By Zack Zimmerman
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WWE Cruiserweight Classic on WWE Network
Taped August 26 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University
A video narrated by Corey Graves questioned who would be joining Gran Metalik and Kota Ibushi in the semifinals, with Noam Dar vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and TJ Perkins vs. Rich Swann wrapping up the quarterfinals tonight… The opening video played…
Inside Full Sail, Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan welcomed viewers and promised fireworks tonight. They talked a bit about the Perkins/Swann match coming up later before turning to the first match of the show…
Zack Sabre Jr. was featured first. He joked about the pressure of wrestling in front of the world. He said that he’s not just here to do pretty submissions, he truly believes that his style will bring him the most success of anyone. Noam Dar was up next. He said that he’s really had to adapt his opponents, but he’s here to establish himself and he’s here to win. In the arena, ZSJ made his entrance and his win’s were replayed, followed by Dar and his, as well as the pre-match formalities mid-ring.
1. Noam Dar vs. Zack Sabre Jr.. Ranallo noted that the men have trained together, wrestled extensively, and are good friends. The two scrapped on the mat in the opening minute with Zack getting the better of Dar, despite the crowd’s support of Dar in the form of chants of his name to the tune of the Imperial March. A short time later, Dar seemed to get into Sabre’s head and caught him charging with a low dropkick to the knee.
Dar dropped several elbows to the knee of Sabre, but Sabre came right back with a vicious looking stomp to the arm. Sable hit an uppercut and went to the middle turnbuckle, but Dar caught him from there with another dropkick to the knee. Dar continued to work over the knee, though Sabre never stopped fighting with kicks and shots of his own.
The two traded a series of rolling cradle attempts before Dar fired off a nice sequence of shots. He taunted too soon however, as Sabre snuck up behind and hit a half-nelson German for a two count. Dar shook it off and came right back with several kicks and a fisherman’s suplex for two. Dar continued to attack the knee of Sabre while fighting off up-kicks from Sabre. He wasn’t able to fend off a unique snapping armbreaker with Sabre’s feet however, and Sabre followed right up with a penalty kick for two.
Dar caught Sabre with a kick to the knee and knocked him off the apron before hitting a suicide dive. Dar tossed Sabre back into the ring and charged with a running dropkick to the back of Sabre’s head in the corner for another two-count. Sable caught Dar with a leaping triangle choke, but Dar slipped it into his kneebar, which Sabre slipped into an armbar. Sabre slipped into his bridging prawn hold, but Dar kicked out at two.
The two struggled back to their feet, where Dar caught Sabre’s running uppercut attempt mid-air and turned it into a backslide for a near-fall. Sabre caught Dar with a flying armbar and kicked out of a pin attempt while keeping the hold applied, but Dar reached the ropes. Sable looked for a diving knee, but Dar avoided it and followed up with a diving double-stomp onto Sabre’s rope-hung leg. Dar sank in the rolling kneebar, but released the hold to land a series of kicks to the leg. He looked to re-apply the hold, but Sabre rolled and both men toppled to ringside for a near-countout.
Ranallo on commentary noted that Sabre damaged his arm on the fall to ringside, and Dar hit a divorce court to further emphasize it. Dar charged with something, but Sabre caught him with a wild looking counter mid-air and came down in La Mistica position (without the tilt-a-whirl). From there, Sabre applied a hold that looked like the Rings of Saturn with his legs, and snapped Dar’s arms all the way back forcing Dar to submit.
Zack Sabre Jr beat Noam Dar in about 15:48 to advance to the semifinals of the CWC.
Replays aired, the bracket updated to show that Sabre would be facing Gran Metalik in the semis, and Sabre’s hand was raised. He and Dar hugged mid-ring and both guys sold the effects of the match… TJ Perkins vs. Rich Swann was hyped up next… [C]
Zim Says: I liked the match but I didn’t love it. They worked body parts and sold them convincingly throughout the match, which told a really nice story and allowed for good drama to build particularly for some false finishes of Dar’s. Dar looked the best he has yet, but that’s to be expected given the massive boost in caliber of opponent. Sabre looked good as he had, but for some reason this match just didn’t jump out to me the way some other’s in the tournament have so far.
TJ Perkins was featured. He said he believes that he’s the best cruiserweight in the world and his confidence is necessary to do what he does. He said that anyone who believes another man is better should just quit. Rich Swann was up next. He said that he wants to give the people what they want, and that’s entertainment.
