By Zack Zimmerman
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WWE Cruiserweight Classic on WWE Network
Taped June 23 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
Triple H narrated a video about cruiserweights opening the doors for unique competitors whose stature is overshadowed by their abilities. He said this is an opportunity to step out of the shadows and create a legacy that will never be forgotten. Tonight was hyped as the start of the opening round. “32 men, 16 countries, 1 prize… Welcome to the Cruiserweight Classic…”
The opening video played… The camera panned the inside of the arena, which is the same Full Sail arena that NXT is shot in, but with seats in place of the stage, and the entrance set up more like an indie show with the entrance in the corner to where the left of the stage would normally be. Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan checked in from the top back corner of the arena overlooking the ring, rather than where the NXT commentators are.
Corey Graves checked in from the bracket center and announced tonights matches: Ho Ho Lun vs. Ariya Davari, Cedric Alexander vs. Clement Petoit, Kota Ibushi vs. Sean Maluta, and Gran Metallic vs. Alejandro Saez which will kick things off…
A brief introductory video aired on Gran Metalik, who wrestles for CMLL and NJPW as Mascara Dorada. He said his mask represents Mexico and he has come to represent his country with a win in the tournament. His opponent, Alejandro Saez, was profiled next. He said he’s there to show that Chileans are warriors… Back in the arena, Gran Metalik made his entrance. Alejandro Saez was out next, and Bryan noted that he had cut 30lbs to make weight. Referee Charles Robinson brought both guys to the center, made clear that he ran through the rules in the back, and then had the men shake hands before calling for the bell.
1. Gran Metalik vs. Alejandro Saez. Metalik looked for a lucha back roll, but Saez caught him with a low dropkick and went right to work. Metalik finally mounted his comeback around the two-minute mark and hit his signature rope twist dropkick from the second rope. Saez rolled to ringside, but Metalik was right there to follow up with an amazing dive springing off the middle rope inside the ring into a flip outside of the ring.
Back in the ring, Metalik hit a rope-walk splash for a near-fall, but Saez caught him with a head kick that sent him to ringside, and Saez followed up with a crazy running shooting star off the ring apron. Back in the ring, Saez look for a wild twisting press, but Metalik avoided it and then hit a sick fireman’s carry screwdriver for the win.
Gran Metalik pinned Alejandro Saez in about 4:10 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
The commentators put over Saez’s effort before Metalik’s hand was raised in victory mid-ring, with the referee holding both guy’s arms ala MMA. The bracket was shown updated… Ho Ho Lun vs. Ariya Daivari was hyped up next… A video package introduced Daivari, who referenced his brother competing in WWE some time ago and then said he’s there to make his own mark. Lun was spotlighted next, saying that the Chinese people are expected to conform and get office jobs, but him making it to WWE proves that he’s made the right choice.
Back in the arena, Ho Ho Lun made his entrance, and the crowd liked him because it’s easy to chat “Ho Ho”. Ariya Daivari was out next. Daivari refused to shake hands.
2. Ho Ho Lun vs. Ariya Daivari. Ho Ho hit a couple of dropkicks in the opening minute before Daivari cut him off with a jumping neckbreaker. Daivari missed a stinger splash, but held momentum with a Harley Race jumping knee. Lun worked up from a headlock, but Daivari caught him with a jumping spinning roundhouse to put him right back down.
Daivari talked some trash and slapped Ho Ho around, but Ho Ho caught him with a kick and fired up with a missile dropkick. Lun looked for a German suplex, but Daivari bought out and hit a rolling elbow. He looked for a frog splash, but Ho Ho evaded and hit a knee strike and superkick for two, but then followed right up with a bridging German suplex for the win.
Ho Ho Lun beat Ariya Daivari in about 5:00 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
The bracket was updated after Lun’s hand was raised… Kota Ibushi was hyped for the main event, and Cedric Alexander vs. Clement Petiot was hyped up next… [C]
Zim Says: The crowd likes Ho Ho because he’s got a fun name to chant, but he’s a far cry from being a superstar. He just looks and works like a self-trained indie guy, which he quite simply is. Daivari is a talented guy who looked good here, but I think this was more of a political thing with the WWE deal breaking in China recently. As for the opening match, Saez looked impressive as an unknown and Metalik showed only a small, but still very impressive, portion of what he’s capable of. I’m looking forward to his mater-round matches in particular.
Petiot was profiled. He said he was trained by Lance Storm and he doesn’t do flips, but he’s stronger than most of the other guys there. Cedric Alexander said he’s ready to show the world Cedric Alexander… Clement Petiot was out to very little response. Cedric Alexander was out next to a big pop, relatively speaking. Bryan noted he cut 25lbs to make weight. The referee had them shake hands, which ended in an intense stare-down with both guys getting in each other’s face.
3. Cedric Alexander vs. Clement Petiot. Alexander got the better of Petiot out of the gate and feigned a dive to the outside with a springboard moonsault landing on his feet in the ring. Cedric hit a very impressive handstand ‘rana into a picture-perfect high dropkick for an early two-count. Petiot cut him off moments later and went to work with basic offense. he hit a suplex and a hard whip into the corner. Petiot used a gutwrench suplex for a quick pinball attempt of his own.
Ranallo interestingly noted that Petiot had in-ring experience against guys like Chris Hero. Petiot hit a hard running shoulder block and followed up with a hard running knee to a seated Alexander in the corner for a two-count. Alexander managed to slow his momentum when he hung Petiot up in the ropes before hitting a high springboard clothesline. Alexander fired up with running forearms in the corner, but after a series of counters, Petiot laid him out with a discus clothesline for a near-fall.
Petiot looked for another clothesline, but this time Alexander ducked it and hit the back suplex lift into a double-knee backbreaker, The Lumbar Check, for the win.
Cedric Alexander over Clement Petiot in about 6:00 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
Replays aired as the commentators put over Petiot’s power and Alexander’s victory. Alexander’s hand was raised and the bracket was updated… The commentators discussed Kota Ibushi vs. Sean Maluta and Bryan said that Ibushi is one of the best in the world regardless of his size, particularly emphasizing his kicks and flying ability. Maluta was put over as a member of the Samoan wrestling dynasty.
Kota Ibushi was spotlighted saying that he expresses himself in the ring and after the success it brought him in Japan, he’s excited to show what he can do to the American audience. Maluta said it was an honor to join in his family and Samoa’s rich wrestling tradition… Back in the arena, Sean Maluta made his entrance. Ranallo said he’s cousins with The Usos and Roman Reigns, among many others. Kota Ibushi was out next to a good response from the crowd. Ranallo called him a Japanese superstar and acknowledged him as a 3x IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Both guys shook hands.
4. Kota Ibushi vs. Sean Maluta. Ibushi grounded Maluta with a single leg kick before the two battled over a waistlock and facelock. Maluta’s family was in the crowd and chanted his name, while the rest of the crowd chanted for Ibushi in response. Ibushi rocked Maluta with a roundhouse kick, but Maluta fired back with a hard forearm. He went up top, but missed a diving splash and Bryan pointed out that it’s early in the match to look for something like that.
Ibushi hit a high springboard dropkick and an exploder suplex. He charged at Maluta in the corner, but Maluta caught him with boots and then a diving Codebreaker. Ibushi managed to roll to ringside. Maluta tried a flip dive over the ropes, but he came up very short and hit the ropes, awkwardly tumbling onto Ibushi at ringside. Yikes.
Back in the ring, Ibushi fought out of a chin lock, but Maluta caught him with a boot and a neckbreaker for a near-fall. Bryan pointed out that Ibushi is only recently returned from neck surgery and questioned how he would hold up. Ibushi hit a high dropkick out of nowhere and then began to fire up with a hard series of kicks, following up with a standing moonsault for a two-count. The two battled on the top rope with Ibushi taking the plunge, but suddenly he popped back up and knocked Maluta off the top with a Pele-style kick. Ibushi hit his trademark triangle moonsault to ringside, which looked as good as ever.
Ibushi got another two-count in the ring, and then looked to follow up with a Dragon suplex, but Maluta fought out and dropped Ibushi with a superkick which Bryan and Ranallo put over as a wicked near-upset. Maluta lookd to follow up, but Ibushi avoided a kick and hit another roundhouse of his own. Ibushi hoisted Maluta up and then planted him with the sit-out Last Ride for the win.
Kota Ibushi defeated Sean Maluta in about 9:40 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
Replays aired before Ibushi’s hand was raised. The bracket was updated, revealing that Ibushi’s next round matchup will be against Cedric Alexander. Maluta raised Ibushi’s hand in the ring and the commentators thanked everyone for tuning in…
Corey Graves hyped Tajiri vs. Damian Slater, TJ Perkins vs. Da Mack, Mustafa Ali vs. Lince Dorado, and Akira Tozawa vs. Kenneth Johnson for next week’s show…
Zim Says: That was a very solid match, aside from the botched dive. To their credit however, they didn’t shy away from it, and in fact showed it repeatedly on replay, playing it up like it was a risk that Maluta needed to take and didn’t quite may off the way he hoped. That’s just one of the many little approaches that this show takes differently in presentation which give it a unique and fresh feel. Ibushi came across like a star without breaking out all of the tricks in his bag, as Cedric did to a slightly lesser extent in the match prior.
As a trend, the opening round matches are relatively tame and serve more of an introductory role, but the show still feels exciting with new talent coming in from around the world, and the later round matches should end up playing out nicely. I’ll be out of town next week so Jason Powell will be here covering for me, but I’m very much looking forward to following and covering the progression of this tournament.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for a special All-Access first edition of the DotNet CWC Audio Recap.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.