Wednesday, August 3, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic 8/3/16 Review

WWE Cruiserweight Classic
August 3rd 2016 | Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida

The opening video package recaps the four men who advanced last week, Zack Sabre Jr., Drew Gulak, Tony Nese and the Brian Kendrick.

Corey Graves takes us to the updated brackets before we get any actual action tonight.

Rich Swann def. Jason Lee in 3:44
Jason Lee represented China, while Rich Swann is there for the USA. Lee did not seem pleased with Swann's pre-match dancing. The crowd sung "All Night Long" for Swann at the bell. Jason Lee looked great early on until Swann nailed a big rana and rolling frog splash for two. Lee fell to a big 450 splash from Swann. I was not happy this was so short. They had a really good chemistry and Lee looked way better than his fellow China counterpart, Ho Ho Lun. Swann winning was the right move since he's under contract, but I would have rather he beat Lun and Lee go over on the first night. Swann meets Lince in the next round. ***

Noam Dar def. Gurv Sihra in 5:25
At 22, Dar is the youngest man in the tournament. Sihra is from India, while Dar is from Scotland. Like his brother earlier in the tourney, Gurv showed some personality early on. Gurv aggressively whipped Dar into the corner, so Dar responded with one of his own. Dar hit some dropkicks, including one in the corner for a near fall. Before a move off the second rope, Gurv acts like he's filming a movie and it costs him as Dar moved. He hit a fisherman suplex for two and went right into a kneebar that made Gurv tap. Decent at best. Dar looked alright but I still haven't been overly impressed by him. Dar meets Ho Ho Lun in round two. **

Jack Gallagher def. Fabian Aichner in 6:44
Gallagher represented England and Aichner is from Italy. Aichner must be all of the 205 pounds because he looks pretty jacked. Aichner played the strong man but Gallagher was very impressive with his technique and mat work. Bryan pointed out that he's outweighed by 40 points as he nonchalantly cartwheeled out of harm's way. Aicher tried a springboard kick and it came off awkwardly. We got a series of near falls and Aichner hit a big backbreaker. He did a lot better with a double springboard moonsault for two. Aichner also found a way to nail a huge powerbomb but Gallagher kicked out again. Gallagher avoided a headbutt and hit a dope corner dropkick to advance. While the dropkick was great, it felt a bit anti-climactic after all of Aichner's offense. One of the best first round matches for sure. Aichner looked impressive at times and Gallagher got to show off his resiliency and mat skills. In round two, he takes on Tozawa. ***1/2

Johnny Gargano def. Tommaso Ciampa in 10:46
Both guys rep the States. Ciampa from Milwaukee and Gargano from Cleveland. Both guys got interviewed beforehand. Dueling "Psycho Killer"/"Johnny Wrestling" chants. Their early wrestling exchanges ended when Ciampa delivered a vicious elbow that sent spit flying everywhere. From there on, these guys just hit each other hard. Ciampa especially stated killing Gargano with shots. He hit an air raid crash on the apron and removed his knee pad for a big knee. Remembering it is his friend, Ciampa decided against it and walked into a superkick. Ciampa came back with a vicious powerbomb lungblower combo that somehow got a near fall. Gargano looked out of it and tried to trade shots but Ciampa won out there with sick shots. Gargano ducked one and they rolled around on the mat where Gargano finally got a crucifix for the victory. Great work from both guys. Not on was it hard hitting, but they told a great story. Ciampa was brutal, but held back just enough at times to not injure his friend and partner. They knew each other well enough to counter constantly. Gargano also came across as the most resilient of babyfaces. Gargano takes on TJ Perkins in the second round. Best match of the first round. ****

Gargano offered a handshake to Ciampa, who walked away in frustration. He ended up turning back and sitting in the middle of the ring with Gargano before hugging him.

Next week, Tajiri vs. Gran Metalik and Cedric Alexander vs. Kota Ibushi in our first 2nd round match.

Overall: 8/10. Another good episode of the Cruiserweight Classic. The first two matches are nothing to write home about really. The opener was fun but too short and the Noam/Gurv match disappointed. It's the final two that really take this to the next level. Gallagher/Aichner was way better than expected and Gargano/Ciampa was all kinds of awesome.

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Eleven Review

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Eleven
August 3rd, 2016 | Kagoshima Arena in Kagoshima, Japan

The G1 Climax returns with more A Block action. These middle of the tournament shows weren’t anything to write home about last year, and so far, it has been more of the same this time around. However, this show has some big implications since the two guys tied atop the standings, Kazuchika Okada and Togi Makabe, face off for first place. As always, I’ll just be reviewing the tournament matches.

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [6] def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan [4] in 8:22
I still don’t get their thinking with the Tenzan story. His final run story should have handled much better than it has been thus far. Fale beat up the ring announcer during his introduction again. The match between these two was pretty terrible last year. This was better than that night, but I still didn’t find myself very interested. Fale used his power before Tenzan rallied and started nailing headbutts. He went up top but missed the moonsault. Tenzan then avoided some of Fale’s shots before ultimately falling to the Grenade. I would have written more about this, I just couldn’t bring myself to care enough. **