Rich Swann’s music hit and the crowd popped big because it means dance time. TJP was out next. They shook hands and the final bout of the quarterfinals was underway.
2. TJ Perkins vs. Rich Swann. The crowd sang “can you handle this?” in support of Swann. The two worked to a stand-off in the opening minute and the crowd remained firmly in support of Swann. Swann did his handstand ‘rana into a head scissors and then dabbed on him, which Bryan humorously correctly called, rather than “dubstepping.” TJP danced and taunted Swann, and Swann looked a bit shook.
They did an impressive sequence where Swann front flipped over a backwards roll by TJP, and then Swann got the better of him before dancing and dabbing to pop the crowd. Ranallo pointed out the irony that the prize for winning this match is a match against Kota Ibushi. Swann sold tweaking his knee and went to ringside, where TJP hit his springboard dropkick to ringside and came down badly on his ribs and back on the apron.
Back in the ring, TJ hit a suplex and a back suplex for a two-count around the seven-minute mark. Swann flipped out of another back suplex attempt and caught TJ with a great spinning back hook kick, but before Swann could pick up momentum, TJ put him down and hit a DDT on Swann’s leg. TJ spent the next couple of minutes working over Swann with leg holds and a butterfly lock. TJ eventually missed a charge in the corner allowing Swann to begin his comeback.
Swann hit a running back kick to a seated TJP and a tornado DDT, among other things, though as Bryan noted his movement was limited by the damage done to the knee. TJ caught up with a slowed Swann and hit a chickening double-knee gutbuster for a near-fall. The two battled on the top rope where TJ looked for a tiger superplex, but Swann sent him crashing to ringside. Once again however, Swann was too slow to capitalize. Perkins caught him with a springboard frankensteiner, which Swann over-rotated and landed on his knee.
Swann looked to be in trouble when he got a burst of energy out of nowhere and rattled off a rolling thunder frogsplash, a back handspring moonsault, and a fisherman’s driver, but TJ managed to kick out and Swann’s bad knee was clearly a hinderance. Swann looked for the standing 450, but before he could jump, TJ snagged the leg and hooked in the kneebar. Swann reached the ropes, but TJ held it until 4.9.
TJ fired off some leg kicks and looked for the chickening gutbuster again, but Swann fought out and hit a tiger driver with a jackknife pin for a near-fall. Swann fired off shots at TJ mid-ring, but Perkins caught him with a kick. Swann retaliated with a kick of his own, but he crumpled when he tried to run the ropes. TJ picked him up and hit the overhead flash kick and then sank in the kneebar. Swann struggled and the crowd pulled for Swann, but he couldn’t overcome it and he was forced to tap out.
TJ Perkins defeated Rich Swann in about 17:00 to advance to the semifinals of the CWC.
TJ released the hold and immediately went to check on Swann in a good visual moment of sportsmanship. A series of replays told the story of Swann’s fight and the damage to his knee being too much in the end. TJ’s hand was raised mid-ring and once again, he knelt down to have a moment with Swann before helping him to his feet. Swann left the ring to TJ who applauded him and then soaked in the win. TJ took a bow and thanked the fans as the camera faded out…
The CWC trophy was shown and Corey Graves narrated a dramatic video about the heartbreak and triumph of the tournament. Next week’s 2-hour live finale was hyped and soundbytes from the final four were played. Next week, the winner of the Cruiserweight Classic will be determined…
Zim Says: Excellent match on par with the best of the tournament thus far. The story was gripping and Swann’s selling may be the best work of his career to this point. I thought that as unlikable as TJ can come across in his vignettes, he showed good logic as a character throughout the match and I really like how he reacted afterwards. TJ is the one guy of the final four who I hadn’t predicted being there, but at this point I can’t say that he doesn’t belong there.
I’ve really enjoyed the ride that this tournament has taken us on. The match quality has been generally excellent and it feels more unrestrained than any other product under the WWE umbrella. Granted, we’ll have to see how next week’s finale comes across and how the cruiserweights are used going forward, but to this point this project has been a big success (at least artistically). I won’t be here to cover the finale for you next week, as I’ll be live in attendance at Full Sail, but Jason Powell will have you covered all things CWC and NXT next week, so be sure to read along with him. Thanks for watching this neat experiment with my coverage to supplement; it’s been a fun little ride. If they do something cool like this, I’ll be sure to offer my coverage services up once again. Until then, it’s back to NXT for me. Take care!
Be sure to check back tomorrow for a special All Access Dot Net CWC Audio Recap.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.