Hey, wrestling fans, and welcome back to another week of the Cruiserweight Classic. This week is the start of round two, and there are sixteen competitors left, so without any more fanfare, I say we get straight on to what promises to be some amazing wrestling.
The show opens with a video package of all that went down in the first round, voiced over by Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo, both gushing at the seams about how much they loved it, and this is followed yet again by our typical video package.
MATCH: Tajiri (Japan) vs. Gran Metalik (Mexico)
- Match has a by-now familiar start where both men engage in a collar and elbow tie up. Tajiri with the go behind, waist lock, reversed into a hammerlock by Metalik, which he transitions into a side headlock. Snapmare takeover by Metalik, reversed into a seated headscissors by Tajiri, Metalik able to escape and create separation, allowing both men to circle before diving back into the fight.
- Tajiri, with a side headlock of his own, is sent into the ropes by Metalik, trying to make space from the veteran. However, Tajiri comes off the rope with a shoulder block scoring the first major knock down of the match.
- Tajiri and Metalik both score with a series of arm drags and leg sweeps which ends in a stalemate, drawing huge applause from the attending crowd.
- The counter wrestling continues to be fast-paced as Tajiri takes Metalik with another side headlock that is in turn reversed into a headscissors by Metalik, as the commentary team still don’t seem to know how old Tajiri is, but they do at least know he is the oldest in the competition. (Editor: He’s forty-five, for those who want to know!)
- Both men struggle for position on the mat before Metalik is able to gain control with a fujiwara armbar. However, an escape lands Metalik in a front facelock by Tajiri. That, in turn, is met by a leg sweep, earning Metalik a very quick one count.
- Tajiri manages to lock in a seated octopus stretch that is countered into an ankle lock by Metalik. A rolling crucifix pin by Tajiri for a count of two ends the exchange, and this match has spent the majority of its time on the mat, with both wrestles showing off yet again that cruiserweight wrestling is more than just high flying spots, and is actually capable of a very technical, quick-paced counter-style wrestling.
- A pair of arm drag armbar combinations from Metalik is escaped by Tajiri using the ropes. He’s then able to score, with a couple of chops to the chest, the first real strikes of the match so far. Tajiri sends Metalik into the ropes, but on the return is met with a hurricanrana that sends Tajiri to the outside. Tajiri manages to duck under an attempted baseball slide by Metalik, but he’s unable to capitalize, walking straight into a stiff thrust kick to the jaw by Metalik.
- Metalik sends Tajiri back into the ring, Tajiri showing just how smart a veteran he is rolling out to the other side and meeting a chasing Metalik with a quick buzzsaw kick to the face, followed up by a knee drop to the top of the skull.Tajiri now starts to take control of the match, scoring with a hangman’s neckbreaker and getting a very close two count.
- Tajiri with the side-headlock as the crowd starts to rally behind Metalik, who manages to make it back to his feet and get the separation, before coming off the ropes and running right back into the waiting grip of Tajiri, who slaps on a sleeper hold. Tajiri turns this into what I can only describe as a bridging back headscissors – Tajiri is then able to roll to the center of the ring, keeping the pressure applied to Metalik, but Metalik is able to get one last roll to get a foot to the ropes, forcing Tajiri to break the hold.
- Tajiri back to his feet and hits a swift punch to the face of Metalik, but this only serves to fire up Metalik, who returns the favor with a chop to Tajiri’s chest, the impact of which seems to do nothing at all. Tajiri one-ups the situation with a roundhouse kick to the head, sending Metalik into the turnbuckle, where both men trade blows back and forth before Tajiri sends Metalik up and over the turnbuckle onto the apron. This proves costly to Tajiri though, as Metalik is able to score a jumping kick to the top of Tajiri’s head, following it up with a springboard dropkick that again sends Tajiri scrambling to the outside. Metalik goes to the top rope this time and scores with a somersault plancha.
- Metalik takes his time getting Tajiri back into the ring, and when he finally does is met with a kick to the top of his head that sends Metalik back to the apron. Tajiri, however, has gone to the well once too often here, attempting another roundhouse that Metalik is able to catch and hit a dragon screw leg whip onto the second rope that sends Tajiri reeling. Metalik back to the top rope, tightrope walks across and from the middle of the top rope scores with an elbow drop for a two count.
- Returning to their feet, a tired looking Tajiri is able to counter an irish whip, but Metalik, showing off his balance, manages to connect with a springboard back elbow that gets him another two count.
