Heading into the month of February, it was completely fair to say...
WWE: Cruiserweight Classic Quarterfinals (Weeks 8 and 9) 8/31/16 and 9/7/16
The WWE: Cruiserweight Classic presented the quarterfinals with weeks eight and nine from Fullsail University in Winter Park, FL on 8/31/16 and 9/7/16!
Gran Metalik defeated Akira Tozawa with the Metalik Driver.
The incredible pacing was the story of this match. Great exchange early with both men trading Japanese armdrags and a beautiful spot where Metalik hit a crushing dropkick that stunned Tozawa in the ropes. He then hit a breathtaking topei suicida with the masterful control that we’ve enjoyed seeing for years. Metalik employs a leglock submission in the center of the ring shortly after the action on the outside, but Tozawa reached down deep for the escape. Not to be outdone, Tozawa gives Metalik the receipt from earlier, drilling him back into the barricade with a topei suicida of his own. The crowd very much getting into things at this point and rightfully so. The strong and lucha styles clashing here, and both are gainfully employed by both Tozawa and Metalik as they sought out a birth in the semi-finals. Tozawa goes back into the ring and immediately leaves again with a second topei suicida. Mauro Ranallo says “this isn’t your grandfather’s puro wrestling” at this point and I chuckled. What a contest this quickly becomes by two of the best in the business today. Tozawa uses that crisp senton splash that he likes to utilize as the crown is quite torn on who to cheer for, enjoying the efforts of both men. A chopfest ensues and the crowd goes bonkers as Tozawa fakes a slap and then he grounded Metalik with one of the quickest strikes you’ve ever seen. That was such an awesome spot and so simple. Tozawa misses a splash in the corner and he eats a superkick. Metalik walks the ropes so gracefully and hits a dropkick and then he nails a running shooting star press that is a thing of beauty. He only gets a two count to keep things going. Metalik with a delayed back-spring elbow and another two count. Tozawa able to counter a Metalik Driver attempt with a shining wizard for a two count of his own. A bicycle kick and a Saito suplex for another two count! Tozawa fires himself up with the primal screams, but he eats a superkick and then Metalik runs the ropes and nails another dropkick. What control the “rey de los cuernas” has and he makes it look effortless. Metalik hits the Prio Metalik, which is that insane springboard topei con helo that h uses without the arms and he comes crashing down on Tozawa on the floor. Tokawa gets a boot up back in the ring after a failed moonsault attempt and a near fall. Metalik brings Tozawa inside the ring after a top rope hurricanrana that draws his opponent back in and we have another near fall! Unreal. Tozawa senses the end and Metalik lands on his feet after one german attempt, but he eats the snap german as Tozawa senses the end. Metalik kicks out of the Deadlift German Suplex! Oh wow! Tozawa tries for a package german, but it’s countered into the Metalik Driver for the three count! What a thing of beauty and this is why I love Cruiserweight wrestling and we still have Ibushi and Kendrick to follow this!
Kota Ibushi defeats Brian Kendrick with the Golden Star Powerbomb.
THE Brian Kendrick came into this against the favorite with everything to lose. The story behind this modern resurrection of Kendrick is incredible, and even though I’m a massive fan of Ibushi, what a story this is for Kendrick heading in. They get after it quite quickly, and Kendrick quickly falls prey to a staggering roundhouse kick from Ibushi, sent to him as a warning shot. A very early “Mamma Mia” follows from Ranallo and all of us as a collective fanbase as Ibushi quickly hits the golden triangle moonsault onto Kendrick on the outside and the crowd goes nuts. Kendrick recovers on the outside and as Ibushi goes out to bring him back in, the veteran heel traps his ankle in the guardrail going for the countout win! That was awesome! Ibushi makes it back in and he rewards Kendrick for his dastardly ways with a springboard dropkick that meets its mark. Kendrick eats the mat after a series of blistering kicks that chop him down like a cherry tree. One of the damnedest spots you’ll ever see followed as Kendrick used the top turnbuckle to hit a neckbreaker on Ibushi’s surgically repaired neck. That was incredibly crafty and the fans certainly appreciated the creativity of such a move used with evil intentions. Kendricks works the neck even further with a well applied cravat on the mat as Ibushi fights for the escape. Ibushi is out and he counters a 3.0 attempt by Kendrick, shades of Minoru Suzuki, into a dropkick that grounds Kendrick. The crowd is split 50/50 between these premiere athletes as Ibushi eats a boot in the corner, but is quick to counter with a powerslam and a picture perfect moonsault for a two count. Combo flurry by Ibushi and Kendrick ducks a penalty kick attempt only to counter an Ibushi moonsault attempt into a small package for a near fall. A dropkick to the face follows and Kendrick is in control. Kendrick takes us back to the old school days as he gets a two count after nailing Sliced Bread #2! The crowd responded well to that and even more to the resilience of Ibushi. Ibushi hits a pele kick to Kendrick, who was perched on the ropes. Oh my gracious! If you haven’t seen it, you get to in this match! And by that, Kota Ibushi hits his german release suplex on Kendrick while he’s on the second rope and he brings Kendrick inside. The crowd is electric and I rember him nailing Shinsuke Nakamura with that at