9/14 Powell’s WWE Cruiserweight Classic Live Review: The finale featuring Kota Ibushi, Gran Metalik, Zack Sabre Jr., and TJ Perkins

cruiserweightclassicBy Jason Powell

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WWE Cruiserweight Classic on WWE Network
Live from Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

A video package opened the show and focussed on the four wrestlers remaining in the tournament. Triple H narrated the video and spoke of how four wrestlers from four nations were fighting over one prize – to be called the best in the world… The CWC opening video aired…

Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan checked in on commentary and hyped the semifinal matches. Ranallo identified Kota Ibushi as the favorite to win the tournament. Bryan said TJ Perkins was an underdog in his last two matches, and both broadcast team members agreed that he earned the right to be in the semifinals…

A video package aired. TJ Perkins spoke about how being part of the CWC is huge because it sets the tone for future generations. It also featured comments from Gran Metalik and Zack Sabre Jr., and then Kota Ibushi spoke about how it feels like the World Cup of pro wrestling…

Powell’s POV: Dot Net staffer Zack Zimmerman did a hell of a job covering the bulk of the CWC shows, but he is in the building at Full Sail University tonight. Thus, I am filling in for the finale.

Ring announcer Mike Rome introduced the opening match…

1. Gran Metalik vs. Zack Sabre Jr. in a semifinal match. The CWC trophy was set up in the entrance area so that the wrestlers would walk past it. Bryan noted that Metalik won all of his matches with the Metalik Driver. Ranallo noted that the semifinal matches have 30-minute time limits.

The wrestlers shook hands before the match. Once the bell rang, Metalik threw a dropkick that sent Sabre to ringside, then dove onto him. Back inside the ring, Metalik performed a springboard senton for a two count. Sabre caught Metalik setting up for a springboard move and caught him with a couple of shots.

Metalik came back with a head scissors takeover and a dropkick. Metalik caught Sabre in a cool submission hold at 3:30, but Sabre quickly escaped. Sabre caught Metalik coming off the ropes and applied a modified dragon sleeper, but Metalik put his foot on the bottom rope to break it.

At 10:00, the wrestlers knelt and traded blows. Ranallo said conditioning is paramount. Sabre caught Metalik in a version of the octopus, but only had one arm. Metalik reached the ropes. Bryan questioned if it was more a matter of Metalik falling into the ropes than anything.

Metalik performed a wild Frankenstiner of the ropes. He tried to follow up with a springboard move and Sabre caught him in the triangle and an arm submission. Metalik broke it by rolling into a pin. Sabre went for a lariat, but Metalik countered into the Metalik Driver for the win…

Gran Metalik defeated Zack Sabre Jr. in 13:00 to advance to the finals of the Cruiserweight Classic.

After Metalik had his arm raised, William Regal entered the ring and presented him with a medal. One of the female interviewers asked Metalik for his mindset heading into the finals, which his female interpreter relayed to him. Metalik spoke in Spanish and added thank you. The interpreter tried to answer, but Caruso moved on to the next question and never explained what he said…

The broadcast team spoke and then set up a video package of the cruiserweight division launching on Monday’s Raw… A WWE Network commercial aired… Backstage, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano were interviewed. Gargano said he is medically cleared and ready to roll. Ciampa spoke about Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander, but said the one thing on their mind is The Revival…

2. Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins in a semifinal match. The wrestlers shook hands before the bell. There were dueling chants for the wrestlers with the Ibushi chants winning out. After Perkins performed a move, Bryan noted that Perkins would normally do a little dab, but he’s not doing that tonight given the high stakes.

Ibushi performed a great missile dropkick. Ibushi went to the ropes moments later, but Perkins kicked his legs out from under him and Ibushi tumbled to the floor. Ibushi barely beat the referee’s ten count. A short time later, Ibushi threw a great kick. Perkins came right back with a dragon screw leg whip. The announcers agreed that he was softening up Ibushi for the knee bar.

Later, Ibushi performed a moonsault onto Perkins on the floor. Back inside the ring, Ibushi caught Perkins with a missile dropkick. Bryan said he is constantly impressed by how Ibushi kicks from so many angles. Perkins raised his knees when Ibushi went for a moonsault, and then quickly applied the knee bar.

Ibushi came back with a kick and then followed up with German suplex into a bridge for a two count. Ibushi threw kicks at Perkins and the fans chanted one more time. He over delivered with a series of kicks. Bryan said Perkins never gets tired, but he was breathing heavy.