- Metalik with a fireman’s carry, possibly going for his finish, but Tajiri is able to wiggle free and both men exchange waist locks before Tajiri lands a pump kick to the head. Tajiri hangs Metalik in the tree of woe position, setting up and hitting the running basement dropkick, earning Tajiri another two count.
- Both men exchange kicks before Metalik is sent into the turnbuckle and decides from here to take a leap at Tajiri – however Tajiri rightly sees this coming. and answers with a powerbomb and yet again gains a two count.
- Tajiri sets up for and misses the buzzsaw, but he is able to quickly regain composure and apply a modified seated octopus stretch, as the crowd start to chant ‘TAP’. Metalik is able to escape with some desperate boots to Tajiri’s head. Before Metalik is even able to make it fully back to his feet, Tajiri lashes out and hits a roundhouse buzzsaw kick to the temple of Metalik, and stands coiled, waiting for Metalik to sit up, before he launches another. But Metalik has other plans, and ducks under the attempted buzzsaw, lifting Tajiri up into a fireman’s carry, hitting his finish, the Metalik screwdriver (a modified Michinoku driver) earning the three count and the victory from seemingly the clutches of defeat.
Great storytelling in this match, and I liked that it was different enough from the first round of both men that the start of the second round doesn’t feel like a stale first round. I am sad to see Tajiri lose, but Gran Metalik is really quite something to watch, so am still happy to see him go forward.
Another video package before we move on to the second and final match of this week’s classic. Only two matches this week, as the brackets are getting smaller and men are being knocked out of the competition, which allows for longer matches and for the men to show off more of their skills.
MATCH: Kota Ibushi (Japan) vs. Cedric Alexander (USA)
- For a nice change of pace, we don’t start this match with a collar and elbow tie up, but a quick wrist lock from Alexander. He turns that into a hammerlock, switched into a snapmare takedown with a rear chinlock. Ibushi quickly escapes and applies a wristlock of his own, but Alexander flips out and executes a perfect wrist lock takedown, keeping the hold applied on the downed Ibushi.
- Ibushi to his feet, flips out of the wristlock into a hammerlock, side-headlock and takeover of his own. Alexander attempts to escape the hold by rolling over into a pin for a quick count of one, but Ibushi rolls back, still keeping the side headlock in place. Alexander gets to his feet and manages to break the hold by pushing Ibushi into the ropes; for the effort of this, he’s met with a shoulder block by Ibushi.
- The wrestlers exchange some lightning fast counter-wrestling, trading holds back and forth, which eventually Alexander is able to take control of with an armbar, the crowd rallying behind him. Ibushi is able to roll away from the pressure and work in another wrist lock on Alexander, taking him to a knee. After some serious damage, Alexander is able to take Ibushi down with a leg sweep however the pain in his arm leaves him unable to effectively follow up .
- Both men up, and both hit an arm drag before Alexander misses with the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and then manages to duck under Ibushi’s attempted clothesline. Alexander is able to get the best of the exchange, hitting a back flip hurricanrana, however he misses on the follow up dropkick, allowing Ibushi to attempt a roundhouse kick to the downed man, but Alexander ducks and gets a roll up on Ibushi for a two count, which in turn is countered by Ibushi into a cover for a two count of his own.
- Alexander yet again proving to be the better grappler of the two, managing a go behind that he turns into a side headlock. Ibushi attempts to cause the separation by sending Alexander off the ropes, but in a smart move by Alexander he takes a knee and manages to keep the hold and take him down with a takeover. Alexander at this point has been showing that his grappling skills far out class Ibushi’s and that he has scouted enough to not try and get into a striking contest.
- Ibushi manages to finally escape the hold, but is met back in the centre of the ring with a very stiff shoulder block. Alexander off the ropes, but Ibushi with the go under and then a float over. However, Alexander saw this coming and attempts a German suplex. Ibushi is able to get a standing switch, but eats a back elbow from Alexander that echoes throughout the arena. Alexander with the European uppercut ,takes too much time following up, and walks right into a roundhouse kick to the chest that totally takes all the momentum he has been building away from him in one swoop.
- Ibushi takes a run at Alexander at the turnbuckle, and Alexander is able to send Ibushi up and over, onto the apron, but Ibushi answers with a chop to the side of the face, followed up with a springboard dropkick that sends Alexander to the outside. Ibushi wastes too much time pandering to the crowd before attempting the golden triangle moonsault to the outside, and Alexander is able to move out of the way and spring into the ring. He does not stay there long, however, hitting a flipping senton and completely clearing the top rope.
