Sunday, September 18, 2016

WWE: Cruserweight Classic Finale Review - September 14th, 2016

What began as thirty-two has now come down to four.

Four men from four different countries, representing four different styles, fighting for ONE trophy.

Zack Sabre Jr. TJ Perkins. Kota Ibushi. Gran Metalik.

1) Zack Sabre Jr vs. Gran Metalik
It's lucha vs technician in this major clash of styles to determine who heads to the finals as arguably the two best in their respective classes square off. The crowd is pretty split between both men so this was a pretty fun back and forth exhibition. There a few noticeable slip ups but nothing that threw the match off completely. Sabre caught Metalik in mid air with a triangle choke at one point for a false finish. There were several gasp worthy moments like that during this match. Good opener with Metalik clinching the victory.

Match rating - ***1/2

2) Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins
LAWD HAVE MERCY. This was absolutely killer and better than it had any right to be. Sure, you'd expect it to be fun, but this turned into a match that will be high on many people's MOTY lists come December. The crowd was on Ibushi's side and with him being the favorite to win, every time TJP kicked out of a big move, it meant something. This made the finishing sequence more than just a bunch of false finishes and something built on raw emotion. TJP fought through homelessness, numerous cases of being misused, and so much more to get this close to the biggest win of his career and he wasn't about to go down for the count. I get chills just thinking about it again. This one had it all from the action to the emotion to the drama. Just awesome stuff, everything you love about wrestling. TJP targeted the leg of Ibushi the entire match and was finally able to lock the knee bar in for a second time in the center of the ring and wrench back on it forcing Ibushi to tap to a mixed reaction. Crazy good stuff here.

Match rating - ****1/2

3) Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Cedric Alexander & Noam Dar
Before the finals ensue, we get this random tag team showcase. The boys get a "all these guys" chant before the bell even rings. Thank fuck they all got signed. This was one of this PWG mid card tags with nothing left on the table. Balls to the wall action the whole way through. It kinda fell off near the end with a weird count from the ref and the action kinda almost overdoing it, but it was still a lot of fun. Gargano & Ciampa win on their route to trying to win the NXT Tag Team Titles from the Revival.

Match rating - ***1/4

4) TJ Perkins vs. Gran Metalik
This is honestly probably the most suprising final of any tournament I've seen in recent memory which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I just never expected WWE to pass on Rich Swann, Zack Sabre Jr, Kota Ibushi, Brian Kendrick or even Akira Tozawa for these two although they are most definitely worthy. TJP showed more confidence and determination than he has all tournament here. Metalik was clearly focused as well. The stakes were raised even higher just moments before the match began as Triple H came down and hyped it some more along with revealing the cruserweight championship. He then allowed these two to go at it and it was a really good contest and a fitting end to this whole thing. They didn't go out and top every other match in the tournament, but they did their thing and gave us a perfect finale. Plenty of high drama moments where you couldn't tell who was going to win since this one was pretty unpredictable from the start. Metalik popped everyone super hard including myself with a diving hurricanrana over the top rope flinging TJP to the floor. That shit was DANGEROUS. I LOVE IT. As you've probably already heard, TJP ends up picking up the victory here and is the first WWE Cruserweight Champion of the new era and the winner of the first ever CWC Tournament. Congratulations to him. As someone who has watched nearly every part of his career, it's truly heart warming to see him on this stage.

Match rating - ****

Before I close out this review, I just want to say how fucking cool of a time period we are in. I never thought I would see Daniel Bryan commentating Kota Ibushi, TJ Perkins, Mascara Dorado, & Zack Sabre Jr matches under the WWE banner in a major tournament on the WWE Network, much less a tournament that spanned several weeks and featured a major story in the form of Brian Kendrick going for glory one more time, as well as other top indy names like Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, & Rich Swann getting a once in a life time opportunity with the one & only Akira Tozawa among many other deserving athletes from around the world. This is proof that underdogs can succeed and that the landscape has changed. Long live pro wrestling and congrats to TJP for staking his name in the history books.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

WWE: Cruserweight Classic Episode 9 Review - September 7th, 2016

The quarterfinals continue as we determine who will be the last two wrestlers in the final four of the Cruserweight Classic Tournament. Daniel Bryan & Mauro Ranallo lead us in with an inside look at Zack Sabre Jr and Noam Doar.

