WWE Cruiserweight Classic – September 7th, 2016

Howdy!

Welcome to week 9 of the Cruiserweight Classic! Tonight is our last taped show before the live finale next week, and we’re going to determine the rest of our Final Four! Zack Sabre Jr takes on Noam Dar in one quarterfinal, while Rich Swann battle TJ Perkins in the other! Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Video package reminds us that last week, Kota Ibushi and Gran Metalik advanced to the semis; who will join them? We’ll find out right now!

Credits! Only two weeks left to settle it; once and for all, will it be the Purple ninja or the White ninja to rule them all?

Mauro welcomes us to the show with Daniel, as they talk about the Classic getting better and better with each round, and tonight, Perkins and Swann will be our main event! But we’re going to get things started with Sabre/Dar!

Video package as Sabre starts to show a bit of personality, laughing at how many people are watching this thing. Dar feels as though he’s wrestling as the best version of himself in this tournament; glad he doesn’t read the BOD comments section, then.

And there’s the music of one Zack Sabre, Jr! Highlights of his win over Gulak are shown, including the pinfall with Zack’s excellent bridge pin. Noam Dar is out next, and they show the highlights of his win over Lun in the previous round, as Bryan reminds us that Dar won both his matches with a kneebar; will he be able to submit Zack? Mauro tells us that both guys are good friends with each other, but as we saw in Gargano/Ciampa, that can sometimes bring out the best in each other.

Zack Sabre Jr vs Noam Dar – Quarterfinal match

Handshake is accepted. They circle around and trade lockup attempts, with each man quickly escaping. Dar goes for a single leg, but Zack wiggles free of that rather quickly, as we’re setting the pace here. Zack ties up the neck with a double collar, but Dar escapes that with a wristlock. Sabre with a single-leg takedown and he leans his weight on Dar’s knee, moving to a headlock on the mat. Dar tries to get back to his feet, but Sabre steps on the knee to drop him back down, then goes to a straitjacket. One thing about Zack is that his limbs are so long and loose, and he works to that strength, using moves that emphasize those advantages; he’s never going to out-power a guy, so he just tries to use his reach and limberness as his advantage. Noam gets back to his feet and back Sabre into the corner to break, then takes a cheapshot to the ribs with an elbow after Sabre gives him the clean break. Attaboy. Sabre takes exception to this, and Dar eggs him on by shushing him.

Sabre charges out of the corner right into a dropkick to the knee from Dar. Dar plays to the crowd and is FINALLY showing some personality in the ring. Dar kicks the knee and goes to a wristlock, putting Zack on the mat for an armbar. Sabre does a really slick reversal out of that into an overhead wristlock, but Noam grabs the knee for a takedown and grinds the elbow into it, then drops an elbow on the knee. Again! A third time! Target acquired. Dar stomps away at the knee, but Zack manages to get him down to the mat and puts a knee across Dar’s throat, going to the arm of Dar in the process. Zack wraps the arm up and does a jumping stomp to it, but hurts the knee on the landing. Sabre goes for a wristlock into an armbar now, so Dar backs him to the buckle and we get a break.

