8/24 Zim’s WWE Cruiserweight Classic TV Live Review: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Drew Gulak and two additional second-round matches


By Zack Zimmerman

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WWE Cruiserweight Classic on WWE Network
Taped July 14 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University


Highlights of the remaining competitors were shown before the reveal of the CWC trophy with Triple H and the motorcycle guys was shown… A recap of last week’s matches was shown, with Akira Tozawa advancing over Jack Gallagher, and Noam Dar and Brian Kendrick advancing over Ho Ho Lun and Tony Nese respectively. Corey Graves hyped tonight’s matchups of Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Drew Gulak, Rich Swann vs. Lince Dorado, and TJ Perkins vs. Johnny Gargano… The opening video played…

Mauro Ranallo hyped this show as the final second-round matches before welcoming in Daniel Bryan. They then threw to the spotlight videos for the opening match. Lince Dorado said that he honestly expected to get where he is because it’s all he’s worked for his whole life. He said he’s going to make sure everyone knows the name Lince Dorado and show kids that dreams come true. Rich Swann was up next. He spoke about his parent dying when he was 12 and 16, and credited wrestling for saving his life. He said that he’s in the CWC to exceed expectations.

Back in the arena, Rich Swann’s music hit and the crowd popped big because they knew it was time to dance. Swann’s opening round win was highlighted. Lince Dorado was out next to a solid response in his own right. Ranallo noted that he was trained by Mike Quackenbush and Cesaro before Dorado’s opening round win was shown.

1. Lince Dorado vs. Rich Swann. There was a fun but choreographed flip-filled sequence to open things up. Swann tried to dance, but Dorado stopped him and danced himself for a chuckle from the crowd. Dorado cut off an early dive attempt from Swann and hit a springboard dropkick into the ring. He followed up promptly with a high springboard plancha onto Swann at ringside. Dorado looked to continue his attack in the ring, but Swann used his momentum into a swinging neckbreaker and took control.

Swann borrowed from his buddy Ricochet when he put Dorado in a wacky upside-down stretch, but he couldn’t hold on very long. Dorado came back with a pin attempt before the two men started trading hard shots center-ring. Swann looked for a no-hands frankensteiner, but Dorado rolled through and the two collided with simultaneous bicycle kicks for a double-down.

Back on their feet, the two brawled back and forth with shots to the head which got the crowd going. Dorado caught Swann with a kick to the head and the hit a springboard crossbody for a near-fall. Dorado looked for a suplex, but Swann landed on his feet and rolled forward into a big jumping spike DDT for a near-fall of his own. Swann looked for his standing 450, but Dorado got his knees up. He teed off with kicks and then spiked Swann with a reverse ‘rana for a very good near-fall.

Dorado positioned Swann and then went to the top turnbuckle, but Swann avoided the Shooting Star Press and Dorado went splat. Swann went up top himself and came down with the Phoenix Splash for the win.

Rich Swann pinned Lince Dorado in about 8:15 to advance to the quarterfinals of the CWC.

A series of replays aired Swann’s hand was raised in victory. an updated bracket revealed that Swann will be facing the winner of the Gargano vs. Perkins match…

Zim Says: Fun match. It doesn’t stand out the was a handful of the other second-round matches have to this point, but I was entertained while I was watching it. Swann has a lot of charisma which I expect will serve him well, and Dorado has some fun stuff and a good look if they’re not overly worried about featuring too many masked guys (which they shouldn’t be).

A recap of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa coming up short against The Revival for the tag titles at Takeover was shown… Backstage, the young lady interviewer was standing by with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa while Gargano was getting his knee wrapped. Gargano said that he’s aware he’s one of the favorites to win the tournament and he just doesn’t want to let anyone down. He said he’s going to leave his heart in the ring to get one step closer to winning the CWC… Gargano vs. TJ Perkins was hyped in the main event…

Drew Gulak vs. Zack Sabre Jr. was up next with Gulak being featured. He said that he’s been told from the beginning not to expect anything of his career but here he is. He attributed that to his aggression and taking every opportunity that he has to submit and beat his opponent. Zack Sabre Jr. recalled being mesmerized by the WCW cruiserweights back in the day and called himself the technical wizard. He said that he’s put in the time and effort so he believes his reward will come.

Back in the arena, Zack Sabre Jr. made his entrance followed by Drew Gulak and both of their opening round wins were recapped. Gulak considered before opting to slap away Sabre’s hand.

2. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Drew Gulak. The two got into an aggressive scrap at the bell with Sabre looking for an armbar and Gulak rolling him up in a pin attempt. The two squared off and reset before going into a battle over a straight-jacket hold. Sable managed to get the position advantage on Gulak, but Gulak used a mule kick and began to work over Sabre. Gulak hit a northern lights suplex and then settled into a grounded stretch where he slapped the hell out of Sabre.

Gulak looked for his diving clothesline, but Sabre caught him right in a Fujiwara armbar. Gulak managed to power out and he hoisted Sabre into a Gory Special. From there, Gulak manipulated Sabre’s arms and brought him all the way down to the mat. Sable briefly reversed into a cradle pin attempt, but Gulak kicked out and regained control. A short time later, Sabre caught Gulak in an octopus hold, but Gulak countered out and then dropped Sabre backwards with a suplex.

Gulak lifted Sabre in electric chair position, but Sabre slipped down in to a kimura. Gulak looked to be in trouble before he managed to power out and slam Sabre right into the ropes. Sable tripped up a cruising Gulak and halted his momentum with a hard penalty kick to the chest. Sable used a judo throw and then caught Gulak in one of his signature holds, a rolling leg-clutch pin, but Gulak managed to kick out before three.