1) Zack Sabre Jr vs. Noam Dar
These two men represent two different parts of the UK as well as different variations of the British style. Dar appears to be the underdog since Sabre has basically owned the wrestling world in the past two years. Despite that, he had the perfect gameplan here as he immediately targeted the leg of Sabre and did it in the most proficient manner. This was all in route to set up for his finishing hold, the knee bar. It also forced Sabre to alter his base and was even furthered when they rolled to the floor and ZSJ tweaked his elbow. This entire match was laid out really well from a logical standpoint and they followed it up with great action and submissions that will make you wince. In the end, Sabre catches Dar on the mat and puts him in a predicament that I can't even explain which forces him to have to tap.

Match rating - ****

2) TJ Perkins vs. Rich Swann
Both guys here have one hell of a story to tell. Both men were homeless at one point and had rough lives on their road to becoming successful professional wrestlers. On top of that, they are close friends as they came up on the independent scene together and crossed paths on multiple occassions. This makes this one heartfelt from the get go. Another thing TJP and Swann have in common is how smooth they are. That honestly was the story of this match to me, who could outdo the other. But then again, TJP took a gameplan similar to that of Noam Dar in that he targeted Swann's leg to prep for the ankle lock variation that he's known to synch in. Unlike Dar, TJP was able to find a way to victory with it as even when Swann was flurrying, he couldn't get past the work TJP did on the leg which forced him to collapse and allowed Perkins to capitalize. As soon as Swann tapped, TJP showed immediate remorse by lunging to check on him. Emotional moment after a solid contest between two men who truly deserved this showcase.

Match rating - ***1/4

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WWE: Cruserweight Classic Episode 8 Review - August 31st, 2016

So I'm finally getting around to watching some CWC action. I'm going to eventually back track and watch/review every episode, but I was able to catch this one live last week so I'm gonna go ahead and cover it. The tournament is currently down to eight men and the main story on tonight's episode is whether or not Brian Kendrick can continue his run back towards finally achieving something that he's always wanted. Let the quarter begin!

1) Akira Tozawa vs. Gran Metalik
Tozawa is life. Seeing him on the WWE Network is so surreal to me. He deserved this opportunity tenfold. The crowd is really in love with both these guys so they were fired up from the start and it only built as these two picked up the action down the stretch. The real momentum in the match started with Tozawa hitting his multiple dive spot. Metallk moves and hits a sick plancha of his own. From here, they went into their finishing sequence of awesome back & forth moves and false finishes. It was great stuff. Tozawa nails the signature dead lift stalling german for a 1..2..KICK OUT! Closest finish of the match right there. Metalik comes back from that and earns himself the victory with a michinoku driver.

Match rating - ***3/4

2) Brian Kendrick vs. Kota Ibushi
This was so much better than it had any right to be on paper. Like, I figured it would be good, but dear lord. Brian Kendrick is just as good as he ever was. ALL HAIL SPANKY. That son of a bitch portrayed desperation like no other in this match as he went as far as to drop Ibushi on his head with a BURNING HAMMER. And when I say on his head, I mean, ON HIS FUCKING HEAD. Somehow that still wasn't enough and my mind was blown. The crowd really ate up the story of Kendrick vying for one last shot at glory, but they also loved Ibushi because, well, Ibushi is awesome. Kendrick kept coming back for more after not being able to put Ibushi away however eventually the veteran would be put down for the count following a beastly sitout powerbomb. This told a great story and had incredible action & commentary to boot. Daniel Bryan & Mauro Ranallo are A+ together. Emotional moment between Bryan & Kendrick was the icing on the cake. Loved this match.

Match rating - ****