Wrestle Kingdom 9. Wow! Kendrick able to muscle Ibushi over with a sagatoshi and he gets him in the bully choke, but a quick escape by Ibushi. He nails several strikes, and out of nowhere Kendrick wows the crowd after he gets Ibushi into an argentine backbreaker rack and he nails a burning hammer! Shades of Kenta Kobashi! That surgically repaired neck is drilled into the canvas and the crowd goes bananas! Ibushi is not finished however and he nails Kendrick with a brutal roundhouse kick and he catches him with a wheelbarrow driver after a missed rollup. Kendrick brings the crowd to their feet after Ibushi misses a phoenix splash. He applies the bully choke and it looks like the wiley veteran is poised to pull off the upset of the tournament favorite, but Ibushi counters into a pinning attempt for a two. Both men are to their feet and Kendrick eats an inzaguri and Ibushi draws him up and drives him down for the three count with the Golden Star Powerbomb! What a valiant effort by THE Brian Kendrick, who remains one of my all time favorite athletes and after the match, he gets a beautiful standing ovation and a hug from Ibushi. The tears flow and even Daniel Bryan comes in for an embrace and a show of respect as the show stops rolling. We’ll enjoy Kendrick on Monday Nights here soon enough. Ibushi is on to the semi-finals!
Zack Sabre Jr. defeats Noam Dar with a variation of the Rings of Saturn.
ZSJ is the other favorite to take the entire tourney with TJ Perkins creeping up in the conversation as well. I like Dar, but I don’t believe he’s really had a strong showing thus far and this is certainly the toughest test to date for the Israeli born Scottish talent. ZSJ definitely has the fan support and that is no surprise as he’ll draw money anywhere he goes. Quick amateur grappling to start the match, ZSJ with a front chancery that is quickly countered as the Imperial “Dar” chant and Sabre chants are back and forth from their respective fanbases. Sabre with a straightjacket submission with the knee in the back to keep Dar honest early in the contest. Dar escapes and taunts Sabre who is baited in and nailed with a dropkick to the knee. Soundly done and Dar quickly taking on the heel persona early on. Dar working over the knee looking for the Champagne Superkneebar. Yes, he is a huge Oasis fan. Aren’t we all? Sabre with a stomp to the arm to take charge himself. Sabre looking for the Jim Breaks special, but a back elbow ends the attempt quickly. Standing grapevine by Dar as he sets up for the submission, and ZSJ fighting for position. Brilliant arm wrench by Sabre and Dar is grounded. Pinfall exchange as Dar comes within a stone’s throw of taking it home with a sunset flip counter. Dar lightning fast with two chest strikes and a European Uppercut with the left. Very nice. Dar showboats and gets caught with a half nelson suplex with the bridge for a two count. Dar can’t play games with Sabre, he’s too quick and will make you pay for it, just like he did there. Dar avoids a penalty kick and he sweeps the leg, Karate Kid style. Cobra Kai members surely smiling at that one. Dar with a standing anklelock as Sabre fights back with kicks. Dar tells him not to dare to do something and Sabre responds with a snap kick to the arm. You could hear that over in Orlando. Wow. Dar trying to keep things in his favor, but Sabre strikes hard and fast with a Shibata style penalty kick and the Never Openweight champion surely smiling somewhere if he saw that one! Sabre leaps off the ropes into a body scissors with the headlock, looking for the Ode To Jim Breaks, but Dar fights his way out, knowing that if ZSJ locks that in, that’s all she wrote. Dar kicks the knee out, and Sabre lands hard on the apron. Dar quick to strike with a bicycle kick and Sabre is sent to the floor. This one is turning into a clinic. Kudos to both men for putting on a strong showing here. Topei Suicida by Dar and he immediately brings him back into the ring. Veteran maneuver by the twenty three year old! Corner dropkick to the back by Dar and a near fall to follow. That was close! Dar nursing the left arm, and Sabre nursing the knee, but Sabre pounces like a cat with a jumping triangle! Dar not letting him get the position and this is technical wizardry to say the least. Dar counters the triangle into the kneebar and Dar keeps it on, bout Sabre counters with a prawn hold with a bridge for a two count. Wow. They are moving quicker than I can type! Dar says his time is now and he charges in, but he eatsa European Uppercut. Sabre looks for another, but damned if Dar doesn’t catch him in midair and he brings him down with a backslide for another near fall. Wow! Sabre with several palm strikes and slaps and he applies a cross armbreaker, but Dar counters into the pin. Two count and it’s right back to the cross armbreaker for Sabre. Dar with a brilliant ring IQ and he gets the rope break. Sabre misses with a top rope double knee drop. Dar up top and a double stomp to the left knee. Ouch! Rolling kneebar and this one could be over. Dar kicking Sabre in the back, looking for the huge upset. They both roll to the outside, finally breaking the hold. Back inside, Sabre with two huge boots, and Dar with a bicycle kick counter, but Sabre pulls off one of the craziest counters I’ve ever seen and Dar is trapped in the Rings of Saturn! Sabre uses his legs! What the heck?! It’s over! What an absolutely sensational matchup that was and this one could be one of my sleeper favorites in the tournament thus far. I would personally shake the hands of both men. This was a masterpiece. It’ll be Zack Sabre Jr. and Gran Metalik in the semi-finals!