Dar charges Zack in the corner after the break and gets clocked with an elbow. Sabre goes up, but takes too long as Dar runs across and dropkicks Zack in the knee, causing him to crash to the mat. Stomp by Dar and a reverse grapevine continues to grind away at Zack’s knee. Zack tries to kick him away, but Dar just drops an elbow on the knee to stop that. Dar has wrestled an almost perfect match to this point. Dar gets behind Zack but gets tripped up and they trade holds for a brief moment before Sabre snaps Dar’s arm across his shoulder to buy some time. Shoulder in the gut by Sabre, followed by a European uppercut. Sabre shakes out the knee and hits another uppercut, then shoves Dar off the ropes; Dar responds with a sunset flip and they do the pinfall reversal sequence off that. Sabre reverses a go-behind by Dar into one of his own and shoves him to the corner, rolling backwards, but Dar goes through his legs and follows with two shots to the chest and a NASTY looking uppercut to Zack. He takes too long afterwards and Sabre gets a half-nelson suplex with a bridge for two, and while I’ve really enjoyed this match so far, Sabre shouldn’t have had nearly that good a bridge after all the punishment Dar put on his knee earlier. Bryan says as much on commentary. Sabre goes for the Penalty Kick, but Dar rolls out of the way and sweeps the knee to take Zack down. Leaping enzuigiri by Dar! Fisherman’s suplex by Dar! 1,2, no! Dar goes back to the knee and looks for a half-crab, Sabre prevents being turned over with kicks to the face, so Dar starts hitting the knee, then puts his foot across Zack’s throat. He puts his other hand on Sabre’s jaw on the mat, but Zack frees himself, trapping Dar’s arm with his other foot and hitting a palm strike to the shoulder!

Sabre goes for a full-nelson, Dar drops down to free himself and they trade roll-throughs, and Zack hits the Penalty Kick! He didn’t get all of it with the bad knee, though, and falls on top without hooking the leg, and Dar kicks out at two. Sabre jumps on Dar with a legscissors and goes for the armbar, but Dar is able to muscle him to the apron. He ducks a Sabre clothesline and kicks Zack in the knee, then comes off the ropes with a bicycle kick to send Sabre to the floor. Dar runs the ropes; hey Mauro, can you get this one for me?

“TOPE SUICIDA BY THE SCOTTISH SUPERNOVA!”

Thanks, Mauro! Dar immediately tosses Zack back in as both of them try to shake out their injuries. Zack pulls himself up in the corner, and Dar charges across the ring with a dropkick to the back of Zack’s head! 1,2, NO! Zack tries for an Octopus, but there’s nothing behind it and Dar easily escapes with strikes to the knee. Sabre tries for a jumping triangle; Noam again escapes that rather easily and drops down into the kneebar! Zack backs up to try for a pin, but only gets two and Dar reapplies the hold. Sabre tries a different escape this time, turning over and going for an armbar, which Dar rolls back over and they trade holds into a pinfall attempt by Zack, complete with a full back bridge! 1,2, NO! Noam with a charge to the corner, Zack hits him with a European uppercut! Sabre tries another, but Dar turns his back and hooks Sabre, backslide! 1,2, no! That was bitchin’.

Dar comes out with some weak strikes and goes for a dragon-screw legwhip, but Zack fires slaps to Dar’s face and tries to roll him over for an armbar, Dar reverses to a cradle for two. Sabre held onto the armbar and Dar keeps trying to flip Zack, but Sabre hangs on; he finally gets the arm stretched out, but Dar manages to touch the bottom rope. Zack goes up, but misses a double-knee drop, then misses a running kick and gets caught in the ropes! Kick to the back of the knee by Dar! Noam goes up now, double foot stomp onto the knee of Sabre! Zack avoids a running kick by Dar, but Noam just calmly puts him in the kneebar again. Zack stretches for the ropes, so Dar stands up and kicks the knee a few times, then drops into a spinning toehold and both guys tumble under the bottom rope to the floor! Ref checks on Sabre, who may have landed on his elbow, then hops back into the ring and starts the count.

The ref keeps counting as Zack tries to get back in the ring, but Dar prevents it and fires rights, then a kick to the knee to put Sabre down as the ref reaches the count of 8. Dar looks like he wants to hit one more move, but decides to slide back in the ring instead and try for the countout. 9! Sabre DIVES into the ring to beat the count! Dar can’t believe it; he thought he had him. Sabre tries for a front facelock on Dar, but the elbow is hurt and Dar just grabs the arm and drops him to the mat. Jumping knees to the arm of Sabre, who’s hurting in two spots now. Dar stomps away at the arm of Sabre as Bryan questions why Dar is going to the arm after he’s been working the leg and already finished two opponents with the kneebar. Sabre manages to get back to his feet and catch Dar with a big kick, then another one! Dar gets one of his own! Noam charges, but Sabre manages to take him down and ride the back of Dar. He’s got one arm trapped with the leg, but he doesn’t have anything left with the hurt arm, so he brings the other leg back up and puts on the Rings of Saturn using his legs! Dar is bent BACK in what looks like a very uncomfortable position, and Zack looks to add headbutts to the shoulder as Dar submits! (Zack Sabre Jr over Noam Dar, submission, 15:49)

