This is the last episode of the Cruiserweight Classic. The two semifinals matches will see Zack Sabre Jr. take on Gran Metalik and Kota Ibushi battles TJ Perkins. In the main event, the finals will take place with the winner of the tournament winning a trophy.
If you have missed any of my reviews of the first nine episodes of the Cruiserweight Classic, here’s a link to my reviews. It’s been a lot of fun and I will miss it, but let’s see what these talented cruiserweights have in store for us this week.
It’s a live broadcast from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. The runtime for this show is scheduled for two hours and it begins right at 9pmET on WWE Network.
There was a Cruiserweight Classic video package narrated by Triple H as they showed highlights of the matches that have aired on WWE Network over the last nine weeks. There were clips of the four semi-finalists: Sabre, Metalik, Ibushi and Perkins. It ended with Triple H saying there’s one prize as they showed the trophy and they’re battling for the right “to be called the best in the world.”
The CWC intro video aired.
The announce team of Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan welcomed us to the show. Ranallo talked about a match between the original Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid. It’s from the early 1980s. I remember it as well. Bryan said the cruiserweights are doing what they did in the Super J Cup in Japan in the 1990s as well. Bryan put over the emotional moments involving guys like Gargano, Ciampa, Alexander and Kendrick in the tournament.
They set up the first semi-final match: Gran Metalik vs. Zack Sabre Jr. The second match is Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins. The finals will air at the end of the show.
There were some pre-taped comments from all four guys talking about the tournament.
Gran Metalik made his entrance first to a really good ovation. Zack Sabre Jr. got a louder reaction from the crowd. The CWC trophy is in the aisle, so both guys looked at it on their way to the ring.
Semifinals #1: Gran Metalik (Mexico) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (England)
They shook hands before the bell as the crowd cheered. Metalik with a dropkick right away as well as a tope con hilo (somersault dive over the top). Back in the ring, Metalik with a springboard senton bomb for a two count. Wow what a fast start! Sabre with an uppercut and then he kicked the arm of Metalik to slow him down. Sabre applied a tight headlock and then he stretched the legs of Metalik as well. Metalik came back with a flying headscissors and then a dropkick. Metalik applied a unique submission stretching the body of Sabre, but Sabre got to the ropes. Metalik with a hard chop to the chest. Metalik went for a headspring attack, but Sabre caught him with a modified dragon sleeper until Metalik got to the ropes. Sabre applied a submission on the arms of Metalik. Running boot to the face by Sabre, running uppercut by Sabre and then Metalik came back with a superkick. Reverse Slingblade by Metalik and then a running Shooting Star Press gets a two count. Metalik went for a cradle, Sabre countered, Metalik countered and they each got a couple of two counts. Nearfalls for each guy again. Sabre applied a headlock submission, but Metalik fought out of it and into a Boston Crab. Another pinfall attempt for Metalik gets two. They exchanged strikes on the ground and Metalik came back with a hard clothesline for a two count. Metalik with a superkick and a springboard back elbow gets two. Metalik went for a springboard attack, Sabre with an uppercut and the Penalty Kick gets just two. Best nearfall so far as they hit the ten-minute mark.
They were on their knees slugging it out as the crowd rallied behind both guys. Metalik with a headbutt, so Sabre hit several slaps and an uppercut for two. Metalik with a running boot. Sabre applied the Octopus submission with Bryan going wild about the hold. Metalik got to the ropes to break the hold. They battled on the top rope, Metalik crotched him on the top rope and Metalik hit a Frankensteiner off the top. That was great. Metalik jumped off the top rope and Sabre applied an arm submission. Metalik into a bridging pin gets two. Metalik with the Metalik Driver kept Sabre down for a three count and that gives Metalik the win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Gran Metalik
With the win, Metalik moves on to the finals.
