By Zack Zimmerman
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WWE Cruiserweight Classic on WWE Network
Taped June 23 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
A video welcomed viewers to week three of the Cruiserweight Classic. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tyson Dux, Harv Sihra vs. Drew Gulak, Tony Nese vs. Anthony Bennett, and Raul Mendoza vs. The Brian Kendrick were hyped… The opening video played…
Mauro Ranallo welcomed viewers and threw right to the first intro video, this one for the Canadian Tyson Dux. He talked about an injury he had to rebound from and said the CWC is his chance to prove himself. Zack Sabre Jr. was featured next. He said if he’s truly the best technical wrestler in the world than the other cruiserweights’ styles won’t matter. Back in the arena, ZSJ made his entrance. Mauro Ranallo called him one of the favorites to win and Daniel Bryan spoke about watching him grow into the competitor he is today. Tyson Dux was out next.
1. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tyson Dux in a first-round match. The crowd was chanting for Sabre at the bell. Sable picked the leg early and began to work over Dux’s wrapped-up knee. Dux reversed and put Zack in the same hold, but Sabre used a tricky World of Sport escape. Sable once again used his technical mastery to escape a head scissors and work a hammerlock into a cravat.
Dux escaped the hold and the two were at a standoff at the two-and-a-half minute mark. Dux continued to try Zack’s own offense with a cravat, but Sabre once again had the perfect escape. Sabre began to manipulate the wrist and elbow of Dux and caught him with a diving European uppercut a short time later. Zack hit a running uppercut in the corner and a series of kicks to the arm. Sabre slapped Dux, but Dux fired up and spiked him with a fisherman’s buster for a two-count.
Dux sank in a Fujiwara armbar mid-ring, and then hit a sliding forearm when Zack managed to roll out. Dux teed off with forearms, but Sabre used a misdirection to get the better of Dux and lock in an Octopus stretch which he worked into a standing armbar. Zack let off a series of kicks before nailing Dux with a penalty kick to the chest for two.
Dux caught a charging Sabre with a Manhattan drop and a DDT for another near-fall. Sable tried one of his bridging roll-ups, but Dux escaped. His advantage didn’t last long however, as Zack transitioned into a kimura. Once Zack had Dux grounded, hit locked in the Omoplata and wrenched back with his Ode to Breaks armbar for the win.
Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Tyson Dux in about 8:40 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
Replays aired and Zack’s hand was raised before the updated bracket was shown. The two competitors exchanged a friendly hug as well… Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo checked in from the commentary booth before throwing to Corey Graves in the CWC control center. Graves noted that Sabre would be facing the winner of the next match, Harv Sihra vs. Drew Gulak…
Drew Gulak was featured. He said that winning the tournament will take drive and determination that he has. Hard Sihra was up next. He, like his brother, spoke about Eddie Guerrero and hoe Eddie inspired them to embrace their heritage… Their match was hyped up next… [C]
Zim Says: Excellent opening round showing, particularly for Sabre. I, like many others, am very much looking forward to seeing his later round matches and big-picture, what his future holds whether in or out of WWE/NXT.
Back in the arena, Drew Gulak made his entrance. Ranallo noted he was a veteran of the American indie circuit and a talented submission wrestler. Harv Sihra was out next.
2. Drew Gulak vs. Harv Sihra in a first-round match. The two exchanged some nice matwork in the opening minute and even exchanged a handshake, but it ended tensely and the two went right back at it. They exchanged a series of rollups before Gulak established control with a hard clothesline leaping off the middle turnbuckle. Gulak bodyslammed Sihra into the ropes, but Sihra used the ropes to his advantage and dumped Gulak to ringside.
Sihra sprang off the middle rope with a big twisting crossbody to wipe Gulak out at ringside, and then followed up with a swinging neckbreaker in the ring for two. Gulag briefly regained control and went to the top rope, but Sihra caught him with a superplex. Both guys were down, and when they worked back to their feet, Gulak slipped in the Gulock dragon sleeper with bodyscissors for the submission.
Drew Gulak forced Harv Sihra to submit in about 5:00 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
All of the post-match formalities took place… Raul Mendoza vs. The Brian Kendrick was hyped in the main event, and Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese is up next… [C]
Zim Says: Not the most stand-out match of the opening round by any means, but it was fine. Not to take anything away from either guy, but it kind of came across like a match to determine who loses to Zack Sabre in the next round.
Tony Nese was spotlighted. He said that he calls himself the Premier Athlete because of his strength and agility combination. Anthony Bennett said he’s 5′ 5″, but with the hair he’s 5′ 9″. He said “this kid don’t play…”
Back in the arena, Anthony Bennett came out with a set of light-up glasses on his eyes and another on his hair. Tony Nese was out next. the commentators said that he’s one of the few competitors who doesn’t feel grateful to be in the tournament, but rather entitled to be there.
3. Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese in a first-round match. Bennett got a headlock and danced a little bit before Nese hit some of his trademark counters and offense. The two battled on the apron before Nese avoided a sweep with a cartwheel and nailed Bennett with a superkick. Nese looked to powerbomb Bennett, but Bennett slipped onto the apron and took him out with a cannonball senton.
Back in the ring, Bennett tried to suplex Nese to no avail, and Nese fired up. He hit some nice offense ending with a slingshot Lionsault for a two-count. Nese lifted Bennett for a suplex and powered through several knees to the head to deliver the suplex anyway. Nese looked to follow up, but Bennet fired back with forearms and a pop-up dropkick. Bennett hit a diving tornado DDT, though he didn’t get all of it, for a two-count.
The two traded shots mid-ring and Bennett was out of place on one of Bennett’s trademark spots, but they recovered fine before Nese planted him with a pumphandle slam. The referee awkwardly interfered to check in on Bennett before Nese hit a 450 splash for the win.
Tony Nese over Anthony Bennett over Anthony Bennett in about 6:30 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
Bennett was slow to get up and the commentators played it up like Nese is there to hurt people. Replay aired and Nese’s hand was raised. For the first time, the losing competitor was slumped in the corner rather than standing with the ref. The updated bracket was shown before the main event was hyped up next… [C]
Zim Says: Another unspectacular opening round match in the middle of the show here. Admittedly though, it was edited to be less awkward and disjointed than it was in-person at the time it was taped.
Back from break, Corey Graves went to a tale of the tape for the main event. Raul Mendoza was featured. He was also inspired by Eddie Guerrero and said he’s there to fulfill his dream. Brian Kendrick was up next. He said he’s there because of his experience. He said that he had the world in his hands and lost grip because he was distracted patting himself on the back.
Back in the arena, The Brian Kendrick made his entrance. Raul Mendoza was out next.
4. Raul Mendoza vs. The Brian Kendrick in a first-round match. The two worked at a quick pace from the get-go trading headlocks and shoulder tackles before a nice sequence into a running ‘rana from Mendoza. Mendoza got a hold of Kendrick’s legs and grapevined them before performing his own version of the Cesaro swing before dropping into a nice seated leglock.
Momenta later, Kendrick played opossum and caught Mendoza with a high kick to take control. Kendrick worked Mendoza over with some aggressive offense, and when Mendoza got a brief hope-spot near-fall, but Kendrick came right back with a hard back-elbow. Mendoza ended up bleeding from around the mouth or nose, but he seemed unfazed as he took to the air with a big corkscrew dive to the outside. Back in the ring, Mendoza continued to roll until he ate a boot to the mush from Kendrick.
Kendrick went up top to follow up, but Mendoza popped up with a kick and hung Kendrick in the tree of woe. Mendoza went to the other corner and hit a perfect springboard coast-to-coast dropkick. He followed up with a rope-hung backstabber for a great near-fall, but Kendrick for his foot on the ropes. A short time later, Kendrick hung Mendoza up in the ropes throat-first and took him down with a Saka-Otoshi which Bryan called the Bully Choke to force the submission.
The Brian Kendrick beat Raul Mendoza by submission in about 7:35 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
Replays aired and Kendrick’s hand was raised, though the crowd was chanting Mendoza’s name. An updated bracket revealed that Kendrick will face Tony Nese in the next round…
Corey Graves announced Rich Swann vs. Jason Lee, Noam Dar vs. Gurv Sihra, Jack Gallagher vs. Fabian Aichner, and Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa for next week, and closed the show…
Zim Says: A quality match that worked very much in both guys’ favor. Mendoza looked like a star in defeat, and Kendrick picks up the win and can be a credible loss to a big(ger) name later in the tournament. Overall, this was probably my least favorite episode of CWC so far match-wise, but the opener and closer still delivered and as always, the show is easy to watch and I continue to enjoy the format. Until next week, take care and thanks for reading!
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.