Ibushi went for a German suplex on Perkins, who was on the apron. However, Perkins broke it up and dropkicked Ibushi. Perkins went to the ropes, but Ibushi cut him off with a kick. Perkins came right back with a DDT and then got a near fall off an inverted lung blower. Ibushi went for a big kick, but Perkins caught him in a knee bar. Bryan said that this could be the upset of the tournament.

Ibushi escaped the submission hold and then traded strikes with Perkins before performing a powerbomb for a two count. They cut to shocked fans while Bryan acted just as surprised that Perkins kicked out. Ibushi went to the top rope and Perkins avoided his Phoenix Splash.

The wrestlers traded punches and then Perkins caught Ibushi with a kick. Ibushi caught Perkins with a cool wheel barrow into a drop. Ibushi caught Perkins with a kick. Perkins came right back with the knee bar. Perkins kept Ibushi’s legs locked with his own legs and then applied a Crossface. Ibushi tapped out…

TJ Perkins defeated Kota Ibushi in 14:55 to advance to the finals of the Cruiserweight Classic.

The wrestlers shook hands after the match. Perkins had his hand raised and Ibushi told it by putting his face in his hand before shaking the hand of Perkins and hugging him. Ibushi raised the hand of Perkins. Regal presented Perkins with a medal while fans chanted “Thank you, Kota.” Perkins clapped along with the chant. Perkins spoke about how he went into this looking to win one and then win one more. He said he won one and now he has to win one more. He said he just has to focus a little more…

Powell’s POV: Wow, that was great. The only disappointing part about this is that it would appear as though Ibushi truly has not signed to be part of the cruiserweight division. He’s said all along that he has not, but there were still a lot of fans hoping that it was all a work to protect the fact that he was going to win the tournament. Again, though, this was a hell of a match with great drama. Can we please have a third place match with Ibushi and Sabre?

The broadcast team spoke and there was a shot of Metalik having his shoulder tended to by a trainer… A Clash of Champions ad aired…

Backstage, Cedric Alexander and Noam Dar were interviewed about their match against Gargano and Ciampa. Cedric said some people might look at them winning as an upset, but it’s not that way at all…

Sasha Banks, Kalisto, Rich Swann, Jack Gallagher, and Bayley were shown in the crowd…

3. Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano vs. Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander. The wrestlers shook hands before the match. Alexander performed a nice dive onto Ciampa on the floor a couple minutes into the match. A couple minutes later, Alexander set up for another dive, but Gargano caught him with a spear between the ropes for a two count. Alexander came back with a Michinoku Driver for two.

There was a great sequence with the wrestlers hitting big moves and all ending up on the mat selling while the fans roared with approval before breaking into the usual “this is awesome” chant.

At 8:40, Alexander performed a spinning kick on Ciampa and covered him for two. The broadcast team said it looked like a three count, but Ciampa did get his arm up. They replayed it and said it was too close to call.

In the end, Ciampa and Gargano caught Alexander coming off the ropes with their knees. Gargano launched Dar into the middle turnbuckle, then they teamed up to perform a superkick and running knee combo onto Dar. Ciamp covered Dar for the win…

Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano defeated Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander in 9:40.

Powell’s POV: A fast paced match that left the fans at Full Sail looking appearing as if they needed a cigarette by the time it ended. I’m happy all four guys got a spot on the finale.

A WWE Network commercial aired…

Ranallo and Bryan spoke from their perch. Bryan asked what they could possibly follow up with given everything they had seen. William Regal joined the broadcasters and credited the Triple H with the concept of the tournament. Regal said he grew up envious of cruiserweight wrestling because he did not have the ability to be as good as they were when he was coming up.

Regal said that in order to be a great cruiserweight, you have to be the best in the world. He said they don’t have holes in their game. He said they’re not just flying, there’s a reason they are flying and they are not just wasting energy.

After Regal left, Bryan spoke about how the tournament is changing lives. He said Cedric Alexander put it all on the line just to be in the tournament. They introduced Corey Graves, who said the atmosphere at Full Sail is much cooler than in the control center he was in for the CWC. Graves raved about Brian Kendrick and said he reinvigorated his career. After Graves left, Ranallo and Bryan narrated footage from the semifinal matches…

Ring entrances for the final match took place. Gran Metalik and TJ Perkins shook hands and were just about to start when Triple H’s entrance music stopped them in their tracks. Hunter walked out and stopped for a second by the CWC trophy before heading to the ring.

