WWE Cruiserweight Classic
September 14th, 2016 | Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida
After nine weeks, we've reached the two hour live finale. The Semis and Finals are tonight, and the final four is Kota Ibushi (Japan), Gran Metalik (Mexico), TJ Perkins (Philippines) and Zack Sabre Jr. (England).
As usual, Daniel Bryan and Mauro Rannalo are your commentary team.
The video package they show to chronicle the four finalists and their runs to tonight is fantastic.
Semi-Finals: Gran Metalik def. Zack Sabre Jr. in 13:12
The crowd was hot for both guys. Metalik started with an instant dropkick, tope con hilo and a somersault for a quick close call. Once Sabre weathered that storm, he took things to his wheelhouse, the mat. Not to be outdone though, Metalik worked a submission of his own. He slipped up on a handspring back elbow, but recovered nicely so it was barely noticeable. I really liked that, for all of his mat stuff, Sabre brought the stiff shots here and it helped things out. Metalik scored on a standing shooting star press for two. There were some top notch counters and transitions from both men throughout this. As the match progressed, their strikes seemed to get more vicious. Sabre hit his best PK of the tourney, with another Shibata reference from Mauro, but only got a near fall. Metalik ended up nailing an insane super rana but then springboarded right into a triangle submission from Sabre. Metalik countered into a pin for two. Sabre charged but ran right into the Metalik Driver for three. Awesome way to start this off. There was worry the styles would clash, but they gelled well. This was non-stop action from bell to bell. Metalik did a good job in showing that he could play Zack's game and an annoyed Zack started becoming more vicious as things progressed. One of the best tournament matches. ****
Gran Metalik was handed a medal for making it to the finals. Charlie came into interview him with Andrea translating. Metalik just basically thanked the fans.
They hyped the cruiserweights coming to Raw this Monday.
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa get interviewed in the back. They're together for the first time since TakeOver. Gargano said they are healthy and ready to get back on track. Ciampa mentions that their opponents tonight are Cedric Alexander and Noam Dar. They end the promo by reminding everyone that they're coming for the Revival and the Tag Team Titles.
Semi-FInals: TJ Perkins def. Kota Ibushi in 14:50
My two favorite guys in the entire tournament. TJ Perkins is the only guy to get booed so far. Early on Perkins showed that he was ready by becoming the first person to check a Kota kick. He clearly did his homework. TJ also caught a kick and went for the kneebar, but Ibushi escaped. TJ didn't even dab at his usual spot because this match is too important. Ibushi hit a springboard dropkick but TJ stopped the triangle moonsault with a kick to the legs that almost got him a countout win. Ibushi found an opening and hit the big golden triangle moonsault on his second attempt. That led to some Ibushi fire until TJ got his knees up on a moonsault and locked in the kneebar, but Ibushi reached the ropes. Ibushi snapped off a German and nearly kicked Perkins out of the ring. TJ blocked the apron dead lift German but took a big pele kick that knocked him off the top. TJ hit an insane tornado DDT to counter the powerbomb and inverted lung blower for one of the closest near falls. Ibushi went for another pele but TJ caught it into the kneebar! Ibushi countered that and they slapped the hell out of each other. After a kick, Ibushi hit the Golden Star Bomb but TJ became the first guy to kick out of that! The reaction from the crowd was magnificent. Ibushi crashed and burned on the Phoenix Splash. TJ went for a wheelbarrow into the kneebar but Ibushi stopped his momentum and dropped him on his hear for another near fall. He kicked the shit out of TJ and called for the pwoerbomb but TJ slipped over into the kneebar again! Kota tried getting up but he locked it in and added the wrenching of Kota's surgically repaired neck to make him tap. Wow. I've seen a ton of wrestling in 2016 and that is my favorite. TJ came in with a game plan and it worked to pull off the massive upset. The crowd was into it from the start. They sold well. The near falls and close calls were perfect. Kota has been the MVP of the tournament but a star was born in TJ Perkins tonight. An incredible match. I can't say enough. *****
Cedric Alexander and Noam Dar got interviewed about their game plan. Dar said that the plan is to be on the same page for a 1-2-3. Alexander doesn't think that beating DIY would be an upset and they're gonna show the world.
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa def. Cedric Alexander and Noam Dar in 9:47
Right from the start, you could tell that this would be a fast paced match. Gargano and Dar did some mat work before Alexander took out Ciampa with a tope con hilo and flatliner for two. Ciampa got Dar on his shoulders outside and Gargano superkicked him from the apron. He launched himself inside with a spear onto Cedric. Cedric busted out his fantastic Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Honestly, this was way too fast to give play by play or anything close to it. Just wall to wall action. I need to see more of this Noam from the past two shows. He had his taunt cut off again and worked a kneebar on Gargano but Ciampa brutally broke it up. In the end, #DIY started delivering kicks before pinning Dar after the superkick/knee strike combo. Good chaotic match. ***1/4
William Regal joined Mauro and Bryan to discuss the cruiserweight division.
Before the main event started, Triple H came out. He entered the ring with the two competitors and announced that the winner doesn't just get the trophy. They also become the first Cruiserweight Champion over on Raw.
Finals: TJ Perkins def. Gran Metalik in 17:48
Like in the semi-finals, Perkins didn't do any dabbing. This was a serious match on a serious night of wrestling with high stakes. Perkins did his best to ground Metalik, so the Mexican star responded with some hard chops and a tope suicida. Both guys brought the big spots, especially Metalik with his dives. He hurdled the top rope and took TJ off the apron with a rana. He followed with a spring hilo and landed on his back pretty hard. Metalik missed a running SSP and Perkins slapped on the kneebar but Metalik reached the ropes. Gran's chops echoed throughout the arena and left welts on TJ's chest. TJ escaped the Metalik Driver but got caught with a huge DDT. Gran went up top but TJ got his feet up on a moonsault. He transitioned a near fall from dodon into another kneebar. As Gran got near the ropes, TJ tried to pull him back but Gran pulled him into a pin for another near fall. The Metalik Driver connected but he didn't hit it completely because his knee gave out. Great selling. They ended up fighting on the top rope and Gran went for a super Metalik Driver. TJ countered by pulling him to the mat with the kneebar and Metalik had to tap out. Excellent match that was a fitting conclusion to this tournament. Metalik looked fantastic and TJ continued to use his strategy and it paid off. Great selling from Metalik, hot crowd and things just clicked here. ****1/4
An emotional TJ Perkins got the title from Triple H and hugged Gran Metalik. His chest was all kinds of busted up from chops.
Overall: 10/10. Wow. That was spectacular. They gave us four matches and all of them delivered. Sabre/Metalik was, up to that point, the best performance by both men in the CWC. Ibushi/Perkins was amazing and my current MOTY. Two of my favorite performers on the planet in a phenomenal outing that I can't say enough about. The tag match was a fun sprint and the main event more than delivered. I've watch a lot of wrestling from all over the world this year. WWE, NJPW, ROH, Evolve, LU and many more. This is my easy pick for show of the year so far.