Finally, the opening of the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network – something we’ve been waiting to come back for a long time, and this show looks like the start of a hell of a summer series. We start the show with a video package stating what a cruiserweight is and showing highlights of the the past of the cruiserweight division, before discussing the people competing in the classic. All this has a voiceover by Triple H .
The show starts with the crowd chanting an emphatic ‘Yes’ chant as Mauro Ranallo welcomes us to Full Sail university. He introduces his co-commentator Daniel Bryan and I can’t help but get caught up in the crowd and the atmosphere of the event, and let out a little yes chant of my own! They go onto explain that this is a 32-man single elimination tournament with sixteen countries in total being represented. We shoot back stage to Corey Graves and he shows us the bracket breakdown of the classic and who will be facing who
A short video package showing the competitors for the opening contest follows, with both men saying a brief bit on who they are and where they are from.
MATCH: Gran Metalik (Mexico) vs. Alejandro Saez (Chile)
- The match stars with a handshake and both men circling in the ring
- Collar-and-elbow tie up in the center and Saez gets an arm and wrenches
- Metalik flips out and away into a stiff mid-section kick from Saez
- Saez into the ropes and a knock down with a shoulder block
- Metalik back up and in a traditional lucha style move as Saez hits the ropes again
- Metalik drops down then floats over, however, Saez goes around the attempted monkey flip and hits a basement dropkick for a quick count of one
- Saez hits the rope and goes over, then hits an impressive springboard dropkick on Metalik for a two count
- He argues with the ref that it was three as Metalik gets back to his feet
- Metalik is whipped into the ropes and does a handstand rebound backflip into the center of the ring, before he ducks under Saez’s clothesline and hits a stiff superkick as his first real bit of offence in this contest
- Metalik then pounces to the middle rope, hitting a dropkick and knocking Saez to the outside, then rebounding off of the ropes, launches himself to outside via a step off the middle rope, hitting a beautiful Tope con Giro which leaves both down on the outside
- Metalik throws Saez into the middle of the ring, leaps to the top rope, scales it and hits a big splash off the middle of the top rope for a two count
- Metalik is thrown over Saez’s shoulder onto the apron and Saez turns and delivers a stiff head kick, knocking Metalik down
- Saez then hits a shooting star press onto the floor, and the action has been so fast and so crisp that I am sure I have missed things here!
- Metalik is thrown to the inside and Saez goes for a corkscrew senton, but nobody’s home
- Metalik runs in and hits a clothesline in the corner and lifts him into a fireman’s carry before hitting a hellacious fisherman’s driver for the three count!
Beautiful match all in all, and a great way to start off this tournament! I’m a little sad it’s single elimination, because both men deserved to move forward on the basis of that performance.
Between matches we get another video package, as I believe we will between each match, showing who our next to competitors are and where they are from. We also learn that Ariya Daivari is the younger brother of former WWE superstar Daivari! Nothing like keeping it in the family.
MATCH: Ho Ho Lun (Hong Kong, China) vs. Ariya Daivari (Iran)
- Match starts differently with Daivari refusing to shake Lun’s hands getting a massive boo from the crowd
- Straight into a collar-and-elbow sidelock, Daivari gets a quick side headlock
- Lun against the ropes, pushes Daivari to make space and ends up eating a shoulder block from Daivari
- Daivari hits the ropes, Lun with a go down, but Daivari with a cartwheel over him hits the ropes and comes back into a superb dropkick from Lun
- Forearm in the turnbuckle from Lun, followed with a dropkick with to the back of the head, and he gets a two count
- Lun’s arm wringer clothesline is reversed by Daivari, who goes under the arm and hits a leaping neckbreaker on Lun for a one count
- Daivari brings Lun to the turnbuckle and wears him down with kicks to the mid-section, then whips Lun into the opposite turnbuckle and misses a turnbuckle splash
- As lun comes off the ropes, he runs into a high knee from Daivari, and a pin for the two count – Lun is smiling as he kicks out
- Daivari sits him up and drops a series of knees into Lun’s spine – transitions into a side-chinlock, and when Lun begins to fight out, throws him to the mat via Lun’s hair
- Daivari goes for the pin, two count, and then locks the side-chinlock back in
- Lun makes it to his feet and breaks the hold, only to be sent back to the mat after ducking a roundhouse kick, before he’s hit by a leaping enziguri for a two count pin
- Daivari gets cocky and slaps Lun around, asking if Lun knows who he is, and ends up eating a spinning heel kick for his troubles
- Lun, after a series of knock downs, gets whipped into the corner and hits a missile dropkick from the second rope
- Looking fired up now, Lun attempts a German suplex, but Daivari fights out and grasps Lun
- Lun, with a back elbow, fights out and hits the ropes, running into a spinning elbow from Daivari who then goes to the top rope and misses a very poorly done frog splash
- Lun with a knee to the back of Daivari’s head, followed by a superkick to the side of it, gets yet another two count
- Daivari gets up into a bridging German by Lun, and it’s Lun who picks up the victory
Overall, this match felt far worse and had too many near falls to create any real drama, but still not a bad performance from either man.