WORTH WATCHING? – I thought this was tremendous stuff, as both guys worked body parts and Sabre got the submission based on a shoulder submission hold which fit the story of the match and paid off the body of it. Criticisms of the match were probably all on Zack’s side, in that some of the selling of the leg was spotty, especially with the finishing hold using his leg strength to apply it after the arm went; after that doublestomp, the leg should have been GONE. Dar showed more talent and personality in this match than he has all tournament. Sabre’s continued escapes throughout the match were really well done, as was Dar making the mistake of going to the arm instead of keeping on the leg, which one could argue cost him the match. I won’t deny that this type of match isn’t really for everyone, as it was a lot of mat-based work and holds, so if you’re not into that type of thing, I’d understand if you passed it by. Still, this one gets a pure YES from me. I finally see what people have been telling me about Dar, and Zack is a great technical wrestler worth watching.

Post-match, Zack shakes out his arm as the replays roll. Sabre can’t even get his arm raised as he’s announced as the winner, and falls back to a sitting position on the mat, where Dar embraces him. Mauro wonders if this will end up being a pyrrhic victory in the end, if Zack will even be able to compete in the next round. Speaking of the next round, Zack will face off against Gran Metalik for a spot in the finals.

One match left to go tonight, and thankfully Corey Graves once again found some curtains to cut into a shirt, because that all-black one was throwing me off last week. He tells us that there’s only one match left, so who will face off against Kota Ibushi in the other semi-final next week? He calls TJ Perkins the ‘Duke of Dab’, which makes me want to hurt him very badly. With my words. And a crowbar. Anyway, here’s a video package for that match, which is next!

Mauro and Bryan talk about the incredible quarterfinals so far, and now we’re down to one more spot, as Daniel talks about Swann being a huge favorite at Full Sail, so it’ll be interesting to see how Perkins handles it. And here comes Rich Swann right now! He’s followed by Perkins, and we’re ready to go!

Rich Swann vs TJ Perkins – Quarterfinal match

Handshake is accepted. Swann plays to the crowd, who sing “Can you handle this?” as Rich points to each section. Lockup and Perkins takes Swann down, Swann escapes into a front facelock, and they trade a few pinfall attempts before both of them spring to their feet. Greco-Roman knucklelock now, and Perkins takes Swann down with a sweep and holds onto the wrist and bends the fingers back, but Swann manages to reverse it and take TJ down with a wristlock of his own. Perkins gets back to his feet and spins out with a cartwheel, then does a headscissors takeover on Rich and we get a dab from TJ. Swann reverses that into a headscissors of his own. Perkins does a handstand in the move, confusing Rich and allowing TJ to escape, and he gives Rich a little dab after that. Swann no-likey.

Swann gets up with some words for TJ, charging and getting caught in a side headlock from Perkins. Swann shoots him off, they run the ropes with both of them hitting somersaults over the other man, and Swann finally catches TJ with a deep armdrag, then a Japanese one to follow up. And now it’s Rich with the showboating, and he dabs at the end of it to mock TJ. Perkins is not exactly thrilled at this and charges, both guys with right hands, Perkins goes for the kneebar but Rich makes the ropes. Perkins fires a couple of stiff European uppercuts at Swann when Rich gets back to his feet, Irish whip and TJ gets kicked in the face after he ducks his head. Swann charges, TJ attempts a hiptoss, Swann bounces off the ropes and rolls through into a dropkick, sending TJ to the floor to think things over a bit. Swann hops to the apron and jumps over TJ’s attempt at a sweep, then kicks TJ in the head. Swann attempts a moonsault, but Perkins moves and Swann lands awkwardly on the knee. Perkins does a springboard dropkick over the top rope to Rich, and both guys are down, as TJ landed on the small of his back there.