Triple H said they were making history. Hunter said they scoured the world to find the tournament entrants. He said Metalik and Perkins are two of the best in the world. “We’re not looking for two, we are looking for one,” Hunter said. He said they were looking for the winner of the first CWC.

Hunter said even more important than that, they are looking for the one who will got to Raw on Monday and be known as the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion. Hunter introduced the new purple title belt, showed it to both men, and then shook their hands. The fans chanted “Thank you, Hunter”…

Powell’s POV: Hunter’s announcement was expected, yet still cool. It would have been silly to do another tournament to crown the first champion, and there’s really not a better way.

4. Gran Metalik vs. TJ Perkins in the CWC Final and to become the first WWE Cruiserweight Champion. Ranallo noted that the match carried a 60-minute time limit. They worked a slower pace than the previous matches to start the match. At 9:00, Metalik leaped over the top rope and performed a huracanrana on Perkins, who was standing on the apron before being whipped to the floor. Crazy.

Metalik performed a cool spot where he walked on the middle rope in the corner to turn himself around before performing a missile dropkick. Perkins dodged his standing shooting star press and applied a leg lock, but Metalik reached the ropes.

A short time later, Perkins kicked the knee out from under Metalik as he continued to set up his finisher. Metalik performed a DDT and got a two count at 13:10. Moments later, Metalik went for a moonsault, but Perkins got his feet up. Perkins ended up applying a knee bar. Metalik nearly reached the ropes, but Perkins pulled him back to the middle of the ring. Rinse and repeat, only this time Metalik flipped Perkins over into a pin for a two count.

Metalik hit his finisher, but his knee gave out and he sold it briefly before covering Perkins for two. There were dueling chants for the wrestlers that seemed nearly even in volume. The wrestlers fought on their knees and Metalik hit Perkins with a loud slap to the chest and then a slap to the face.

Metalik went for a second Metalik Driver, but Perkins slipped away and caught him with a kick. Perkins went up top, but Metalik caught him with a kick. They fought on the ropes and Metalik blasted Perkins with another hard slap to the face. Metalik set up for his finisher from the second rope. Perkins slipped out and applied the knee bar on the way down. Metalik tapped out

TJ Perkins defeated Gran Metalik to win the Cruiserweight Classic tournament and to become the first WWE Cruiserweight Champion.

Perkins, whose chest was covered in welts, became emotional after getting the win. The broadcast team spoke about how Perkins went from being homeless to become the tournament winner and the WWE Cruiserweight Champion.

The wrestlers stood in the ring and the referee raised the hand of Perkins. Triple H strapped the belt around Perkins, who then embraced Metalik, who raised the hand of Perkins while standing in front of the CWC trophy.

William Regal and Triple H stood behind the wrestlers and applauded them, and then a “you deserve it” chant broke out. Hunter once again raised the hand of Perkins, shook his hand, and when spoke into his ear. Regal and Hunter left the ring.

Perkins was interviewed in the ring after getting the win and was asked what he was feeling. Perkins said he keeps a key around his neck because it was the last place he lived before he was evicted. He said it reminded him of a place he could never go back to. Perkins said he feels like he doesn’t need it now because it’s a place he doesn’t have to go back to.

Perkins said this is bigger than him. “This is not one person,” Perkins said. “This is 32 people. All of them, every single one of them. I started and they were just my peers. And tonight, at the end of this, every single one of them are also my heroes. This is for everyone.” Ranallo said Perkins is already proving to be an ambassador for the cruiserweight division.

Perkins stood on the middle rope as confetti dropped from the rafters. Bryan said he has been proud to be part of this and called it “an incredible thing.” Ranallo hyped that the cruiswerweights are coming to Raw on Monday night. “On this night, how do you spell history?” Ranallo asked. “TJP.” Perkins continued to celebrate for the receptive crowd…

Powell’s POV: The homeless part is a great story, but perhaps more impressive is that Perkins survived wrestling as Manik with the silly hood on the back of his ring gear. All kidding aside, this is the story that TNA could have told effectively. They had the broadcast team mention it, but they never really did anything more than that. What’s done is done, but it’s nice to see the story told properly and have the happy ending. The actual match was entertaining and the crowd was very invested in the near falls. I assumed Metalik was losing once he played up his knee giving out. Still, they had the crowd and it was really cool to hear the split reaction and to see so many fans hanging on every near fall. Thanks for watching along with me. I’ll be back with an audio review of the CWC finale, and I look forward to hearing at a later date what Zack Zimmerman has to say about the experience of attending the show live.


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