A Block: Hirooki Goto [6] def. Tama Tonga [4] in 12:31
Hirooki Goto started this G1 2-0, but has lost three straight since then. On the other hand, Tama Tonga began 0-2 before winning two of three. It looked like Tonga was going to give a clean break early, but he came back to get in a cheap shot. Shortly after, it was time for the typical G1 brawling on the outside and countout tease. I shouldn’t even call it a G1 thing since it happens so often in NJPW period. They even did another countout tease a little while later, though this one wasn’t as dramatic. They started slugging it out in the ring and Goto fired up around the ten minute mark. He hit a suplex/facebuster but Tonga countered his next move into the roll of the dice. Somewhere, Reno is proud. Tonga got two on the headshrinker DDT and then they went into a strange series of running the ropes. Both guys were stopping midway to run off of different ropes, which was kind of cool. Goto blocked the Gun Stun three times before winning via GTR. Like Tonga’s match with Okada, this started rather slow before picking up in the finishing stretch. It might have been Tonga’s best performance to date and another pretty good, but far from great Goto showing this year. ***

A Block: Naomichi Marufuji [8] def. SANADA [4] in 10:39
This was actually the match I was most excited about coming into this night. Their first exchange was pretty cool and saw the crowd come to their feet in appreciation. Marufuji nailed a dive outside onto SANADA but the crowd barely responded to it. They seemed less into this match than the others on the card. They engaged in a chop battle that saw SANADA remove his tank top and daring Marufuji to bring it. Marufuji certainly chops hard, so SANADA has some balls. SANADA did get tired of being lit up and resorted to an uppercut before scoring on his sweet dropkick. Both guys countered each other’s finisher a few times until SANADA got two on a TKO. SANADA should just use all moves with all uppercase letters so when I write about his matches, it’ll look insane. Marufuji got to the ropes to break the dragon sleeper and nailed a running knee. Marufuji then reeled off a series of kicks and Shiranui to pick up the win. Best match so far. I’d have switched match length around for this and the previous match since they felt like they were just about to really get going. Marufuji continues to deliver and SANADA has been solid throughout. I just don’t see why he continues to be at the bottom of the standings. Marufuji offered a post-match handshake but SANADA declined. ***½

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [6] def. Tomohiro Ishii [4] in 16:15
I gave their match in the G1 23 ****½ and their G1 24 outing ***¾. These are two men that usually deliver, especially in the G1 Climax. The Tanahashi redemption rally story for this G1 isn’t very intriguing to me. He fought from behind here again, as Ishii started hot. Ishii even took a page out of Tanahashi’s book and busted out dragon screws. Ishii continued to go after the leg but Tanahashi answered that with some of his own leg work. Disrespectful kicks to the face by Ishii saw Tanahashi respond with a flurry of slaps. They fought up top where Tanahashi laid into Ishii with forearms until Ishii seemed to spit at him and fire up, leaning into each shot. Ishii hit the stalling superplex and both men were down. It was time to man up as they traded shots in the center of the ring and again, Ishii leaned into the shots BECAUSE HE’S A MAN. Tanahashi countered the Brainbuster twice but got hit with a dragon suplex. Once he got up, he hit Ishii with his own and a straightjacket suplex for two. Ishii rolled away from High Fly Flow and nailed the seated lariat for the closest near fall of the night. Tanahashi made the mistake of headbutting Ishii because Ishii’s retaliation headbutt made him crumple. Ishii kicked out of another dragon suplex but then Tanahashi got going. He nailed slingblade and two High Fly Flows to even his record at 3-3. Awesome match that is a contender for the best of the tournament so far. They always work well together and Ishii kicking ass at the start was great. It really felt like Tanahashi had to dig deep to win, which it sometimes doesn’t. Sometimes you just feel like it is a typical babyface rally but this worked extremely well. ****¼

A Block: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada [10] def. Togi Makabe [8] in 15:04
I get this going on last since it A) includes the champion and B) is for first place, but I couldn’t see them topping the previous match. Makabe and Okada have a very weird chemistry and they always seem to do well together for some reason but neither guy has had a good tournament thus far. Guess what happened early in this match? That’s right, another countout tease. Considering their hair color and gear, this looked like Okada wrestling a meaner, bigger, tougher version of himself from 15 years in the future. Both guys did their standard offense and nothing felt important. Makabe nailed a spider belly to belly instead of a German but missed the King Kong Knee Drop. Makabe countered a Rainmaker into a German but still fell victim to one and took the loss. Look, I never expected Makabe to win but unlike Tanahashi/Ishii, these two were unable to make me feel like it was even a possibility. This was maybe our third straight A Block main event that lacked drama or intensity. This never felt like a battle for first place, instead seeming like two guys putting on a house show match. **¾

Overall: 6.5/10. A step from the last A Block show. Fale and Tenzan basically had the match I expected them to have. Tonga and Goto was better than expected and I found SANADA/Marufuji to be the second best match of the evening. The main event was severely underwhelming, which is becoming an A Block trend. The show stealer was Ishii/Tanahashi, which is a match of the tourney contender and is up there with Ishii/Tenzan from night one for best A Block outing so far. 

Kazuchika Okada10 (5-1)Katsuhiko Nakajima6 (3-2)
Togi Makabe8 (4-2)Tetsuya Naito6 (3-2)
Naomichi Marufui8 (4-2)Michael Elgin6 (3-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi6 (3-3)YOSHI-HASHI6 (3-2)
Hirooki Goto6 (3-3)Kenny Omega6 (3-2)
Bad Luck Fale6 (3-3)Yuji Nagata6 (3-2)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4 (2-4)Toru Yano4 (2-3)
Tama Tonga4 (2-4)Tomoaki Honma4 (2-3)
Tomohiro Ishii4 (2-4)Katsuyori Shibata4 (2-3)
SANADA4 (2-4)EVIL2 (1-4)