Welcome back to the second week of WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic. This week we have more round one action with four more high energy matches.
The show opens with Mauro Ranallo congratulating Daniel Bryan on being named the GM for SmackDown Live and a brief look at what happened last week with Corey Graves. With very little fanfare we open the show with our first two competitors.
MATCH: Tajiri (Japan) vs Damian Slater (Australia)
A brief note on this one: I feel that no matter who wins here, I lose, as when I first started watching wrestling, Tajiri was a man who captivated me from the moment he stepped from behind stage. Unfortunately, I am also an Australian, and I believe Slater is the only Australian wrestler in the classic, so if he loses my country’s out of contention in the first round.
- After some beautiful chain wrestling the first knock down of the match scored by Slater with a spinning back kick shoulder block combination
- Tajiri hits with a series of roundhouse kicks to Slater’s back and takes Slater down with a snapmare
- Slater misses a dropkick and Tajiri comes in with a savage kick to the face of Slater
- Tajiri with a double trap wristlock applied, but Slater manages to get to the ropes and break the submission attempt
- Slater hits an enziguri, knocking Tajiri to the outside, and follows it up with a corkscrew dive to the outside
- Tajiri, who has worked the wrist and arm most of this match, grabs hold of Slater’s arm as the men slide back into the ring, the end result of which is a roundhouse kick to Slater’s head, landing Slater on the turnbuckle
- Slater hits a Tornado DDT from the second rope followed by a running knee to the side of the head, cover for a two count
- Slater goes for a Canadian backbreaker, but Tajiri floats over for a waist lock. Slater breaks the hold and hits a dropkick to the knee of Tajiri
- Half Boston crab attempted by Slater, but Tajiri with more kicks to the skull is really showing off what brought him to the dance with two more high roundhouse kicks once he makes it back to his feet. A third attempted roundhouse is caught by Slater who sweeps Tajiri’s feet out from under him
- Slater takes a running start looking for a splash in the corner of the ring, however Tajiri counters and locks in his patented tarantula hold, breaking the hold at four
- Slater ducks under an attempted buzzsaw kick by Tajiri, sending him into the ropes, but the veteran Tajiri has an answer to get back on offense again, hitting a spring back elbow and following it up with a thrust kick to poor Slater’s face
- As Slater makes it to his knees, Takiri signals the end and hits the buzzsaw for the three count, taking the win
Amazing match simply fantastic and had my heart pumping the entire way through. One quick note though, it is interesting that, according to the commentary, Tajiri aged two years while in the match – starting it at 44 and aging to 46 by the end. For anyone who cares about it, he is actually 45.
Between matches we get another brief video package with very little of note for either man but then we are right on to match two.
MATCH: T.J. Perkins (Philippines) vs Da Mack (Germany)
- Perkins starts the match with a top wrist lock into an armdrag takedown, with Mack rolling through with a cartwheel and kip up to reverse the wrist lock. Perkins then shows off ‘anything you can do I can do better’, copying the roll-through cartwheel sequence of moves but he ends with a picture perfect dropkick, sending Mack to the mat and finishing with a kip up of his own
- Mack attempts to send Perkins into the ropes, but Perkins puts on the brakes, drops to his back and hits a twisting hurricanrana, holding onto Mack. Perkins gets a two count pin. Mack back to his feet, but Perkins still has his ankles wrapped around Mack’s neck, and hits another twisting hurricanrana for another 2 count
- Perkins attempts a third twisting hurricanrana, but Mack is able to cartwheel out this time, a move that is met with a spin kick to the stomach by Perkins. Perkins hits the ropes – Mack, with two leapfrogs over, hits a dropkick as first bit of real offense by Da Mack this whole match so far.
- Mack hits a running forearm in the corner on Perkins, and follows it up with a series of double handed slaps to Perkins’ chest. Perkins explodes out of the corner but runs right into a thunderous nothing from Mack … seriously I watched this bit three times and you hear the slap as if contact was made but nothing actually happens except Perkins falls over.
- Mack attempts to throw Perkins to the outside, Perkins rolls between the top and middle rope to stand on the apron, then slides under the bottom rope between Mack’s legs, and takes him down for a jack-knife pin, transitioned into a double-leg Boston crab. Perkins is wrestling circles around Mack in this one! Perkins then leans back on the crab, and takes Mack’s arms, proceeding to stand and turn Mack into a human rocking horse before dropping him back to the mat. Perkins then looks for an Indian death lock, but before it is fully applied, Mack is able to scramble for a rope break.