The two slapped the piss out of each other mid-ring before Sabre countered Gulak’s dragon sleeper into another pinning variation, this time a wrist-clutch bridging leg cradle which he maintained for the three-count.

Zack Sabre defeated Drew Gulak in about 8:25 to advance to the quarterfinals of the CWC.

Replays were aired, a hand was raised, and the bracket was updated to reveal that Sabre will face Noam Dar in the next round. Sabre once again extended his hand for a shake, and this time Gulak briefly and begrudgingly reciprocated… Johnny Gargano vs. TJ Perkins was hyped up next as the final match of the second round… [C]

Zim Says: At 8ish minutes, it’s hard for these matches to really reach a point of memorability or a gear that feels next-level, but they’re solid and entertaining matches no doubt. I guess the issue is that the matches on this show have been overshadowed by the quality of the previous two weeks. Maybe with the benefit of hindsight, airing these matches in different order wouldn’t have been a bad idea.

In the CWC control room, Corey Graves reiterated that there is only one match remaining in this round and questioned how Gargano would fare only four days out from his match at Takeover Brooklyn. TJ Perkins was spotlighted. He said that he wants to be the representative of his generation. I don’t want him representing my generation. Gargano was featured next, with particular emphasis on his competitive partnership with Tommaso Ciampa. He said it would be a dream come true to be considered the best cruiserweight in the world.

Back in the arena, Johnny Gargano made his entrance. TJP was out next along with highlights of his opening round win. There were dueling “Johnny Wrestling” and “TJP” chants at the bell.

3. Johnny Gargano vs. TJ Perkins. The two went into a test of strength and maintained the hold through a series of monkey flips and counters. Before long, TJ had Gargano in a Muta Lock and Gargano began to sell the leg. Gargano managed to knock TJ to ringside and followed up with a high-speed dive through the ropes. Back in the ring, Gargano stayed in control with a nice surfboard hold.

Perkins managed to counter and entered into a series of transitions around Gargano’s knee, including an reverse Boston crab and a Romero special surfboard. TJ did his headstand head scissors takeover and dabbed for good measure. The two rolled around before Gargano caught him with a low-angle enzugiri and then hit the slingshot spear for a two-count.

Gargano remained in control with a series of hard chops in the corner until TJ popped Gargano up and caught him coming down with both boots to the jaw. The two traded boots, but TJ blocked one of Johnny’s and passed the leg around his back into a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall. TJ looked for a triangle dropkick, but Gargano caught him with a kick. Gargano looked to follow up with a flipping senton off the apron, but he overshot a bit and his bad leg went crashing into the timekeeper’s corner.

Gargano sold his leg a bit but got Perkins back in the ring. As soon as he did however, Perkins caught him with the overhead flash kick and a chickening lift into a double-knee gutbuster from behind for another near-fall. The two traded shots mid-ring before Perkins tripped Gargano into the ropes and followed up with a triangle dropkick to the head of the rope-hung Gargano.

Perkins looked to go up top, but Gargano caught him with a high kick. Gargano got Perkins over his shoulder and ran for the Lawn Dart, but his leg gave out and he fell to the mat. Perkins looked for a kneebar, but Gargano countered looking for the Gargano Escape. Gargano rolled through into a near-fall pin attempt and both guys were slow to their feet. Ranallo noted that they’re past the 10-minute mark in this match with a 20-minute time limit.

Back on their feet, TJ hit a leaping neckbreaker. He looked to follow up, but Gargano dropped him face-first into the top turnbuckle and connected with a crazy Lawn Dart for a good near-fall. Back on their feet, the two traded a series of kicks with Gargano appearing to get the better of it. He hooked the full nelson and lifted for his Hurts Donut, but TJ rolled through into the kneebar. Gargano struggled and struggled, but eventually gave in and tapped out as the crowd let out a collective gasp.

TJ Perkins defeated Johnny Gargano in about 12:20 to advance to the quarterfinals of the CWC.

A lengthy series of replays aired. Perkins will face Swann in the next round. When TJ’s hand was raised, Gargano collapsed to the mat and retreated to the corner. TJ helped him to his feet and they shared a brief hug. Gargano was tended to by the ringside doctor and TJ celebrated his win on his way out of the arena…

A video package narrated by Corey Graves stated that although we began with 32, we’re down to the “great eight” of Kota Ibushi, Gran Metalik, Akira Tozawa, Noam Dar, Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann, TJ Perkins, and Zack Sabre Jr.. Graves questioned who could push the hardest to achieve their dream, and then closed by noting that the next step will begin next week with the quarterfinal round…

Zim Says: Excellent main event. Not so much excellent because it went long or at a wild pace, but excellent because it told a great story and featured some really tricky stuff with tying in the leg injury from Takeover and using it in the match despite this being taped way before. It was also the first finish of the tournament that didn’t feel like a completely predictable outcome. In terms of quality, the match was one of the strong performances turned out in this second round, probably on par with Metalik/Tajiri, Tozawa/Gallagher, and Kendrick/Nese. However to this point, nothing is on the level of either Ciampa/Gargano or Alexander/Ibushi.

This second round has been fun, and with more time for the talent to go in the upcoming round, I expect this to be the best yet. I’m hoping this tournament builds to a nice crescendo because I have a ticket to the finals and I want to be dazzled! Plus, I want to have high hopes for the cruiserweights and I’d like to see it kicked off properly. Let’s all wish for that! Until next week, folks. Thanks for reading along and sorry for all of the delays on coverage. If you’re reading this not-live, what delays?

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the Member Exclusive DotNet CWC Audio Recap.

Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.

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