TJ tosses Rich back in, then slingshots in with a senton. Overhead suplex by TJ and he pops the hips, then hits a belly-to-back suplex on Rich. Perkins covers for two, then goes to a hammerlock/chinlock combo on Rich. TJ tries for another belly-to-back, but Rich lands on his feet and hits a spinning back kick to Perkins. He charges TJ in the corner and ends up on the top rope, kicking TJ away, and tries for a dropkick. TJ catches the leg and slams it into the mat to work the knee. TJ stomps the knee and wraps it up to work it further, then rolls through to put Swann on the mat. Perkins is wrestling a REALLY smart match here, I gotta give him that, grounding Swann and quieting the crowd. Rich tries to escape the heel hook with kicks, so TJ stands up and kicks the leg, then wrenches the ankle of Rich. TJ with more punishment of the knee now, dropping his body onto it and putting it in a figure-four position with all of his front weight on it. Rich slaps him, so TJ adds a front facelock to pin the arms and bend Swann forward.

Swann gets back to his feet, so TJ sends him to the corner, but eats an elbow from Rich when he charges. Second charge and there’s nobody home as Rich moves, with Swann following up with a lariat to Perkins. Swinging neckbreaker by Swann and he runs over Perkins in a seated position and gets a back kick to the head, but the knee is hurting and he has to pause. Swann with a running kick to Perkins in the corner, and Bryan is right on the ball as he notes that Rich was running slower than normal there. Tornado DDT by Rich, 1,2, no! Swann runs at Perkins in the corner, but again is slower than normal and TJ easily moves and drops him with a reverse neckbreaker. Perkins gets Swann up in a Tiger suplex position, and drops him down with knees to the chest! 1,2, NO! Swann’s selling here is absolutely perfect, I want to note.

TJ puts Swann on the top rope and looks for a Tiger superplex! Damn, that’s a neat visual to think about, but Rich escapes with elbows and tosses TJ down to the floor. Swann tries to follow up, but is just too slow in doing so and Perkins ‘ranas him off the top rope! Perkins goes up to finish, but Rich uses a burst of energy to hit an INSANE jumping ‘rana off the top of his own! Rolling splash by Swann! Cartwheel into a moonsault by Swann….but he comes down on the knee and rolls off for a brief second, then covers TJ. 1,2, NO! Kick to the head of Perkins, he hoists him up for a brainbuster into a Michinoku Driver! 1,2, NO! Swann can’t believe it, and he drags TJ into the corner for the standing 450; but the leg is just gone and he takes WAY too long trying to hit the move, so TJ grabs the leg and goes back to the kneebar. Awesome. Swann reaches for the ropes as TJ crosses his legs, and TJ doesn’t break the hold until the ref counts 5, trying to do more damage to Swann. I’m amazed that Daniel could resist yelling “He has until 5, referee!”

Two more kicks to the leg by TJ, and he goes for the double underhook again, but Rich rolls him up! 1,2, NO! They almost had me there. Kick to the gut by Rich and he hits a double-underhook powerbomb, then jackknifes TJ with a bridge! He can’t keep his hurt leg on the mat for the bridge, though, and TJ kicks out at two. Swann fires rights and lefts at TJ, but Perkins ducks one and hits a spinning back kick to the head of Rich! He ducks another shot from Swann and hits a kick to the head again, as Rich is a dead man walking out there. Perkins off the ropes, and Swann gets a back kick to the head of TJ! But when Rich goes to run the ropes, the leg gives out again and Swann goes down. He manages to pull himself up for one more try, but Perkins catches him and hits a Benadryller, and follows that with the kneebar, and this time there is no escape for Swann as he taps out. (TJ Perkins over Rich Swann, submission, 17:06)