Analysis: **** That was great. Four stars out of five. I loved it. They have different styles, but they managed to mesh them well with Sabre going for his submissions, Metalik finding a way to fight out of it and hitting his high flying moves well. He was on fire right away with the fast paced offense in that first minute. Sabre came close a few times and I thought he had it with the Penalty Kick, but Metalik found a way to come back. As for the result, it doesn’t surprise me that much because Metalik is starting on Raw next week (or soon after) since he signed a WWE deal. Sabre Jr. hasn’t signed a deal. If Sabre signed a deal then he’d probably win. Sabre is probably going to end up in WWE one day, but it won’t be next week.
Post match, William Regal put a “Finalist” medal around Metalik’s neck.
Metalik was interviewed post match with a translator by his side. Metalik said “thank you” twice. It was a brief interview.
They showed clips of Ibushi and Perkins getting ready backstage as they were watching the match on different monitors.
There was a video about the Cruiserweights coming to Raw starting next week.
A WWE Network commercial aired about how you can watch matches from The Rock.
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa were interviewed backstage. Their team name is DIY short for Do It Yourself. Gargano talked about how their goal is to stake their claim as one of the best tag teams in the world. Ciampa said The Revival are scared and they are coming for the NXT Tag Team Titles.
Kota Ibushi made his entrance for the semifinals. He received a good ovation from the crowd. TJ Perkins was also cheered by a majority of the fans.
Semifinals #2: Kota Ibushi (Japan) vs. TJ Perkins (Philippines)
They shook hands. Slow start to the match as Ibushi went for some kicks, but Perkins was able to block them. There were crowd chants for each guy. Perkins went for a kneebar and Ibushi was able to get out of it. Ibushi hit a running kick to the chest to give him the first advantage of the match. Perkins showed off against the ropes and then Ibushi came back with a springboard missile dropkick. When Ibushi went for a top rope move, Perkins kicked him in the back and Ibushi went crashing to the floor right on his head. Bryan mentioned Ibushi’s neck giving him problems in the past as well as Kendrick working on the neck in a previous match in the CWC. Perkins with a dropkick to the back. Ibushi with a hard kick to the chest, but then Perkins came back with a leg whip takedown to set up his knee based submission. Ibushi nailed an impressive standing dropkick followed by a hurricanrana that sent Perkins out of the ring. Ibushi ran across the ring, jumped to the top and hit the Golden Triangle moonsault on Perkins on the floor. It’s such an impressive looking move. Back in the ring, missile dropkick by Ibushi gets two. Ibushi with a powerslam, then he went for the moonsault off the middle rope and Perkins got his knees up. Perkins applied the kneebar submission and Ibushi was able to get to the ropes. Spin kick by Perkins. Ibushi came back with a German Suplex with a bridge. Ibushi with several hard kicks that sent Perkins to the apron. It was about seven kicks as the ref pulled him back with Perkins on the apron. Perkins fought off a German Suplex on the apron, hit a springboard dropkick and went up top, but Ibushi nailed a Pele Kick to knock Perkins off the top. Ten minutes into the match.
Ibushi went for a Powerbomb, but Perkins turned it into a DDT for a two count. Perkins picked up Ibushi and dropped him onto the double knees. What a sequence! Great nearfall there. Ibushi went for a kick, but Perkins grabbed the left leg in a kneebar submission. Ibushi fought out of it. They exchanged blows, each guy hit a spin kick and Ibushi hit a Golden Star Powerbomb for one…two…no! I thought that was it and so did everybody in that building. Daniel Bryan was freaking out because Perkins was able to kick out. Ibushi went up top with the Phoenix Splash, but he missed it. They exchanged forearm shots. Perkins in with a fireman’s carry into a kick to the head. Ibushi caught him and sat on top for a pinning attempt for two. Ibushi with a hard kick to the head. Ibushi went for the Powerbomb again, Perkins slipped out of it and applied the kneebar submission. Ibushi was fighting back. Perkins got on Ibushi’s back and yanked back on the neck. Ibushi couldn’t take it anymore and he tapped out! Perkins wins the match after 15 minutes!
Winner by submission: TJ Perkins
Perkins was celebrating the win. Bryan was freaking out about how it was an upset. With the win, Perkins moves on to the finals against Gran Metalik.