- Alexander sends Ibushi back into the ring and stands coiled on the apron, waiting for Ibushi to regain his feet. As soon as he does, he hits a massive springboard clothesline, almost turning Ibushi inside out and Alexander gets a two count for his efforts.
- Alexander, with a couple of chops to the chest, sends Ibushi back down to the mat, and gets yet another two count. Alexander follows this up with a jumping stop to Ibushi’s jaw and yet another two count. The only thing to say here is that Alexander, while in control of the match, does seem to be losing his cool because he simply cannot put Ibushi away.
- Ibushi is finally able to mount some comeback offence with a quick flurry of strikes, finished off by a spinning back kick to the stomach, the sound of which honestly has my stomach in sympathy pain. Ibushi tries to follow up with a roundhouse, but Alexander catches it and delivers a stinging chop to the jaw that sends Ibushi right back to the mat, and yet another two count for Alexander.
- Alexander attempts to hit the lumbar check, but Ibushi is able to counter and gets a waist lock back elbow from Alexander, who hits the ropes and runs right into a dropkick from Ibushi that makes Alexander just crumble.
- Ibushi is the first to his feet and the two exchange forearm strikes before Ibushi unleashes with lightning quick strikes that fell Alexander. Ibushi with a standing corkscrew moonsault, followed up with a pin and a two count.
- Alexander up in the corner, Ibushi attempts to capitalize but runs into the boots of Alexander, who in turn runs right into an exploder suplex from Ibushi that sends Alexander to the outside.
- Ibushi motions to the crowd and runs to the turnbuckle, leaping to the top rope and hitting a moonsault on Alexander to the outside that incites a ‘fight forever’ chant from the crowd. Back in the ring, another two count for Ibushi.
- Ibushi motions for the golden star bomb, but is unable to get Alexander up. Alexander escapes through the legs and pushes ibushi into the ropes hitting a brutal Michinoku driver on Ibushi and scoring a two count. Alexander stares at the ref as if he has just told him that the world has just ended.
- Ibushi uses the turnbuckle to get back to his feet, Alexander on the other side, bouncing with energy, tries to hit a splash – but Ibushi moves out of the way. Alexander hits a back elbow and goes to the top turnbuckle, but is met with a stinging slap to the face by Ibushi, who misses with the frankensteiner, because Alexander lands on his feet. Alexander hits a running forearm, but in turn is hit with a Pelé kick from Ibushi and both men are down .
- Ibushi again motions for the golden star powerbomb, and this time manages to get Alexander up, however, Alexander is able to escape and push Ibushi into the turnbuckle, and Alexander, a step behind, hits an enziguri. Keeping Hold of Ibushi, he brings him to the middle of the ring and lifts him for a picture perfect brainbuster – and again only earns a two count. Ibushi is straight to his knees only to then be kicked in the head with a roundhouse, and yet again Alexander just cannot put him away.
- Alexander sets up Ibushi and goes to the top rope goes for a double foot stomp, but Ibushi rolls out of the way. Ibushi then misses with a roundhouse kick, and avoids the forearm of Alexander, before he finally hits a German suplex, folding Alexander in half, and follows it with a roundhouse kick that finally lands. Ibushi calls again for the golden star bomb, and picks up the three, winning the match and advancing.
Ok, so before I go on with what happens next here, I just want to take a moment and say that I watch an awful lot of WWE, and that the Classic has been an absolute delight. Sure, it lacks a storyline, but for pure wrestling it has been everything I feel a fan of wrestling could want and expect from it. The different styles and the high speed has made it somewhat addictive to watch and I personally feel that every person who has competed in the event deserves a contract with WWE moving forward.
Back to the match. It was stiff, it was heart stopping, it seemed like Ibushi, for most of it, didn’t have a chance. Alexander, while losing, looked like an absolute force to be reckoned with. Ibushi shows again why he is the favourite to win the whole thing, and I can not praise this match enough. It is clear I am not the only one who thinks this, as after the match we get a shot of Cedric Alexander and the crowd chanting for him to stay, followed by a ‘please sign Cedric’ chant that actually leaves the man in tears. Out comes HHH himself, claps Cedric on the shoulder, raises his arm, gives the crowd the thumbs up, and I can’t help but be happy with the way this week’s classic ended.
Well wrestling fans, my name is Jordan, and I will be here next week doing this all again. See you next time.