WWE Cruiserweight Classic Quarter-Semi-Finals
Akira Tozawa (JPN) vs Gran Metalik (MEX)
Fuck yes. Should be rad, especially since Tozawa has been trained in all that lucha fuckery in Dragon Gate. Indie RESPEK. Mother fucker Mauro and his pop culture references. KEEP THAT SHIT ON SMACKDOWN. I feel like this is probably going to be pretty similar to Metalik/Tajiri, which certainly is not a bad thing. Metalik again shows out, showing how lucha dudes are actually supposed to work. This dude would have been dope as fuck in WCW. Metalik scores the first big salvo with a trapped dropkick, then follows it with a tope and wacky ass lucha figure four. Tozawa hits a tope of his own. Then another, because there is no kill like overkill. A chop battle breaks out, which ends in a punch to the face from Tozawa. RUDE. Akira hits a big flurry, but can't put Metalik away. Metalik kicked out of the deadlift German suplex, which ended both of Tozawa's previous matches. Metalik Driver OUTTA NOWHERE gets the win to send him into the semi finals. Metalik has probably been the biggest breakout star of the tournament, outside of maybe Jack Gallagher. At least in terms of a dude who wasn't on my radar at all and now I'm going to want to watch them do just about anything.
Kota Ibushi (JPN) vs Brian Kendrick (USA)
Spanky early on tries to bait Ibushi into brawling on the floor, which Ibushi does not fall for at all. Then he blows a kiss, which I'm positive Ibushi did not actually take offense to at all. Two minutes in, Ibushi has hit a big kick and the Golden Triangle. Spanky then ties Ibushi up on the guardrail to get a count out win. It didn't work. Would have been pretty wonderful if it had, though. Imagine the heat Spanky would have had in the next round. Spanky hits a neck breaker ON THE TURNBUCKLE. Not the pad. The actual metal rod. The neck obviously becomes the focus after this. Ibushi hits the super German, and Spanky hits the BURNING HAMMER. Not the shitty one Tyler Rex did. A legit ass drop a dude on his head and neck BURNING HAMMER. Of course, Ibushi kicked out. A move never truly done in a WWE and not done by Kobashi...I guess I can see a justification for why it was kicked out of. Still ridiculous. That's a theme of the tournament though. You're going to see guys kicking out of crazy shit in most tournaments if someone knows how to make a tournament look legit. Ibushi misses the phoenix splash. Spanky goes right into the bully choke. Ibushi gets out, hits a head kick, and wins with the last ride. Post match, while Spanky was getting a standing ovation, Daniel Bryan comes out and the two share an emotional embrace. This was pretty good, even factoring in someone kicking out of a burning hammer 3/4ths of the way through. Brian's story of redemption and using absolutely everything at his disposal from the ropes, to the apron, to the railing, to the buckles, to mind games to make up for not being able to keep up move for move at his age was great in his rounds was really neat and one of the best parts of the whole thing. Especially great because he hasn't looked good at all since leaving WWE in 2009, be it in TNA, NJPW, PWG, or even NXT. Some of the best work of his career during this tournament.
Zack Sabre Jr. (GBR) vs Noam Dar (SCL)
FUCK NOAM DAR. This little piece of shit. Dar is like a mini version of Brad Maddox, who was intentionally a huge douche. Except Dar is a bigger douche, unintentionally. And if he doesn't look impressive in this, with a dude he's had a bunch of matches with, he's extra fucked in my book. "Champagne Super Knee Bar." Are you fucking kidding me? A lot of Jim Breaks love in this. ZSJ works the arm, Dar works the leg. Why is this little fuck doing his stupid ass poses so often? One of them is like...pretending he's squeezing a sponge on his face. ZSJ did a flying triangle, which was pretty neat. He also does this neat ass flying shoulder lock take down, then wins with a crazy looking rings of Saturn...with his legs. You won't see me say a good word about Noam Dar. Ever. Fuck that dude.