- Mack tries to take a breather on the outside, but Perkins springs over the the top turnbuckle onto the apron in front of Mack, but before Perkins can unload any more offense, Mack grabs his foot and sends Perkins crashing face first into the side of the ring. Mack hits a somersault plancha off the ropes knocking Perkins down on the outside
- Back on the inside now, Mack gets a cover and a two count. Mack sits Perkins up and proceeds to land several stomps to the top of Perkins’ spine while dancing – yes, you read that right, dancing – between shots. Mack goes for a big knee to Perkins’ face, but Perkins manages to duck under and roll to his feet
- Perkins off the ropes and hits an octopus stretch on Mack that he transitions, via a drop toe hold, into the Indian death lock and then into the Muta lock, but Mack again manages to make it to the bottom rope
- Perkins runs straight into a back elbow from Mack who bounds to the top rope and hits a flipping senton. Both men to their feet at a count of five
- Perkins manages to hit a spinning hook kick to make space, but on the rebound from the ropes runs right into a european uppercut from Mack, who in turn runs right into a dropkick to the knee from Perkins
- Mack counters a tiger suplex attempt into a victory roll for a two counts, followed by Mack again off the top rope with a spin kick to the jaw of Perkins for a two count
- Perkins with a drop toe hold hangs Mack on the second rope, then hits a springboard dropkick, knocking Mack down. Perkins to the top rope and misses a 450 splash
- Mack attempts a flying headscissors, but is slammed fast first to the mat by Perkins who lifts Mack into a fireman’s carry for a GTS. Mack remains standing but it’s Perkins with a victory roll into a kneebar and Mack is forced to tap out. Perkins takes the win.
This match had a lot going on; a few botches and a lot of moves being repeated. Not one of the better match from the classic so far, but still very entertaining.
Match 3 Mustafa Ali (Pakistan) Vs Lince Dorado (Puerto Rico)
- The match begins, and Ali starts the action quickly with strikes to the face. He throws Dorado into the ropes, and comes back, hitting a flying headscissors on Ali, who retreats to the apron
- Dorado goes for a springboard bulldog on the apron, however Ali moves out of the way and Dorado goes crashing to the floor, where Ali is able to hit a running high knee from the apron
- Ali takes control with an armbar, but Dorado with some chops to the chest is able to get the separation. Dorado then attempts a corner dropkick, but Ali moves to the apron. Dorado lands on his feet and eats a foot to the face for his trouble
- Ali rolls in through the middle rope and hits a jumping neck breaker on Dorado, scoring a two count
- Ali lifts Dorado in a back suplex and drops him onto his knee for another two count. Ali to the top rope and misses an attempted moonsault, then Dorado smashes a dropkick into Ali’s face
- Ali misses a backfist and is hit by an enziguri, sending him to the corner where Ali promptly sends Dorado to the apron. Dorado to the top rope, hits a hurricanrana with a kip up to the absolute delight of the crowd, and Ali is off to the apron again
- Dorado – springboard dropkick to Ali on the apron, Ali manages to keep himself on the ring apron, and for his effort here is met with a flying leg scissors to the floor by Dorado. Dorado hits a beautiful asai moonsault on Ali
- Dorado sends Ali back into the ring and climbs to the top rope as Ali tries to get his bearings, and walks right into Dorado’s flying crossbody pin, and it’s a count of two for Dorado
- Dorado makes space with a series of short strikes, ended by a flying roundhouse kick to the top of Ali’s skull. Dorado then hits the ropes and, flying backwards, hits a reverse springboard hurricanrana, spiking Ali’s head into the mat. Dorado picks up a two count
- Dorado picks Ali up and places him on the top turnbuckle. The two men fight briefly, and Ali hits an amazing spanish fly, jumping from one side of the top turnbuckle to the other before hitting the move. Unfortunately for Ali, he is unable to get the cover quickly enough and only gets a two count
- Ali to the top rope again now, and misses with an inverted 450 splash. Taking advantage, Dorado goes one last time to the top and lands a shooting star press for the three count, so it’s Dorado who takes the win
This match was fast and very spot heavy. I feel they spent too much time fighting on the apron, but other then that this match was amazing. Also, just pointing out, Ali’s outfit made him look like the black power ranger.