Analysis: ****1/2 That was incredible. They told a great story with both guys getting several believable nearfalls, the submission attempts by Perkins were consistent all match and then he finally got a hold of him to end it once and for all. The match was very physical with Ibushi utilizing his strong style technique to weaken Perkins, yet Perkins kept coming back for more. I liked the ending with Perkins pulling back on Ibushi’s head to add more pressure. It makes sense that it would need something more to put away somebody as good as Ibushi. I think that was the same rating I gave the Ibushi/Alexander match as the best match of the tournament. The story about the result is that Ibushi didn’t sign a WWE contract while Perkins did sign the contract.
If Ibushi and Sabre signed WWE deals would they have met in the finals? I think so. It’s a business, after all.
They aired replays of the finish. Perkins had his hand raised as the winner. He hugged Ibushi in the center of the ring and Ibushi raised his hand. William Regal put a medal around the neck of Perkins. Fans were chanting “Thank You Kota” for Ibushi.
Perkins was interviewed post match. Perkins didn’t go into this to make it look easy. He went into thinking he has to get one and then win one more. Perkins said he’s this close and he just has to focus a little bit more.
Commercial aired for WWE Clash of Champions on September 25.
The team of Cedric Alexander and Noam Dar talked about their match against Gargano and Ciampa.
They showed Sasha Banks, Kalisto, Rich Swann, Jack Gallagher and Bayley watching at ringside. All of them received big ovations from the crowd.
Tag match time. All four guys are starting on Raw’s Cruiserweight division although G&C are also still in NXT as well likely to win the tag titles. Nice chants for the crowd welcoming back Alexander.
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Cedric Alexander & Noam Dar
Ciampa started with Alexander, then Dar and Gargano got in there with Gargano hitting a great dropkick. Alexander tagged in against Ciampa as he knocked down Gargano out of the ring and then a roundhouse kick for Ciampa that sent him out of the ring. Alexander with a tope con hilo on Ciampa on the floor. Leaping DDT by Alexander gets two. He moves around the ring so well. Ciampa with a basement dropkick. Gargano tagged in against Alexander with an overhead suplex. Dar tagged in, but he was met by a Gargano kick, then Gargano hit a superkick while Ciampa held Dar. Gargano with a tackle on Alexander. Gargano went for a move, Alexander slipped out and Alexander hit a Michinoku Driver for two. Gargano tagged in against Dar with Dar nailing a knee to the face followed by a running corner dropkick to the back. Gargano with a step up knee on Gargano. Alexander with a springboard lariat on Gargano. More knees and kicks from Alexander and Gargano, but then Ciampa nailed a spinning clothesline on Alexander. All four guys are down. Loud “this is awesome” chant for this tag match and they are right to chant it. Dar with some uppercuts on Gargano, then Gargano nailed a forearm smash and Dar came back with a knee bar until Ciampa made the save. Ciampa tagged in.
Ciampa had Dar on the top rope, Dar slipped out, kicked Gargano out of the ring, tag in to Alexander and he hit a running dropkick to Ciampa’s head against the turnbuckle. Brainbuster by Alexander. Spinning heel kick by Alexander gets two even though it looked like it was a three. I think the ref’s hand hit three times, but Ciampa did kick out barely. They replayed it and it was close. Gargano back in with a superkick on Dar. Double knee attack by Gargano/Ciampa on Alexander. Gargano launched Dar into the turnbuckle face first. Double team superkick by Gargano and Ciampa led to Ciampa pinning Dar for the win after 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa
Analysis: ***1/4 A very good, exciting tag match that was really fast paced. I’m so impressed by Alexander more than anybody in the match because he lost 20 pounds to become a cruiserweight and it really benefited him. He’s so quick, his offense looks great and I think he’s going to keep improving. Gargano and Ciampa have a lot of chemistry. They’re going to be on Raw as well as NXT, apparently. Dar is the youngest guy in this tournament that’s only 23 years old. He’s going to keep improving too. As I mentioned earlier, all four guys are going to be a part of Raw’s cruiserweight division next week.
There was a commercial for WWE Network shows.