TJ Perkins defeats Rich Swann with the TJP Kneebar.
“Baltimore’s Own” Rich Swann and TJ Perkins in the main event and I can’t wait for this one. The Duke of Dab is quickly becoming a favorite, but Swann could be the wild card in this as he is so incredibly over, it’s hard to describe. Similar to the prior bout, this one might be happening faster then I have the proficiency to type! I can’t wait. Tremendous and well deserved reactions for both these fan favorites and the winner will be competing against Kota Ibushi in the semi-finals. Swann fires up the crowd early as they sing along with his catchy theme music. Quick counter exchange with somersault kip ups and we’re off and running. Greco-Roman knuckle lock and a sweep by Perkins to ground Swann and he’s bending the wrist with a Jim Breaks special variation of his own. Swann reverses, but Perkins able to counter with a headscissors and a headlock submission with legs is applied and we get our first dab of the evening. Quick counter into the headscissors by Swann. No dab from Swann. Perkins with a headstand and then after a couple of flashy moves, he escapes and dabs again. Perkins in the heel role here, but how can you be mad at that? “TJP/Swann” dueling chants. Swann almost offended by Perkins dabbing and we get a series of leapfrogs and dropdown leading to a Japanese armdrag by Swann, who graces us with several dance moves of his own. He dabs. Now we’ve got a duel. This is great and it’s barely gotten started. Slugfest and a kneebar counter, but Swann quick to the ropes to escape the finisher. Counter exchange and a well placed dropkick off a hiptoss counter puts Perkins on the floor. Back kick by Swann and a missed asai moonsault and Swann is favoring the knee. Springboard rebound dropkick by TJP and he landed hard as well. Slingshot atomico by Perkins and he follows it up with a suplex and then a back suplex. Perkins with a hammerlock with a chinlock application and Swann fighting hard to stay in it. Spinning hook kick by Swann and he moves in, Perkins is able to counter and he hyper extends the leg, snapping it back as Swann is writhing in pain yet again. Leglock submission by Perkins applied as Swann fights for the escape. Perkins turns it into a standing anklelock. He drops the weight again and switches into an indian deathlock. It quickly becomes a sugarhold and this is a technical clinic by Perkins. Perkins misses a splash in the corner and Swann counters with a clothesline and a swinging neckbreaker to buy himself some time. Swann runs up the back of TJP while he’s in a seated position and back kicks him in the mush. Crazy cool spot there! Inzaguri and a jumping DDT by Swann for a two count. The knee is causing him to be a little slower and he’s selling it beautifully. Perkins with a neckbreaker counter and then he hits a double underhook lungblower to take back control in this back and forth contest. TJP puts Swann on the top turnbuckle and he tries for a tiger suplex, but Swann counters and sends him to the floor. Swann too slow to follow up and TJP hits a springboard hurricanrana and Swann is floored in the center of the ring. TJP looking to end it as he goes back up top, but Swann, seemingly out of nowhere, hits a jumping hurricanrana and Perkins lands hard! Unreal! Swann with a rolling thunder and a cartwheel moonsault to follow it up. Cover and a two count. Swann with a roundhouse kick and then a magnificent tiger driver for another near fall. Perkins strikes like a coiled serpent and he applies the kneebar. Swann to the ropes, but Perkins holds the move until four and breaks it. Very smart and a great veteran maneuver. Double underhook countered into the victory roll by Swann. Nearfall and then another nearfall on a bridging pin. Clubbing forearms by Swann and then TJP with a spinning hook back and a roundhouse kick to take Swann down again. Swann with a hook kick himself and Perkins is spaghetti legged. Swann is having a hard time putting any weight on the leg. The ref asks if Swann wants to continue and he does, but he somersaults right into a fireman’s carry pele kick by TJP. TJP applies the kneebar and though he wants to fight through the pain, he can’t and Swann taps out! Perkins in a brilliant display immediately releases the hold and goes over to hug his friend after another great match between two incredibly capable and sensational athletes. TJP has a date in the semi-finals with Kota Ibushi and I cannot wait for both of the semi-finals matches. What a treat this tournament has been thus far! The two hour finale takes place next week!