TJ Perkins (PHI) vs Rich Swann (USA)
While I don't have an actual hatred for these guys that I have for Dar, this is also not a match I was looking forward to or particularly want to see at all. TJP has been so unimpressive to me for over a decade, and all these "wrestling Jesus" type comments blow my mind. Bryan has a weird comment about how he thought TJP was a wrestling genius when he first met the guy. He follows that up with saying he did not think Swann was a genius when he first met him, but he was very athletic and entertaining. Considering how commentary in all sports tends to go with "Black = athletic/entertaining" and "white (although TJP isn't white) = intelligent", it had some weird connotations. I'm sure he meant nothing by it. OR DID HE? Probably not. Or did he? Swann did not seem to appreciate the dab. I don't either. MORE POP CULTURE REFERENCES FROM MAURO. Fuck. Chill out with that shit. You don't need to be talking about Drake and Meek Mil in this shit. Rich also does a dab, which gets a holy shit chant. IT'S A DAB DUEL. This is everything I hate about indie wrestling. Dumb shits trying to be cute, a crowd getting stupid, and announcers making it worse by trying to stay hip and relevant to a younger audience. This is the biggest match, on the biggest stage of their careers, and the most heated things get is over dabbing. Compare that to Brian Kendrick scraping and clawing in every match, using every possible thing in his environment and all of his veteran tricks to stay alive because he knew how big this was. Nah, let's get pissy over dabbing at each other. Swann tweaks his knee missing a dive, but it doesn't stop him from doing his running or flippy shit. Motherfucker did a rolling thunder into a handspring backflip. On a knee he couldn't walk on. Get the fuck out. TJP wins with a heel hook and I'm still not impressed with either of these guys. At all. There was a story, but only cursory, because the leg stuff didn't stop Swann from doing any of his normal shit at all.
The semis and finals took place on a live, 2 hour broadcast. At least there is no Noam Dar for it. FUCK NOAM DAR. Bryan and Maruo start with talking about the evolution of Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid in the 80s, to the Super J Cups in the 90s, to the CWC today.
Gran Metalik (MEX) vs Zack Sabre Jr. (GBR)
Lucha fuckery against UK fuckery. Metalik starts out with an immediate tope, then follows with a squashing springboard swanton. Just splattered that dude. Trying to win this as quickly as possible so as to be as fresh as possible for the final. ZSJ slows it down with some mean ass neck work. When there is space between the two, Metalik gets strikes off. As soon as they get close, Zack gets him twisted. ZSJ is far more aggressive than he has been in the previous rounds, almost working heelish. Then he gets kicked in the fucking throat. Metalik hits what is basically a reverse Slingblade. Metalik brings his own wacky subs, and Mauro starts talking about Kid Cudi on Twitter. Fuck off with that shit, Mauro. Christ. There are quite a few awkward exchanges in this. Actually surprised there hasn't been more of that considering how many matches have guys who speak different languages and have never worked together. LARIATOOOOO. A lot of strike exchanges in this. You know, there's a fundamental flaw in ZSJ's game: A lot of his submissions rely on his opponent's strength, balance, and flexibility to look good. Here, Metalik isn't that flexible and he loses his balance, which makes the submissions, and therefore ZSJ, look not as a good. Metalik wins the same way he's won every match: A Metalik Driver OUTTA NOWHERE. William Regal presents Metalik with a medal for making it to the finals. That's pretty cool. He even got to do a promo with a translator.
