They made it to a second week… Yes, I’m still surprised that WWE actually went ahead with their cruiserweight-themed show, and this week, we’ve got four more matches, including former WWE and ECW star Tajiri.

#TLDR: This could perhaps be tagged as the “spectacular” week, as Lince Dorado and Mustafa Ali stole the show with a high-flying bout, whilst the unfancied Kenneth Johnson pushed Akira Tozawa all the way in a fun main event as we had another set of four first round matches.

The Full Review: They opened up inside Full Sail University again, with Mauro Ranallo congratulating Daniel Bryan on his non-specific new role in WWE. Bryan barely mentions it, and pushes on to talking about the show – I’m not going to say “this is another burial of SmackDown”, but this was definitely a victim of “plans change!”

Corey Graves is in the 3D studio with the updated brackets, and throws to some highlights from last week’s show. This week we have Damien Slater vs. Tajiri, TJ Perkins vs. Da Mack, Mustafa Ali vs. Lince Dorado, and Akira Tozawa vs. Kenneth Johnson.

Our Dave Penzer-ish ring announcer still doesn’t have a name, and he introduces our first contest of the evening:

Tajiri vs. Damien Slater
Hey, they found Tajiri’s old WWE music! At 45, Tajiri obviously looks older than he did last time we was in WWE, but otherwise he doesn’t look too bad. Mauro Ranallo throws to a video package of Damien Slater, and he wants to be taken as the surprise package of the tournament that nobody knows how to deal with.

The Australian “World Beater” (as his trunks say) shakes hands with Tajiri, and he starts off having to fight free of a hammerlock from Tajiri, before returning the favour. Tajiri gets a rope break, but holds on to tie Slater’s arm in the ropes for good measure.

Tajiri shoots Slater into the ropes, but the Australian replies with a rolling bridge into a near-fall, before grabbing a wristlock. Slater loses the hold and gets taken down with some kicks, before Tajiri wrings the arm… but Slater hits one dropkick, then misses another and teats some more kicks.

Tajiri grounds Slater with a hammerlock, and Slater eventually squirms to the ropes for a clean break. Tajiri reapplies the armbar, but a kick sends him out of the ring and to the floor… where Slater meets him with a corkscrew pescado! After throwing Tajiri back inside, Slater gets halted by a wristlock from the Japanese veteran, but Slater fires back with a tornado DDT, then a running knee for a near-fall.

Slater looked to lift Tajiri up for a lifting reverse DDT, but the veteran flipped all the way over, landing in a waistlock. Slater elbows free, then dropkicks the knee from under Tajiri, before going for a single-leg crab. Tajiri kicks free of that, and the pair connect with stereo kicks.

Slater sweeps out the leg of Tajiri on another kick attempt, but he misses a charge and gets caught up in the corner in a tarantula – but Tajiri has to let go of the hold to avoid the disqualification. Slater ducks a kick, but gets taken down with a handspring elbow from Tajiri, followed by another kick… and finally the Buzzsaw kick takes Slater down for the count. A decent match, but the wrong guy definitely won based on the two performances here. Tajiri will face Gran Metalik in the second round. **½

Ranallo previews the next match, and we get a video package of TJ Perkins. Unsurprisingly, zero mention of his time in TNA here! Da Mack gets a video package too, and the “Urban German” wants to be the Michael Jackson of wrestling. Erm, paging Shinsuke Nakamura?!

TJ Perkins vs. Da Mack
According to Ranallo before the break, Da Mack is the biggest thing to come out of Germany since David Hasselhoff. I must admit, I was holding my breath during that analogy! Da Mack’s theme sounds like a cheap copy of “Billy Jean” at times, so you can tell that they’re trying to hammer home the Michael Jackson comparisons.

After shaking hands, we’re underway as Perkins takes down Da Mack with a wristlock, which the German athletically reverses, before Perkins takes him down with a dropkick. Mack takes Perkins into the ropes, before Perkins lands a headscissors to ground Mack, and then spin around for another takedown!

Mack handstands his way out of another spinning legscissor attempt, before dropkicking Perkins into the corner. Mack follows through with a flying forearm, and a series of showboating chops, and an uppercut to the jaw of the former Manik.

Mack looks to throw Perkins outside, but TJP holds onto the ropes and lands on the apron, before sliding under the bottom rope and utilising a Boston crab and turning it into a reverse pendulum hold, and finally, a reverse Indian deathlock, forcing Mack into the ropes. After taking Perkins outside, Mack goes flying with a somersault plancha to the aisleway, and getting a two-count back in the ring.

Mack stomps way on the back of Perkins with some added theatrics and a moonwalk, but Perkins retaliates with an Octopus hold, then switching it into the Indian deathlock again. Mack again makes the ropes, before hitting Perkins with a corkscrew splash out of the corner. The pair trade forearms, and Perkins lands a spinning kick, but runs into an uppercut from Mack. A low dropkick floors the German, but he’s able to roll up Perkins for a near-fall, and follows up with a springboard kick from the top rope for another near-fall.

Perkins reverses out of a suplex, and drops Mack into the ropes, following up with a springboard into a dropkick on the apron. Mack avoids a 450 splash attempt, but his attempt at a headscissors is switched into a facebuster by Perkins, who follows up with a facebuster into a kick, and finally a knee-bar for the submission. Fun stuff, and I could easily have watched these guys got another 5-10 minutes without any complaints. Perkins will face either Johnny Gargano or Tommaso Ciampa in the second round. ***½

Mauro Ranallo voices over a throw to a video package for Mustafa Ali – who was a late addition to the tournament. We see Ali doing an imploding 450 Splash and making weight. Lince Dorado is next, with some indy clips of him from Dragon Gate USA (there’s a throwback!)

Mustafa Ali vs. Lince Dorado
Dorado gets a good reaction, which makes sense since he typically wrestles in Florida. Ali slaps the hand away, and we get going with a jump attack from Ali, pounding on Dorado in the corner, before lighting him up with some chops in the ropes.

Dorado slides under the legs, then takes down Ali with headscissors before kipping up… and springboarding to the floor, missing the dropkick to Ali on the apron. Ali replies with a Shining Wizard off the apron to Dorado, only getting a one-count. Ali grabs an armbar in the ring, but Dorado easily punches free, before crashing and burning into the corner… and taking a kick from Ali to boot.

Ali rolls through the middle ropes, back into the ring and lands a neckbreaker for a two-count, before Dorado kicks from the ground to the head of Ali. Dorado takes a release back suplex with a knee to the back on the way down, before Ali misses a moonsault and is met with a dropkick from the “Golden Lynx”.

A missed backfist gives Dorado the chance to land a kick, before he is backdropped onto the apron, springboarding back in with a hurricanrana. Another springboard dropkick sends Ali onto the apron, with a set of headscissors taking him down to the floor from the apron. An Asai moonsault follows from Dorado, before Ali gets tossed back in to take a cross body block from the top for a near-fall.

Ali lands a jawbreaker, but is kneed out of a suplex attempt, as Dorado lands an enziguiri, before spiking Ali with a springboard reverse rana. That looked awkward for Ali, and he still kicked out at two… but was quickly taken to the top rope, before countering Dorado with a springboard Spanish Fly for a near-fall of his own.

Ali goes up top again, but misses his imploding 450 Splash, and that gives Dorado the opening to go airborne himself, with a shooting star press being enough to nail the win. This was easily the most spectacular match so far in the tournament, and continued the streak of “every performer meeting or beating expectations” in my eyes at least. I could have done without that reverse ‘rana spiking Ali though… Dorado gets the winner of Rich Swann and Jason Lee in the second round. ***¾

Only one match left tonight, and it’s Akira Tozawa against Jason Lee! After an advert for a video game headlined by a guy who failed two drug tests for UFC, we return to Corey Graves in the Control Room, and for a change, he throws to the video package of Akira Tozawa. Some really blocky footage of Tozawa here, which looks like low-quality YouTube stuff, and then we’re taken to a recap of perhaps the least-known man in the entire tournament: Kenneth Johnson. No mention of his indie career as “Weazy Woo”, instead, Johnson’s planning on using this tournament to inspire others.

One of the negatives of this format, is that since they filmed all first round matches in one night in an “evergreen” state, the ring announcer doesn’t announce anything as a “main event”, which I guess has a slight effect on the crowd not raising themselves for the perceived “main event” of each show.

Akira Tozawa vs. Kenneth Johnson
Ranallo tags Sho Funaki as one of Johnson’s trainers, and we’ve got over ten minutes left, so this is gonna be a fairly long match. Tozawa takes down Johnson with a front facelock, then goes for a waistlock to keep him grounded, but Johnson fights up and works into a wristlock, and rolls with Tozawa to avoid a reversal.

Tozawa finally counters into a headlock, then takes him down and they square off. After taking down Johnson, they trade leglocks, with Johnson floating into a front facelock and again rolls through with Tozawa to retain the advantage. Johnson’s caught in a wristlock, but struggles to fight free, eventually using the ropes to switch into a headlock on the Japanese star.

Tozawa uses some headscissors to work out of the headlock, and we’re at another stand-off. Another headlock from Tozawa is reversed, but this time he counters a sunset flip and kicks Johnson in the head for a near-fall. A snapmare then lets Tozawa lock in a rear chinlock, before he releases the hold… and they trade chops back and forth, with Johnson’s chops looking to have been more effective. Until Tozawa nails him with a punch to the jaw, and that decks the lanky Detroit native.

A bodyslam and a back senton gets Tozawa a near-fall, and the Japanese star keeps up with some kicks to the back, and then another snapmare into a seated abdominal stretch. Some elbows to the midsection are thrown in for extra punishment, but Johnson fights free from the ground, before being forced to break free from a waistlock.

Johnson whips Tozawa into the ropes, but takes a discus forearm, before replying immediately with a nice dropkick. Tozawa sprays Johnson with some kicks, before Johnson no-sells a German suplex, as a double clothesline sends both men to the mat.

Johnson fires back with a forearm, which Tozawa gives a receipt for, and we get back and forth forearms. Some rapid-fire forearms from Tozawa should have given him an advantage, but Johnson ducks and almost wins it with some knees to the face. Johnson drops Tozawa with a modified Unprettier for a two-count, then goes up to the top rope, before missing a sloppy looking corkscrew senton.

Tozawa looks for a wheelbarrow, but Johnson rolls him up for a near-fall, before a snap German suplex finally puts down Johnson for more than a few seconds. That’s followed up with a deadlift bridging German suplex, and that’s all for Kenneth Johnson. This was a lot more evenly fought that I expected, and whilst Johnson was clearly rough around the edges, he was the surprise star of the night. Jack Gallagher or Fabian Aichner will face Tozawa in the second round. ***¾
Tozawa makes his way to the back, and we go back to Corey Graves in the control centre, as he recaps the eight qualifiers so far, before running down next week’s matches: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tyson Dux; Drew Gulak vs. Harv Sihra; Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese; Raul Mendoza vs. Brian Kendrick. Next week’s show could be the best yet!