The announce team of Ranallo and Bryan set up the main event match. William Regal was brought in to fill some time talking about how they sought the 32 best cruiserweights. Regal said they found the best of the best and it has exceeded expectations. Regal spoke about how he was trained by Marty Jones, who was a cruiserweight. Regal said that he didn’t have the ability to be as good as a lot of them. Regal said that Perkins and Metalik are true warriors as well as anybody that competed. It led to Regal talking about how you have to be great all around wrestlers that have to be grapplers, submission wrestlers and guys that can fly. Regal said it’s been an absolute pleasure to help put this together.
After Regal left, Bryan said this is the best of what their business has to offer because this tournament is change their lives. Bryan said this tournament has helped a guy like Cedric Alexander because it changed his life. Ranallo said it’s bitter because the cruiserweights are coming to Raw with Mauro and Bryan wishing they were on Smackdown.
Raw announcer Corey Graves showed up saying brackets were busted because Ibushi was the favorite. Graves said that Brian Kendrick invigorated his career. It was just one minute for Graves as he said they would take care of the cruiserweight division on Raw. Yes, but what about Michael Cole not calling moves? Ugh.
Highlights aired of the semifinal matches from earlier in the night.
The main event introductions started at 10:21pmET.
TJ Perkins made his entrance first followed by Gran Metalik.
Triple H’s music hit just before the match began. He grabbed a microphone as both guys were in the ring.
Triple H said they are there to make history right here, right now. They started with 32 of the best cruiserweights, down to four and here are two of the best in the world. Triple H looked at them saying they aren’t looking for two, they are looking for one. They are looking for the one that will be known as the best in the world that will make history and the winner of the first Cruiserweight Classic. Fans chanted for Metalik. Triple H said that they are looking for the one that will go to Raw this Monday night as the new Cruiserweight Champion. He showed off the new Cruiserweight Title.
Analysis: It makes sense that there will be a Cruiserweight Title on Raw and now it’s official. It’s a purple and silver title that are the colors of this tournament. I think the title looks awesome. I like that it is so unique.
Cruiserweight Classic Finals: TJ Perkins (Philippines) vs. Gran Metalik (Mexico)
The match began at 10:27pmET, so it should get around 20 minutes. The crowd was chanting for both guys. Perkins with a headscissors takedown. Perkins grounded Metalik with some submissions followed by a nearfall as the crowd applauded their effort. They both did some athletic moves that the other guy avoided and then Perkins locked him up with an Octopus hold. Perkins applied a Muta Lock submission, but Metalik got to the ropes quickly. They were on the apron with Metalik hitting a dropkick to the knee. Metalik nailed a suicide dive on Perkins to knock him down outside the ring. That was well done. Back in the ring, Metalik with a senton bomb for a two count. Metalik had a submission on the back of Perkins. Perkins with a headscissors takedown out of the corner. Perkins jumped off the ropes and hit a hurricanrana that sent both guys over the top to the floor. That looked great. Back in the ring, Perkins with a senton for a two count and a dropkick to the back gets two as well. Perkins with a sidewalk slam for two. The crowd was chanting for both guys. With Perkins on the apron, Metalik jumped over the top rope and hit a hurricanrana to the floor. What a move! Metalik followed it up with a step on the ropes and over the top dive to take out Perkins on the floor. That was so good too. There was a “CWC” chant.