MATCH: Clement Petiot (France) vs. Cedric Alexander (USA)
- Match starts with a go behind from Petiot, waist lock down reversed into a hammer lock by Alexander, and they trade chain wrestling holds back and forth
- Alexander with ankle take down into two armdrags taking Petiot to the outside, Alexander fakes an outside dive
- Petiot back in and Alexander hits a hurricanrana into a dropkick for a two count
- Petiot takes control of the match with a big knee to Alexander’s face and beats Alexander in the corner
- Picture perfect snap suplex from Petiot getting a one count with the float over cover
- Petiot sends Alexander into the turnbuckle, and on the come back hits a gutwrench suplex into a side headlock
- The wrestlers trade blows in the middle of the ring before Petiot hits a kick to the back of the head
- Shoulder block combination to put Alexander down in the corner Petiot then hits a big knee on a downed Alexander, and covers for a two count
- Petiot showing off his striking skill and showing that cruiserweight wrestling is not all highflying and spot moments, but can be a striking hard hitting style
- Alexander fights back and goes to the outside hitting a leaping clothesline and then hits two running forearms in the turnbuckle
- Alexander attempts a suplex counters for a clothesline, ducked under for a backdrop countered into a snapmare takedown, and Petiot hits a discus clothesline for a count of two
- Petiot tries for the discus one more time, countered by Alexander for a belly to back suplex dropped into a lumbar backbreaker for the three count and the match goes to Alexander
Very strong match and a great showing of styles from both men
Again a video package explaining how both men got here. An interesting bit is that Maluta is the cousin of both Roman Reigns and The Usos, yet somehow not The Rock. Not sure how WWE work out that family tree, but as soon as it is done we are on to our final match.
MATCH: Kota Ibushi (Japan) vs. Sean Maluta (American Samoa)
- The crowd seems really into it as the match begins with a stiff thigh kick from Ibushi, dropping Maluta to the ground before they square off again
- Go behind from Maluta, countered into a wrist lock by Ibushi, and the men exchange mat chain wrestling quickly and crisply, applying wrist locks, drop toe holds and side-headlocks
- Maluta gets the advantage with a shoulder tackle, but after a rope exchange, is hit by a roundhouse kick to the chest from Ibushi
- Maluta hits a big forearm in the corner and goes to the top rope, where he misses a splash, hitting hard
- Ibushi hits a springboard missile dropkick and, changing things up for a ,moment, does not go for a cover, but keeps the match flowing, hitting a t-bone suplex on Maluta
- After an exchange, Maluta hits a top rope codebreaker sending Ibushi to the outside
- Maluta hits a flipping senton over the top rope that looked half-botched but well recovered
- Maluta gets a two count on Ibushi, then locks in a series of chinlock submissions
- Ibushi, fighting out, ends up eating a boot to the side of the head
- Maluta follows with a neckbreaker combination and gets a two count
- Maluta with a series of stiff kicks to the chest, hits the ropes and walks right into Ibushi’s dropkick
- Striking combination from Ibushi that finishes with a roundhouse to the face (and I will be honest even on half speed it was so fast I could not follow everything he hit there)
- Maluta goes down and Ibushi hits a standing moonsault for a very close two count
- Ibushi sends Maluta into the corner and attempts a superplex, but Maluta fights out and as Maluta takes his time setting up, Ibushi hits a beautiful Pelé kick to the top of Maluta’s head, toppling Maluta to the outside
- Ibushi hits a springboard moonsault from the second rope on Maluta and leaves both on the outside
- Both men back in the ring at a count of eight, and Ibushi goes for a two count on Maluta
- Maluta fights out of an attempted dragon suplex and hits his sabot kick – stunningly, Ibushi kicks out just before the three
- Series of kicks to Ibushi’s head, missing the final big kick
- Ibushi with a roundhouse kick hitting Maluta in the temple, moves seamlessly into a last ride powerbomb for the three, and Ibushi takes the win
This match was jaw-dropping action start to finish, with only the one botch (that was recovered so well I will be honest it was only on half speed I was sure that it was one at all).
So, that’s it for the first week of the Cruiserweight Challenge. I hope you guys have all enjoyed, and I will see you all next time!