Kota Ibushi (JPN) vs TJ Perkins (PHI)
Lol if this tournament ends up with Metalik and TJP in the finals instead of Ibushi or ZSJ. I'm going to assume there will be a lot of kicks in this. TJP checks some kicks pretty early on, being the first in the tournament to do so. Bryan points out that TJP isn't dabbing tonight because he knows he's in the ring with the best, which implicitly means he wasn't taking his other matches seriously. Which is fucked. Then Mauro makes more pop culture references. TJP counters the triangle moonsault by kicking Ibushi right in the ass. Naturally, Ibushi falls to the floor, nearly breaking his neck. Could you believe such a thing? TJP is the definition of vanilla midget. I don't care how technically good he is, dude is just not engaging at all to me. Not feeling this. TJP's soft as fuck strikes certainly aren't helping. Dude has some comically pulled kicks in this. Like a parody of 80s wrestling light. YOU CAN'T POWERBOMB KIDMAN. TJP kicks out of the last ride. LMAO, TJP MADE IBUSHI TAP. This whole thing built around Ibushi and ZSJ having a dream match, and they both get bounced in the semis because neither would sign a WWE contract. Why they couldn't have one of them go to the finals and lose to a guy who signed is beyond me. TJP ain't shit.
Noam Dar/Cedric Alexander vs Tomasso Ciampa/Johnny Gargano
FUCKING NOAM DAR. I THOUGHT I WAS FREE OF THIS LITTLE SHIT. Actually, this is Norm Dar, according to the title plate. Fuck Norm, too. I'm not calling Ciampa/Gargano #DIY. Ever. Some really awkward stuff with Gargano and Norm. I'm going to blame Norm, because FUCK NORM DAR. I don't even know why he was chosen for Cedric's partner. Should have been Jack Gallagher, who is in the crowd. I like Johnny a lot, but damn he's got to stop doing the spear through the ropes. He's too damn small for that. Holy shit at that Michinoku Driver from Cedric. That looked crazy. Gargano was like 3 feet above the ropes. This is basically a full on PWG tag. Biggest spots possible nonstop. Glad someone finally blasted Norm while doing that stupid ass sponge taunt. Thankfully, Norm ate the pin. FUCK NORM DAR.
Gran Metalik (MEX) vs TJ Perkins (PHI)
Man, what a let down of a finals. No ZSJ or Ibushi. Metalik/Ibushi would have been LIT, as our clangorous Canadian commentator might say. They shake...left handed. The fuck? Right before the match is about to start, HHH's music hits. Imagine if he came out and hit them both with pedigrees. DO IT, HAITCH. HHH puts over the tournament and these two as the best in the world...but they're only looking for one. Not only will the winner get the trophy, but they'll also head to Raw as the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion. "Thank you Hunter!" Lol. Still wish he would have pedigreed them. At least TJP. The least interesting dude in the final four. It's nice that TJP can do Eddie and Ultimo spots. That doesn't make him interesting to watch. Shout out to TJP for completely failing to catch Metalik even a little on a dive. What the fuck. Just let him fucking die on that. Metalik can't make a pin after the Metalik Driver due to leg work, so TJP kicks out of the death move. But it was done in such a heavy handed way that the crowd groaned. TJP wins with the knee bar. New champion. Man. This match was really sloppy.
Great tournament and concept over all, from in ring and presentation standpoints. But what a flat ending. TJP was far and away the least interesting guy in the final four, and there are probably five guys I'd have put ahead of him to even GET to the semis. Shit, the dude he beat to QUALIFY was more fun and entertaining to watch. Building the brackets for a ZSJ/Ibushi final and then having neither of them even make it seems like such a cocktease. I get that you don't want to have a guy who isn't under contract winning, but one of them should have been in the finals. You were talking the whole tournament about how they're the best two in the world, but Metalik and TJP sure didn't come off as the two best in the world for beating them. Made the finals feel like a competition for bronze.
I think Brian Kendrick was the MVP of the tournament, the only guy bringing real character work and psychology to his matches. Gran Metalik, Cedric, Gargano, Ciampa, and Gallagher really showed out and upped their statures considerably. ZSJ kind of got exposed and I feel like his reputation might actually have been harmed by this tournament. For whatever reason, all of his flaws seemed to inadvertently get highlighted in each of his matches.
My favorite matches were Cedric/Ibushi, Gargano/Ciampa, Ibushi/Spanky, Tajiri/Metalik. This whole thing was better than the Best of the Super Juniors has been in probably close to 20 years at this point. Cruisers should add some spark to Raw.