WORTH WATCHING? – Magnificent. This was the Rich Swann sells show, and it was fantastic. Every level of this match fired on all cylinders, and at the center of it was Swann selling his knee and altering his wrestling style to reflect that. He had two decent comeback segments, yes, but what’s worth noting to me is that way that he allowed the knee injury to affect every single area of his offense and style. He couldn’t run as fast, he couldn’t fly, his moves had less impact, he missed out on covering quickly during his comeback moments….all of this was on Rich to get across. And he did it, in truly spectacular fashion. Perkins was great too, with some subtle heel work along the way, and now his kneebar looks like one of the most badass moves in the tournament that kills people deader than dead. Him grounding Rich and forcing him to wrestle outside his comfort zone is a great story and they told it extremely well. YES, you should watch this match, which was the match of the night and one of the best matches, if not the best, of the quarterfinals. This was some really, really good pro wrestling, with what I thought was a pretty big upset; I would have picked Rich for sure.

Post-match, Perkins immediately goes over to Rich and whispers something in his ear, as Perkins is really selling how much it hurt to have to do it to Swann, but he did what he had to do. Swann falls down after the hand-raising of TJ, and Perkins hugs him on the mat and helps him to his feet. Swann leaves TJ alone in the ring, as Perkins thanks the crowd. He’ll get Kota Ibushi in the semi-finals.

Video package of the tournament so far with commentary from the Final Four takes us out, as we’re back next week for the LIVE two-hour finale!

FINAL THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: This was an excellent show for wrestling, as we spent more than a full half-hour in the ring. While I enjoyed the opening match, it paled in comparison to what Swann and Perkins did in the main event. Rich Swann is this week’s MVP by a mile. Check it out and get ready for the finale next week!

With that in mind, my predictions for next week:

We have an interesting set of matches next week, as there are two signed guys (Perkins & Metalik) going up against two unsigned guys in Sabre Jr & Ibushi. Ibushi and Sabre Jr is the most likely final and has been all along, but the potential for an upset is looking like much more of a possibility than it has up to this point.

Consider that Perkins, for example, was put over both Gargano and Swann, two guys already in the system for the WWE. More to the point, he’s been put over strongly in both those matches, winning them by submssion instead of pinfalls, and his kneebar has gotten all 3 of his match wins. Would they really go all the way with TJ? It would be a monumental upset for him to beat Ibushi, no question about it. But on the other hand, his story has been so prominent and he’s going over other guys that they already have signed; is it too far-fetched that he’ll pull this thing off?

Metalik, on the other hand, is probably a safer bet if you’re looking for an upset; him not speaking English could be a problem, so him winning the tournament would go a long way to make him for the audience that hasn’t been watching. He’s also got a deadly finisher, in that the Driver has finished all of his matches. If he hits Sabre with the Driver, I’ll hold MY breath for a few seconds.

Overall, I think that it’s 90% that we’re getting Sabre Jr/Ibushi, which I’d be totally fine with. But I don’t think that an upset is completely out of the question. We’ll find out….next week!

THE BOD BRACKET CHALLENGE:

Well, Ioan Morris picked Rich Swann to pull this whole thing off, so I’m afraid that he might be done. No one picked TJ to win this week, while all three of you picked Sabre Jr. Here are your updated standings, gentlemen:

Cultstatus: 36 Points
Ripner Cabbit: 36 Points
Ioan Morris: 33 Points

Ripner and Cult – you both have the same picks for the Final, so I need a tiebreaker from you guys to see who wins this thing. That tiebreaker will be the Bell to Bell match time of the Finals; please send your picks to me either on Twitter or at [email protected]

Good luck, guys!

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter