Round 2 of the Cruiserweight Classic wrapped up this week, with a trio of great matches and some cute story-telling to boot!
#TLDR: With three weeks to go until the final, the CWC finalised the quarter-final line-up on a show that featured some fine high-flying and technical matches.
The Full Review: The show opens with a recap from NXT Takeover last week, with the unveiling of the Cruiserweight Classic trophy, and a reminder that the finals are just three weeks away!
We get a video recap of last week, including Jack Gallagher kicking Akira Tozawa in the arse, Noam Dar making Hoho Lun tap out, and Tony Nese’s impressive-in-defeat performance against Brian Kendrick.
Lince Dorado’s got a new sit-down promo, calling himself a hybrid wrestler, and he wants people to follow their dreams because they sometimes come true. Rich Swann’s sit-down interview looks at his troubled upbringing – it’s pretty much the same video he had in the first round.
Rich Swann vs. Lince Dorado
Dorado starts with a headlock on Swann, then gets a shoulder block before some rope running and leapfrogs leads to a roll-up and a reversal as the pair traded near-falls before each man cartwheeled out of a ‘rana to stand off.
Dorado steps away from a test of strength, and instead busts out the old Alex Wright dance! In return, Swann dives, dropkicks Dorado to the outside, but takes a springboard dropkick and a springboard plancha as Dorado quickly recovered. Back inside, Swann lands a neckbreaker, then places Dorago in a submission that looks like what’d happen if you pressed pause on a shoulder breaker.
Swann lost the hold and ended up getting rolled up from a hiptoss start into a near-fall, and then the match descended into a battle of forearm strikes. Dorado ducks a spinning backfist, then lands an avalanche forearm, before Swann returns the favour. Swann misses with a top rope ‘rana attempt, and both men end up crashing to the mat after colliding with simultaneous bicycle kicks.
From their knees, both men continue to trade shots, finally ending with a jumping knee to the head from Dorado. Lince catches Swann with an enziguiri off the apron, then gets a cross body for a near-fall. Swann flips out of a German suplex, and kips up to DDT Dorado for a two-count, and then drags the masked man into the corner for a leaping standing 450 splash.
Dorado got the knees up to block it, and rolled up Swann for a two-count, before a springboard reverse leapfrog off the ropes eventually saw Dorado drop Swann with a reverse ‘rana. That gets Dorado a two-count, and then he went up top looking for a shooting star press, but Swann moved away, and then looked to go to the top, landing a Phoenix Splash for the win. A fun TV match, and the sort of stuff you’d hope Swann can pull off regularly once he moves onto Raw next month. Swann will face either TJ Perkins or Johnny Gargano in the quarter finals. ***¼
We see footage from Takeover last weekend, where Johnny Gargano had his knee clipped, stomped on, and then finally locked in a reverse figure four by Scott Dawson as Gargano and Ciampa lost their tag title match. They then take us backstage as Gargano’s getting his knee taped up… oh my. This was taped before Takeover, and he’s selling an injury that he was weeks away from getting. That’s going to be good selling for the TV crowd…
Drew Gulak and Zack Sabre Jr get their requisite video packages, with clips of their first round matches added.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Drew Gulak
Well, Zack’s been getting some online coverage thanks to an unflattering comment that has been attributed to someone within WWE about his working style… This match cannot be as bad as Gulak’s match with Timothy Thatcher at EVOLVE last weekend. It just can’t.
Gulak refuses to shake Sabre’s hand, slapping it away, and they charge at each other at the bell, with both men trying to grapple, but it was Sabre who got the first hold – an armbar – which Gulak easily turned into a pinning attempt. Sabre grabs another wristlock, and turns it into an armbar, then into a strait-jacket choke. Gulak fought free and eventually reversed it, but Sabre worked out of it as if he were Houdini, and went for a double armbar.
Gulak flips out and kicks away Sabre, then springboards off the bottom rope into a series of stomps on the Brit. Sabre takes a chop in the corner, then a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall. Sabre gets caught in an armbar, before he kicks himself free, as Gulak takes a Ric Flair bump into the corner, then misses a clothesline off the top and falling into a Fujiwara armbar.
Gulak reverses out into a Gory special, and then sinks down grabbing the chin to turn it into a pinning predicament, then a Boston crab. Sabre somehow turned that into a cover, scoring a two-count, but a Fireman’s carry takedown gets Gulak the advantage again.
Sabre surprises Gulak with an Octopus hold in the middle of the ring, but Gulak undoes the hold and grabs an ankle lock, and then catches a Sabre reversal, dumping him with a German suplex instead. Sabre switches out of an Electric chair into a kimura with body scissors, but Gulak manages to slam Sabre into the ropes to free the hold. That was insane, and would have gotten a Rick Martel reference had that happened in PROGRESS!
Gulak launches into Sabre with forearms, but Sabre ducks one to send Gulak to the mat and follows with a PK for a near-fall. As Ranallo name-checks Katsuyori Shibata after that PK, I lose count of the name-drops we’ve had in this match alone, and Sabre scores a near-fall with the prawn hold-esque roll-up he used to beat Shibata back in July.
Sabre responds with slaps, but Gulak returns them in kind, before a palm strike drops Sabre to his knees. Gulak rolls through a leapfrog and grabs a sunset flip for a near-fall, before a Dragon sleeper attempt is backflipped out of as Sabre bridges up to score the win. That was amazing – and proof that you can have a technical, grapple-heavy match without it being boring as hell. Sabre faces Noam Dar in the quarter-finals, so we’ll have a Brit in the semi-finals… ****
Post-match, Gulak finally shakes Sabre’s hand, but only briefly, as he makes his way to the back.
We return to Corey Graves in the CWC Control Room for the first time this week. If I’d not known any better, I’d have said that Corey was being kept hostage there, but he’s doing NXT, Raw and Superstars tapings, so he’s just filming these sixty-second spots. Gotta get those floral shirts out, I guess!
Another video for TJ Perkins follows, and Johnny Gargano gets one too. You know the drill by now.
Johnny Gargano vs. TJ Perkins
Gargano’s knee is taped, selling the injury he picked up at Takeover this past weekend, and with Perkins already named as a competitor for the Cruiserweight division on Raw, you can guess he’ll not be jobbed out here.
They start with a knuckle-lock, which Perkins rolls up into a pinning predicament as he gets a couple of pinfall attempts in the early going. Gargano monkey flips repeatedly as he tries to break the knuckle-lock, but he finally gets an armbar, only for Perkins to counter out and grab a Muta lock, forcing Gargano to drag himself to the ropes.
Gargano’s rocked with an European uppercut in the ropes, before he dropkicks Perkins as he’d hung himself between the ropes. After Perkins crashed to the floor, Gargano joined him by way of a tope, then tossed Perkins back inside, then grabbing a near-fall from an O’Connor roll. Perkins tried to counter out, but only ended up in a Jushin “Thunder” Liger-like seated surfboard.
Perkins then rolled out and countered with another Liger-esque move, a pendulum, then the Romero special, pulling back into a pinning predicament that nearly resulted in a draw as both men’s shoulders were down.
Perkins leapdrogs into a sunset flip on Gargano, before he catches him in some headscissors on the mat, only for Gargano to work free and hit a rolling kick from the mat. A slingshot spear through the ropes drops Perkins, who then took a couple of chops in the corner, before being listed to the top rope. Perkins works free and popped up Gargano before dropping to the mat and sending his boots directly into Gargano’s jaw.
A spinning back kick rocks Gargano, but he replies with an enziguiri, and double bicycle kicks stagger the pair. Perkins hits a sit-out powerbomb, which creates the second “almost-a-draw” cover of the match.
Perkins dropkicks Gargano onto the apron, but then leaps into a superkick on the apron from Gargano, who followed that up with a cannonball dive that saw him crash his knees through the handily-placed timekeeper’s table at ringside.
Gargano throws Perkins back inside, but he slingshots himself into a Fireman’s carry and gets dropped into a kick to the head, then a double-knee gutbuster, as Perkins sits back for a two-count from the roll-up. A drop toe-hold sends Gargano into the middle rope, and in position for an inside-out dropkick from Perkins.
Gargano fires back though and catches Perkins up top again, but his attempt at a corner-to-corner Snake Eyes-like lawn dart fails as Gargano’s knee buckles underneath him. Taking advantage, Perkins wheelbarrows Gargano down into a kneebar, but it’s countered with the Gargano Escape (over-the-shoulder crossface). Perkins spins out and tries a La Magistral, but it’s blocked by Gargano for a two-count.
As Gargano continues to grab his injured knee, Perkins drops Gargano with a hangman’s neckbreaker, only to see a top rope ‘rana attempt countered with by Gargano, who dropped him face-first onto the turnbuckles. It was second time lucky for the Lawn Dart, as Gargano got a near-fall after he’d thrown Perkins head-first into the middle turnbuckle.
The pair avoided a series of kicks, but a dropkick to the knee sent Gargano down, although he was able to land with a superkick to the head of Perkins. An attempt at a Dodon facebuster from Gargano was blocked though, and Perkins rolled him up into a kneebar again. Gargano dragged his way to the ropes, but once Perkins scissors the leg, Gargano quickly tapped out to put an end to a great main event. TJ Perkins will face Rich Swann in the quarter-finals. ***¾
That was a fine piece of story-telling – with Gargano coming into the match with an injury that the fans live hadn’t seen, it played across well on TV, and was sold well by Gargano throughout the match.
Perkins helped Gargano back to his feet, before heading to the back. Gargano slumped back to the mat as the trainer took a look at the knee, and we end with another recap video, highlighting the quarter-finals: Akira Tozawa vs. Gran Metalik, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Noam Dar, Brian Kendrick vs. Kota Ibushi and Rich Swann vs. TJ Perkins.