MATCH: Akira Tozawa (Japan) Vs Kenneth Johnson (USA)
- Collar and elbow tie to start this match and Tozawa with a go behind for a waist lock; lifting waist lock slam transitioned flawlessly into a front facelock. Johnson attempts to roll out but Tozawa is able to roll with him and keep the lock applied, before he transitions back into a waist lock. Both men back to their feet and Johnson, out of the waist lock, applies a wristlock. This time it’s Tozawa attempting to roll out, but Johnson able to stay with him and keep the wrist lock applied not once but twice
- Tozawa then able to fight out with a flip kip up combination and applies a side-headlock into a side-headlock takedown, which he then keeps applied. This has all taken maybe fifteen seconds, but already I can tell this match was worthy of the main event spot, as both men’s fundamental chain wrestling is without question the best tonight
- Both men back to their feet and a show of respect from both before the begin to circle and start all over again. Johnson rushes in and Tozawa makes him pay for his rash move with a double leg takedown into a knee lock, Johnson is able to use his legs to power out and apply an Indian death lock. He floats over into a front facelock of his own, then Tozawa attempts to roll out of it, but this time Johnson is able to keep it applied, and both men are putting on a chain wrestling clinic in the middle of the ring here
- Tozawa able to fight out and apply an armbar to Johnson and briefly keep him grounded, however, Johnson is able to get back to a vertical base and, using the ropes, is able to loosen the pressure with a front flip counter. Johnson is then straight back into more beautiful chain work with a side headlock taking Tozawa to the mat. Tozawa is able to reverse this as he hits the mat and applies a headscissors to Johnson. Both men are unable to get the advantage and so stand, and with another show of respect, get back to their feet and square off again
- Side-headlock applied by Tozawa countered by Johnson into a hammerlock then side headlock of his own. Tozawa is able to back Johnson into the ropes and send him across the ring; on the return, Johnson hits a sunset flip, which Tozawa rolls out of and hits the first major move of the match – a shining wizard to Johnson’s face. Tozawa manages to get a two count
- Both men with a series of strikes, Tozawa getting the better of this exchange is able to execute a snapmare takeover and apply a reverse chinlock on Johnson. Tozawa then lets go of the hold and slams a boot down onto the top of Johnson’s spine
- The wrestlers stand and trade knife edge chops in the middle of the ring, with Johnson’s strikes appearing to do more damage, Tozawa realises this and breaks the exchange with a simple stiff punch to the jaw
- Tozawa with a scoop slam then a jumping senton to Johnson, and gets a two count
- Johnson, refusing to spend any more time on the mat, sits right up and is met with two stiff kicks to the spine by Tozawa, who then scores a snapmare takedown transitioned into a seated abdominal stretch
- Johnson is able to fight out and up, but Tozawa is ready with the go behind into a waist lock, then attempts a German suplex, which is blocked by Johnson. He then moves into a waist lock of his own and, seeming to be done with trying to exchange holds, chooses to just club Tozawa in the back of the neck
- Tozawa with an Irish whip into the ropes on Johnson, who is met with the vicious discus forearm of Tozawa. Tozawa hits the ropes, attempts a shoulder tackle but runs right into a single legged dropkick by Johnson
- Johnson attempts a backdrop, but Tozawa lands on his feet and connects with a hook kick to Johnson’s stomach. Tozawa then misses with the jumping heel kick, but manages to slide between Johnson’s legs and hit a German suplex, however, Johnson also lands on his feet. Both men hit clotheslines and are down center of the ring, and both answer the the ref’s count at six
- Both men back to their feet and start exchanging forearms, before Tozawa manages to hit nine or ten in a row. Tozawa attempts a discus clothesline, countered by Johnson into what I can only describe as a side double-knee codebreaker. Jack-knife cover by Johnson for two.
- Johnson hits his finisher – which unfortunately is not named, but looks to be an inverted unprettier – for a very close two count
- Johnson to the top, misses a top rope spot but manages to land on his knees. Tozawa sends Johnson into the ropes, Johnson on the return manages a wheelbarrow into a victory roll for a two count
- Tozawa to his feet and from out of nowhere hits a brutal German suplex on Johnson! Tozawa, looking fired up, deadlifts a prone Johnson for another German with a bridge this time – for the three count, bringing to a close an amazingly well done match and taking the win
Five stars. Just an amazing match, this was everything I personally love about wrestling, performed by two men at their absolute peak. The only sad thing is that I don’t think WWE knew what they had here, as Johnson is now out and this could have been better served, I feel, as a semi-final match. Still, that being said, if you watch no other match from the Classic so far, watch this one. I can not recommend it highly enough.
Anyway that’s it for another week! I’m Jordan, your tutor in technical wrestling, and I’ll see you back for more CWC next week.