Gran! Akira fires back and asks for another, and I don’t think those Metalik shots are quite working, as Tozawa seems be using them to get stronger. One more time! Tozawa looks to go for another, but fakes Metalik out and just DROPS him with a right! What a great spot that is. 1,2, NO! Tozawa’s facials are awesome. He pushes Metalik in the corner and hits him with a basement dropkick to the head. Cross-corner whip by Tozawa, but Metalik moves on a charge and hits Akira with a superkick, then runs across and walks the second rope into a dropkick to Akira. Standing shooting star press by Metalik! 1,2, NO! Irish whip is reversed by Akira, Metalik springs backwards off the second rope, back elbow by Metalik for two. Metalik goes for the Driver, Tozawa wiggles out and goes for the German, Metalik escapes that and tries a sunset flip, but Akira rolls through that and hits a Shining Wizard! That gets two. Cross-corner whip by Akira, who follows Metalik in with a bicycle kick and a Saito suplex for two. Tozawa fires himself up and charges Gran in the corner, but he runs right into a Metalik superkick! Metalik gets a knucklelock and an overhead slap to the chest of Akira, then runs across and jumps to the top rope, coming off with a dropkick to send Akira to the outside.

Metalik gets a running start, Tope Con Hilo to Tozawa on the floor! Back in now, slam by Metalik and he goes up, moonsault attempt hits the outstretched feet of Akira! He goes for the cover, 1,2, NO! Akira puts Gran on top and goes all the way up, looking for a superplex, Metalik shoves him off and hits him with a right hand! Tozawa returns the favor! Akira tries to springboard in, but Metalik hits him with a roundhouse kick and crotches Akira on the top rope. Metalik back to the top, ‘rana from the top to Tozawa! 1,2, NO! Both guys get back to their feet, Metalik off the ropes, Tozawa with a kick to the gut, Gran ducks the second kick, Akira goes through the legs of Metalik, German suplex attempt by Tozawa! Metalik lands on his feet! Clothesline attempt by Gran is ducked by Akira, snap German suplex by Akira! That whole sequence was smooth and fast and beautiful. Tozawa goes for the big deadlift German to end it, hits it! 1,2, NO!!!!!! Crowd goes NUTS for the kickout. Tozawa goes for it again, this time trapping the arms in a package variant, but Metalik wiggles out! Fireman’s carry by Gran! METALIK DRIVER!! 1,2,3!!!!! (Gran Metalik over Akira Tozawa, pinfall, 15:51)

WORTH WATCHING? – Hmmmmm. Okay, let’s break it down for a second here. Pros were that the match had an absolutely tremendous finishing sequence, with the finisher trading being part of the game at this point; Tozawa’s striking especially was a treat to watch as were his facial expressions at various points in the match. Cons are that the match itself didn’t really seem to build to much, especially in early going. Lip service was paid to various things that weren’t sold even a minute later – Metalik going for the figure four variant, for example, wasn’t really paid off. Neither were the punishing of the ribs from either man, at one point Tozawa grabbed his shoulder and that didn’t go anywhere, and the dives didn’t contribute much beyond them being dives. And the wrong guy went over, as Tozawa was the stronger wrestler, I thought. But the match was tremendously exciting to watch; that’s going to nudge me on this one. I’ll give it a YES, check it out especially for the near-falls in the last five minutes. But the match did have some severe flaws that have to be taken into consideration. It’s a mild recommendation at best.

Post-match, Tozawa is devastated, but gives the handshake to Metalik after composing himself, to which Gran gives Akira a nice bow. Metalik will face the winner of Zack Sabre Jr/Noam Dar.

Back with Bryan and Mauro, as Bryan calls the Driver the ‘most dangerous move in the tournament’; the fact that he keeps pinning guys with it is proving the point. But now, it’s time for Kendrick/Ibushi. Bryan tells us flat out that he won’t be objective and plans to root for Kendrick the entire time.

Video package for Kendrick/Ibushi.

Brian Kendrick vs Kota Ibushi – Quarterfinal match

Handshake is accepted. Kendrick avoids Ibushi to start and slaps him on the back, then bails to the floor. Hee. Kendrick keeps inviting Kota outside to no avail, then comes back in and blows Ibushi a kiss, then attempts to bail again; Kota catches him this time and starts firing rights and lefts. Standing switch now and Brian hits Ibushi with a back elbow, comes off the ropes, Kota snaps off a roundhouse kick to flatten Kendrick and send him back to the floor. Ibushi runs across the ring, springboard moonsault to Kendrick on the floor! Man, the layout he gets on that is just incredible. Ibushi tosses Kendrick back in, but Brian rolls out to the floor again as the mindgames continue. Ibushi goes out after him this time, but Brian was playing possum and traps Ibushi’s leg in the railing, then rolls back in and tells the ref to count. GOD, Kendrick as the slimy ‘I’ll do anything to win’ guy is really, really good. Kota frees himself quickly and comes back in with a springboard missile dropkick to Kendrick for two.

Forearms from Ibushi, and now he fires kicks to drop Brian. Ibushi charges Kendrick in the corner, but Brian alleyoops him to the apron; Ibushi responds by nailing Brian with a right to put him on the opposite apron. Kendrick grabs Ibushi by the hair and hits a neckbreaker on the top turnbuckle, sending Kota to the floor now in pain as Brian demands the ref count. Kendrick charges Ibushi as he gets back to the apron, Kota with a shoulder to back him off, Kendrick responds with a kick to the knee of Ibushi and Kota falls in the ring, Kendrick covers for two. Brian goes to a cravat to work the neck more, Ibushi tries to slam out of it but Kendrick rolls through and keeps the hold. Nice. Ibushi frees himself with knees to the small of Kendrick’s back. Kendrick tries to flip him for the Bully Choke, but Ibushi lands on his feet, so Kendrick hits an elbow and comes off, dropkick by Ibushi! Kota charges Brian in the corner and runs right into a big boot from Kendrick, Kendrick charges and runs right into a powerslam from Kota. Ibushi somersaults into a springboard moonsault off the second rope on Kendrick, 1,2, no! Ibushi with kicks now, Kendrick ducks one and Ibushi goes for a standing moonsault, he hits the knees of Kendrick! Brian rolls him over into a small package for two off that. Brian superkicks Kota from the knees after the kickout.

They slowly get back to their feet and slug it out with forearms, but Brian gets a kick to the face of Ibushi. He goes for Sliced Bread and hits it for two. Kendrick with a sleeper now and he takes Kota all the way to the top rope with it, but Ibushi frees himself with back elbows, then hits a Pele kick to knock Kendrick off the top to the apron. Ibushi stands on the bottom rope and gets Kendrick on apron in a go-behind, then goes to the second rope…..and he brings Kendrick in WITH A GERMAN SUPLEX FROM THE MIDDLE ROPE! Holy GOD. Ibushi was hurt too, but he crawls for the cover. 1,2, NO! Ibushi goes for the powerbomb, but Kendrick blocks it so Ibushi just kicks him down. Again with the powerbomb, but this time Brian goes over the top and manages to flip Kota after another reversal into the Bully Choke! Ibushi manages to free himself with elbows and they send each other against the ropes, Kendrick gets him up…..he’s not going to…..BURNING HAMMER BY KENDRICK TO IBUSHI!!! Cover, 1,2, NO!!! He dropped Ibushi on his HEAD right there, replays show. Dear GOD.

Kendrick goes after Ibushi with shots to the back of the neck, but Kota Ibushi is now PISSED THE F--- OFF. Kendrick eats a roundhouse kick to the head from Ibushi, but tries to come off in a wheelbarrow; Ibushi catches him and just drops him head and shoulders to the mat! 1,2, NO! Ibushi goes up for the Phoenix Splash; Kendrick moves! Bully Choke by Kendrick! Will Ibushi tap? Kota manages to roll that over for two, then hit a roundhouse kick to the head of Kendrick when they get back to their feet. Ibushi hoists Kendick up…..Golden Star Powerbomb!!!! That’s it!! (Kota Ibushi over Brian Kendrick, pinfall, 13:58)

WORTH WATCHING? – And Brian Kendrick is no more; but his tournament was NOTHING to be ashamed of. Pretty much every week he wrestled, it was the Match of the Night, and this week is no different. Notice the story of the match, as Kendrick took his shots where he could get them, going for every pin attempt possible; even small things like the immediacy of the small package off the missed moonsault was awesome. The neck work was really well-done, as it kept in character for Kendrick being willing to do whatever it took to win. He tried his hardest to force Ibushi to wrestle Kendrick’s match, and Ibushi didn’t buy into it, which led Kendrick to stand and strike in spots that he shouldn’t have; on the flip side of the coin, almost all of Kota’s near-losses seemed to come from him falling into the little traps that Kendrick set. But at the end of the day, Ibushi was just a little too much for Kendrick to sucker in and take out. I cannot praise Brian Kendrick enough for his work in this whole tournament, and I’ll miss him now that he’s gone. YES, this one is an unqualified recommendation. Good, good stuff.

Post-match, Daniel Bryan is heartbroken on commentary. Watching replays of the match now, and looking at Ibushi getting dropped on his head during that Burning Hammer makes me wonder how in the world the man isn’t paralyzed. I mean, he just got dropped right on the top of his noggin. Ibushi will go on to face the winner of Rich Swann/TJ Perkins.

Daniel Bryan is really, really selling the emotion of the moment of Kendrick getting eliminated, sounding like he’s in tears as he tells Brian that he’s proud of him. The crowd chants Kendrick’s name as he and Kota shake hands and share bows with each other, Kendrick near tears as well.

Corey Graves voiceover tells us that next week, we’ll see our other quarterfinals, as Zack Sabre Jr takes on Noam Dar, while Rich Swann will take on TJ Perkins.

We’re seemingly done for the week, but we head back to the ring, where the crowd is chanting “Thank you Brian!” as Kendrick is in tears for sure this time. And now Daniel Bryan comes into the ring and hugs Kendrick, and he’s in tears too. The last thing we see before we fade to black is Daniel Bryan raising the hand of Brian Kendrick to the cheers of the crowd, and if that doesn’t hit you right in the feels, you’re a monster. Kind of dusty in here, isn’t it? Excuse me for a moment.

FINAL THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: I was lukewarm on the first match, but the main event more than delivered for me, and that’s all I need to give a thumbs up this week. The emotion felt real, not the manufactured stuff that the WWE normally traffics in; I really felt like both Daniel and Brian were feeling that moment. I hope that Kendrick gets a deal out of this, because he had a hell of a run and should, indeed, be very proud.

Next week, the quarterfinals end, and we’ll have ourselves a final four!

BOD BRACKET CHALLENGE:

Point totals doubled this week, and we have new co-leaders! While Cult and Ripner both picked Metalik and Ibushi, Ioan unfortunately picked Tozawa to pick up the duke, which means that our updated point totals are:

Cultstatus: 30 Points
Ripner Cabbit: 30 Points
Ioan Morris: 27 Points

Good luck, gentlemen!

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter