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 recapped Zack Sabre Jr. Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, and Brian Kendrick picking up wins last week to advance to the second round. Then, Corey Graves ran down tonight’s matchups before the opening video played…
Inside Full Sail, Danial Bryan and Mauro Ranallo checked in for the final night of first-round matches. Corey Graves checked in from the control room and threw to the video packages for the first match of the night. Rich Swann was spotlighted. He said that he’ll never underestimate an opponent because he’s been underestimated for his size his whole life… Hong Kong’s Jason Lee was featured and he said that he’s been wrestling for 8 years. He spoke English well and said that he’s there to show what Hong Kong wrestling has to offer…
Back in the arena, Jason Lee made his entrance. Rich Swann danced his way out next to some very funky music that got the crowd moving and clapping along. After it stopped, the crowd continued to chant “can you handle this?”
1. Rich Swann vs. Jason Lee. At the bell, the chant switched to a brief “all night Swann” chant. There was a very impressive flipping sequence into a dropkick by Swann which popped the crowd and got the chants going again. Lee made a comeback with a series of open-handed strikes and a kick to the head for a two-count. The commentators marveled at his speed. Swann fired up with Vader hammer strikes to the head , and then hit a no-hands frankensteiner followed by a Rolling Thunder frog splash for two. Lee came right back with another series of kicks for two, but Swann caught him with a high spinning back kick that dropped him. Swann followed up with his standing 450 for the win.
Rich Swann pinned Jason Lee in about 3:45 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
The commentators put over both guys before replays aired and Swann’s hand was raised. He gave credit to Lee and then danced some more before the bracket revealed that Swann will face Lince Dorado in the next round…
Gurv Sihra was featured next. He spoke about growing up watching WWE with his brother and he patterns himself after guys like Bret Hart and Chris Jericho… Noam Dar said that he;s representing his current country Scotland as well as his birthplace of Israel. He said that he’s the youngest guy there at 22 but he’s been wrestling since he was 15 and he’s there to win…
Back in the arena, Noam Dar made his entrance. Guru Sihra was out next.
2. Noam Dar vs. Gurv Sihra. They didn’t do much in the opening minute until Dar hit a nice single-leg dropkick, but he posed rather than follow up and Sihra took control with an awkward side slam. Dar made his comeback with a hard whip into the corner and then caught Sihra with a kick to the leg. The commentators sounded as close to bored as they have in any match this tournament. Dar hit another single-leg kick to the head and then things got really sloppy until Dar hit an uppercut sequence and another kick. Shire hit a spinning heel kick for a two count, but missed an ugly diving elbow and Dar hit an enzugiri and fisherman’s suplex. Sihra kicked out at two, but Dar transitioned to a kneebar and forced the submission.
Noam Dar over Guru Sihra in about 5:25 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
It was revealed that Dar will be facing Ho Ho Lun in the next round…
Zim Says: Well that match pretty much sucked. This Sihra brother seemed less impressive than the other. Hopefully Dar shows more going forward, though that could be tough in a match against Lun. In very non-breaking news, Rich Swann has a really excellent charisma about him. Considering he’s a guy who has been under developmental contract for a couple of years and is freshly returned from injury, I’d predict that he’s poised to make a very solid run in this tournament, possibly going as far as the final four. As for Jason Lee, suffice it to say that the wrong Hong Kong wrestler was picked to advance.
Fabian Aichner was featured, and he’s representing Italy. He said that the wrestling scene in Italy isn’t as strong as it is in the US so he’s there to test and prove himself… The “Extraordinary Gentleman” Jack Gallagher was shown next. He said wrestling is a sporting contest so he will fight clean as long as his opponent does. He said his style is incredibly scientific, and at 167lbs he’s outsized even by the other cruiserweights so he has to best them through technique and pin them as quickly as possible… The winner was revealed to be facing Akira Tozawa in the next round… [C]
Back in the arena, Jack Gallagher was out in splendidly striped trunks looking like the Vaudevillains only wish they could. Fabian Aichner was out next who looks to be one of the more muscular men in the tournament and has spent infinitely more time in the tanning bed than Jack.
3. Jack Gallagher vs. Fabian Aichner. Jack grabbed an armlock, but the larger Aichner proved to be very agile as he flipped and twisted his way out of the hold and into control of Gallagher’s arm. Gallagher was thwarted at several turns, but used some very fun scientific World of Sport techniques to hold his own and go hold-for-hold with the larger man. Aichner ran through Gallagher with a shoulder tackle, but Gallagher caught him charging with a magical looking twisting monkey flip to send Aichner flying.
The two traded a rapid series of rollup attempts before Aichler flipped Gallagher overhead and dropped him down with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Aichner followed up with a very impressive double-springboard moonsault from the top rope for a good near-fall that popped everyone; commentators included. Gallagher began to fire back with a series of dropkicks and a running crossbody to take Aichner off his feet. Gallagher used a tilt-a-whirl into a guillotine choke, but Aichner powered out into a wicked sit-out Orange Crush Bomb (which Aichner saved with his strength) for a great near-fall.
Aichner went up top for the exclamation point, but came up empty on a big splash. Gallagher charged in with a straight headbutt which rocked Aichner back into the corner, and then Gallager charged with a high-impact running dropkick to the face for the win.
Jack Gallagher defeated Fabian Aichner in about 6:30 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
Bryan, who used a pretty memorable one himself, called Gallagher’s corner dropkick the best he’s ever seen. Replays aired and Gallagher’s arm was raised. As noted, Gallagher vs. Tozawa is the next round matchup.
Zim Says: I remember this match being the stand-out match from the tapings as both guys seemingly came out of nowhere with excellent performances, and it did not disappoint upon re-viewing. I think both guys could be very viable players when the Cruiserweight division launches on Raw.
The commentators threw back to Corey Graves in the control room. Graves turned attention to the main event between tag team partners Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa… Rather than being focussed on individually, the two shared a lengthy video package. It recapped their formation and continuing run in NXT as a tag team. They talked about how close they are, participating in each other’s weddings and whatnot, but noted that the opportunity to win the CWC puts that all on hold for the night and let the better man win…
Backstage, both competitors were standing by and were asked how their match tonight affects their status as a tag team. Gargano said it doesn’t matter that they’re partners or like brothers, he’ll see just another guy because Johnny Wrestling isn’t going home. Ciampa said all he ever hears is Johnny Wrestling. Ciampa said that he’s going to put Gargano out of the CWC and hurt him in the process.
Zim Says: Why would Ciampa want to hurt the guy who he’s getting a tag team title match with? I didn’t like that. A bit of a disconnect.
Back in the arena, Johnny Gargano made his entrance, followed by Tommaso Ciampa and all the CWC formalities.
4. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa.The two worked a quickly-paced opening sequence before Ciampa caught Gargano with a hard back elbow to establish control. He followed up shortly thereafter with a running knee that knocked Gargano out of the ring. Back in the ring, Ciampa remained in control until Gargano caught him with a high kick from the apron and a slingshot DDT for two.
Ciampa slipped out of a Lawn Dart attempt and looked for an avalanche Air Raid Crash, but Gargano slipped out as well and caught Ciampa with that new tucked-head superkick on the second turnbuckle. From there, Gargano powerbombed Ciampa down and wasted no time when Ciampa went to ringside following up with a high-speed dive through the ropes.
Back in the ring, Gargano looked for the slingshot spear, but Ciampa caught him with a knee strike for a two-count out of nowhere. Gargano fought out of a powerbomb lift, but Ciampa caught him with a high knee. Once again, Gargano avoided the lift and dropped Ciampa with a superkick and both guys were down.
They battled onto the apron and traded chops. Gargano charged, but Ciampa caught him with a kick to the head and then landed an Air Raid Crash on the ring apron. Ciampa wasted no time tossing Gargano into the ring and making the cover, but Gargano was able to kick out before three. Ciampa set up in the corner for his running knee, but a moment of hesitation allowed Gargano to counter. Ciampa kept the tides in his favor with a hard clothesline and then he connected with Project Ciampa for a great near-fall.
The crowd popped big and chanted “this is awesome.” Gargano struggled to his feet while Ciampa looked down with a mix of frustration and mercy. He threw hard chops at Gargano and sapped the hell out of him. There was a rapid sequence where Gargano looked for a backslide, Ciampa looked for his bridging armbar, and Gargano hooked a surprise crucifix, securing the clean pin out of nowhere.
Johnny Gargano beat Tommaso Ciampa in about 10:50 to advance to the second round of the CWC.
A series of replays aired, Gargano’s hand was raised, and the bracket revealed that Gargano’s opponent in the next round will be TJ Perkins. In the ring, Gargano extended his hand to a visibly frustrated Ciampa. Ciampa turned his back and went through the ropes, but before jumping down he re-entered the ring and sat next to Gargano. He raised his arm and Gargano hugged him. the stop stood and shook hands to close the in-ring portion of the show..,
Corey Graves noted that this concluded the opening round of the tournament and 16 competitors remain. Next week will be Tajiri vs. Gran Metalik and Cedric Alexander vs. Kota Ibushi. He thanked viewers and signed off…
Zim Says: Very good main event, and I would expect nothing less of these two in this position. They fought hard in the ring and tied it back together with the closing bit. Thumbs up. Overall, aside from a relative dud in the second match, I thought this was one of the stronger opening round episodes. Swann stood out in a fun quick match, Gallagher and Aighner thrusted themselves onto the scene with the dark horse match of the opening round, and Ciampa and Gargano closed things out on a hard-hitting and feel-good note. The opening rounds have been fun enough introductory matches, but this is where I’m really looking forward to watching things pick up as they have the opportunity to present some very unique matches and establish some real stars going into the big-league run on Raw. Should be fun to follow.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the DotNet CWC Audio Recap.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.