Metalik with a springboard elbow drop back in the ring for a two count. Perkins avoided a corner attack, but then Metalik walked across the middle ropes and hit a dropkick. Perkins grounded him with the kneebar submission. Metalik got to the bottom rope to break free. Bryan mentioned the welts on the chest of Perkins showing that it’s been a physical night. Perkins kicked the leg of Metalik a couple of times. Huge chop from Metalik and Perkins went back to kicking the leg. They exchanged strikes, Perkins with a kick to the face and Metalik with a superkick knocked Perkins down. Perkins came back with a dropkick to the knee. Metalik with a kick in the corner. Perkins avoided the driver attempt, but then Metalik came back with a DDT for a two count. Metalik up top with a moonsault, but Perkins got his knees up. Perkins did his fireman’s carry into a double knee attack for a two count. Perkins with a kneebar submission. Metalik got to the ropes, Perkins let go, applied it again and Metalik tried to fight it off. Metalik was able to get out of it with a rollup for two! Wow. This match is great. There’s the crowd with the “this is awesome” chant. Metalik back to his feet and he hit the Metalik Driver. He’s favoring the knee because Perkins worked on it. Metalik was slow to pin, so it only got a two count. The crowd was chanting for both guys again. Hard slap to the face by Metalik. Perkins was all bruised up. Perkins countered the driver with an armdrag. Perkins with a rebound dropkick. Perkins up top, Metalik nailed a kick to the head and it stunned Perkins. They slugged it out on the top rope. Metalik put him on his shoulders, Perkins was able to avoid the Metalik Driver and he locked on the kneebar submission. Perkins applied the kneebar submission. Metalik tapped out. Perkins wins! It’s over at 18 minutes.
Winner by submission and new WWE Cruiserweight Champion: TJ Perkins
Analysis: **** That was fantastic. It was fast paced, hard hitting and technically very sound. I liked the way Metalik went for that Metalik Driver, but he wasn’t able to cover right away because of how much Perkins worked on the knee during the match. That’s what I love about a great match. You have to sell moves when you’re taking a beating and also when you’re delivering moves as well. They really put over the kneebar submission of Perkins because he won four matches with that move and it ended up helping him win. It was such an impressive performance by both guys after having grueling matches earlier in the night. I’ll have more thoughts on Perkins winning in my Final Thoughts.
After the match was over, Perkins was in the ring looking emotional about the victory. He had marks all over his chest from the beating he took during these matches. Replays aired of the key spots in the match.
Perkins had his hand raised as the winner. Triple H put the new Cruiserweight Title around his waist. The trophy was in the ring as well. Metalik hugged Perkins and raised his hand.
Perkins was in the ring with Triple H and William Regal. They both raised his hands. Triple H hugged him, spoke in his ear in a private moment and it looked like he was congratulated him on this tremendous honor. Fans chanted “you deserve it” for him. Regal sook his hand as well. Hunter and Regal left.
The ring was cleared with Perkins in there with the trophy and he was wearing the Cruiserweight Title. Perkins was interviewed in the ring as he wore the Cruiserweight Title. Perkins said that he keeps a key on a necklace that reminds him of when he was homeless, but he doesn’t need it because he never has to go back to a place like that. Perkins said that it means the world to him to be able to inspire somebody else because this is bigger than him. Perkins said this is not one person, this is 32 people, every single one of them and they were just his peers, but every single of them is also his hero. Perkins said this is for everyone.
Perkins posed on the turnbuckle as confetti was all over the ring. The show went off the air at 10:54pmET.
— WWE CWC (@WWE_CWC) September 15, 2016
That was awesome. The three tournament matches were so great. I want to watch them again and I’m sure that I will soon after I’m done this. I’m just glad that this tournament existed, that they were given the chance to have pure wrestling matches like this and tell stories in the ring the way that they did.
The match quality was so high on this show. I rated three matches over four stars. I thought Perkins vs. Ibushi was the highlight of the night. I admired the effort of Perkins and Metalik in their second match of the night. They were exhausted, Perkins had bruises on his body and they still put on an amazing match worthy of a finals.
As for the result of Perkins winning, I’m genuinely happy for the guy. We had him on our TJRWrestling Podcast last week. I had no idea if he was going to win, but knew he would be starting on Raw, so because of that reason he obviously had a good shot. He won over a lot of people with his performance tonight. Great moment for him.
Both Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr. are not expected to start on Raw because the latest reports are they haven’t signed WWE deals. If one of them had signed a deal with WWE, would they have won? I think it’s likely, but it doesn’t really matter. The company did the smart thing by putting over a guy that’s going to be on Raw on Monday.
That’s it for the Cruiserweight Classic. It was unlike anything WWE had really done before and I thought it was a huge success.
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays. Go Los Angeles Rams.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org